The aftermath of a burglary often requires repairs to damaged property, temporarily closing the business for investigation and repairs, and replacing stolen assets. In other words, burglaries can take a serious toll on your business. And the chances of your business being a target are high enough to take heed.
According to the Retail Council of Canada, retailers lose up to $3 billion a year or $8 million a day as a result of burglary and shoplifting. This has resulted in major retail property loss for many Canadian businesses. Although small businesses and retail establishments tend to be more vulnerable to burglary, every business faces the risk.
In this article, we share the most effective preventative measures that businesses can take to minimize the risk of burglary.
Business Burglary Facts
- Businesses are 4 times more likely to be burglarized than homes.
- Businesses without an alarm system are 4.5X more likely to be victims of burglary.
- 1 in 8 burglars reported picking locks or using a key to gain entry.
- Almost 58% of these burglaries involved forcible entry.
- 50% of burglaries occur through unlocked doors.
- Most commercial burglaries occur when a business is closed. For example at night and during weekends and holidays.
- About 60% of burglars would seek an alternative target if an alarm is present.
- 74% of uncompleted intrusions can be credited to an audible alarm.
- An average of 7% of annual revenue is lost through shoplifting, fraud, or theft.
- 95% of businesses experience some sort of theft.
- In 2019, 5% percent of burglaries occurred in commercial or office buildings, 4% in rental storage facilities, 2% in specialty stores, 2% in restaurants, and 2% at construction sites. Department stores, discount stores, places of worship, and hotels experienced 1% of burglaries each.
Understanding Commercial Burglaries
Commercial burglary is defined as the unlawful entry into a commercial property with the intent to attempt or commit theft. While Canada no longer uses the term “burglary” to name a Criminal Code Offence, the activities that were previously labelled as such, are now considered “breaking and entering”.
Types of Burglaries
Burglaries are often placed in three different categories. Each category describes the different motivators and characteristics of the criminal actions involved.
1. Opportunistic Burglary
This type of burglary is the most common. Opportunistic burglary is characterized as spontaneous. It is a decision made on a whim without any prior planning involved.
Typically, this is a quick job that doesn’t lead to a significant amount of items stolen. Opportunistic burglars usually enter through an unsecured window, or other common entry points, and grab whatever is closest.
Typically, the opportunistic burglar causes minimal damage relative to the other two types described below.
2. The Smash-And-Grab
Smash-and-grab burglaries can be devastating due to the property damage that they cause in violently entering the commercial property. This type of burglary is usually planned in advance. These thieves may come prepared with power tools to cut through locks and grills.
Smash-and-grab burglars sometimes employ “ram-raiding” as a break-and-enter technique, using a motor vehicle to barge into the premises. This causes significant damage that may cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair.
These burglars often target higher-end businesses, such as luxury brands. Consequently, the value of the goods stolen is often considerable.
3. Sophisticated Burglary
Sophisticated burglary is a complex operation that involves an intricate plan to steal items, usually of exceptionally high value.
Because sophisticated burglary operations plan for the presence of alarm systems, security cameras and security or police response, these types of crimes are not quick jobs. These burglars allow themselves enough time to sort through the items and haul them away before authorities arrive on scene. The sophisticated burglary is the least common of the three types.
What Attracts Burglars to Businesses
When scoping out a potential opportunity for a burglary, there are certain factors that burglars look for.
- Neglected Properties: Damaged displays, outdated signs, burnt-out lightbulbs, messy entryways and dirty windows all signal neglected premises.
- No Security Presence: Most thieves feel encouraged when they see that the premises aren’t monitored through surveillance cameras, alarms and security guards.
- Easy Access: Without gates and metal grills on skylights, doors, and windows, burglars know that breaking in won’t be too difficult. Furthermore, displaying items beside these entry points is considered an invitation.
- Limited Visibility: Dimly lit stores and an obstructed line of sight is sure to attract burglars.
Most Common Ways Burglars Break In
Burglary is a crime of opportunity. They will always choose the easiest way to enter. The most common ways that burglars break in are through windows or doors that are left open and unattended or are easily breached. Entry through rear doors are very common since they are lower in traffic and are too often not monitored.
