Commercial Crime Prevention Tips

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Commercial Crime Prevention Tips

All business owners know they are targets for criminals. However, following the proper precautions allows business owners to make their businesses less viable as targets.

One of the most important means of defense is local law enforcement. Local law enforcement officials can provide a free security survey and make suggestions about the weak points in a building's defenses. They can also recommend alarm system companies and the best alarm system features for an individual business (Security 1). Moreover, know the names of the officers that patrol the around the business; getting personal with the law enforcement officials can ensure more individualized attention to the business. This also gives business owners a contact person in the case that an emergency does occur (Robbery 1). Similarly, invite police personnel, especially those patrolling the area, to view the layout of the building. This will allow them to plan ahead should they need to secure the area. It will also permit them to notice suspicious activity (Carpino 6). Finally, supply the local police department with a list of employees who have keys to the business. If the police need to gain entrance, they will need to contact someone with a key (Carpino 2).

The next line of defense is to secure the property. This goes beyond simply locking doors. It is essential to secure the perimeter of the business first - a 6' chain link fence with barbed wire is suggested for the best security (Commercial 1). Immediately around the building, the business owner may want to plant hedges. They should be wide, not tall, and have leaves or other growths that are prickly (Burglary Defense 1). These hedges not only provide a level of protection, but they also beautify the property. One expert points out that the appearance of the property can influence criminals' attitude toward the property; a neatly kept building and property gives the impression that there are more eyes watching the property, and so it is a deterrent to criminals (Lockyer 1). While a fence may be a security measure, it is important not to compromise the integrity of this precaution. It is equally important to provide adequate lighting around the exterior of the building. Visibility should extend to 100' (Parking 1), and the lighting fixtures should be difficult to damage or alter (Small Business 1). It is essential also to ensure that foliage doesn't interfere with lighting (Robbery 1).

After securing the perimeter of the property, it is vital to secure the building. This is the final barrier to criminals, so it is very important to be aware of and use as many precautions as possible. One important detail that many people do not consider is the vehicles they may keep around their property could be used for a forceful entry into the building. For this reason, it is recommended to store vehicles away from the building and not leave the keys in any vehicles after hours. Another often missed security issue is fire ladders or utility ladders. Criminals will use any entrance, including a roof or ventilation entrance. To prevent this, experts suggest ensuring that ladders are raised at least 8' about the ground, or having a secured enclosure if they cannot be raised above that level (Commercial 1). In addition to these precautions, it is also recommended that business owners install bars, break resistant film, or mesh on windows (Commercial 2). For safety, as well as quality, it is best to use security equipment, like window bars and grilles, that is UL listed (Security 1). UL listing is very important, because while it is important to protect the business from criminal entry, it is equally important to ensure safety. UL listing is a certification that the product meets safety and quality standards, much in the same way that many fire exit devices are UL listed. Furthermore, it is important to ensure that window locks are not accessible through a broken window, in the case that a criminal attempts to gain entrance by one (Burglary Defense 1).

In addition to these precautions, there is, of course, securing all doors and entrances to the building. Install metal or solid wood doors and tamper-proof hinges on external doors. If there are external glass doors, they should have mesh running throughout, and sliding doors should be secured with a floor rail and vertical steel pin assembly (Commercial 1). It is suggested that doors be locked with a deadbolt lock. If a padlock is used, file off the serial number so that unauthorized keys are not made (Small Business 1). Furthermore, an alarm system may be the final line of defense against criminals (Security 1). Security experts note that prominently displayed warning decals, provided by the alarm company, can be a deterrent to criminals (Commercial 2). Likewise, using clearly displayed signs marking public and private areas, as well as entrances and exits. This will make it easy for employees to determine if someone does not belong (Lockyer 1).

So far, these are all external precautions, designed to prevent criminal entry. However, it is also important to take precautions within a business. Arrange displays so that there is clear visibility into the store (Security 1) and keep shelves to 5' or less (Lockyer 1). Interior lighting is equally important so that police can see activity inside the store (Commercial 2). Place the cash register close to the front display windows so that police can see it during and after hours (Business 1). During business hours, additional protection can be provided by installing convex mirrors so that employees have view of all angles (Security 1), while pressure switch mats can be installed in front of private areas to keep out unauthorized personnel (Burglary Defense 1). Similarly, installing a device on entryways that announces entry will alert employees that customers, or potential criminals, have entered the business (Small Business 1). Moreover, to show that large amounts of cash are not stored on premises, leave unused cash registers open and empty. Similarly, secure the safe so it cannot be moved, and make sure it is fireproof. Leave it open and empty after hours (Business 1).

