Indeed, Blackpool’s seafront, which houses the majority of the resort’s amusements, saw a 30 per cent increase in visitors in summer 2016, and this trend is expected to continue. But a boost in footfall can harbour potential problems: owners and managers should be on the alert for arcade theft.
A significant uplift in customer numbers can leave arcades vulnerable to opportunist thieves. Arcade theft tends to occur more frequently during the summer months, as thieves take advantage of limited visibility in a crowd and staff’s attention being divided by the sudden influx of visitors.
Often, these thieves work in packs and go from resort to resort carrying out a string of offences. There is a level of sophistication to their crimes and they are skilled in using distraction techniques to avoid detection. It is often the case that the thieves have already fled by the time staff even realise cash has been stolen.
Arcade owners should do everything they can to ensure they are one step ahead of would-be thieves and help protect their business against such crime. Slot machines and arcade consoles are particularly attractive to thieves. They can force pay-outs by tampering with the machines, for example through shorting, strimming and using devices to interfere with the internal workings. Decoys and lookouts are commonly used in this sort of crime.
Arcade owners should ensure staff are vigilant about floor checks and are constantly on the lookout for suspicious behaviour. CCTV should cover the gaming floor and monitors should be easy for staff to view, such as behind the counter, so they can keep an eye on gamers at all times.
Having dedicated security staff helps to reduce the chances of being a victim of arcade theft, as demands on staff are lessened.
Machine manufacturers try to deter thieves by changing mechanisms with new designs, so a review of machines should be carried out and older models replaced where possible.
Floats and safes are also a target of thieves. Ensure the arcade is sufficiently staffed during float changeovers and that the money is quickly taken to a secure area. Safes should be kept out of view of customers and emptied on a regular basis.
Of course, risks can be lowered but not eliminated and arcade theft can and does occur. Arcade owners should ensure that they have appropriate insurance that offers sufficient cover should the business fall victim to thieves.
BACTA members can find out how to save 15 per cent on their insurance policy by visiting lycetts.co.uk/arcades.