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Harvard Square Bank Robbery Highlights Local Crime Trends

April 23, 2018

Last week’s bank robbery on Brattle Street in Harvard Square served as a reminder that local business owners should remain vigilant and take steps to ensure their employees’ safety.

According to the Cambridge Police Department’s September 2017 BridgeStat report, there was a significant increase in commercial robberies in Cambridge over the first nine months of 2017.

This crime type has inflated from 14 in 2016 to 32 incidents in 2017, a rise in about 129%. According to the police report, Cambridge isn't the only city experiencing a rise in this type of crime: bank and convenience store robberies are increasing across the region.

What’s behind the rise in commercial robberies?

There has been a surge in bank robberies throughout Eastern Massachusetts since November of 2016. According to CPD's report, almost a third of the 32 commercial robberies in Cambridge in 2017 have been bank heists.

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From January to September of 2017, there were 20 commercial robberies in the areas surrounding Harvard Square and Central Square.

The fact that the majority of such robberies occur near Red Line T stops is no coincidence; the T provides robbers with an easy escape route.

Police are working closely with the MBTA to immediately shut down train lines in the event of a nearby robbery. Quick response by the CPD led to the apprehension of an unarmed robber who targeted the Citizen's Bank in Harvard Square back in November 2017.

Another contributor to the rise in this type of crime is the ongoing opioid epidemic. Those suffering from addiction are searching for quick cash, spurring crimes of opportunity like commercial robberies and home invasions.

In response, CPD has assigned officers to work with businesses to establish a relationship between law enforcement and commercial establishments, providing them with training and security assessments.

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What can I do to protect my business from robbery?

  • Maintain as few access points as possible
  • Regularly maintain the exterior of your business by keeping it free of graffiti and debris
  • Limit access to your property to only customers
  • Motion-activated floodlights are an effective deterrent
  • Work with local police departments to ensure employees receive training in how to respond to robberies
  • Install motion-activated cameras, monitored intrusion alarms, and panic buttons to get the fastest police response
  • Minimize losses by keeping cash in a drop safe during business hours
  • The highest-risk period goes from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m; try to have at least two employees in the office during this period

Many of the same principals that underpin home security system design also apply to small business security. Learn what else you can do to protect your business in our Ultimate Guide to Home Security, which details everything you need to know from how alarm systems work to simple action plans you can make to protect what matters most.

Download Your Ultimate Guide »

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