Is Your Business a Soft Target for Crime?

Chelsea Mitchell Security Resources

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Burglars seek out targets with maximum return for minimal risk of getting arrested.  They want to get in quickly without being seen, grab easily carried items of value, get out before being detected by a burglar alarm.

As the person responsible for the security of your facility, your goal is to do everything you can to make your building an unattractive target – to  increase the risk to criminals and minimize the visibility and availability of items attractive to thieves.

Have you assessed your facility’s “burglar ROI”?  This checklist is a good place to start.

Is the business a likely target for burglary?

  • Is there a lack of perimeter protection? Not only do you want to give attention to your security, but also your neighbors.  Their lack of perimeter security can put your business at risk.  A burglar can break into one store in a strip mall and get easy access to the other businesses in the complex either through a drop down ceiling or a sheet-rocked wall (read a recent example of a neighbor break-in)
  • Do you store items of significant value? Popular items with burglars include small electronics, scrap metal, prescription drugs, cash, alcohol and anything small and portable.  Hard drives storing patient or customer information is becoming more attractive for use in identity theft.
  • Is your outdoor lighting inadequate? Burglars hate the light.  The more you can light up the exterior of your building – front and back – the less attractive you’ll be.  You want to remove any and all hiding places, either through security design, lights or both.

Is your business a soft target for crime?

Can the business be cased by burglars easily?

  • Can a burglar approach your business without being seen? Do you have an empty lot or field next door?  Does landscaping obscure some doors or windows?  If so, you want to give attention to these areas to remove or decrease their ability to provide cover for a prowler.
  • Is the cash drawer left closed after business hours? Make it obvious that cash isn’t left in the store after closing.
  • Have you decided not to use a burglar alarm system that detects burglars who come in through the roof, wall or other unusual point of entry, such as a door or window? Rethink this.  Burglars are creative and break into businesses deliberately avoiding door contacts and motion sensors (not too difficult to do).  If your security system doesn’t take this into account, you’re left vulnerable.

Is the business easy to break into?

  • Do you have unprotected openings larger than 96 square inches? A burglar can squeeze in through a shockingly small opening.  This is particularly true for intruders under the influence of drugs.  Make certain EVERY opening is secured … even if you think it’s too small for someone to access.
  • Are exterior locks easy to pick or of poor quality? How about your doors, windows, door frames and window frames … are they solid and firm?  Poorly fitting doors and windows lead burglars to think your overall security plan is neglected.
  • Are locks and other security devices poorly maintained? You need to confirm your burglar alarm system is working either through a “walk test” or by choosing a monitoring company that tests the system every time it is turned on.  An effective burglar alarm gets an annual preventive maintenance visit from the installation company; this should also include a change of batteries.

Is it easy to collect cash and high value items from inside the business?

  • Are valuable items accessible and not protected by security anchors?
  • Is cash stored in the business during non-operating hours?
  • Are cash and high value items not protected by a verifiable interior alarm system?

Is it easy for a burglar to leave the business with substantial amounts of “loot”?

  • Is your parking lot poorly lit? Light, light, light, light up the exterior of your building.
  • Are boxes or other stackable, climbable items allowed to pile up near the fence or building? Don’t give a burglar resources to get over your fence or onto your roof.  Make it as difficult as possible to get to you.
  • Is there an exit leading to an alley or driveway? Give particular attention to any place where a vehicle can be drive up to the business and load items into it.
  • Are some doors “secured” by weak locks? Make sure all your locks are expertly installed and non-bumpable.

Can burglars be successfully prosecuted if arrested?

  • Are you unwilling to participate in a trial or other legal proceeding? If so, reconsider this.  You want the reputation in your community as a business owner who does not tolerate crime.  Similarly, get active in your city’s and neighborhood’s crime prevention efforts.  Prevention measures are far less costly than the expense of recovering from a break-in.  Even if the burglar doesn’t take anything of value, he may cause thousands of dollars in damage while inside.  And the costs due to interruption of business can be huge.
  • Do you have systematic procedures for maintaining evidence for police use? If you have a security camera system or other means of capturing evidence, confirm it meets prosecution standards for your jurisdiction.