Armed Robberies in Hospitality: Training staff in the ‘CODE A’ system

Last year a sports club in Aspley, Queensland, was held up by a man threatening a female staff member with acid and left with a sum of money. Another club at Lake Macquarie was also held up at gunpoint. There are multiple other examples of armed robberies in hospitality venues around Australia.

An armed robbery is a truly tragic event and could have a significant impact on your business, your staff, and your customers. Unfortunately, this is a reality that hospitality venues must face.

Managing armed robbery risk

There are two main actions a venue can take to manage the risk of an armed robbery. Firstly, reducing the opportunities to be a victim of an armed robbery. Secondly, teaching staff how to behave in an armed robbery situation.

The majority of armed robberies are opportunistic crimes.

This means the offender saw an opportunity and took advantage of the situation. By reducing the opportunities and making the workplace a less appealing target you can reduce the risk of your venue being a victim.

  • There are many actions you can take to reduce the risk but here are a few easy ones:
  • Keep the minimal amount of cash on-site possible, use drop safes or time delays
  • Ensure cash draws are closed and locked whenever possible (don’t leave keys in drawers)
  • Be alert when counting and carrying cash (don’t do it in sight of the public)
  • Bank regularly but not routinely. If possible have armed guards attend the Club to do the banking
  • Have well positioned and visible security cameras and advertise their use with signage
  • Ensure all doors and windows at the rear of your premises are secure when setting up in the morning (this includes restricting contractor entry points)
  • Don’t allow staff to work alone at night or in isolated situations
  • Don’t carry cash tills through the Club in plain sight during change over
  • Keep staff areas separate to public areas with locked doors or barriers
  • Keep tills positioned away from arm’s length of the public (consider installing guards or barriers if necessary)

Prevention is always best

Unfortunately, even with the best preventative measures, an armed robbery could still occur. For this reason, staff must be trained on how to act in an armed robbery situation. For this, I refer you to the Police recommended system: CODE A.


CALM – Remain as calm as possible. Stay away from the personal space of the offender.
OBEY – Obey instructions and avoid making sudden or unexpected movements.
DESCRIPTION – Take note of the offender’s features, including clothing, tattoos, hair colour, height, accent and any weapons used.
EVIDENCE – Do your best to keep the crime scene untouched
ALARM – Activate the alarm and call the police (000) as soon as possible.
Source: Qld Police Service

The CODE A acronym is a simple system to teach staff and get them thinking of their safety. The more a staff member hinders the offender, the higher the likelihood they will be a victim of violence. So, teaching them about the correct behaviour is important.

Lighthouse Safety & Compliance has developed new Armed Robbery Awareness training videos specifically designed for Clubs. We also provide face to face training. If you require assistance with armed robbery risk reduction at your workplace please contact me on 0422 669 631 or

Cheers Pat