This is Part Three of a series of business security articles brought to you by EPS Security
At first glance, the phrase “business security” may seem cut and dry, but a comprehensive business security solution is anything but simple. Forget the complexities of design and the nuances of installation; an all-encompassing security system must address a myriad of threats that face the average business, including (but not limited to):
Internal property threats
Protecting from these threats only becomes more difficult with each added complication: does your business have inventory on public display? Do your employees ring up cash and credit card transactions? Do you keep large amounts of cash on hands? Does your business have warehouses, storage closets, or inventory rooms that house high value products? Does your business have multiple shifts? Securing a business from the threats that face it can get messy fast, but fret not: a well-rounded security solution can be obtained by understanding what your business needs protection from—and with a little help from a professional security provider.
In this series, we’ll more closely examine individual categories of threats that face your business—and what you can do to bolster the security of your facilities.
Burglars and vandals may get the most attention, but crimes that occur within your business—often during business hours—are both common and costly. These internal property crimes include shoplifting, employee theft, and robbery, and each type poses a unique threat to the integrity of your business and the safety of your employees.
Shoplifting is a crime that occurs in retail businesses where products are out on display within reach of the public. The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) calculates that $35 million worth of merchandise is stolen every day—a whopping $13 billion a year in losses for retailers. While a burglar or vandal may fit within a certain income demographic or psychological profile, shoplifters are typically harder to identify. Preconceived and incorrect notions of who is more likely to shoplift have prevailed for years, including that a shoplifter:
- Is more likely to be a woman
- Is more likely to be a child
- Has a criminal record consisting of other crimes
- Is looking to resell stolen goods
In reality, studies show that a shoplifter:
- Is equally likely to be a man or a woman
- Is only 25% likely to be a teen
- Is commonly between the ages of 35-54
- Is unlikely to commit other crimes
The fact that any customer could be a prospective shoplifter—and that an estimated 27 million Americans actively are–creates a massive security risk. Having to assume anyone entering the premises might be a shoplifter can put business owners in a tight spot between being welcoming and remaining vigilant. Even though certain behaviors from suspicious customers can help to single out would-be shoplifters—a person scanning the story, a customer leaving without purchasing a single item—the fact that most cases of shoplifting are not premeditated can make prevention especially tricky.
A successful business is built on trust, which makes the prospect of employee theft both troubling and devastating. Whether it’s cash or inventory, employee theft costs businesses some $50 billion a year. Employees have an advantage over shoplifters in that they know the ins-and-outs of their business’s layout as well as the security measures in place, allowing them to more discreetly make off with the product and circumvent scrutinizing eyes. Perhaps because of the ease with which a dishonest employee could steal from their place of employment, pinpointing the exact percentage of employees who steal from their employer is difficult. Low-end estimates hover around 25%; however, some studies and surveys have suggested that an incredible 75% of employees have stolen from their place of work at least once over the course of their careers.
People who steal while on the job have different motivations for doing so, including:
- Need. An unexpected expense or change in income may leads employees to consider taking money that isn’t theirs.
- Anger. A disgruntled employee may lash out at their employer or take what they feel they “deserve.”
- Opportunity. If an employee knows they can get away with stealing due to a lack of supervision or security precautions, the knowledge that they could make off with product or cash and get away with it may prove too tempting.
Some business owners simply accept the fact that some percentage of employees will commit theft at some point and “do what they can” to prevent it from happening. The grim truth of the matter is that employee theft accounts for some 33% of business bankruptcies, especially in small or fledgling businesses where profit margins are razor thin.
Shoplifting and employee theft threaten your bottom line; a brazen robbery also endangers the lives of your employees. Robberies differ from the more passive crime of shoplifting by introducing the element of direct threats or force into the mix. Any business that carries cash or product can fall victim to a robber, but convenience stores, gas stations, and banks are targeted more frequently than any other type of business. Per the FBI, nearly half of the annual 300,000+ robberies occur in commercial properties; 41% of total robberies used forceful methods to intimidate the victim; nearly 59% of robberies used firearms, knives, or some other element considered a weapon. By putting violent criminals in a high-pressure with scared employees, a robbery is an especially volatile and dangerous situation for your workers to find themselves ensnared.
