Restaurant Backdoor Security: Protecting People and Profits
They watched from the shadows as the clerk opened the back door to take his night’s run to the garbage pen. He did not deviate from the routine the last two nights. It was 1:35 am, right on time. When the young man returned with his empty cart, they lowered their ski masks to their chin and jumped with weapons in hand. The employee was pushed into the restaurant. Upon entering the office area, the two thieves went into frantic action. One thief grabbed the manager, pointed his gun at her, and yelled at her to open the safe, while the other forced the other closing employees to lie down on the cold tile kitchen floor. Employees’ lives change forever as they experience the terror of looking at the edge of life and death.
Unfortunately, this scene plays out somewhere every night in the fast food world. A world in the service of the public, late at night with predators lurking, waiting and plotting to seize every opportunity to forcibly steal hard-earned money from others. Crime prevention solutions cost virtually nothing more than implementing changes in policies, routines, and discipline.
Opening the back door exposes the company to loss of cash and products and the employees to serious crimes, including homicide. Opening it at night greatly increases the chances of bad things happening. However, it is one of the most serious and frequently violated breaches of all security policies. It is a virtual weak link that can become one of the strongest ties in creating a more secure environment for customers and employees when properly executed.
This particular scene can be avoided with a simple policy and procedures to limit these dangerous exposures to crime and theft. Most importantly, procedures must be rooted in employee training and routines in the restaurant and violations must be followed with proper discipline. Door control is not only essential to keep employees safe and secure, it is also an important component in preventing theft and inadvertent loss.
Effective back door policies include prohibited opening hours, such as late night and possibly peak hours, when all employees must focus on serving the customer. Sound loss control programs ensure that the door is locked at all times and supervised by a member of management each time it is opened. The keys to the door lock and alarm are not left in the possession of the management team or readily available to non-management staff. Trash dumps that occur after dark should be done through the lobby doors while the restaurant is open to the public and never after the doors are locked.
When it is opened, the door should not be kept open. During a trash tour, all trash is placed outside the door, then closed and locked unless a member of management supervises the open door. Clear garbage bags must be used and all cardboard boxes must be scrapped. No one can enter through the back door. Any request to enter or open the back door must be made at the front desk. Audits should be performed routinely to comply with company policies regarding door opening, key control, alarm testing, and procedures related to garbage disposal.
The liftgate must be equipped with an audible push bar alarm with a key that cannot be removed while the alarm is in the “off” position, a peephole or small covered window (less than 4 “), and anti-lock plates. -lever in the lock. Exterior lighting illuminates the back door and trash yard areas. If the restaurant is equipped with a perimeter alarm system, the back door must be included. A sign in applicable languages on the door stating Authorized opening rules help communicate clear expectations.
Apply simple technologies to audit compliance and report unauthorized vacancies that endanger employee lives and company profitability. Effective digital camera systems include monitoring of door activity. Audible annunciators and / or strobes near manager’s office notify when door is opened. Exception reports can be generated by connecting alarm contacts to a restaurant camera system. Reports can be relayed to supervisors and / or security representatives with an attached video of the open door activity. The combined video and additional audio technology can interact with store personnel and / or customers, causing problems from an external monitoring station.
The back door of every restaurant is essential to maintaining effective operations from garbage removal to inventory receipt. The principles of sound loss control involve controlling when the door is opened. The old habits of maintenance or warehouse employees possessing door keys, keys hanging from a hook, or indiscriminate loan of management keys are difficult to change. Maintaining control is often seen as an inconvenience on the part of management. The costs of implementing new policies, procedures and disciplines on the use of the back door are inexpensive. When the door is not controlled, the chance of bad things happening increases dramatically, as shown in the opening passage above. When “nothing bad has ever happened here” and “if it ain’t broke why fix it!” are the responses to the lack of proactive loss prevention procedures, the bottom line can be extremely high.