No business is immune to burglary. There’s always a possibility a thief will target a commercial space, regardless of size or industry.
In fact, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 2016 crime statistics—the most recent available—there were 412,743 reported burglaries at non-residences, including stores and offices. This is a 2.6-percent increase from 2015.
Consequently, it’s important to find ways to discourage intruders from breaking into your commercial space. While nothing is invincible, following certain steps could decrease the likelihood of such an event from taking place.
HERE ARE SIX COMMERCIAL BURGLARY PREVENTION TIPS TO CONSIDER:
1. Change entry and safe combinations when an employee leaves the company.
If you own a small business, it’s best to change the combination to the entrance of the building and/or safe if ever an employee decides to seek employment elsewhere. Even if someone leaves on good terms, you’re better off taking a moment to do this.
Consider a $4,000 burglary at the Stoudts Black Angus Antiques Mall in Adamstown, Pa. by an ex-employee, as an example. As reported in 2016 by a local news site, the accused “used keys that he either failed to return or copied to gain access to the business, according to police.”
There was a similar incident in Wayne, N.J. earlier this year, in which a former employee of McCobb's Family Restaurant was charged with burglary. The accused took money from the cash register and unsuccessfully tried to open the safe.
You may want to think about getting an access control system, which enables you to manage whom gains entry to the building. For businesses that still use keys, contemplate new ones bearing the engraving “Do Not Duplicate,” so employees cannot make any copies prior to leaving.
2. Let there be light.
“Burglary is a crime of opportunity,” explains The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. A property that looks secure isn’t an ideal target, and “if the exterior of a business appears to reflect attention to security, the burglar will likely look for an easier opportunity.”
“A business located in a high-crime area, in a remote area, or in a poorly lit area, is at greater risk of burglary—the local police can provide statistics on burglary for the area,” the property and casualty insurance company continues.
Data echo this sentiment.
As reported in the aforementioned 2016 crime statistics provided by the FBI, most burglaries at non-residential properties occurred at night. Strategically installing lights on the exterior and interior of a commercial building is a key part of securing the property. This includes entrances, exits, and windows, as well as parking lots and garages. There are even motion-activated lights available, to catch unwanted visitors by surprise.
3. Mind the landscaping.
You don’t want to give burglars places to hide as they make their way into a building. Installing lights is one way to expose their whereabouts. Keeping the landscaping simple is another. Refrain from incorporating tall trees and other plants into the design near the building. Instead, opt for small, thorny shrubs and bushes near all the entrances, to help ward off intruders. Doing so may not seem effective on its own, but combined with the other tips on this list, could make all the difference.
4. Set up a reliable alarm system.
News site Science Daily shares a 2013 study conducted by Joseph Kuhns of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, which focuses on the perspective of the burglar. It specifically looks at the strategies of 422 male and female burglars incarcerated at state prisons in North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio.
Titled “Through the eyes of a burglar: Study provides insights on habits and motivations, importance of security,” it states: “Approximately 83 percent said they would try to determine if an alarm was present before attempting a burglary, and 60 percent said they would seek an alternative target if there was an alarm on-site.”
“Among those who discovered the presence of an alarm while attempting a burglary, half reported they would discontinue the attempt, while another 31 percent said they would sometimes retreat," the report continues. "Only 13 percent said they would always continue with the burglary attempt.”
A modern alarm system comes equipped with all the bells and whistles to ensure an intruder won’t get away with breaking into a building. This includes door and window sensors, as well as interior motion sensors, which will activate the siren if any movement is detected. It also enables you to connect your smartphone with the system, so you can control it from anywhere—even when you’re not physically in the building.
5. Use video surveillance.
The aforementioned study also reveals that burglars not only look for signs of an alarm system, but also escape routes, and “outdoors cameras or other surveillance equipment.”
Installing a video surveillance system, therefore, can be extremely beneficial, especially if the camera is high-quality and forms a high-definition picture. This way, you’ll be able to clearly see the people as they enter and exit the building. Other features, such as digital zoom and smart mode, are also helpful, and keep you even more informed about what’s happening at your place of business at all times. If there is ever a suspicious person lingering on your property, you’ll receive a detailed account on what he or she is doing—all you need is your smartphone, iPad or desktop computer.
6. Let intruders know you’re watching them.
Remember: Most burglars will chose another property if there are any indications their current target is being watched. Make it easy for them to change their mind about breaking into your business by putting signs up that clearly state the premises has working cameras and an alarm system in place.