How can I protect my business from burglary?

As with car insurance we find that there are many insurers providing a variety of insurance products to business owners!  These products are designed to provide cover from the smallest to the largest of businesses. In this section we would like to discuss not these products, but start by focusing on measures to prevent insurance claims resulting from burglary at the business premises.

These measures are of special importance to small business owners where a much smaller part of the budget is available for security measures.

We would like to discuss these measures by focusing on:

  • Making burglary uninviting or difficult
  • Measures to limit the loss once the burglar has gained entry
  • Measures to ensure identification and capture

How do burglars gain entry and what entices them to attempt the burglary?

To protect from burglary we need to put ourselves in the position of a burglar and ask how the burglar would best gain entry! What would be his mindset?

The clever burglar will gain information about the premise before attempting a burglary. This information could be acquired in a number of ways:

  • Gaining insight having posed as a client or doing maintenance work at the business premise.
  • Opening a entrance or window while using a rest room at your business
  • Gaining info about your alarm system by signage outside the premise
  • Easy entrance through windows left open
  • Info from disgruntled employees

Try to think like a burglar and plan how you would commit the crime… When would be the best time to do so and how would you go about it? This will help you to implement the correct and most effective countermeasures!!

How do we make the premises uninviting for a burglar?

There are not only physical features that could make the business premise unattractive to burglars – but also small everyday changes:

  • Lighting: Burglars do not wish to be seen – they would much rather work in the cover of darkness. Good interior and exterior lighting are the most effective deterrents against crime. Pay special attention to bright lighting at the front and back entrances of your business as well as near any side doors. Remember to replace damaged or burned-out bulbs.
  • View: Ensure that burglars and their movement inside can be seen at night. Keep the front windows free of advertising and merchandise so that a burglar could be seen by someone passing by.
  • Burglar bars: Cover windows and sky lights with iron bars. When thieves can’t get through the door, they’ll try to break out the glass and go through the window.
  • Exterior windows:  They can be covered with burglar-resistant glazing. This provides the appearance of glass and increases security. Also focus on securing window locks.
  • Exterior: Do not help potential burglars to hide away outside the business premise before they gain entrance. Overgrown shrubbery, vehicles and trash dumpsters near the building provide excellent cover for burglars. Keeping trees and shrubs trimmed away from windows and doors can help minimize hiding places around buildings.
  • Doors: How can we increase the safety by the doors we use?  Consider installing exterior doors constructed from solid-core wood or metal that fit tightly into the doorframe. Use solid core doors whose frames can’t be easily pried open. Also make sure the hinges are on the inside of the door and install deadbolt locks. Side and rear doors should be of solid wood or steel construction and installed in reinforced steel frames.
  • Fencing: Fencing and electrical fencing provide a barrier that may help deter would be intruders.
  • Alarm Systems:  You can protect your business property against any one of a wide range of alarm systems. Alarm systems range from very basic local alarms to highly sophisticated systems. More complex systems offer a monitoring service that notifies the authorities or private security firms when the system detects a burglar. Do not neglect regular testing and maintenance to ensure the alarm system is functioning properly.
  • Detection Equipment: Alarms can involve protection of the perimeter, area, or object. Perimeter protection covers the outside surface of the building. Area protection covers an entire space or area, such as the inside of a building. Object protection covers a particular object such as a safe.

How do we minimise the loss from burglary / theft at the business premises?

Burglaries will occur despite the noblest of efforts.  We can do more than protect via physical features and make the business premises unattractive – we can also ensure that we minimise the loss!

  • Even if your business does not stock valuable items, consider the money you routinely handle.
  • If you have to keep substantial amounts of money at the promise, keep these in a safe for protection from burglars and fires.
  • Select a safe based on the values to be protected – A higher level of protection should be chosen for high value merchandise or large amounts of money. [Don’t be “penny wise and pound foolish”!]
  • Put in a drop safe and post a sign on your doors and windows stating a drop safe is used.

How can we improve the changes that the burglar will be captured?

Owners of small businesses seldom are able to afford security guards to watch over the business. There are however other measures to assist enforcement agencies and private security firms to stop and capture burglars:

  • A standard alarm system can go a long way in protecting your business against robbery.
  • In addition to the security system itself, you may decide to place a notice in a window or out front to inform potential burglars that your business is under constant surveillance.
  • Security cameras installed with a view over the cash register and items most likely to be stolen can help guard against robbery and theft.
  • Security cameras can also help police officers and detectives to find the perpetrator.
  • It is advised that business owners do not operate in isolation – build a friendly relationship with the local police department.

Conclusion and Advice

No responsible business owner will do business without ensuring that the business is adequately protected with business insurance. We would like to advise that the business owner work in close cooperation with the insurance company to ensure that everything is done to protect the business from burglars.

This should be done by focusing on more than only the terms and conditions of the agreement. Ask the insurance company to inspect the business premise and to advise on the required security and other measures to best protect your business.

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