Owning your own business is a huge accomplishment where you invest in your own future, but it also presents you with new security risks you may have not dealt with in the past. Overlooking these threats can leave your investment vulnerable to crime and bring your business to its knees.
As we detailed in our Top 5 Business Crimes article, there are people out there that want what your business has and are willing to break the law to get it. By and large, thieves, vandals, and burglars are looking for an easy target and by making your business appear to be more trouble than it’s worth, you will be far less likely to experience break-ins or suffer from vandalism.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Over a long enough timeline, your business will be broken into or vandalized. The extent of the damage done, and how quickly you recover from it, will solely depend upon on how thorough you were in setting up your security measures. By understanding where you’re vulnerable, you can start taking steps now to mitigate the damage and facilitate the recovery process later on down the road.
Entrances / Exits
As the main access points for your employees and customers, these are two of the most common points of entry for burglars and thieves because it grants them quick, easy access to the inside your building. Display floors and inventory areas are conveniently located near entrances and exits. These areas are the prime targets for thieves and burglars as they can quickly grab merchandise and get back to their vehicle before the police have time to respond.
Burglars tend to favor exits for their points of entry as they’re normally located at the rear of the building where few people are likely to pass by. This gives them a secluded area where they can load your merchandise into their truck without being seen. Because of this, your loading dock and remote exterior doors are the most targeted points of entry and need extra scrutiny when planning your business’s security measures.
- Install deadbolts (minimum 1″ throw) on every exterior door and only trust select employees with the keys.
- Install a deadbolt at the top and bottom of exterior facing double doors.
- An access control system is ideal as you control who is able to enter and when they’re able to access your building.
- Ensure that all doors and windows are locked securely before leaving for the day.
- Install sturdy security doors with metal door frames and reinforced glass that is not easily broken.
- Install bollards to prevent a vehicle being driven through your windows or doors.
- Keep loading dock doors shut & secured at all times except when receiving a shipment.
Large exterior windows are just doors waiting to happen. With the toss of a brick or swing of a crowbar, you now have a gaping hole in the side of your building that the burglars are using to load all of your valuable merchandise into their truck. By using reinforced glass and additional locking devices, your windows can be just as secure, if not more so, than the doors to your building.
Some companies will recommend that you install frosted or glazed glass on your exterior windows. These panes of glass have a reflective or translucent film on their outward facing surface which makes it nearly impossible for would-be thieves and burglars to see what’s inside your building. While the rationale behind this is sound, it also prevents patrolling policemen from seeing anyone moving around inside your building after hours. This style of glass works as much against you as it does for you.
- Invest in clear security glass for exterior windows so they can’t be easily broken.
- Bathe these areas in light so they can be seen clearly from the street.
- Eliminate small windows at ground level so broken panes of glass can be easily recognized from a distance.
- Keep the inside of your building lit so passing policemen can see if anyone is in your building when they patrol the area at night.
While not a traditional security risk, landscaping can be used by criminals as hiding places or it can obscure the view of your business from the street where a passing policeman won’t see the window a burglar shattered or one of your employees being assaulted in the parking lot. When it comes to security, visibility is king and overgrown or unruly landscaping can cause areas of your property to be completed hidden from helpful eyes that could catch a criminal in the act.
Take a walk around the perimeter of your property and pause roughly every fifteen feet to see what areas of your building are obscured and what they’re being hidden by. If it’s a door or window that could be used as an access point for a burglary, take measures to remove whatever is in the way.
Landscaping can also be used offensively against would be threats. By planting bushes with thorny and prickly leaves under your windows and around perimeter fencing, you can definitely make criminals think thrice before they try to break into your building.
- Keep landscaping groomed and trimmed back to keep your business visible from the street.
- Keep tree canopies above eight feet and bushes below three feet.
- Install a lighting system so that your property is well-lit after hours.
- Minimize the inclusion of stones / bricks that can used to break glass or door handles.
- Keep property free of trash & litter as well since it indicates neglect.
Parking Lots / Garages
Unfortunately, securing these areas tends to get overlooked until an incident happens which reminds business owners just how dangerous parking lots and garages can be to employees and customers alike. Parking areas are breeding grounds for both violent and non-violent crime since cars are left unattended for hours at a time and most people that are headed to their vehicles do so alone with most of the targeted victims being female.
Most instances of crime in parking lots occurs after normal business hours when only a few employees are working late as there is less chance of the criminal being seen. Typically, criminals are looking to either break into or steal a vehicle, but there are certain predators that target these areas to perpetrate violent crimes.
- Hire a security guard to walk employees to their vehicles and to regularly patrol the area.
- Keep the parking areas well-lit after business hours.
- Install an LPR camera system at the entrances and exits to capture incoming and outgoing license plates on video.
- Contact your local police department and request a nightly patrol.
- Designate an employee only parking area where a key card or code is required for entry.
If you take one thing away from this article, remember that visibility is your strongest defense. Thieves and vandals don’t want to be seen committing their crimes. Keeping your property well-lit and having your landscaping regularly groomed will make your business visible from the street and passively deter any would-be criminals from stepping onto your property. Adding additional layers of security on top of that strong foundation will make your business more trouble than it’s worth to break into and burglars will move on to easier targets.