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In the last few years there have been many viral videos of cell phone store armed robberies. They range from the classically stupid to downright terrifying. It has left many store owners asking: what is the best bulletproof glass for cell phone stores? Before we answer that, let’s take a look at these widely shared videos that show the many threats faced by these busy retailers.
This widely shared 2013 video is practically a classic among cell phone store owners:
A disgruntled customer trashes the shop, mooning the clerk as he stands safely behind his bullet resistant barrier. That video certainly has its comic moments, but few robberies are so easy to shrug off.
Cell phone store robberies are increasing in frequency in many areas across the United States—and often violent. At best, these bandits are subdued (if occasionally over-armed), like this assault-rifle packing woman in Fayetteville, N.C. earlier this year:
More frequently, they are terrifying and erratic. Consider this 2015 armed takeover in Florida:
Or this harrowing robbery in December of 2015, which starts off low-key and then dives into a brutal life-or-death brawl:
Security Challenges for Cell Phone Stores
Total Security Solutions CEO Jim Richards feels for independent cell phone shop owners. “They’re in a bind,” he explains. “An increasing portion of Americans totally depend on their smartphones to get things done—not just stay in contact with family, but pay bills, submit forms, find work, and do those jobs. This is especially the case in urban areas. Cell phone stores have to be accessible to their customers.” And as we’ve noted in the past, it’s simply a matter of fact that higher population density leads to more crime (not to mention the recent jump in store robberies in more densely populated areas).
“But also, they’re selling a really expensive product. Your average smartphone retails for $600, $700, $800 and up. Combine that with the fact that people may be paying their bills in-store, and you have a small business with a lot of money on hand, as well as a large stock of a very portable, very valuable product that’s easily resold. That’s a volatile combination in a tough economy.”
The Right Bulletproof Windows for Cell Phone Stores
Total Security Solutions has made custom barriers for a wide range of small businesses, including cell phone stores. While many bulletproofing companies shy away from the challenges of making affordable barrier systems for small businesses, TSS embraces the challenge.
“Cell phone stores and other smaller retail outlets, they aren’t cookie cutter locations,” Jim explains. “Any solution is going to have to be custom. Since we only do custom work, we can design a custom system that looks good and has good voice transmission, but is actually more affordable than just slapping together a bunch of prefabricated components.”
A good, solid cell phone store bullet resistant barrier system will have four key characteristics:
- Bulletproof transparency and framing. The so-called “bulletproof window.” These will be custom-cut to enclose your counter and transaction area, then mounted to allow for natural voice communication (no metal-screened speak-holes or static-crackling intercoms).
- Bullet resistant fiberglass. This reinforces the counters. There’s no point in having a bulletproof window if an agitated robber can shoot you through the plywood counter.
- Deal trays and passers. For receiving payments and passing merchandise back to customers. TSS can use a variety and combination of trays, passers, or drawers.
- Level 1 security. Although this is the lowest level of bullet-stopping power, it is also perfectly suitable for most small retail situations.
In an age when we constantly worry about assault rifles, a bulletproof barrier that “only” stops a barrage from a .9mm handgun might seem laughable.
Not so. In most cases, it’s the presence of a good, solid barrier that stops the crime before it starts.
“In the end,” Jim says, “This is about deterrence. If you go to YouTube and start watching the security camera footage from cell phone store robberies, you’ll see over and over again that it’s always places with absolutely no barrier that get hit. The assailant could come in with a .357 or an assault rifle or a .22 or a board with a nail in it. They’re targeting the shops with no barrier at all.”