Safeguarding Fast Food: Franchisee Tactics for Worker and Guest Safety

Criminals are ramping up their attacks on eateries, their employees and their patrons. QSR operators need help and LVT is the answer.

Last Updated:
April 5, 2024
| ~
min Read
Meg Moore
Marketing Writer


Craving an animal-style double-double in Oakland, California? You’re out of luck. The city’s only outpost of the storied California-based quick-service restaurant chain closed in March 2024 after an 18-year run.

“Despite taking repeated steps to create safer conditions, our Customers and Associates are regularly victimized by car break-ins, property damage, theft, and armed robberies,” Chief Operating Officer Denny Warnick wrote in a statement to WCKO. “This location remains a busy and profitable one for the company, but our top priority must be the safety and wellbeing of our Customers and Associates—we cannot ask them to visit or work in an unsafe environment.”

The burger emporium faces the same challenges as other quick-service restaurants across the country, from Washington D.C. to Memphis, Tennessee to Oahu, Hawaii. Criminals are ramping up their attacks on eateries and their patrons, and restaurant operators need help.


It’s a crime U.S. legislators notice on their lunchbreaks in the nation’s capital, as 52 D.C. restaurants closed their doors in 2023, an average of one per week.

In January 2024, many restaurant operators brought their concerns before the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee, testifying about how the repeated break-ins, armed robberies, car theft, and even stolen ATM machines, are hurting business. 

Despite employing 24/7 remote monitoring solutions and surveillance cameras, QSR operators need help to increase employee safety and reduce crime that impacts their business.

“In just the last six months, one of our locations experienced two armed robberies in the space of three weeks,” Elmer’s CEO Jerry Scott told legislators. “Two other locations have had armed robberies within the same time.

Scott appeared before the committee on behalf of the National Restaurant Association, where he serves as a director. In his allotted five minutes, he shared what many restaurant owners and operators, as well as employees and patrons, must endure when deciding to dine in, including:

  • Criminals committing armed robberies
  • Patrons threatening workers with firearms over disputes
  • Employees and patrons returning to the parking lot, only to find their vehicles broken into or stolen
  • Thieves crashing into stores to steal ATMs or cash registers

Scott recounted the steep costs that operators must bear to secure quick-service restaurants. He told the committee how one of Elmer’s locations is faring in light of increased crime.

“Here’s a restaurant that used to be quite profitable,” he said. “However, because of burgeoning crime, we have had to hire private security patrols. With security measures now costing $80,000 per year, this eats up 40% of the restaurant's profit before overhead and taxes.”


Criminals blend in at QSRs and in their parking lots. They use the restaurant’s outdoor spaces to traffic stolen goods or people, deal drugs, and worse. With more than 15,000 violent crimes occurring at QSRs every year, quick-service restaurants are the nation’s ninth-highest location where Americans can be the victim of a serious crime.

While not every incident brings a police department’s major task force, public nuisance and property crimes, like vandalism, trespassing, public intoxication, and indecent exposure, keep customers from returning. One study found that an increase in property crimes resulted in about a 12% reduction in the average number of visits per venue.

Owners and operators are right about their concerns over the state of security in quick-service restaurants, an industry that employs 3.8 million people in the United States. From verbal attacks to physical assaults, QSR workers report their jobs are becoming more difficult by the day, reporting that:

  • More than 60% of QSR workers said they had to put up with emotional abuse and disrespect from customers.
  • A California study analyzed QSR 911 calls from 643 locations over a four-year period. Of the 77,200 reported incidents, more than 12% involved assault.

Increasingly unsafe working conditions mean QSR owners face huge hurdles in hiring and retaining workers. With an average monthly employee turnover rate of 144% (up from 135% in 2019) and a 5.7% employee quitting rate, owners must allocate more money in their budgets to replace, retrain, and keep staff.


Because QSRs handle and accumulate large amounts of cash during the day, criminals take note. And, because Americans like to dine and dash—in their cars—drive-thrus mean QSRs are surrounded by dark areas and/or alleys.

“These factors add up to the perfect target for ill-willed criminals,” according to a Restaurant Loss Prevention Security Association spokesperson.

While crime prevention with remote-access surveillance is key, here’s how to mitigate potential risks:

  • Change up schedules: Employees are most vulnerable during expected times, like opening and closing, so stagger deposits throughout the day and use different routes to the bank.
  • Comply, not confront: Train staff to adhere to robbers’ demands rather than confront the situation.
  • Use the buddy system: Ensure no one is alone when opening, closing, or leaving the premises. Make sure one employee is responsible for calling for help if it is needed.
  • Call the police: Train staff to not escalate, nor get involved in, violent acts. Find a safe place and call for help.
  • Leave the cash drawer open: Point-of-sale systems are expensive, so it may be worth it to leave the drawer visible to prevent an intruder from breaking the hardware.
  • Walk the premises: Remove payphones, trim trees and shrubbery, ensure lighting and motion sensors work as expected, consider additional fencing, and check security camera installations.
  • Check inside spaces: Make sure freezers and coolers are always unlocked and can be opened from the inside, replace dropped ceilings in restrooms, and check that every stall is open before closing for the night.


LiveView Technologies provides an end-to-end solution security solution for QSRs. Our proprietary software and hardware actively deter crimes, going far beyond traditional security systems.

LVT Units, our completely mobile surveillance cameras, offer 24/7 remote monitoring without the need for external power or internet hookups. The cloud-based security system can be deployed anywhere, including QSR parking lots or near a drive-thru, as well as back alleys or next to the dumpsters.

Our quick-service restaurant clients have experienced:

  • A sharp decrease in violent crimes, loitering, panhandling, vagrancy, vandalism, drug dealing, and trafficking
  • An 8% increase in revenue
  • A 56% decrease in all incidents
  • A 75% decrease in threat incidents
  • 67% decrease in ambulance incidents

LVT’s effective enterprise security camera systems are proactive, complete with integrated layers of video surveillance capabilities including 360-degree remote monitoring and robust video analytics. Add features like motion sensors, lights, thermal imaging, and alarm systems and LVT Units can help deliver a 5-Star dining experience for customers and employees—from the parking lot.

Our customers trust LVT to keep QSRs safe, deter would-be criminals, and defend against bad actors. Ready to learn more about LVT?  Contact our team today for a demo.

Learn more here.

More Posts You'll Love