Business Watch :: What Can You Do?
What Can You Do?
While immunity from crime can never be guaranteed, by following the suggested guidelines on this page, you and your business are less likely to be victimized.
- Light up all entrances, including alleys, with vandal-proof fixtures. New forms of LED lighting are very economical and efficient.
- Leave some lights on inside your premises.
- Avoid displays near windows that could keep a passerby from seeing in.
- Keep the exterior of your premises free from all weeds, shrubbery and debris especially around windows and doors.
- Lock up ladders and all tools that could invite a break-in or make a burglar's job easier.
- Ensure dumpsters are in a contained area and ensure debris is not visible to the public.
- Undesirable people are attracted to undesirable areas.
- Keep cash to a minimum with frequent, irregular bank depsoits.
- Don't expect a 'fire safe' to do the job of a 'burglar-resitant' safe.
- Anchor your safe to the floor in a well-lit, highly visible location.
- Leave empty cash drawers open after hours to prevent damage.
- Keep an accurate inventory of all valuables.
- Seek out professionals who can provide a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) audit for you.
Most window locks can be pried open and therefore provide little security. A secondary lock should be installed on all windows.
One common way of breaking in is through basement windows because they are usually concealed from view. These windows should be made of plexiglass or a polycarbinate material that can resist pounding with heavy objects.
Security bars can also be used for extra protection.
Some windows may be permanently secured if they are seldom used. Ensuring that windows are not obscured by trees or shrubs will make your property less inviting to a would-be thief.
Hollow core and glass doors are not secure. A good door should be solid wood/metal. Glass doors should have tempered glass or plastic equivalents. Good locks are essential to good security.
Key-in-the-knob locks are not reliable. They provide very little security.
All doors should have a good, strong dead-bolt lock that should be kept locked at all times except when in use.
A good alarm system should be installed professionally and checked regularly to ensure that it is functioning properly and to reduce the possibility of false alarms.
A notice should be posted prominently on a window or door indicating that the property is protected by an alarm system.
The safest property is the one that doesn't attract criminals in the first place. To avoid attracting burglars make sure that:
- Views of your property are as unobstructed as possible paying particular attention to landscaping.
- Facilitate night-time surveillance by using lighting to draw attention to windows and doors that can be observed from the street or other active areas.
- "Weapons of opportunity" such as small garden rocks or throable objects are not lying about your property.
- Participate in a property engraving program. Engraving informs thieves that all valuables inside the premise are marked with a unique nine digit number that not only reduces the value of the assets to the criminal element but substantially increases the risk to persons with these items found in their possession.
Ask us for information about a property marking program.
Protect Yourself Against Shoplifting
What to watch for:
- Two or more shoppers together - one might try to take your attention away from another.
- People who place bags on the floor while sorting through racks - articles can be dropped into the bags.
- People who carry a large package - they may try to hide a stolen item between themselves and the package.
- Umbrellas - items may be slipped into rolled umbrellas.
- Groups of children who loiter around counters containing sundry items - many children regard shoplifting as a game.
- Advise staff that they should greet customers and provide prompt attention as soon as they enter the store.
- SUPERVISE the staff. Company policy concerning dishonesty should be clearly understood by all employees.
- Every store should hold regular staff meetings on the prevention of shoplifting.
It is also important that management make sure all new staff are fully aware of shoplifting prevention programs.
Display signs warning anyone caught shoplifting will, without exception, be reported to the police immediately. AND DO IT!
How to Avoid Fraudulent Cheques
Before Accepting a Cheque
- Do not let anyone rush you.
- Compare the signature on the cheque with those presented on identification documents.
- Insist upon positive identification. Make sure it's current. A driver's licence alone is not enough. (i.e. credit cards)
- If any cheque shows signs of alteration, do not cash it.
- Never accept post-dated cheques. Do not hold a cheque until some future date when there will supposedly be sufficient funds on deposit.
- Do not accept second-party cheques.
- Do not accept cheques for amounts greater than the purchase price.
- Business and government cheques may be counterfeit or stolen. Just because theylook "official," doesn't necessarily mean they are. If in doubt, call the business for identification.
- Use caution when cashing cheques after banking hours.
To reduce loss for bad cheques, always keep in mind that you are under no obligation to accept any cheque. If you are uncertain about the authenticity of the cheque, have the person submitting it wait while you check with the bank, company or government agency involved.
Not all staff members should be able to initial cheques. This responsibility should be designated to certain employees only. If you come across a forged or stolen cheque, try delaying the passer(s) but do not try to apprehend them. Call the police immediately and if the passer runs, note his/her physical description and vehicle description. Retain the cheque in a secure place and handle it as little as possible. It is a valuable piece of evidence. Preserve it, and be prepared to prosecute.
Debit/Credit Card Fraud
Debit/Credit Card fraud is a growing problem in all communities, and while there is no precise estimate of the value of goods and services stolen each year, the loss is substantial - involving millions of dollars.
