Do You Have What It Takes to Prevent Store Break-ins? 7 Questions Retailers Should Consider

LP Magazine interviewed more than one dozen retail security consultants, industry leaders, and LP executives and asked what they think about different security tools and strategies to prevent after-hours store break-ins. Their responses suggest that retailers might benefit by asking, “Are we…”:

Up and running? ”A common misconception for stores is assuming that their security system is on and working; therefore, there is no need to run maintenance tests or update the system,” warned Catherine Walsh, senior vice president and general manager of Tyco Retail Solutions.

Loud enough? ”An audible alarm is very effective. It creates an added level of anxiety for the thief,” said retail security consultant Mike Keenan. Consultant Sean Ahrens agrees, suggesting a 128-decibel horn. “It should be as loud as possible inside and also outside to add witness potential,” he said.

Bright enough? Numerous LP executives cited quality security lighting as vital to their efforts to protect stores overnight. “Motion detector lights are also a very effective deterrent. People don’t want to be seen,” said Keenan.

Locked up? Building hardening is important, and that has to include the roof, warned Ahrens. “I’ve seen otherwise well-protected stores with scalable roofs that provide thieves with easy access inside.” Secure rooftop skylights, ventilation shafts, air conditioning and heating ducts, and other possible entry points on the inside with grilles or grates. Those that cannot be secured should be alarmed. Ahren also advises connecting key-containing Knox boxes to the building’s alarm system, examining window wells used for emergency egress, see if there are connections to other buildings, and so on. “You need to see how everything looks through a criminal’s eyes.”

Installing to standards? Ahrens advises retailers to have detailed specifications for alarm installations. “I’ve seen too many stores where a guy comes in, slaps an alarm on the wall, and says, ‘You’re good to go.’ Then someone breaks in and just rips it off the wall.” Consultant Pat Murphy suggested that large retailers can effectively balance risk and budget by creating a few specific alarm and camera packages to apply to different stores based on their risk profiles.

Securing evidence? In the event of a break-in, you don’t want to find that the thief was able to destroy evidence of their crime by taking store security equipment. “You want to have that video in the cloud” or have some other solution to protect video evidence of a break-in against such tampering, advised Keenan.

Following guidelines? ”It’s not uncommon for retailers to put together great [crime prevention] programs but then not have them followed by store managers,” said Keenan. “I’m a big believer in audits.” Conducted in conjunction with other operational and compliance audits, he suggests that a quarterly security review with a mini audit in the final quarter is optimal for ensuring that a retailer’s burglary prevention is as good in the store as it looks on paper.

For more about the subject, read “Safely into the Night. LP Success Stories Show Thwarting Thieves after Hours Takes Many Forms.”

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