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The City of Portland, Oregon

Community & Civic Life

Promote the common good

Main: 503-823-4519

City/County Info: 503-823-4000

TDD: 503-823-6868

1221 SW 4th Ave, Suite 110, Portland, OR 97204

Robbery Prevention and Response

Old Fashioned cash register

Several robberies have been reported in the news recently. Less common than commercial burglaries, robbery is a person-on-person crime that occurs when an offender takes something of value by force or threat of force. Because it is a serious risk to employees and customers at retail establishments, it's important to train employees and implement strategies to mitigate risk. 

 Responding to a robbery:

  • Remain calm and fully comply with the robbers’ demands.
  • Take only those actions that are demanded, nothing more. Your movements should be predictable and transparent.
  • Be a good witness and take note of height, weight, hair and eye color, tattoos, unique features and other descriptors that you can provide to the police.
  • Activate a silent alarm only if you can discreetly do so.

Robbery Prevention Tips:

  • Store Layout – Locate cash registers, aisles and displays so that employees can observe all activities within the store.
  • Lighting – Make sure the lighting in parking lot is adequate in order to eliminate dark hiding spots where criminals can "case the store." Make sure interior lighting is bright.
  • Staffing – Schedule at least two workers on duty after dark. All staff should be trained on how to respond to a robbery.
  • Visibility – Open up sightlines to your property by trimming vegetation or removing large advertising signs on windows. Employees and passersby should be able to observe activities inside and outside of your store.
  • Cash Handling – Adopt cash control policies limiting the amount of cash on hand. All excess cash should be dropped in the safe or deposited. Consider installing a time-release drop safe to minimize the amount of money a robber could take.
  • Cameras - Use a camera surveillance system that captures clear images under all lighting conditions.  Install security cameras at entry points, over cash registers and parking lots at angles that reveal facial and other features of suspicious individuals. Make sure employees know how to access footage for police.

Report suspicious activity – If you observe someone acting suspiciously, call the police at 9-1-1 for immediate threats to life or property. Otherwise you can call them at the non-emergency number at 503-823-3333.

If your Portland business would like some guidance about improving the security of your establishment, contact the City of Portland’s Crime Prevention Program at 503-823-4064,, or