Last updateTue, 17 Apr 2018 11pm

Making a floor plan a security plan

“Rob me once, shame on you. Rob me twice, shame on me.” A jewelry store security spin on this commonly known Southern saying went through Charles Beaudet’s mind in mid-2007 when he was robbed twice in six months - once in January and the other time in June - by the same robber. The events had devastating effects on Charles and his staff, chief among them some personnel resigning over safety concerns.

Holewa-Charles-JuneWith a store expansion decided on over relocating at that time, Charles decided to dedicate the doubling of his store’s square footage to a build-out and interior design with an emphasis on security and staff and customer safety.

The upside of going through two armed robberies is learning from those experiences. Local police and detectives informed the store owner of Beaudet Jewelry, located in Eugene, OR, that box-shaped or commonly referred to “bowling alley” showrooms give a robber an upper-hand in an armed robbery situation.

“Upon entering such a store a robber can stand at one point on the showroom floor and have a complete view and complete control of almost everything and everyone in the store,” says Charles. “That was our case in 2007 when we were robbed.”

In mid-2007 when the build-out and floor design plans got underway, Charles recalled much of what local authorities and FBI agents told him about how robbers case a small business, like a jewelry store, and what the bad guys are looking for in terms of an easy target. A square-shaped store not only allows a robber to quickly gain control of an armed robbery, but it also gives them a fast exit.

Doubling his store’s square footage from 1,400 square feet was a difficult balance. There were departments Charles wanted to add or expand on, create new features with aesthetic appeal, best utilization of space, and, of course, enhancing security. Of the $200,000 spent on the build-out and design of the store renovation, $8,000 of that amount was budgeted solely to security upgrades and enhancements.

After the first robbery Charles added additional security cameras. But advice from local detectives and FBI agents after the 2007 robberies greatly dictated what his dream store would finally look like. One initial change for the renovation was additional security cameras. Four high definition, digital cameras were installed in various positions near the store entrance to ensure better facial recognition of a robber.

Holewa-interior-June“Most robbers wear ski masks of some sort, like our bad guy,” says Charles. “But police and other authorities can learn a lot about an assailant with more visual information.”

The enhanced security and safety features incorporated in the store’s renovation break up direct lines of sight, common in a square showroom space. A large “S-shaped” wall near the store’s main entrance visually divides the store. Curved interior features are also a key part of the first lines of defense with the renovation. “The upside is curved features not only offer us better security and safety, but from an interior design perspective these add visual interest and artistic elements to the overall floorplan,” says Charles.

Behind the “S-shaped” wall is and “L-shaped” area where Charles’ store bookkeeper Georgiann works and where the store safe is located. The letter-shaped interior features serve multiple purposes. In the event of a robbery, a bad guy would have to move around to establish direct lines of sight. Constantly moving wastes time and adds stress to the situation, ultimately changing a robber’s plan and committing small or even critical mistakes that could foil a plan or lead to a speedy capture by authorities.

Another key to the floorplan is layers and departments. With little to no cash used to make jewelry transactions these days, stealing merchandise is the most lucrative option for a robber. In Charles’ renovated showroom a robber is forced further back into the store, layer by layer, to various departments. This not only breaks up lines of sight, but also forces them further away from a quick and convenient exit from the store’s front door.

Holewa-plan-JuneTo the left of the store’s main entrance is Charles’ project area where he works with customers on custom jewelry consultations. The store’s diamond office and a majority of the staffs’ work stations are located in this half of the store. From here an entire half of the store is out of sight. Curved features such as work station partitions are another crucial way of breaking up lines of sight. And, as the work stations transition from the front of the store to the back, varying partition heights also help in creating layers and depth while making it difficult to establish direct lines of sight.

“From just inside the entry door a robber can still see a number of staff members from one position, but by moving a foot or two in either direction a staff member will be out of the robber’s sight,” says Charles.

Staff and customer safety were paramount in the store’s renovation. There are two safe rooms with dedicated cell phones in each. And, each of the five staff work stations has laptops, each hooked up to the LAN (Local Access Network) which accesses the store’s security system. Within a few key strokes any laptop on the store’s network can access the main security cameras dedicated to covering the showroom.

Other security features include two laminated back to back glass windows that go over two inches beyond the window frame for added safety and security, and, a central command station in Charles’ office. Added interior and exterior security cameras (10 total), work stations with computers that access the security system, and a number of panic alarms throughout are the main showroom safety and security features for staff and customers.

Jewelers Mutual reviewed floorplans and images of the final build-out upon completion in 2008. “Jewelers Mutual, our insurance company, was pleased with the many changes and gave us the green light upon reopening the store, which was a big relief for me and my staff,” says Charles.

Some minor tweaks and additions have been made to the security system since it was installed five years ago. And, the store has been bad guy free since the renovation. New staff members receive store-dedicated security training. And, every six months the staff goes through refresher training. There are periodic drills and of course word signals in the event of a robbery.

“As a jewelry store owner you never think a robbery is going to happen,” says Charles. “But when it did, we had to totally rethink our business.”