The panels also protect the areas surrounding the selection buttons, debit card readers and the LED displays. These areas without protection provide fertile ground for the thief armed with little more than a screwdriver the ability to break into a machine.
While these panels will never protect a vender from attacks with torches and chain hoists, they do provide a deterrent. This deterrent is generally in the form of time. Thieves attempting to gain access to these secure machines may decide that it is not worth their time and risk and will move on to a machine that appears more vulnerable.
Minimally secure your bill acceptors
Most machines have easy access to the dollar bill acceptor and stacker by simple prying on the door to gain access to the back bill stacker or by crushing the front bezel with a hammer. Kits are available that secure the bill acceptor bezel and stacker to make this potentially lucrative area much more difficult to access by someone from the outside.
Reinforced steel covers can either cover just the bill acceptor bezel itself or, for soda machines, a complete top-to-bottom steel attachment can be installed to reinforce the entire right hand side of the door including the coin entry and selection panel section.
One way to eliminate the threat of loss at a particular location is to go completely cashless by installing credit card only readers on machines. Some operators such as North County Vending in Vista, Calif., have decided to remove the coin mechanism and the dollar bill acceptor from certain machines at high-risk locations and allow credit card purchases only.
Return on investment
The topics discussed for the most part require a major investment if we consider our entire route. Obviously, you must compare what your current perceived loss is per year versus the benefit of the investment in new security products. Also take into consideration the nonvandalism benefits you may receive from implementing these products as well.
From an external theft standpoint, you may decide that it is in your best interest to initially target your most vulnerable locations. If you determine that the majority of your vandalism is occurring at your hotel and school locations, then initially invest in security products at these locations.
Electronic locks deter vending burglars
Sometimes these products do more than just lower your cash loss from the machine. Since they also may act as a deterrent to the thieves, you may conclude that you also reduce the labor and parts costs of repairing a damaged machine. You also want to consider the effect these systems have on your internal controls. Many operators receive the most benefit of these products by reducing internal theft.
A final option and the least costly action you can take against external vandalism may be to determine if the machine is at a proper location within your location. Obviously, if your machine is hidden in a back hallway rather than having a position near the front door, your chances for vandalism will probably increase. Convincing your customer to place the machine in a more visible area will not only reduce the potential for vandalism, but it may also increase sales.
One thing is for certain, security issues will never go away. Unlike other retail establishments, our business is such that both internal and external security issues will remain with us for the long term. The question to answer is, how can you keep your losses to a minimum with the least amount of monetary and time investment?