Running a business is getting tougher during this period of social distancing as implemented by the Australian government as a result of COVID-19. This means fewer people are able to go out and buy from brick and mortar shops. So, depending on your type of business, you’ll likely go down one of three paths: continue operating more or less as normal, change the products or the way you are selling, or close the storefront for the duration of the health restrictions. Regardless of which option you choose, one thing is for certain, burglary and thefts will not stop for this pandemic. So, to help build the best protection possible for your store, we have put together key security tips that you should consider.
1. Fortify access points.
Most shop owners consider the main entrance as the only point of entry. This is certainly a good way to start but you must also consider other entries such as the back/emergency door, windows and ceiling cavities.
Let’s begin with the security of your doors. Most commercial premises opt for mortice locks, as they can handle both frequent and heavy use. If you don’t have them on your door, now is a good time to make a change. Make sure all screws used on both the door and door frame are long, this will help improve the strength of your door against brute force. The next step is to place door locks at the bottom of the door so it connects to the floor. This will also add extra strength to the door against forced entry attempts. Finally, if you have double doors, consider adding further security measures to make it harder for thieves to get through. One option is to add a heavy-duty chain and padlock around the handles, bars or other door furniture. The more a thief has to break through in order to get inside, the better chance you have of catching them in the act.
Next, let's take a look at your window security. Check for any cracks between the frame and the glass panel, both inside and outside of the building. If you find there are cracks developing, then it may be time for a replacement. For those stores that have windows that can open to let the fresh air in, you’ll also need to review the strength of your window grilles. If they are made of plastic, chances are, they can be easily cut, therefore metal is the best option. Place window restrictors on all opening windows to restrict the length of the opening. Use a key to lock it into place.
Most shops want to have their merchandise proudly displayed at all hours of the day and night. But if you are going to be closed for an extended period of time, now is not the time to do this. In this case, it’s a good idea to cover your windows. Whether this is a temporary fix such as sticking cardboard up to the window or draping linen over it, this is better than nothing. Alternatively, for a more permanent solution, install proper window coverings such as blinds or curtains. Once this is all over, you can continue to use these each night or on occasions such as renovations, or stock takes.
2. Install security cameras.
Is your store out on the street? Consider installing surveillance cameras outside of your store. Have them pointed out towards the road or footpath, so your cameras can record any suspicious activity nearby. Due to the amount of traffic that these areas get, it would be a wise idea to purchase CCTV cameras that allow you to save the footage to an external drive. Normally, these types of cameras are hardwired, so it’s also best to get the professionals to install these.
Now is time to think about the inside of your store. Place a few of these cameras to face all the entry points, this means the front and back entrances plus all windows. You can also target key areas such as cash registers and safes.
For the times that your store will be closed, activate the notifications on your phone. This way you’ll be notified any time motion has been detected inside your premises. Make sure you are able to save the footage to a memory card directly on the camera, external drive or to a cloud service. If you are open during the day, you might need to look at getting hardwired cameras that allow you to record the entire day’s activities. Again, with this last option, it is best to get the professionals involved.
Did you know that opportunistic theft can usually be deterred by the visible presence of security cameras?
3. Reinforce with motion sensors and alarms
Nothing says get out of here, like the sound of a shrill and loud alarm. What’s even better than simply a loud and noisy alarm? It's to get an alarm system that is monitored. This means that once the alarm is triggered, an alert is sent to the monitoring company and a security guard is immediately dispatched to your premises.
Getting the right number of motion detection sensors to an alarm system is also crucial. It can help to easily track the intruder through the shop. By not having enough sensors the intruder can avoid being tracked inside the shop and can have an opportunity to sneak out. Keeping this thought in mind, it is worth considering placing these sensors at all the doors and windows as well as hallways, corners and behind valuable merchandise or equipment. Once you have figured out where the sensors will be placed, check that the locations are free from cobwebs, heat/cooling sources and any other possible obstructions.
The last point to remember, alarm systems are best used alongside your camera surveillance. Your camera is used to record footage, it does not sound the alarm.
4. Reduce the perceived reward
A criminal won't put in the energy to get into a locked shop unless there's a worthwhile reward. Therefore, the idea is to remove or reduce this reward for them. Place a sign in your front window advising passersby that no cash and/or valuables is left on the premises. In addition to this, regardless of where your cash register is located within your shop, leave it open to show there is nothing inside. We have also mentioned covering your window earlier, but if you can't, what then? The next best thing is to remove those items from your shopfront. Consider storing these items either away from the shop floor and out of sight or in a self-storage facility.
5. Check your electronics
Unplug all equipment that's not going to be in use for a while, this includes the EFTPOS machines, cash registers, electronic displays, and televisions, just to name a few. Doing this will also save on your electricity bill. Now is also a good time to check that your smoke detector is working properly. This includes testing that the alarm works and changing the battery if required.
The security measures here can be applied to businesses of all forms, whether they are currently operating (in any capacity) or not. Take the time to research exactly what your business needs to remain fully secured. Use accredited and verified security professionals to install all the required devices and check that it all works properly. Make frequent appearances at your storefront to show that it is still in use. And keep in touch with your neighbours, as they can also provide you with assistance if you need it.