There are many steps commercial and retail businesses can take to secure their premises and ensure a safe environment for employees, especially those working at night or overnight.

Applying Crime Prevention Through Environment Design (CPTED) principles can make a significant difference in whether your business is perceived by criminals to be a good target. CPTED is the use of design to eliminate or reduce criminal behaviour. Small things like ensuring trees and bushes around your business are not overgrown and ready to provide cover for a criminal, making sure that doors and windows are unobstructed so that criminals can be easily seen by you inside the business or by passers-by outside, and installing proper lighting that is well-maintained all contribute to making your business and community safer.

South Simcoe Police strongly urges business owners to invest in video surveillance equipment and to keep it well-maintained. Good quality images help police identify suspects, can aid in arrests and have a tremendous impact during court proceedings.

The follow tips are to help provide some methods of securing your business:

Securing Commercial Buildings

  • Invest in video surveillance equipment
  • Plants in front of doors or windows should be no higher than three feet to ensure criminals can’t hide in them
  • Ensure trees and plants surrounding your business do not interfere with lighting around your property
  • Ensure the address on your premises is clearly-marked and visible from the street
  • Install an alarm system
  • Install security film on windows and glass doors
  • Ensure doors are good quality and install high-security deadbolt lock
  • Install a latch guard and security hinges
  • Install a glass-break and motion sensors
  • Remove any loose bricks or rocks around your property that can be used in a break in
  • Ensure employees have a clear and well-lit path from the parking lot to the business
  • Install perimeter fencing with a gate if possible
  • Mount signs indicating you have 24-hour security and an alarm system

Prevent Retail Robberies

  • Be alert. Greet and make eye contact with each customer as they enter the business
  • Make sure windows aren’t covered by merchandise and that people can see in from the street
  • Be active. Walk around your business frequently so criminals can see you are attentive
  • Ensure your business is well-lit
  • Install video surveillance equipment and make sure the camera is focused on the cash register and the entrance and exit
  • Do not keep large amounts of cash in the business. Use night deposit boxes and vary the times you use them.
  • Report suspicious vehicles or people to police

If you are the victim of a robbery:

  • Do not fight back. Cooperate and do as instructed
  • Be the best witness possible – remember what the suspect looks like and what he/she is wearing
  • Try to determine if he/she leaves on foot or on a vehicle
  • If the suspect leaves in a vehicle, try to see the plate number and make, model and colour
  • Call 9-1-1

Prevent Shoplifting

There are many steps retail business owners and managers can take to ensure your business is protected from shoplifters.

  • Greet and make eye contact with each customer as they enter your business
  • Make sure you can clearly see every area of your store
  • Watch for customers carrying large packages or purses or wearing bulky clothing
  • Shoplifters often work in pairs – one distracts the employee while the other steals merchandise
  • Only show one item of value to the customer at a time
  • Watch for empty hangers on clothing racks
  • Arrange displays so missing items are obvious
  • Mount signs saying your policy is to prosecute shoplifters
  • Where possible, fasten display items to the display
  • Train your staff to recognize shoplifters
  • If you suspect a shoplifter, call security or police

Internal Theft

There are several types of internal theft of which all employers should be aware.

Merchandise theft – merchandise is stolen from the store
Cash theft – cash is stolen directly from the register
Free-bagging theft – a cashier bags up merchandise but fails to charge the customer
Under-ringing theft – unauthorized marking-down of merchandise
Aiding shoplifters – failing to report shoplifting or actively assisting shoplifters
Refund theft – creating a false refund receipt and taking the cash
Employee discount abuse – offering the employee discount to friends or family

Following these tips can make your business safer:

  • Ensure you do frequent, thorough inventory audits
  • Ensure some of those inventory checks are random and unexpected
  • Require all applicants to fill out a detailed application and check references
  • Ensure your accounting system has appropriate checks and balances involving more than one employee
  • Watch for unexplained stock shortages
  • Check trash bins
  • Be concerned about employees who are reluctant to take vacations or promotions
  • See if business patterns change when a certain employee is absent
  • Watch for employees who are uncomfortable or defensive answering routine questions about procedures
  • Involve your employees in crime prevention measures

Graffiti Prevention

Graffiti is the illegal defacing of property by painting or otherwise marking it with words, pictures or symbols. The majority of graffiti involves “tags”, which are personalized signatures or “throw ups”, which are multi-coloured, bubble lettering painted on mailboxes, hydro poles, bridges or walls.

Graffiti has a negative effect on our communities in many ways. It contributes to reduced property values, a decline in commercial sales, increased crime rates in affected areas, wasted tax dollars for clean-up and decreased use and enjoyment of public facilities. It diminishes citizens’ feelings of safety and security.

Following these tips may reduce the chances that your business will become a target for graffiti:

  • Keep the exterior of your business clean and neat
  • Install exterior lighting on motion sensors
  • Install video surveillance cameras
  • Remove graffiti immediately
  • Fences, shrubs and thorny plants can deter vandals
  • Move dumpsters away from walls
  • Dark-coloured and textured surfaces are less likely to provide a good graffiti canvas
  • Consider coating exterior walls with graffiti-resistant materials that can be washed off
  • Can police and ask for regular patrols of your business if you are concerned
  • Report suspicious people and vehicles to police

If you are the victim of a vandal, report the incident to police immediately. Take photographs of the damage and remove it as soon as possible.

Counterfeit Money

Use the TILL method of checking for counterfeit bills:

  • Touch the bill – bank note paper has a unique feel with raised ink on the front of the bill
  • Tilt the bill – watch for the changing colours of the numbers and the two-toned maple leaves in the metallic stripe
  • Look through the bill – hold the bill up to the light and look for the ghost image and puzzle number near the middle
  • Look at the bill – you need to look carefully to make sure it appears and works as it should when you tilt or look through the note
  • Train staff to check for counterfeit money