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Tips and Resources

Take a look at your business - its layout, employees, hiring practices and overall security. Assess its vulnerability to all types of crime, from burglary to fraud. The following are some basic prevention tips to help keep yourself and your business safe. 

Business Layout 

Interior 

  • Consider removing any items that obstruct you and your employees from seeing all areas of the store, and place any expensive items in cases that lock.
  • Consider installing bars on doors and windows that trigger if the glass around them breaks.
  • Use good locks (dead bolts), safes and alarm systems. Store back-up copies of your business including serial numbers for all your computer equipment and merchandize, store keys, alarm codes, files, licenses and permits, passwords, and payment receipts. If you are ever victimized, you can assess losses more easily and provide useful information for law enforcement investigations.
  • Remove any excess signage from windows and doors, allowing potential witnesses a better view of the businesses interior.
  • Remove all expensive items from window displays at night and make sure you can see easily into your business after closing.
  • Reduce how much cash you have on hand after hours. If you have cash or other valuables, keep them in a safe anchored to the floor. Change the combination if a staff member who is familiar with it leaves. Install and use a drop safe.
  • Install an alarm system. It is a deterrent to burglars, or forces them to get out quickly if they happen to break in. Post warnings in clear view that the business is equipped with an alarm, and train the staff to avoid false alarms.

Exterior  

  • Utilize exterior lighting to deter crime, increase police efficiency when patrolling the area after dark, and increase the willingness of the public to report offences to the police.
  • Make sure your address is visible so emergency vehicles can easily find your business.
  • Keep nearby shrubs and trees pruned in order to increase visibility and decrease hiding spots on the property.
  • As with windows, check for signs of any structural weaknesses. Use heavy and solid constructions, and material that is drill-resistant. You can also reinforce the backs of doors with crossbars. Be sure the door frames cannot easily be pried or forced open.

Parking Lot 

  • Ensure doorways and parking lots are well lit.
  • Paint underground walls white to increase the light levels. Reduce hiding places for criminals and maximize visibility for any patrols (or for potential witnesses to a crime). Keep exterior walls and foliage less than three feet, and trim any tree branches below six feet.
  • If the parking lot is large, the use of emergency telephones that directly dials security or the local police or sheriffs’ department may be warranted.
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Burglary Prevention

Doors and Windows 

  • Use deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Those with glass should have double cylinder deadbolts.
  • Make sure you check all doors and windows each day, before closing.
  • Develop a system of key security. Make sure all keys issued are signed for and turned in when an employee leaves the company. You may even want to change locks and combinations.
  • If you have doors with outside hinges, use non-removable hinge pins. Install panel doors lined with metal to resist drilling.
  • Doors and windows on the sides and rear of a building are often inviting to the burglar because they offer concealment. Steel reinforcing bars on doors and gratings or bars on windows offer good security.
  • Every exterior opening offers a potential point of entry. Do not overlook security at places like fire escapes, skylights, roof openings, air ducts, windows above doors, loading docks, sidewalks and basement openings.
  • Before you leave, check all potential hiding places, like bathrooms, closets and storage areas. The last thing you want to do is to lock a burglar inside.

Lights 

  • Light up all entrances with vandal-proof fixtures. Burglars like a nice dark place in which to work.
  • Keep some lights on inside, and place them near the rear so that an intruder's silhouette can be seen from the street.

Alarm Systems 

  • Install a good alarm system and have it checked regularly.
  • Make sure it is wired to go off at all potential points of entry, including doors, windows, roof openings, loading docks and vents.

Cash on Site

  • Keep as little cash around as possible. Make bank deposits frequently, but, irregularly so as not to establish a discernible pattern.
  • Securely anchor your safe in a highly visible, well-lit location.
  • Empty your cash drawers and leave them open after hours.
  • Keep the premises visible from the street; avoid blocking the interior view with high window displays and/or advertisements on windows.
  • Make sure trees and shrubs around entrance ways are trimmed.
  • Don't leave ladders or tools lying around that a burglar could use to help him break in.
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Robbery Prevention 

Be Calm 

Your own personal safety and that of your employees and customers is most important. If confronted by a suspect, stay calm and cooperate. Do not risk physical harm.

Be Observant 

Learn how to be a good witness. A good description will be vital to police, so try to remember everything you can about the robber.

  • Age
  • Complexion
  • Color of hair/cut
  • Height / Weight
  • Eyes / Eyeglasses
  • Scars / Marks/ Tattoos
  • Facial Hair
  • Clothing 
  • Vehicle / color / make / license number
  • Direction of escape
  • Weapon
  • Right / left handed

Don't compare notes with other witnesses. It's easy to become confused.

Be Cautious 

Try not to work alone, but if you must, leave a radio playing in a back room to create the impression that someone else is there.

  • If possible, arrange counters so that customers face the street in full view of people passing by.
  • Avoid turning your back on customers to answer the phone or handle paperwork.
  • Keep some 'bait money' in the cash drawer; record dates and serial numbers of bills so they can be traced by the police
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Shoplifting Prevention

Shoplifters can be pretty sharp, and if you're not careful the quantities taken will have a critical economic impact on your business. Do not take anything for granted. Even the most innocent-looking customer could be a shoplifter. They come in all ages and from every social group.

Watch For Them

  • Install convex mirrors, closed circuit TV cameras or, if your business merits it, use security officers.
  • Train your personnel to spot shoplifters and make sure they are always on the lookout.
  • If possible, greet each person that enters your business and maintain eye contact so they will know you are aware of their presence.
  • Pay particular attention to fitting rooms and other isolated areas.

Physical Arrangements 

  • The way you arrange counters and displays can deter shoplifters:
  • Put displays in full view of all employees.
  • Lock anything small that can be easily slipped into a pocket or handbag in counter cases, when possible.
  • Keep expensive items away from entrances.

Prosecute 

  • Shoplifters must know that you mean business, so ensure you contact police if you catch someone shoplifting.
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Additional Resources