Crime costs businesses billions of dollars every year. In 2019, “...the average loss from organized retail crime was $703,320 per $1 billion in sales”, according to the National Retail Federation. The impact of inventory shrink on the US retail industry was estimated at $50.6 billion dollars (NRF); employee theft had similar costs at $50 billion, CNBC reports, citing Statistic Brain.
With such alarming statistics, it’s no surprise that crime may be a factor in as many as 30 percent of all business failures, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Are you taking the necessary precautions to make sure your business doesn’t fail due to crime?
Crime prevention strategies need to address all potential perpetrators as well as the multiple criminal opportunities present for most businesses.
Who Commits The Crimes?
Understand who the potential criminals are so that you can design a strategy that addresses the best ways to prevent crime from all angles. People who commit crimes against businesses can be placed into two categories: employees and non-employees.
Some businesses overlook the risk of workplace crime seeing as “...less than half (of small businesses in the US) instituted any preventive measures”, according to the Small Business Research Summary as reported in the Journal of Management and Marketing Research; and most businesses are small businesses. Workplace crime includes theft, fraud, and workplace violence committed by current or past employees.
Non-employee criminals include customers as well as anyone who interacts with your business. The most common crimes committed by non-employees are burglary, robbery, vandalism, and shoplifting.
The National Retail Security Survey discovered that 35.7 % of retail shrink is due to theft by non-employees while 33.2% is due to employee theft. A comprehensive crime prevention strategy addresses potential criminal activity by both, employees and non-employees.
Prevention Tips for Employee Crime
Employee crime is an often-overlooked risk. Few employers have policies in place to eliminate criminal activity by staff members. Implementing these employee crime prevention tips is strongly recommended for every type of business.
- Properly Vet Employees: Conduct reference checks and criminal record checks for every potential hire.
- Conduct Audits: Third-party audits should be conducted regularly for all staff members who work with payroll, invoices, and receipts.
- Implement Workplace Safety Policies: Staff should be made aware of the code of conduct and other policies made for workplace violence, harassment prevention, and incident reporting.
- Workplace Culture: Cultivate a culture that encourages respect and honest conduct from employees at every level. A strong workplace culture can reduce the temptation of criminal behavior through increased company engagement and positive work experiences.
Prevention Tips for Non-Employee Crime
Organizations are responsible for protecting staff, customers and neighbouring areas from the dangers of non-employee crime. Reduce the chances of your business becoming a victim with strategies that prevent vandalism, burglaries, robberies, shoplifting, and fraud.
Shoplifting is one of the main causes of shrinkage in retail. Implement these preventative measures to combat shoplifting in your store.
- Employee Training: Employees should be taught to read a shoplifter’s body language and recognize suspicious activity.
- Keep Your Store Orderly: display merchandise should always be well-organized. Install mirrors in corners to eliminate blind spots where shoplifters might hide.
- Keep Displays Well-Stocked: organized and well-stocked displays allow employees to become aware of missing items at a glance. Keep expensive merchandise in locked cases. Employees should remove a limited number of items at a time for customers to examine.
- Secure Exits: Prevent grab-and-run scenarios by keeping merchandise away from exits. Have staff or security personnel stand by exits. Furthermore, also use inventory control devices that sound the alarm when shoplifters make attempts to leave.
- Make Cash Registers Inaccessible: Cash registers should be locked at all times. Never leave cash registers unattended.
- Monitor Dressing Rooms: Dressing rooms should be monitored and locked at all times so that patrons need to request access. Limit the number of items allowed in fitting rooms. Instruct staff to count garments upon entry and exit of the fitting rooms. Install public-view monitors by the fitting room entrance/exit. And always clear fitting rooms of left-behind apparel after every use.
The following tips will help you put procedures in place to detect a phony check and credit card fraud.
- Look For "Ghost" Numbers/Letters: Criminals often change the numbers or name on a stolen credit card. Instruct employees to examine cards for faint traces of names and numbers that may have been melted or filed off.
- Get Management Approval: Standard procedure for when checks are offered should require management approval or requesting an alternative form of payment.
- Check Signatures: When the signature on the check or the credit card does not match the name and piece of identification or the signature on the receipt, it is a sign of fraud.
- Beware Of Erasures: Altered writing on cheques is a telltale sign of a potentially phony check.
Prevention of Vandalism, Burglaries, and Robberies
The same preventative measures apply for vandalism, burglaries, and robberies. The tactics below prevent businesses from becoming a target of either of these crimes.
- Install Proper Lighting: The interior and exterior premises should be well-lit at all hours of the day. Aim for high visibility in key break-in areas, like entryways and windows. If leaving the lights on around the clock is too costly, consider installing a lighting system with a motion detector.
- Keep Your Property Clean: Neglected premises invite criminals. Keep surfaces, walls, windows, and signage clean and tidy. Make sure that light bulbs are replaced as soon as they stop working. Greenery should always be pruned and thriving. Awnings should be washed often and sidewalks should be swept daily.
- Clean Up Promptly: In the event where vandalism occurs, make repairs promptly. Vandalized property encourages further vandalism. A speedy response indicates that you won’t tolerate the defacement of your property.
- Use Security Devices: Install video cameras to monitor suspicious activity and identify criminals. Install alarm systems to notify the authorities and scare away intruders. Place surveillance cameras behind the register.
- Involve Authorities: Report crimes to your local police. When crimes occur, police officers may be able to catch the perpetrators. They may also patrol your area more often to increase safety.
- Install Break-Resistant Glass. Glass that is break-resistant is difficult for intruders to smash since it is stronger than regular glass.
- Remove Objects That Obscure Visibility: Don’t post large signs or posters on windows and doors to allow for two-way visibility. Displays on counter tops should be kept low so that employees can see above them. The cash register should be kept in plain sight from the outside of your business so that it can be monitored by the police.
- Don’t Keep Cash On The Premises Overnight: Your cash register should be kept in plain sight from the outside of your business so that it can be monitored by police during the day or at night.
- Increase Barriers to Break-Ins: Doors should use deadbolts and exterior door hinge pins. In addition to heavy-duty locks, consider using shrubs or fencing on the exterior. The prickly nature of shrubs can discourage criminals from entering. Fences are another deterrent that increases inconvenience for intruders.
- Hire Security Personnel: The presence of security guards improves security by effectively deterring crime both during business hours and after closing. Security guards are professionally trained to handle any incidents of crime that occur.
- Learn more about Burglary prevention tips.
Crime Prevention For Your Business
Crime can result in a bad reputation, lowered employee morale, dangerous situations, expensive repairs and loss of revenue. It is a pricey risk that businesses can’t afford to ignore. Highly-trained security officers from Paladin Security are essential to your company’s crime prevention strategy.
Learn more about crime prevention tips to keep your business, your clients, and your staff safe with Paladin Security.