STAY ALERT! Know who is in your business and where they are. Watch for people who hang around without buying anything. Also be aware of suspicious activity outside your place of business. Write down license plate numbers and descriptions of suspicious vehicles or persons if possible.
Try and locate check-out counters near the front of the store, clearly visible from the outside so employees can better watch activities and a suspect's activities would be visible from the outside. The cash register should also be secured to the counter top.
Clearly mark public paths and make private areas harder for non-employees to access. Use signs to direct patrons to parking and entrances. A friendly greeting and eye contact goes a long way to reducing crime and improving customer relations. You should recommend your employees do this.
If you can, use interior shelving and displays that are no higher than five feet and even lower in front of windows. When closing your business for the day, empty your cash drawer and leave it open so a burglar won’t be tempted to see if there is something inside. Mirrors can be used to improve visibility in blind corners, high counters, hallways, etc... This can deter shoplifting and burglaries also.
You should consider posting a “cash control policy” at the front of the business (i.e., “clerk cannot open safe”) and do not allow large amounts of cash to accumulate in cash registers during business hours. Try to use only one register at night, leaving all others empty and open.
Do not keep large amounts of cash inside the business. Cash and other valuables should be stored in a safe that is secure to the structure. Vary times and routes of travel to the bank for deposits and don’t advertise what’s in the bag. Place height marker strips on the door frames of all exits. They can help employees and cameras determine the height of a criminal when they leave the building.
Limit access to sensitive areas by using key control techniques. Place keys in the care of your most trusted employees only. Engrave “do not duplicate” on all keys, and keep an accurate log of who the keys are issued to. If an employee is terminated or quits on bad terms it is imperative that they locks be re-keyed.
If possible, use two or more employees during opening and closing. Whenever possible, a visual perimeter check should be completed as you arrive and leave (driving around the building). Be cautious when cleaning the parking lot or taking out the trash at night. Wear a reflective vest and have someone keep an eye on you.
All of the valuable property and machinery inside your business should be inventoried annually and identified. All serial and model numbers should be stored in a safe place away from the business itself. Engrave your property with an owner applied number (OAN). SPD recommends using your DL or ID number in the following pattern; State, Number, Type of ID. For example:
TX12345678ID or FL87654321DL
If you do this there is a much higher likelihood of getting your property back. There are countless times officers have someone pulled over with property in the vehicle that they know has to be stolen but cannot prove it and must release the property with the person.
All exterior doors should be constructed of steel, aluminum alloy or solid-core hardwood. If you have double doors they should be secured with heavy-duty, multiple point, long flush bolts. Remember, the frame of the door must be as strong as the door. Try to have your employees use one main entrance. This will minimize employee theft, unauthorized entry during regular hours, and doors being left ajar. All exterior door latches should be anti-shim, dead-locking type and outside hinges should have non-removable hinge pins.
Double cylinder locks are recommended where glass is within 40” of the locking mechanism (this means dead-bolt locks that require a key on either side to be operated; no latch). A door chime or bell enunciator can be installed to alert you when someone enters or leaves.
All glass should be burglar-resistant. This is also great for hurricane protection as well. Mylar laminating window film is a less expensive alternative and is becoming easier and cheaper to find. This essentially acts like the windshield in your car by adding a layer of plastic-like material which helps the glass from shattering. They even make this film in UV protectant and tinted forms now. To provide optimum window security install bars, grilles, grates or heavy-duty wire.
Remember that skylights, ventilation openings, air conditioning/heating ducts and crawl holes can also be an entry point for burglars. If these areas cannot be permanently secured, be sure they are protected by an alarm system.
The most common attacks on padlocks are made with bolt cutters; quality padlocks are essential. Remember the better quality of the locking mechanism, the better your chances of keeping criminals out.
Your businesses landscaping is also important. A rundown business can attract criminals. They might think your property doesn’t have an alarm system or may be interested in unsecured property that they can turn in as scrap metal. Overgrown shrubbery, vehicles and trash dumpsters near the building provide excellent cover for burglars. You can reduce access to the roof by trimming adjacent trees and removing debris that can be stacked. Secure any roof access or fire escape ladders with locking covers.
Criminals are less likely to select a business with an alarm or video monitoring systems. There are many different types in the market but NONE of them will work if they are not activated or maintained. Here are some things you can check involving these systems:
-Have a fail-safe battery backup;
-Cameras need to be well placed and well maintained;
-Lighting should be considered when placing cameras;
-Tapes need to be changed regularly to maintain clarity;
-Prominently advertise that you have a system with decals and signs;
-Invest in a good, quality camera. If the picture is not clear the camera does no good;
-Employees need to be trained on and made aware of the importance of the system and passwords need to be changed when an employee leaves.
If you’re considering purchasing a safe, select a combination-style one and make sure it is anchored securely into concrete. Select a safe based on the value of the property to be protected. A higher level of protection should be chosen for high value merchandise or large amounts of money.
By anchoring a safe in a well-lit area, there’s a better chance burglars would be noticed if they tried to remove or open the safe. If the safe is empty, leave it open.
Another very important step is to post a “No Trespassing” sign around any fenced-in or other areas that you do not want the general public to have access to. If you have signs posted this can alleviate an officer having to warn the person off the property and they can, instead, be taken into custody at the time of offense.
If you arrive at your business and find a burglary has occurred, DO NOT ENTER THE BUILDING!!! A burglar might still be inside. Call 911 or SPD using one of the provided numbers on the CONTACT US page and wait for officers to arrive. If possible do not open your business. Employees and customers can destroy valuable evidence. The chances of apprehending the suspect(s) are greatly increased if the scene is left completely intact.
Check out the SPD Business Security Survey checklist here. This form is the same that crime prevention officers would use to conduct preliminary security checks of your business. You can print this form out and check off the items yourself.