What Should You Do During a Robbery?
Advice to customers and employees from the Hartford Police
In the wake of the recent armed robberies in Wilder and Norwich, The Observer asked the Hartford Police, what's the proper response if you are a customer in a store that is being robbed?
“Your safety is number one,” says Hartford Police Sgt. Connie Kelley. Observe what is going on from a safe place.
"Don’t panic. You don’t want the person doing the robbery to panic either, " said Kelley. "The best thing is for them to get want they want and to get out. The goal is to keep people safe.”
"The worst case is for a robbery to escalate into a hostage situation,” Kelley continued. That's why she, along Hartford’s Chief Phil Kasten and Norwich Police Chief Doug Robinson, don’t advocate intervention by untrained civilians.
"We've found in most cases it is best to observe, report and not make yourself a victim," said Kasten. "Observe and take in as much you can and share that with the investigating officers because at the end of the day if you are not in a position to do that or you become a victim in the crime itself—if you are assaulted—the likelihood that you'll be able to share that information becomes more difficult."
"Understand that this is someone who is desperate—they're committing a crime and there is a risk of being captured and they know that. You don't want to put yourself between someone who is desperate and their freedom. They may be under the influence of a mind altering substance that heightens that risk and places them in an altered state of judgement."
Kasten, Kelley and Robinson ask that witnesses closely, but safely, observe the robber. The police are looking for descriptions of the robber’s physique, hair color, color of the eyes, description of the clothing, voice. They want to know which way the robber went after leaving the store. Was a motor vehicle involved? If so, what were the plate numbers on the car?
The Hartford Police prepared a brochure on how to prevent and handle a robbery that local businesses can share with their employees. Here's the takeaway from the brochure:
Safety is first and foremost!
1. Don’t argue with the robber, give them what they want.
2. Try to get a good look at the person. This is difficult because they are trying to disguise themselves. Look at their eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes – what is the eye color? We may be able to tell hair color based off eyebrows. How tall are they? Approximate weight or build?
3. Was there anything notable about their voice? Deep, raspy or did they speak with a lisp?
4. What are they wearing? Hoodie, hats, masks, gloves, coats? Are they dressed oddly for the weather?
5. Do they show you a weapon? What is it? What color is it?
After the robbery is over….
1. Dial 911 immediately and lock the store doors.
2. Give as much information to the dispatcher as possible. Which way did the person leave? Did they get into a vehicle?