Using debit/credit cards instead of money has created a new type of criminal who purchases goods and services by using other peoples' debit/credit cards. These frauds contribute to the rising cost of goods and services as the consumer must pay for the loss.
For the criminal, the act of capturing magnetic stripe data from debit and credit cards will commence at legitimate retail operations, such as gas stations or convenience stores.
Skimming devices are used by retail employees engaged in fraudulent activity, to capture the magnetic stripe data from the credit cards of unsuspecting customers.
PIN's for debit cards are obtained through the use of cameras secreted into a place of business often without the knowledge of the employee's supervisors.
The equipment used to capture such data may also be configured to operate surreptitiously on a banking machine or may be installed inside a point of sale terminal to capture the necessary data.
How Business People can Spot Trouble
Police, prosecutors, courts, credit card companies, credit card holders, and merchants all have a role to play in preventing credit card fraud.
Retail merchants and their employees have the greatest opportunity to catch the criminal because this is the stage of the crime where the criminal must show him/herself.
The following is a list of suspicious behaviours for employees to be aware of:
- Be aware of nervous, in-a-hurry shoppers. Stealing makes many people nervous so they hurry to get the job done quickly.
- Watch for the customer who produces the credit card from a pocket rather than a wallet or purse.
- Be aware of someone who buys a variety of items, especially when they are not concerned about prices. They could very well be stocking up for resale.
Always look for alterations. Check expiry dates and compare signatures on invoices with that on the debit/credit card.
Always ask for identification if you are suspicious.
Armed Robbery Prevention
A total security program is the best way to prevent armed robbery. Preventing robberies from occurring in the first place is much better and safer than dealing with the real thing.
An active robbery prevention program is simply good business practice. A safe store is attractive to customers, more pleasant for you and discouraging to robbers.
- Become involved and encourage others to become involved in a highly visible, well advertised robbery prevention program.
- Advise employees to greet customers.
- Be aware that alert clerks and clean premises deter robberies.
- Good visibility allows employees to keep an eye on suspicious persons and increases the possibility that someone outside will see if a robbery does occur.
- Avoid window displays and closed drapes or blinds which obsure a view of the interior.
- Consider installing an alarm. Surveillance cameras are a good deterrent and provide valuable evidence if a robbery occurs.
- Proper interior and exterior lighting is necessary, and the installation of adequate locks on all doors is a must. Even with a strong security program, there is always the chance that a robbery may occur. It's imperative that all employees be taught how to handle those few minutes during a robbery in a manner that will help ensure safety.
- Don't argue, the robber may be more frightened than you.
- Do exactly as the robber asks, and be as polite and accommodating as possible.
- Do not make any sudden moves. Tell the robber every move you plan to make before you do it.
- Memorize the robber's description in detail. Write it down as soon as possible without jeopardizing your safety.
- Try to get a description of the robber's car and write down the licence number.
- Do not set off the hold-up alarm or call 911 until after the robber has left your premise. To do so sooner may result in a hostage situation.
- Don't touch the hold-up note or anything else the robber may have touched. Protect the areas for police examination. Lock the doors immediately after the robber has left.
CPTED Tips For Small Businesses
CPTED: Crime Prevention Through Enveionmental Design
- Robberies normally occur when there are few people around or if there are obstructed views of the cash area
- Elevating the cashier using a 20 cm riser or stool behind the counter allows employees to observe suspicious behaviour.
- Shelving units should be chevroned to allow a clear view down each row from the cashier area.
- Shelving units should be lowered to provide a clear view as to where customers are at all times.
- Use of cameras or mirrors will heighten surveillance in vulnerable areas.
- Customers that loiter or appear to be waiting around for no apparent reason may be waiting for an opportunity to commit a crime. Employees need to make a list of physical descriptors and clothing of the suspect. Call police if the behavior is making the employee uncomfortable or fearful.
- Busineses, when possible, should have a minimum of two employees present at all times. This is especially important if the employees are female as robberies may escalate into sexual attacks.
- Install audible alarms, fixed or with remote keypads, which can be activated by employees if their safety is jeopardized.
- Employees personally greeting persons entering the business deter any potential crime.
- If employees work after dark, ensure the staff parking area is well lit (preferably with metal halide lights).
- Ensure exterior windows are free of obstructions and promotion material. Promotion materials can be added to a board attached to a wall near the entrance. Customers feel more comfortable if they can see into the store before they enter.
- Well lit customer parking areas increase business due to the perceived safety in entering and exiting the space.
How Can I Make my Business Property Safer?
CPTED need not be expensive or difficult to apply and simply involves taking advantage of your property's natural surveillance, access control and territorial potential.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design or CPTED (pronounced sep-ted), as it is more commonly known, holds some of these answers by providing a common sense way to improve the safety of your environment. CPTED is a proactive crime-fighting technique that believes that the proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime as well as an improvement in the quality of life. CPTED works by eliminating criminal opportunites in and around your property. By getting your property "right," a criminal may avoid giving it a second and closer look. This keeps your property safer.