Anther point to consider is that one should never underestimate the efficiency of the human factor - people in and around a business can provide incredible protection for the business. Train employees in various security measures so they know how to protect the business. Tell employees to make eye contact with customers when they enter (Robbery 1); this deters criminals because it gives employees an opportunity to make a visual ID immediately. Instruct employees to make deposits in pairs. This protects the business and the employees; by having someone to corroborate the events, each employee is protected against being falsely accused of theft, while it is unlikely that an employee will be tempted to take deposit money if there is a witness (Carpino 15). To protect employees and the business's profits, do not make a schedule of going to the bank. Go at a different time each day and don't use a bank bag (Carpino 17). In the same manner, two employees should always open and close the business. Again, it protects the employees and the business. Additionally, as much as a well-kept property can be a deterrent to thieves, so can a presentable dress code for employees (Robbery 1). Set up a neighborhood watch with other businesses in the area, including a signal that businesses can use to alert each other of suspicious activity (Security 1).

Finally, another important security issue is fire. Studies have shown that arson is often connected with robbery (Garrow 3). As important as it is to secure the property against entrance, it is as important to secure it against arson. Keep flammable material away from the fence or edge of property to prevent criminals from starting a fire from outside the property (by throwing a match or some other incendiary onto the flammable material). Similarly, secure trash bins away from walls and stop up gaps under doors (Garrow 3). Make sure that address numbers are clearly visible from the street so firefighting personnel can easily find the location if necessary (Fire 1). Additionally, all emergency exit doors should be unlocked from the inside at all times (Fire 5). The easiest way to do this is to install a fire exit bar on each emergency exit. Panic exit bars are designed to remain unlocked at all times, so no one is ever caught inside a burning building without an exit. These emergency exit devices are also a secure means of preventing unauthorized entrance to the building. Many fire crash bars do not allow entrance from the outside of a building without specific accessories. For businesses that have emergency exits that are rarely used, this design is ideal, since the door is always secure from the exterior, but is always unlocked from inside. For those businesses that use emergency exits for regular business purposes, like deliveries, panic crash bars are often equipped with dogging, which locks the fire exit bar in a depressed position so the door is accessible from the exterior. By adding fire door hardware like handles, the emergency exit door can become a functioning door. Furthermore, many emergency fire exit bars come with a cylinder lock for additional security from the exterior of the building. Other fire door hardware can make a business more convenient for customers. For instance, certain door closers are designed to slow the opening or closing of doors to accommodate the entry of a person in a wheelchair or with other mobility difficulties. Thus, by installing the proper emergency fire devices, a business owner can secure the business, protect customers and employees, and accommodate customer needs.

Sources:

"Commercial Building Security Tips." Loss Prevention Bulletins. The Co-operators General Insurance Company. 27 November 2008. http://www.cooperators.ca/static/pdf/en/LP014.pdf

Carpino, John M. "Commercial Burglary & Robbery Prevention Tips." SafetyCops.com. 30 November, 2008. http://www.safetycops.com/commercial_burglary.htm

"Fire Safety for Small Business." Plainville Fire Department. 30 November, 2008. http://plainvillefire.us/firework.htm

Garrow, K. "Fire Safety Tips - How to Protect Your Business from Arson." Ezine @rticles. 30 November, 2008. http://ezinearticles.com/?Fire-Safety-Tips---How-to-Protect-Your-Business-From-Arson&id=1644458

Lockyer, Bill. "Burglary Prevention." Crime and Prevention Center. California Attorney General's Office. 29 November, 2008. http://crc.losrios.edu/~police/Resources/burglary.pdf

McGoey, Chris, CPP, CSP, CAM. "Parking Lot Security." Crime Doctor. 29 November, 2008. http://www.crimedoctor.com/parking.htm.

Montaldo, Charles. "Business Burglary Prevention Tips: Keep Your Business Safe." About.com. 29 November, 2008. http://crime.about.com/od/prevent/qt/burglary_tips.htm

Montaldo, Charles. "Robbery Prevention Tips for Businesses: Make Your Business Safer." About.com. 29 November, 2008. http://crime.about.com/od/prevent/qt/prevent_robbery.htm

"Security Tips for Small Business." 27 November, 2008. http://www.lunaweb.com/buscrime.htm

"Small Business Security Tips." Security World. 27 November 2008 http://www.securityworld.com/ia-389-small-business-security-tips.aspx

"Small Business Security Tips: Burglary Defense and Prevention." ADT. 29 November, 2008. http://www.adt.com/wps/portal/adt/small_business/learn_about_security/security_tips


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