Crime Prevention: A Guide to Business Security

Crime Prevention: A Guide to Business Security

Virtually all businesses face the possibility of a burglary, a robbery or theft by an employee. Retail businesses also face the possibility of a major shoplifting loss. Law enforcement officials say that, most often, these are crimes of opportunity that happen because the criminal spots an easy chance and takes it. Here are some ways to make it more difficult for him or her.


Reduce the odds of becoming a burglary target by employing good security practices. Those include using deadbolts on all exterior doors and double-cylinder deadbolts (those that require a key on both sides) on doors with glass. Check all doors and windows every day before closing. Also, check all potential hiding places, like bathrooms, closets and storage areas.

Install steel reinforcing bars on doors and gratings or bars on windows, particularly those on the sides and rear of the building. Don’t overlook security at places like fire escapes, skylights, roof openings, air ducts, doorway transoms, loading docks, sidewalk and basement openings.

Use lots of light. Illuminate all entrances with vandal-proof fixtures to avoid giving burglars a nice dark place in which to work. Keep some lights on inside, and place them near the rear so that an intruder’s silhouette can be seen from the street.

Get an alarm system and have it checked regularly. Make sure it is wired to go off at all potential points of entry, including doors, windows, roof openings, loading docks and vents.

Keep as little cash around as possible. Make bank deposits frequently but don’t be predictable about when you go to the bank so as not to establish a discernible pattern.

If you discover a break-in, call the police immediately, and DO NOT ENTER THE PREMISES UNTIL POLICE ARRIVE. The thief may still be inside, or you may disturb evidence. 


Facing an armed robber is a frightening and dangerous experience. Most robbers carry weapons and are likely to use them if provoked or frightened.

Remain calm. That may seem like a tall order, but staying calm and being cooperative will reduce chances of physical harm. Remember, goods and money can be replaced; lives can’t.

Be observant. Try to remember everything you can about the robber: color and style of hair, complexion, height, build, age, eye glasses, distinguishing marks or tattoos, right or left handed, and whether they had any speech impediment or accent. If you can get a look at the vehicle without putting yourself or your employees at additional risk, the make, model, color and license plate number will also be beneficial.

Do not discuss your observations with other witnesses or victims; it’s easy to become confused. Wait to discuss details with police officers or detectives.


Shoplifters can be pretty sharp, and even the most innocent-looking customer could be a shoplifter.

Watch for them by installing convex mirrors, closed circuit TV cameras or, if your business merits it, use security officers. Train your personnel to spot shoplifters and make sure they are always on the lookout. If possible, greet each person that enters your business and maintain eye contact so they will know you are aware of their presence. Pay particular attention to fitting rooms and other isolated areas. 

Arrange counters and displays in ways that can deter shoplifters. Put displays in full view of all employees. Lock small items that can be easily slipped into a pocket or handbag, in counter cases, when possible. Keep expensive items away from entrances.

Prosecute. Shoplifters must know that you mean business, so decide on a policy of prosecuting offenders, follow through with it and then advertise you have done so.


Many businesses suffer substantial losses each year from employee theft. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by thoroughly checking all references when hiring. Do not tempt employees by having careless security or by overlooking losses.

For help with learning about crime prevention and strengthening your business in the New Year, contact the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County. Conveniently located in Camarillo, California, we’re here to help.

Source: New York State Police

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