When small businesses are affected by crime, the impact can be substantial. Small businesses affected by crime may not have the ability to stay afloat, affecting not only the business operator but the employees and the wider community. More than 1 million small companies have been the victim of crime in a 2-year time period with vehicle break-ins and thefts from the workplace as the most common crimes.
Good security is always about being prepared: about knowing your risks (doing a risk assessment) and setting up effective security policies, procedures, and equipment to deter crime. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity. The appearance of being an easy target, and lack of attention to security by small businesses and their employees, can make all the difference.
Small Business Crime Prevention Tips
- focus on physical security best practices:
- crime deterrence - effective lighting, well trimmed plants, adequate fencing, locks on windows and doors, vehicle barriers, clear windows, low aisles
- access control - limited access doors, badge or access control, visitor policy, key management
- crime detection & identification - intrusion detection via alarms & cameras
- human resource security practices (training, monitoring, etc)
- keep a minimum of cash on hand (and advertise this with stickers on your premises) and consider a drop safe
- make deposits often and randomly
- keep registers in plain view and open in off-hours to deter curious thieves
- report suspicious activity such as people who: wear bulky clothing in warm weather, avoid eye contact, watch security cameras, loiter for long periods of time, ask odd questions about opening/closing/break times, watch your premises from cars
- report all crime
- don't neglect cyber crime prevention
- prevent white collar crime (lying, cheating, stealing) with steps such as requiring two signatures on cheques, having an independent accountant, investigate vendors, monitor cash register discrepancies
- assess your business with tools such as this one
- train staff for how to deal with crime as well as crime prevention tips
- greet customers as they walk in (personalization can deter crime)
- contact local law enforcement for information on local crime and crime prevention tips
- get appropriate insurance
For more tips, we recommend visiting the LAPD website for a comprehensive overview of crime prevention for small businesses.
If you or your employees find yourselves in a dangerous situation such as a robbery, be calm and go along with what is requested of you, noting as much distinctive information as possible for reporting the crime to law enforcement. Make note of which direction the thief flees and call law enforcement as soon as it is safe to do so.