Combatting Break-in Threats in the Retailer World

The retail industry poses a special challenge for security professionals. Other types of facilities like hospitals, airports, and middle schools don’t have bullseyes on them quite like electronics stores and shopping malls.

To start, the security needs of retail establishments vary quite a bit from one to the next. Dollar stores are different from home improvement stores, which are different from department stores. Restaurants, too, have their own unique set of challenges.

Even then, if you put top-of-the-line security hardware on every door, you may still have store managers and employees unwittingly compromising the effectiveness of such measures in the normal course of doing their jobs.

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There are a lot of issues to consider and potential soft spots to protect: loss prevention, access-controlled employee entry, emergency exit control, merchandise deliveries, restricted entrances, trash removal, securing outside gates, and more. You need a comprehensive approach and systems geared for your specific applications.

Some companies—certainly those with stores that are higher risk—will do an assessment of their locations and create special security plans. Everyone should have a security plan that is suited to their specific circumstances, needs and vulnerabilities.

Get Good Counsel

Ideally, you’d have your supplier and your distributor—or integrator, as we sometimes call them—involved in this assessment process. The distributor deals with many different products from many manufacturers. They can be instrumental in providing a broad base solution.

Plus, your distributor will be stocking the right products for you so they can supply it at a moment’s notice. If a break-in occurs and something needs to be replaced and/or installed immediately (next day), it is frequently the distributor who is going to make that happen, as opposed to waiting on the manufacturer.

Your distributor is an invaluable ally who can recognize vulnerable spots you might not have noticed, or potential issues you haven’t anticipated.

From a physical security perspective, shoplifting and employee theft are the two big issues that keep a security director up at night. The right security door hardware products can help by preventing someone from exiting through a door they’re not supposed to, or keeping a shoplifter from bolting out a side or back door. But sometimes, solutions to prevent one problem can indirectly lead to other problems.

Security hardware can also help prevent employee mistakes. For example, if you put an alarm on the wall to monitor a door, but then store management—to temporarily take care of a necessary task like taking out the trash—turns the alarm off with their key and leaves it in the off position. Then the money you’ve spent to buy the alarm and have it installed is wasted.

There are solutions that can help retailers with these types of situations. Detex or another manufacturer of security door hardware can offer things like key retention or key stop—ensuring the alarm is reset when the key is removed. You might have an employee entrance with a card key access from the outside, that has delayed egress (to prevent shoplifting) from the inside. There are products that help you limit the amount of time a back door is open. You can disarm, but with a time limit. If the door is propped open maybe you’ve got 4 minutes or 8 minutes or 10 minutes to do what you need to do, and then the alarm resets itself.

It is important to know that these options are available to you, to provide as much security as possible where it is needed most. The important thing is to understand the intent of the security systems. Here again, your distributor or integrator can help you determine the ideal solution, rather than just sticking an alarm on the door, especially if said alarm may not be on most of the time.

Smart Money

We had a retail customer wanting to purchase our heavy duty break-in prevention hardware for the doors at all of their locations. They just assumed that it was smart to get the very best product and hoped there would be a cost savings if they standardized it for every store.

Then their distributor stepped in. He realized that this retailer had only experienced a couple break-ins across their entire network. Also, what they sold wasn’t high-dollar merchandise—certainly not the kind of products that burglars typically target. Buying a bunch of our most expensive security door hardware was overkill. His counsel to them was, “Why do you need a high-dollar product on every location? Let’s only put the break-in prevention doors where they are really needed.”

He consulted with us and we came up with a much more cost-appropriate solution that provided the appropriate level of security for that particular business.

Outdoor Needs

Home improvement stores, garden centers, lumberyards and any stores that include a patio area have the same types of security concerns, plus the wear and tear that comes from exposure to the elements.

You can find access control devices that allow entry from the outside via keypad or card reader. There are hinge side bolts that further secure your outside area by preventing hinge cutting. Door prop alarms deliver an audible warning when a gate is held open. A key thing here is to make sure your outdoor security hardware solutions are built to withstand harsh weather conditions. There are outdoor versions of each one of these products that can stand up to rain, snow, sand, storm winds, and extreme temperatures at either end of the thermometer.

Once again, your distributor or integrator can help you determine precisely what you need for your location and circumstances. Good luck and be safe.

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