Opportunity plays a big role in enabling people to commit crime, and never more so than burglaries. Most domestic burglaries are committed by “opportunists”. Criminals will look for homes that:
- Seem unoccupied
- Have little or no obvious security
- Have doors or windows left open, or
- Where they think they won’t be seen.
One crime often produces the opportunity to commit another – for example, a successful break-in may encourage the burglar to return again in the near future, because they know when the householders are out and expect the property to be full of shiny new replacement goods.
Social and technological changes produce new crime opportunities – products are most vulnerable in their growth stages when demand for them is at its highest. Most products will reach a saturation stage where most people have them and so the price of second-hand versions becomes so low as to make the risk of getting caught too high. At that point, they are unlikely to be stolen.
Equally burglaries of business premises are just as prevalent. A recent report found that 38% of business crime happened during office hours.
So how should you set about protecting your premises from break-ins?
An experienced professional will be able to spot issues you aren’t aware of, so make sure you:
– Call your local police station’s Crime Reduction Unit and ask an officer to pay a personal visit to your premises to advise on security measures.
– Call the Association of British Insurers for their useful guide on intruder alarms.
Key security measures:
Alarms should be compliant with one of the industry regulatory bodies. Check that the installation company you deal with displays the kitemark of NACOSS, NACB, BSIA, or SSAIB. The police will only respond to alarms that conform to these standards.
- Locks and padlocks and the company installing them should conform to the standards of the MLA (Master Locksmiths’ Association), indicated by its kitemark.
- Your computer is vulnerable – its chips have a high market value. Specialist office security firms make cages, which fit over servers and which are bolted to the floor and locked. Alternatively consider alarms that detect movement – available from office stationers.
- It helps if people can’t look in so pull down blinds at night. If your local council allows it, install lockable shutters, grilles or screens to secure vulnerable windows outside work hours.
- CCTV cameras in city centres are successful deterrents, but the knock-on effect is that criminals target premises further out of town that are not under surveillance. Installing your own exterior CCTV cameras is expensive – about £5000 to install and around £100 a month to monitor.
- Cameras inside your office are cheaper but less effective than on the outside because intruders will probably be wearing balaclavas so they can’t be identified.
- Flooding the scene with light when an alarm is activated can give intruders a fright. They will feel horribly exposed in an otherwise dark street and may take to their heels. Bells ringing have the same effect.
- Postcode all your equipment. One option is to use a stencil that burns into the plastic of keyboards and other hardware. Another is to mark equipment with an indelible marker pen whose ink is only seen under an ultra violet light – available from office stationers.
- Never leave handbags, wallets, mobile phones, and laptops unattended. Lock valuables out of sight in a drawer during the lunch hour or while you are out on an appointment
The cost of crime can be a significant hidden burden on families and businesses. Even if you are adequately insured, not only do you have to replace stolen and damaged equipment and possessions, but you also waste valuable time clearing up and reinstalling software and data. What’s more, your insurance premium may rise and staff morale suffers.
Remember prevention is always better than cure!
Contributed by Janette Whitney ACIB MCMI of Multi Award Winning Business Consultants, Janette Whitney & Associates. Janette provides practical strategic advice to businesses from start-ups to £10m turnover companies. Professionally qualified with 40 yrs. business experience and a proven track record of satisfied clients, she helps businesses to grow profitably and achieve their goals. Janette is also an award-winning business author, and media columnist.