Preventing Burglary

by Sara Naumann

You know how to handle a shoplifter. Youre mindful of potential employee theft. But have you taken precautions against burglary?

Sound dramatic? I knowmost independent retailers have enough on their plates between placing orders and selling stock. Often, the only time you think about security is when youre locking up at night. Its only when a break-in occurs at your store (or your neighbors) that the idea of burglary hits close to home.

Fortunately, there are plenty of preventative measures you can take to safeguard your business. Take a look:

Preventative Measure #1: Strengthen external security. Whats external security and how do you reinforce it? Simply this: Upgrade the locks on your doors, install security lighting and make sure your windows have strengthened or laminated glass.

Preventative Measure #2: Install an alarm. Burglar alarms effectively protect a store; areas with a higher number of alarms have a lower rate of burglary. Do some research before purchasing an alarm systemyoull be making an investment, but you dont want to end up with an alarm that can easily be disabled, or that has frequent false alarms.

Preventative Measure #3: Safeguard cash and high-priced stock. Technically its called "target removal" but basically its common sense. Use a safe for your valuables, mark computers with engravable identification numbers and leave empty cash registers open at night. Of course, bank your cash at the end of every day.

Preventative Measure #4: Screening and training staff. Its a good idea to screen prospective employees by doing a background check. Recode your alarm and/or install new locks after an employee quits or is firedand always make sure you retrieve her key. Most of all, encourage employees to be aware of suspicious behavior and unfamiliar vehiclesand what they should do in case of a burglary.

Preventative Measure #5: After-hours security guards. I know what youre thinking: I can barely afford a sales staff, let alone a security guard! Yet burglars say that security guards pose the greatest threat to their activities. And having a security guard isnt necessarily your responsibility alone. If your store is in a strip mall or retail park, you might already have access to a security guard. If not, consider pooling resources with your neighbors to hire someone to patrol all your businesses.

Preventative Measure #6: Crime-proof your environment. You want your store to be inviting to paying customersnot to criminals! Take a look at the area around the outside of your store. First, can you see clearly around the front of your store, or do trees and bushes obscure your view? Make sure the area is clean and well-groomed; litter and overgrown bushes is a sign of a neglected environment. Pay attention to how your store looks at night, when the parking lot is empty. Make sure the storefront is well-lit and your security sign clearly visible.

Need more assistance or information? Contact your local police departmenttheyre usually more than happy to help businesses stay safe and secure and can even offer advice specific to your business.