301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

2.8.19 – Vending Times-by Mark Manney

Question: How many operators have been burglarized by having their buildings/money rooms/safes cut into with diamond-tipped saws and/or their doors smashed/broken into with sledge hammers or battering rams overnight, usually on a Sunday night on a three-day weekend?

Answer: Too many!

Please listen to me on this because the loss prevention steps to make these parasites leave your building/money room/safe alone and cut/smash their way into another business is low cost and simple.

Below is a photo of client No. 1 and their money room burglary in a mid- Atlantic state that did not follow up on my loss-prevention assessment written advice that I gave to them before this robbery.

Below is a photo of client No. 2 money room burglary in the same mid-Atlantic state that did not follow up completely on my loss-prevention assessment written advice even after warning them about what happened to client No. 1 in their state.


Notice that the same burglar is in both photos a year apart. He has obviously gained some weight in the second photo seeing how more than enough was stolen in the first robbery to stuff his face for free for the entire year.

The Readers Digest abridged version of what the gangs (like above) or the pros (much more sophisticated) do and their MO (method of operation) when burglarizing vending companies.

Step 1 

Case your operation in general and your money room in particular:

Posing as a job applicant, looking for an employee (who doesn’t exist), posing as a salesperson, etc. they will wander around your operation to do the following:

•    Find your power pole that feeds power to the alarm system.

•    Find the money room.

•    Take pictures while pretending to be talking on their cellphone.

•    Call or even show up posing as an alarm company salesperson offering you an amazing low rate for your business. They will need to ask you questions about your current alarm system to give you the exact quote. They must find out if you have cellphone backup, in case of power failure, for your alarm system.

•    Case your operation on Sunday night, the most likely time to break in, especially when Monday is a holiday. They need to know who and exactly when anyone comes in first on a Sunday night/Monday morning.

•    Depending on what they find, now they can plan the robbery.

•   Note: Sometimes they get an employee to tell them everything they need to know and he gets a cut and sometimes a vendor who regularly visits your building can tell them (after wandering around) and he gets a cut. In the cases above, a vendor was suspected of doing the inside casing as he visited both companies and had been seen acting suspicious by both money rooms.

Step 2

Assuming they know you do not have cellphone backup to your alarm system:

The Robbery

•    Once the team is easily through your gate/fence they cut your power line rendering your alarm system useless. No power, no alarm signal. No alarm signal, no police. No police, plenty of time.

•    Using either diamond-tipped saws or sledge hammers or battering rams (like the 250-lb. men in the above photos), they either cut right through the walls of your building or just smash the doors in.

•    Once in your money room, they use portable hydraulics to pry open your locked cabinets/safe(s) in minutes.

•    Some rings in some areas have been known to stage a distraction for the police in another part of the town/city as the robbery starts. They will call in a phony serious crime report (shooting, murder, etc.) or even set a fire in an abandoned building — all to draw the police away while the robbery is being conducted.

The Kickers

I had been in both companies, conducted loss prevention assessments, explained all of the above in writing, was ignored and both companies paid with cleaned-out money rooms on Sunday nights when Monday was a holiday. As far as I know, no arrests were ever made, but there was a suspected vendor who had visited both companies acting suspiciously by both money rooms…but no evidence against him was ever proven.

Now, the second company had actually set alarm cellphone backup after I warned them about the first robbery in their state. But they never tested it quarterly after installation as recommended, so when they needed it a year later it wasn’t working! I heard the manager in charge of the quarterly tests was slowly roasted over a fire.

Exactly What To Do!

•    Get alarm cellphone backup through your alarm company. If they don’t offer it, get another alarm company that does.

•    Assign a dependable manager to test it once a quarter in writing.

•    Have two or three copies of this sign made:

Attention: Alarm Cellphone Backup In Use!

•    Install this sign at your power pole and in places were the bad guys will see them. Thieves are like water running down a hill; they will flow into the business of least resistance. Loss prevention is all about making the risk outweigh the reward, detours, difficulty, being the tough nut to crack. Send them someplace else with a few $10 signs!

•    Put a sign on your money room door that says “Purchasing” or “Catering” or “Janitorial Supplies” and put a sign on a closet or other door that says “Money Room.” Even put a cheap peep hole in the closet door. Just a little delay causing them to break into the wrong room could be all the time you need to waste their time and save the real room where all the money is.

•    Train all of management employees and tell all employees to immediately report all wandering strangers and vendors to management, then confront them. Get suspicious strangers’ license plate numbers (if possible without a confrontation) and report suspicious activity to the police.

MARK MANNEY » is the founder and chief executive of Creedmore, NC-based Loss Prevention Results, focused on the vending and foodservice industry. Click here to purchase his “Food Service Manual: The 5 Loss Prevention Common Denominators” and his “Micromarket Loss Prevention Manual” at the Vending Times Bookstore. Coming soon will be Manney’s 100-plus-page master “Vending Loss Prevention Manual: Creating a Vending Culture of Controls: Training, Technologies, Tools & Tactics, which includes a section covered in this blog. Contact him at (919) 812-3602 or mmanneylpr@gmail.com.