The front door can often be the easiest entry point for burglars. They will look for hidden keys, force their way in, or the door will be unlocked.
Entry through rear doors is also very common since they are lower in traffic and are too often not monitored. Rolling overhead commercial doors can also be common entry point locations.
If doors don’t work, burglars will look to your business windows as an entry point. Unlocked or weak window seals are a burglar's best friend but they may not hesitate to shatter the glass in order to get in.
Prevent unwanted entry through windows and doors by locking them after hours and keeping security codes confidential. Locking the doors and windows or keeping a security code confidential may seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how many businesses fall victim to these missteps. If employees are careless with keys or security system passcodes, they could easily end up in the wrong hands—making the front door an easy access point for thieves.
These are some of the more obvious methods for protecting your business but we’ve listed a few additional tips below to really maximize your security and lower your risk of burglary.
Burglary Prevention Tips for Businesses
While some of the necessary precautions outlined here may seem like a significant initial investment, it can save the business thousands of dollars (and headaches) in the long run.
The following tips are recommended to help prevent your business from being a victim of burglary.
9 Burglary Prevention Tips for Businesses
- Don’t Tempt Them With Inventory
- Replace Traditional Glass Doors & Windows
- Make Break-Ins Difficult
- Make Safes Hidden And Secure
- Install Security Devices
- Display Security Signs
- Keep Premises Clean and Tidy
- Increase Visibility
- Hire Security Personnel
1. Don’t Tempt Them with Inventory
All high-value items should be stored in a locked casing, out of reach. Additionally, smaller, lightweight items that are easy to grab should be placed as far away from doors and windows as possible. High-risk window display items should be removed when the store is closed.
2. Replace Traditional Glass Doors & Windows
To deter burglars from doing a smash and grab, consider laminated doors and windows or, even better, tempered glass. Tempered glass is stronger and a lot louder when it breaks, drawing attention that thieves don’t want to attract.
3. Make Break-Ins Difficult
If you’re in a high-risk area, discourage opportunistic burglars with bars on skylights, windows, and doors. Always lock doors and windows and use a double-cylinder deadlock when possible. This type of lock requires a key to open it from both sides, making it challenging for someone to break in and escape.
4. Make Safes Hidden and Secure
Thieves know that valuable items are kept inside safes. If your business has a safe, then it should be kept in a location that is not visible to burglars, which will deter thieves from attempting to locate the safe. Additionally, secure the safe to the floor and leave minimal amounts of cash in the store overnight.
5. Install a Security System
The installation of a security system and cameras can be very effective burglar deterrents. Surveillance cameras provide a record of suspicious or criminal activity and help identify the criminals. Alarm systems notify the police and reduce theft after a break-in by driving criminals away faster.
Keep in mind, criminals will often test the response by causing an alarm system activation without entering the premises and watching and timing a response.
6. Display Security Signs
Accompanying security devices with visible signage to inform individuals that cameras and alarm systems are present, will often work as a deterrent. Additionally, many businesses are being encouraged to close down until further notice due to COVID-19. If this applies to you, it is recommended you place a sign indicating “No Cash On Premises” to discourage any thoughts of breaking in.
7. Keep Premises Clean and Tidy
A well-cared-for property lets a burglar know that a close eye is kept on the premises. Signage should be up to date. All surfaces should be clean, including surrounding areas outside the business.
8. Increase Visibility with Lights
Your business should be well-lit inside and outside, especially at access points and areas within the store that contain high-value items. Cash registers with drawers left open and empty should be visible from the outside during after-hours. This allows police or security personnel to monitor suspicious activity on their patrol.
9. Hire Security Personnel
The presence of security guards can be highly effective in deterring burglaries. In cases where burglaries do occur, security guards are professionally trained in emergency response procedures and offer an added layer of protection. The combination of a reliable alarm system and security guard services are the best way to keep your business safe and secure from theft.
Helping Businesses Prevent Break-Ins and Burglaries
At Paladin, we are the industry leader in shopping centre and retail security services. We will take the time to understand your company’s unique security challenges. Our team helps create an integrated security model that addresses your needs and fits your budget. Contact us today for a free consultation so that we can help you protect your business.