Protecting your business premises during COVID-19

While you and your staff are working from home or in isolation, is your business exposed to potential crime?

Most crimes – residential burglaries, stolen cars, theft of tradies tools, or theft in a workplace – are opportunistic. A potential offender sees relatively little risk matched to a high reward and goes for it.

Experts in crime prevention are saying that as the current pandemic enhances people’s concerns about the future, they are impacted by a lack of employment opportunities, experiencing increased emotional and financial stress, there is the chance that crime will increase.

And with many businesses temporarily closing or working reduced hours with less staff movements, they can be more vulnerable to break-ins and burglary

The good news is that because most crime is opportunistic, we can avoid becoming a victim;  we can take simple steps to prevent the crime from impacting our business, in particular for when we are ready to get back out into the market-place.

Owners and operators of small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) should consider undertaking the following 4 strategies:

1. Make it risky

Criminals don’t want to be seen or caught. If we increase the risk of that occurring, we have a far better chance of protecting our business.

The sorts of things you can do to increase the risk include:

  • Installing sensor lights, covering all areas of your business, especially any external areas that could be a hiding place. Criminals won’t know whether the sensor light is automatic, triggered by someone in the premises, or could attract attention.
  • Ensuring good sightlines from neighbouring businesses and from the street.  It can seem counterintuitive, but allowing visibility into the business, in particular from the front, can allow neighbours or passers-by’s to see if a crime is occurring. This means addressing blinds and signage to ensure that they are not blocking the view into the inside of the business.If the front of the business is covered up, a criminal can enter from the rear and then take their time to commit the crime
  • Install an alarm – in particular one with painfully high decibels. A very loud alarm is about making it too uncomfortable to stay in the building, limiting the amount of time the criminal is on site.
  • Internal timers on lights and equipment can give the impression that there is someone in the premises – but when programmed to come on at the same time each night, especially in an business environment, may not deter a crook.  Change up the schedule, and ensure that you are well locked up, there is no mail at the front door, rubbish bins are brought in and out.
  • Continue with any existing security measures you have, such as CCTV. Also if you have a security firm who regularly patrols your building, let them know your business isn't operating. Also let your local police station know, so they can include it in their patrols.

2. Make it harder for a criminal to get in

Once you've made it riskier for crook to break into your business, the next step is to make it harder as well.

  • Install good quality locks. Also consider the length and strength of nails that hold the door hinges to the door frame. If these are weak, even with a good lock installed, it can be easy for a thief to kick the door in.
  • Not as common as a single crook breaking into a shop, ram raids using (usually) stolen cars do occur.  Consider installing bollards.  If you are in a strip shopping centre or have neighbouring businesses in an industrial park, you may want to consider working with your neighbours to install bollards across the general area.
  • Entry through the roof can happen. Secure manholes and skylights, together with any items left outside the business that can be used to get to the roof.
  • As sad as it is, sometimes the criminal is a disgruntled former employee.  Regularly re-key your locks and update pin code access.

3. Reduce the perceived reward

A criminal doesn’t put in the effort to get into a locked building, climb onto a roof, ram the front window, unless he/she sees a worthwhile reward. If you reduce the perceived reward you can deter the criminal.

  • If you have left your business unattended, in particular to work from home, now is the time to ensure that you have removed all valuables, or at least do not have them visible and on display.
  • Put a sign in the front window telling people that no cash or valuables are stored at the premises. Empty the till and leave it open so it's more obvious there is no cash left in it.
  • For temporary shut-downs think about what needs to stay on the property so that if someone does break in they see nothing is there. If you are moving valuables, such as tech equipment, stock, or office furniture, to your home office, or your employees' homes, remember to consider all of these security tips to apply to your home too. For a thorough audit of how safe your home is from being a target for a criminal, check out our free online tool "How Safe Is My Place?

4. Be part of a community

Finally, when people come together, when they are part of a community they not only feel safer, they are safer.

Consider reaching out to your neighbour businesses and connecting via a private Facebook Group or What’s App. Stay in touch, keep an eye out for one another and report any suspicious behaviour to police. Most importantly, watch out for each other.

 

Check out our library of articles to help you to prevent becoming a victim of crime.

This article is available for you to link to from your social media, website and e-newsletter, providing you credit Neighbourhood Watch Victoria. Please include the following text: Crime prevention information from Neighbourhood Watch Victoria.