Five Tips to Mitigate Retail Physical Security Threats

Ken Kuehler began his career in retail loss prevention with Reebok before moving to Detex nineteen years ago, where he has held positions of national account manager, marketing manager, and director of marketing and sales. Kuehler earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Texas State University and lives in Central Texas near Detex headquarters in New Braunfels. Kuehler can be reached at kk [at]

What supplemental security measures can be provided to increase a retail facility’s ability to protect against threats?

Our world is full of threats, both external and internal. Most facilities have addressed access control and the securing of main doors, but those should be measures of last resort. There are steps you can take—some that you may not have considered—to mitigate the threat before it arrives at your front door.

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Supplemental security measures, such as securing perimeter entrances and installing devices to warn when secondary entry points are compromised, can increase your ability to protect your environment against threats in retail locations, distribution centers (DCs), or the corporate campus. Examining security and safety from a holistic viewpoint can help prevent threats from materializing. You can enhance life safety and security measures on your property with the addition of cutting-edge technology that works in conjunction with your existing systems, such as:

  • Delayed-egress devices with alarms,
  • Perimeter fencing emergency exit and access control,
  • Door-prop alarms,
  • Tailgate-detection systems, and
  • Lockdown systems.

How are delayed-egress devices useful in a retail environment?

Delayed-egress devices in retail facilities can protect assets. By installing delayed-egress exit devices, you can prevent unauthorized exits and redirect foot traffic. When combined with electric latch retraction and automatic door operators, staff can move freely throughout the facility while controlling unauthorized foot traffic.

Where life-safety codes restrict traditional locking of certain exits in perimeter fencing around DCs or some retail locations, weatherized delayed egress may be an acceptable application, depending on the authority having jurisdiction. Weatherized delayed-egress systems emit a loud local alarm encouraging a person to move away from the area while alerting staff that someone is attempting to exit. This provides the staff time to react before the exit unlocks and helps to avoid a dangerous situation. This type of system can be tied into a fire alarm override, providing safe, delay-free exit during a fire emergency.

How can retailers enhance their existing door security?

Supplementing existing door security with door-prop alarms is one way to enhance your security environment. A door left propped open, even for a few seconds, can provide an easy access point for threats. Door-prop alarm hardware will alert personnel to an unsecure door via audible alarm while sending an alert to any central security monitor. It helps prevent unauthorized personnel from entering and assets from exiting the premises.

Is tailgate detection useful for retailers?

Tailgate-detection technology can be used to control access in a variety of retail environments, allowing only authorized personnel access to restricted areas. Tailgate-detection systems will sound an alarm if someone attempts to follow an authorized employee through a secure door. It will also help secure areas that may contain sensitive material such as personnel records, expensive equipment such as computer rooms, or cash-handling rooms.

What is the safest, fastest, easiest, and most cost-effective means of locking down a retail facility?

There are many answers; however, one way that has been overlooked by many security-door consultants is the use of panic exit devices with electric dogging. “Electric dogging” allows all locking devices to be activated by one or more control switches that can be located in strategic areas of the building to lock doors in case of a required lockdown. When electric dogging is applied to entry doors, it removes the need for a staff member, perhaps in the height of a crisis, to remember where the key is and how to lock the doors. Electric dogging can allow doors to be dogged for push-pull operation during specific hours and automatically revert to secure mode at a preselected time, locking the doors to entry while allowing individuals leaving to exit.

What other tips can you give a prospective retailer looking to enhance their current security technology?

Ensuring all the pieces of technology will work together is key. Manufacturers and some dealers will create a kit to fit your application that includes best-in-class products along with wiring and riser illustrations to fit your application. Be careful of specification writers who supply only a list of products without a wiring diagram or information on how the items are integrated together. Failing to install the items correctly can create years of headaches and wasted money. Ensure the supplier understands your needs and offers time-tested products. Additionally, make sure they can support the installation with wiring diagrams, riser illustrations, and technical support.

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