Tips to prevent commercial burglary

How to protect your business from the threat of commercial burglary

Commercial burglary is a threat to businesses of all sizes, and the best deterrent for burglars is to be proactive with your security. Burglary is a crime based on opportunities. The following tips will help you eliminate some of them and make your business a less appealing target.

Limit access

High-risk areas, such as the money counting room, should always be locked and accessible only to those with a business need. Keep a list of all employees who have access to restricted areas and update it frequently to reflect any permission changes. If your employees use physical keys, consider engraving “Do Not Duplicate” on all keys to deter copying.

Only current employees should have access to critical parts of your business. Consider changing your locks, passcodes or security cards whenever an employee leaves your business, even if the parting was friendly. This will prevent them from entering your property without permission or sharing active passcodes with others.

Illuminate dark areas

Nearly all commercial burglaries happen at night when thieves expect a commercial property to be poorly lit and unoccupied. In fact, studies show three out of four commercial burglaries are committed against businesses with inadequate or no lighting. Interior and exterior lights are two of the best deterrents for burglars and keeping your business safe.

Consider installing floodlights throughout your building’s exterior, especially at entrance and exit points. If your business has street-facing windows, consider leaving some interior lights on to make any after-hour activity visible from the street. Set your lights on a timer to automatically turn on at dusk to give yourself one less task to remember at closing time.

Landscape for security

Burglars are often attracted to properties with unkempt landscaping because they offer places to hide. Eliminate these areas by keeping bushes and trees trimmed, especially near doors and windows.

You might also consider strategically planting thorny plants under tall or easily accessible windows. Plants like the blue spruce and creeping juniper are great options, as they’re affordable, easy to maintain and have rough, bristly leaves.

Use security cameras

Recent improvements in technology have made security camera systems both affordable and easy to use. You can either have them professionally installed and monitored by a security company (usually for a monthly fee) or set them up yourself. Either way, nearly all cameras have built-in motion detection and allow you to view live footage directly through a smartphone app.

When setting up your cameras, monitor the interior and exterior of the building, especially entryways and high-risk areas, such as the back office or where money or valuables are kept. This makes it easier to capture a burglary on video and monitor employees and customers during business hours. Consider posting signage that your property is under 24/7 surveillance to discourage criminals from trespassing.

Secure windows & doors

Securing your business’s doors and windows after hours is another important way to protect your business from burglary. Security bars are the best option for securing your windows, as long as they can’t be unbolted from the outside. If you don’t like the way permanent bars look, folding steel security gates are also available. Usually on wheels, these gates can be retracted when you’re open and extended across your windows or storefront when you’re closed.

A less secure, but still effective, way to safeguard your windows is window security film. It’s thin sheets of transparent plastic that you apply to the outside of your windows to keep them from shattering when struck. Consider that a persistent thief can eventually get through, but not without a lot of effort and noise.

As for doors, choosing the right lock is paramount. A magnetic lock uses an electromagnetic current to keep the door locked. While it’s considered the most secure, it’s expensive and requires electricity to work. This means you’ll need a battery back-up in case of a power outage.

An electric strike lock is also effective and slightly cheaper than a magnetic lock. It uses an electric component installed into a lock’s existing strike plate to control access. If you’ve ever had to swipe an ID card to get into a building, you’ve used an electric strike door.

Lastly, a heavy-duty deadbolt is another option to secure your business’s doors. While not as secure as the other two more sophisticated options, a high-security deadbolt can be effective and inexpensive. Deadbolts have a grade of 1-3, with 1 being the strongest and 3 the weakest. Commercial properties should consider using grade 1 deadbolts because they’re the most durable and secure.