Feedback from UK-based National Business Crime Solution (NBCS) members suggests that commercial burglary has increased from between 22 and 55 percent for 2017 (across the NBCS membership) when compared to the same period in 2016.
When considering the impact of a commercial burglary, it’s tempting to focus solely on the items stolen. However, the true cost of this type of crime is more far-reaching and includes property damage and repair, loss of trade, customer dissatisfaction, management time in dealing with the issue, and colleague time in labor. Then there are the non-fiscal issues to consider, such as reputational damage and the fact that employees might feel less safe when carrying out their duties.
Commercial Burglary Prevention: Action Steps
Commercial burglaries tend to fall into one of two types—opportunist or planned. In the former, an individual will often enter through an unlocked or insecure door or window, tempted by the sight of unprotected stock that is easily accessible. In the latter, a level of planning and hostile reconnaissance will take place, and burglars will have a coordinated strategy.
With so many variables, retailers must carry out a risk and threat assessment to ensure that they are in the best position possible to deal with any real or perceived danger, which can then help to develop a corporate security policy and strategy document.
The sharing of data and intelligence through collaboration is also something that should never be underestimated. A centralized intelligence hub for both the police and retailers is starting to connect crimes that would have traditionally been viewed as independent.
The first approach to any security strategy is to look at a building’s exterior and identify any vulnerable areas. A building’s exterior should be clean, debris should be removed, and overgrown vegetation should be trimmed as not to obscure CCTV and reduce lighting. Garbage receptacles should also be kept out of sight, as they could act as a climbing aid, particularly for low-level windows.
Access control is vital, so service and fire doors should be locked when not in use and, preferably, not used as an out-of-hours access point for personnel to exit the building to have a cigarette break.
Consider also exterior window bars and shutters, which are an excellent way of deterring burglars, and fixing safety bollards into the ground surrounding premises will protect against ram-raiders.
Burglars will often try to overcome an intruder alarm system by cutting the signal and filling exterior alarm bells with substances such as foam to stop them sounding. A common ploy is to set the alarm off repeatedly and wait until the police and keyholders stop responding to it, giving burglars more time to act.
A security strategy can only be successful if everyone within an organization is given the correct level of training, so they can keep a watchful eye out for suspicious behavior.
Retail environments should also consider an “intelligent guarding” approach that combines technology (and the data produced by it) with people who can deal with the outputs of these systems. Knowledge about counterterrorism, loss prevention, report writing, behavioral analysis and profiling, health and safety, data and intelligence gathering, and first aid, as well as excellent customer service, is now vital for the modern manned sguard.
In the unfortunate event that an organization experiences a commercial burglary, the most positive thing it can do is to learn from it and ensure that measures are put in place to stop it happening again. As demonstrated, this doesn’t have to involve large amounts of capital expenditure, but preventative security using a common-sense approach is the only way to maintain a deterrent effect that will reduce the likelihood of criminal activity.
This post was originally published in LPM Europe in 2017 and was updated July 19, 2019.