People tend to overlook the fact that businesses can be victims of crime since it doesn’t happen to us personally. Whether it’s theft, burglary, vandalism, or fraud, the threat of these crimes is very real and can happen to any business on any given day. The FBI estimated that organized retail theft accounted for $30 billion lost in 2010 which means that there is $82.2 million stolen or lost every single day and there’s no end in sight.
All of these crimes are completely avoidable and you can save yourself thousands upon thousands of dollars by being proactive about crime prevention and following a bare handful of the prevention tips outlined below.
Theft / Burglary
Shoplifters want your goods, but don’t want to pay. Copper theft has reached pandemic proportions with thieves targeting any type of equipment or machinery with copper plating or tubing to strip them of the precious metal. Simply put, there are people out there that want what your company has and they’re willing to steal to take it home with them.
The FBI estimates that there were 2.16 million burglaries in 2010 which means that there were 246 thefts occurring every hour in the US. By making sure your business does not appear to be an easy target, you’ll minimize the chance that your company ends up being a statistic.
Theft Prevention Tips
- Install anti-theft sensors on your goods that trigger an alarm if they’re taken beyond a specific point in your store.
- Ensure that high-value items, checkout areas, fitting room waiting areas, inventory areas, and all entrances & exits are being recorded at all times.
- Enclose any equipment with copper components locked in heavy duty fences.
- Install an access control system that keeps your doors locked at all times except when authorized personnel swipe their keycards.
On the surface, vandalism sounds rather mundane and inexpensive to fix since the term generally conjures an image in one’s mind of graffiti scrawled across a wall or a broken window. You can slather on a fresh coat of paint or replace the window and it’s like it never happened, right?
Think of vandalism in a different light. Think of every tire on your fleet of delivery trucks being slashed and their gas tanks filled with sugar, which you don’t find out about until after the tires have been replaced days later. Vandalism. Think of seeing the door to your warehouse caved in and hanging askew from a single hinge, the warehouse itself was ransacked with row after row of shelves knocked over haphazardly, and smashed pieces of what was once your inventory are strewn about the wreckage. Vandalism. It’s not so inexpensive and easy to fix now, is it?
Provided that your company is insured, you’ll recoup the cost of the damages and you’ll see a bump in your premiums, but the biggest hurdle is recovering from the damage that was done and not the damage itself. You’ll have to ask yourself some very tough questions whose answers may make you cringe. How much lost revenue will your company incur by operating at a diminished capacity? How many orders will go unfulfilled? What if you lose clients because of it? How will your brand’s image suffer?
Important equipment being catastrophically destroyed or dismantled can bring a business to its knees. Providing video evidence of the crime can help speed along recovery process and guarantee that you receive the money you need to get your business back on track.
Vandalism Prevention Tips
- Keep your parking lot and the exterior of your facility well-lit.
- Keep your facility’s landscaping well-groomed and clear of windows, entrances, and exits.
- Hire a security guard to walk your grounds after hours or contact your local police department to request a nightly patrol.
- Immediately remove / repair any acts of vandalism to not paint yourself as an easy target.
Fraudulent Liability Claims
These claims come in all shapes, sizes, and degrees of severity, but the most common of these lawsuits is informally known as the “slip and fall” claim. As the name suggests, a customer or employee hurts themselves on your property and demands compensation for their purported suffering despite their injuries being of their own design.
If your employees or other customers weren’t around to witness the event, you’ll have no recourse but to settle quietly or accrue thousands upon thousands of dollars fighting the claim in court and that’s not counting any damages the jury may award the claimant. Most of these con men are looking for a quick settlement on-site to get cash in hand. However, if you have a video security system that captures these people in the act, you’ll have all the evidence you need to protect yourself from their fraudulent claim and prevent it from ever going to a courtroom.
Liability Claim Prevention Tips
- Ensure proper coverage of your property by installing security cameras to capture these claims on video. By installing cameras in visible areas around your facility, you’re less likely to have these claims attempted.
- Keep customers in safe, hazard-free areas by restricting access to operational sections of your business. Even having an “Employees Only” sign on a door is enough to turn away most customers.
- Keep any video footage you may capture in an archive and, if your budget allows, maintain at least 60 days of recorded video at all times to guarantee your liability protection.
- Train your employees to interact with your customers each time they see them. This not only provides a positive customer experience by having helpful employees, but it also deters these frauds since they’ll know they’re being watched.
One of the biggest contributors to this type of business crime is internal theft, which we’ll detail in the next section, but that’s only one facet of the overall issue. Lassitude in adhering to company inventory control policies can cause your goods to “walk away” and disappear, but most of the time they’re not actually gone, they’re simply unaccounted for. No company with a physical inventory is immune to this either. Regardless of your company being a self-run eBay store or a multi-national retailer, it’s just the magnitude of the inventory shrink that changes. It’s happened to us and it’ll happen to you too.
If your warehouse / logistics staff ever finds an anomalous discrepancy, an immediate inventory count and reconciliation should be your first step in uncovering the cause. Most of the time, it’ll be an incorrect count or an aisle / item was overlooked. If your count doesn’t find the error and the discrepancy is very real, you may be suffering from internal theft and additional measures will need to be taken.
Inventory Shrink Prevention Tips
- Restrict access to inventory areas to key personnel.
- Perform regular inventory counts to establish your baseline variance so discrepancies can’t be missed.
- Monitor loading docks for unscheduled pickups.
- Familiarize yourself with your company’s / vendor’s drivers.
- Maintain rigid adherence to inventory control policies.
Just like we don’t want to believe our kids are capable of wrong-doing (they are), we never want to suspect our employees of stealing from the company. We like to believe that we’re a good judge of moral character and that they wouldn’t bite the hand that feeds them, but the sad fact of the matter is that employee theft is far more common than you might think. We’ve touched on this in a previous article and you can check out our internal theft statistics article to read the full write-up.
According to an employee theft case study by Jack L. Hayes International, the employees that are most likely to steal are those with the least invested in the company and that 1 out of every 36 employees steals from their employer. In general, your most recently hired employees, with less than one year on the job, and your part-time staff have the greatest propensity to take company property.
Employee Theft Prevention Tips
- Perform extensive background checks on potential candidates before hiring them to uncover any “red flags”.
- Position security cameras so that high-value items and cash boxes are always monitored.
- Install an access control system so you may track who was in your facility, where they were, and when they were there. Terminated employees can have their card deactivated rather than changing the locks.
- Enact a company policy where employee bags must be shown to security personnel before they leave to ensure they are free of company property.
- Put all levels of your staff through loss-prevention training programs to educate them on the warning signs.
By investing in a security camera or access control system, you can protect your investment and prevent untold thousands of dollars in completely avoidable losses. All it takes is a single phone call. We offer obligation-free estimates for start-to-finish video security system installation. If nothing else, be proactive about prevention. Make it a point to talk to your employees on a weekly basis and hear what they have to say about what they see during their shifts. You’re likely to find keen insights to your business in the unlikeliest of places.
Crime Statistic Information Sources
Burglary / Theft : FBI 2010 Burglary Statistics
Internal Theft : Jack L. Hayes Employee Theft Case Study