According to the FBI, more than a half million businesses were burgled in the U.S. in 2012, the latest year for which full statistics are available, and law enforcement officials reported more than 350,000 robberies the same year. Even a single burglary or robbery can result in significant losses to businesses, not just in terms of property stolen, but also in terms of damage done to a property during the crime. Making sure your business has a robust and responsive business security plan is essential to the safety and security of your company and its employees.
First things first
Before deciding which security measures your business needs to implement to remain secure, take some time to consider the specific risks your business faces. That means looking at the products or goods burglars might be looking to steal, assessing your building’s physical structure and evaluating your neighborhood. The U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) recommends speaking with local law enforcement personnel as well as parole officers to learn specific strategies that can help guide your business security plan. Once you understand your risks, it’s time to decide what measures to put in place. Here are a few of the most effective products and approaches to deterring burglary of businesses:
Locks are one of the most important deterrents to would-be robbers and burglars, and there’s a good reason: Aside from their obvious benefits of preventing entry, a strong lock sends a message to criminals, portraying your business as one that takes its security very seriously. When a burglar finds powerful, up-to-date locks in place, they know there’s a good chance they’ll be facing multiple obstacles to their end goal, obstacles that can provide law enforcement plenty of time to get to the business and make arrests. Plus, forcing entry when a strong lock is in place makes a lot of noise which can also draw unwanted attention. In essence, well-chosen, secure locks on doors and windows do double-duty when it comes to preventing crime.
Another major advantage of locks for small businesses is their relatively low cost. While some security solutions can cost several thousand dollars to implement, locks are much easier to work into a small business’ budget, providing considerable “bang for the buck” when it comes to security. Having locks professionally installed by an experienced commercial locksmith also ensures they’ll function as intended with no weak points or “short cuts” that can have an impact on their effectiveness.
What the Experts Say about Locks
The Pennsylvania Prison Society is in a unique position when it comes to providing advice about deterring crime. Working with current and former prisoners on a regular basis, they know how burglars and thieves operate, and that means they know how to help businesses protect themselves. According to the Society, deadbolt locks featuring bolts with a minimum 1” throw and a hardened, saw-resistant steel insert represent the basic necessary level of security for exterior doors. The Small Business Administration goes one step further, recommending businesses use multiple strong locks throughout the property as well as electronic locks that record all openings.
Alarm and Surveillance Systems
Next to strong locks, installing a silent alarm that alerts the local police is one of the best steps you can take to secure your premises. While it might seem a noisy alarm would be the most effective in scaring robbers and burglars away, most experienced criminals can determine in just a few seconds where the alarm is coming from and quickly disable it. Having a silent alarm prevents criminals from finding the source or even knowing an alarm signal has been sent.
Once an alarm system is installed, be sure to advertise the fact with easy-to-see placards.
Avoid identifying the type of system since experienced criminals have a keen understanding of how different companies install their systems and will use the company name to determine how to disable the system before attempting to break in.
Inside your property, install a variety of motion detectors and security cameras carefully placed to enable a broad range of viewing angles. Place any alarm panels well out of view of windows so criminals can’t determine the make of your system or tell whether it’s set or off.
Crime Prevention Through Enviromental Design (CPTED)
The Small Business Administration and many cities, towns and townships across Pennsylvania are taking an active interest in the benefits of CPTED. The principles of CPTED are based on this simple principle spelled out by the SBA in its guidelines for crime prevention for businesses: “The harder it is for the intruder to enter, the less amount of time they will have in the store before they are detected and caught.”
CPTED essentially includes all the tactics to design a space so that it intrinsically deters crime. That might mean planting hollies or other spiny bushes in front of first-level windows, trimming back overgrown shrubs and ensuring the area is adequately lit. Not sure how CPTED fits in with your business’ security needs? This is when working with local law enforcement officials can help you identify local crime trends. Knowing how criminals tens to work in your neighborhood can help you decide where your property’s design is falling short when it comes to creating a naturally secure environment.
Miscellaneous Crime-Prevention Tips
Keep your cash register in clear view of the outside so it can be seen by passersby, including police.
Keep only a minimum amount of cash on hand and store large amounts in a safe throughout the day. Advertise outside that only a small amount of cash is kept on hand and you do not accept large bills.
Make sure your banking routine is varied: Go to the bank at different times of the day and carry cash in different, inconspicuous containers, not bank bags.
Make sure you use plenty of exterior lights.
Keep at least two employees on duty at night.
Don’t clutter your front windows with posters and signs; make it easy for people to see in and employees to spot suspicious people before they enter the store.
Post notices that security cameras are in use.
Keep side and back doors locked and have employees use the main entrance.
If you want to make sure your business is secured against criminals and criminal activity, take the next steps:
Evaluate your business’ security needs and develop a crime prevention plan for your business.
Speak with your local law enforcement officials and your chamber of commerce to learn about any local initiatives like town watch programs.
Then make a written plan of attack with a time line for implementation and follow through.
Crime won’t stop itself – you need to take action to protect your business. Call us today to learn how our commercial locksmith services can help you make your business more secure. Great Valley Lockshop has 8 locations in the Chester County area and will travel out of our service area if need be. We’re here to help! Give us a call at (610) 644-5334 or send an email to [email protected]