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Local police discuss how businesses can protect themselves from robberies

A 13-year-old boy has been arrested for an armed robbery that happened at GameStop on Deans Bridge Road on Saturday, July 9.

While such crimes may appear to be random, and there is little businesses can do to prevent them, that’s not always the case, according to Capt. Brandon Beckman with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

Beckman, who oversees the office’s Criminal Investigation Division, shared some strategies business owners can use to prevent robberies.

Images of the GameStop Robbery from a Richmond County Sheriff’s Department wanted poster.

“I think ensuring proper coverage at all times plays a part in robberies,” he said. “As the saying goes, there’s safety in numbers.”

Beckman urges business owners to stay vigilant and report all suspicious activities to the police.
“Sometimes an officer’s presence is enough of a deterrence,” he said.

That’s how sisters and business partners Brianne Martin and Danielle Harmadi handle security issues at their business, Freshwater Design Co., which sells handcrafted leather items, acrylic jewelry, and accessories, at 1022 Broad St. The store opened on August 5, 2021.

“We 100 percent recommend that all downtown businesses have a good relationship with the patrol team, as they have been super helpful to us as a small, women-owned business on Broad Street,” Martin and Harmadi said in a statement.

But that’s not all the pair does to protect their business.

“We have a very small space, so it’s easy for us to keep an eye on anyone in our store, but we have a full security system with cameras facing the cash register, the shop door, and the outside of our shop,” they said.

Danielle Harmadi and Brianne Martin of Freshwater Design have taken steps to increase the safety of their downtown business. (Photo by Josh Heath)

These are just some of the many strategies Maj. Steve Morris with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office recommends. He shared tips businesses can use before, during, and after a robbery.

Like Beckman, Morris said vigilance is key to preventing robberies.

“Install video surveillance and make its existence well known to customers,” he said. “Use cameras or mirrors to observe all areas of the store and try to avoid ‘blind spots.’”

Morris, who said the sheriff’s office investigated seven business robberies last year and two this year, also suggests keeping your business well lit at night and removing any signs or posters that prevent your employees from seeing outside.

“Post signs indicating ‘limited cash on hand,’” he said. “Have a panic or hold-up alarm installed in your business.”

Morris said during a robbery, it’s important to stay calm and follow the robber’s instructions. You should also ensure your safety, as well as the safety of your customers and employees.

“Money and merchandise aren’t important and can be replaced,” he said.

Morris recommends paying close attention to the robber’s physical characteristics, weapon, and vehicle. He said after the crime, you should close the business, lock the doors and call 911.

“Don’t touch anything the robber may have touched,” Morris said.

Robberies have affected small businesses and corporations throughout the United States. According to a recent CNBC story, Starbucks has decided to close 16 locations, primarily on the West Coast, due to significant safety concerns.

The story said many of these stores are located in Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle, where car thefts, burglaries, and robberies have increased dramatically. A letter the company sent to employees at those stores said the locations were closed due to increasing violence and drug use in the three cities.

“We know these challenges can, at times, play out in our stores, too,” the letter said. “Simply put, we cannot serve as partners if we don’t first feel safe at work.”

ABD contacted the south Augusta GameStop location for a comment, but an employee said they were prohibited from releasing any information about the robbery.

For more information, contact the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at 706-821-1000 or the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office at 706-541-1042.

1 Comment

  • Jonathan Brown
    Posted August 3, 2022 at 8:24 am

    When I worked in retail, several managers claimed that greeting each customer and engaging with as many as possible will significantly reduce shoplifting. I’m not sure if it holds true for robberies.

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