Securing your business does not have to be overly expensive. Firstly, you can start by making sure you have the basics. This includes installing deadlocks on all doors and windows.
Even if someone breaks in through a window it is difficult to steal heavy items like computers, if the doors are deadlocked.
Replace glass in accessible windows and doors with laminated glass, or apply shatter resistant film to existing glass.
Make the doors jemmy-proof with a protective metal strip or by installing resistant locks. Make sure your business is properly secured at the end of trading.
Once you have the security basics, you can take it to the next level by adding burglar and security alarms. The type of security system you install will mainly depend on how much you want to spend.
You could spend thousands on a security system, however, this is not generally necessary. First, assess your security needs and how much you have to spend then speak to a professional.
Your choices include:
Burglar alarms which sound in the event of a break-in
Sensor-alarms which are trigged when movement is detected in the premises.
Silent alarms which are triggered, however do not sound and alert a security firm or local police station.
You can also install a security system whereby electronic tags are attached to the stock. An in-store alarm sounds if anyone tries to steal something.
Protection Against Shoplifting
Once you have assessed the type of security system your business will need, it is time to consider one of the biggest thorns in the side of the retail industry – shoplifting.
You should have a definite policy regarding shoplifters. A store with a reputation for good security and a tough prosecution policy is a less likely target.
Although the average loss may be small, the amount of lost stock, and in turn money, can add up. It is unrealistic to think you can stop all shoplifting, however you can limit your losses.
Keep shoplifting in mind when creating your shop layout. Try to make sure your merchandise and customers can be viewed clearly without obstruction.
Strategically placed mirrors, peepholes or closed circuit television are all useful deterrents, which provide vital surveillance.
Secure small items used as displays. If merchandise is sold as a pair, display only one of the pair. Do not place more than one valuable item on the counter at the same time. If possible, keep others in locked display cases.
What to look for:
Watch the customers’ hands and eyes. Fleeting eyes and trembling hands often indicate a shoplifter.
Watch customers who wander around the store trying to avoid staff attention.
Watch for people wearing baggy clothes or heavy outer garments, particularly out of season.
Ask that all bags, boxes, cases, etc. be inspected before customers leave the store.
Watch for customers who try to distract staff from a particular part of the store. Often an accomplice will do the stealing.
Checking Customer Bags
One way of deterring a would-be shoplifter is to conduct bag searches. Customers should know before they enter a store that they are liable for bag inspections upon departure.
The WA Department of Consumer and Employment Protection (DCEP) (www.fairtrading.wa.gov.au) advises business owners to display a sign to make customers aware of bag inspection policies. Customers entering a business, which displays a sign, are effectively consenting to this condition of entry. Whether the customer has seen or read the sign really doesn’t matter, as long as the sign is there and can be seen clearly.
“DEAR SHOPPER, IT IS A CONDITION OF ENTRY THAT YOU PRESENT BAGS FOR INSPECTION BEFORE LEAVING THE STORE. THANK YOU”
However, the rules surrounding bag searches vary from state to state. For instance, according to the WA DCEP, if a business doesn’t have a sign displayed they cannot insist on searching someone’s bag.
However, the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs (OCBA) (www.ocba.sa.gov.au) in South Australia said businesses are quite within their rights to conduct bag searches and customers are also within their rights to refuse such a request.
If you ask to search customers’ bags and they refuse, you may:
- Ask them to leave
- Refuse to sell them any goods
- Call the police if you believe they have been shoplifting.
Remember: Avoid accusing customers, directly or indirectly, of stealing. If you are wrong, you could face legal action.
OCBA has the following tips on how to handle a possible shoplifting situation.
Monitoring a suspect:
Before apprehending a customer, be sure that the merchandise has not been paid for.
Know what has been stolen.
Be sure he/she has not disposed of the merchandise.
Wait until the suspect has left the store.
Approaching a suspect:
Try to have someone present as a witness.
Remain calm and identify yourself.
Never touch or search the person otherwise you may break the law.
Dealing With An Armed Hold-Up
All businesses that handle cash or saleable goods are at risk of being held up. You cannot prevent this, but you can reduce the risks and help the police catch the offender(s).
It is important that you and staff know what to do if there is an armed hold-up.
Keep all rear entrances locked
Try to avoid letting anyone in before the store opens or after hours until you have established his or her identity. Beware of any bogus tradespeople or technicians.
Keep the minimum amount of cash needed in hand.
Avoid discussing your business’ cash movements or areas where cash is held with those not directly involved in your business operations.
During a hold-up:
Do not try to be heroic. The situation could take a turn for the worst.
Try to make mental notes about the offender, for instance, appearance, mannerisms, scars, etc.
Obey the offender’s instructions, do what you are told, no more and no less.
If ordered to hand money to the bandit, put as much coin into the bag as possible followed by smaller denomination notes.
Once the offender has left, close the premises to the public and call the police.
Try not to disturb the potential evidence the offender may have left and ask all witnesses to remain until the police get there. If that’s not possible, take their names and phone numbers.