Unlike shoplifting and employee theft, robbers most often come from common sociodemographics. Studies suggest robbers that those who commit robberies are:
- At least 90% likely to be a man
- Commonly under the age of 30
- Unlikely to have gone to college or finished high school
- Often unemployed or lacking in employment skills
Poverty is often perceived by the public as the primary motivation behind robbery. While 37% of robberies are motivated by a need or desire to improve one’s financial situation, more than half of robberies involve an element of drug abuse, especially the need to support a drug addiction. Less often, a young man may commit a crime to prove their masculinity to a friend or family member.
Victims of robbery are often encouraged to cooperate with the perpetrators to minimize their risk of physical harm. While financially damaging, stolen property can be replaced; the life of an employee cannot. However, in high-stress situations, both a robber and employee are more likely to make poor decisions. In the case of an employee, resisting, “trying to be a hero,” or even simply fleeing can end violently. Of all the property crimes that occur within a business, robberies have the highest likelihood of ending in tragedy for all involved—putting even more pressure on business owners to implement appropriate security protocols in order to protect their employees and property.
Defending your business from the crimes that can occur within it in broad daylight is no easy task—but it’s not impossible. A comprehensive, multi-layered security system built to accommodate your unique security liabilities is a worthwhile investment when considering the cost of not securing your facility. A professional security provider worth their salt would likely pinpoint individual threats to your facility and devise specific methods for determent, prevention, and alert. For instance, highly visible surveillance cameras are a must when it comes to combatting shoplifting. Studies show that criminals are highly deterred by the obvious presence of cameras to the point where they may not follow through at all. Even if a shoplifter does decide to make off with the product, well-placed and high resolution surveillance cameras dramatically increase the likelihood of the identification of the culprit—and provides evidence with which the authorities can build their case if necessary.
Video surveillance systems are also great deterrents against employee theft. Visible dome or bullet cameras can alert employees to the fact that security protocols are in place to prevent theft, but other more unique and discreet models such as pinhole or fisheye cameras can keep an eye on points-of-sale, vaults, or supply closets more subtly. Outside of surveillance cameras, intrusion alarm systems can contain user logs and custom codes to identify who is arming and disarming the system and when to help keep track of who is in your business and when.
On the same note, a card access system is the end-all-be-all of controlling where and when employees have access to various parts of your business. Each employee can be issued a custom card or key fob that is programmed to open only certain doors at certain times, assuring that only those who require access to sensitive areas with product or cash will have access to them. Additionally, usage reports can be produced to show who accessed doors at specific times. In the event product goes missing, the administrator of the card access system could identify potential culprits with the click of a button—and potentially use security cameras to confirm suspicions.
Card access systems can help minimize the chances that malcontents such as robbers ever make it into your building. For places that can’t feasibly limit foot traffic through their front door (such as retail stores or banks), installing a fleet of surveillance cameras for comprehensive coverage is essential in both deterring would-be robbers and capturing them in the act. Certain cameras can be hidden and situated in a manner intended to capture a perpetrator’s face as the exit the building to help aid in identification.
Less passively, employees can be taught to defer to a robber in an effort to reduce the risk of violence—but can also discreetly press a silent alarm or panic button. These devices are often pressed in drawers, under desks, or in money clips as a way to alert the authorities without ever picking up a phone. In the event a central monitoring station such as the EPS Monitoring Center receives a panic signal, the authorities are alerted immediately for an efficient and rapid response.
While this series of posts will cover everything from vandalism to foot traffic logistics, as an owner or manager, you can’t afford to ignore any one threat against your business. Regarding internal threats to your business, the success of a surveillance, card access, or intrusion alarm in protecting your employees and property comes down to a number of factors. One, you need high-end equipment from leading manufacturers to ensure crystal clear camera clarity, reliable badge readers, accurate user logs, and more. Two, you need multi-layered systems installed by professionals with a wealth of experience in designing complex video, intrusion alarm, and access control systems custom tailored to your unique facility layout and vulnerabilities. Thirdly, without professional monitoring, pressing the panic button under the counter or at the bank teller won’t send a signal to anyone who can help. Finally, you need a system that can be tested and maintained regularly—and quickly—by professionals to ensure continued functionality. After all, if the threats against your business never stop, your security systems can’t, either.
There are reasons EPS Security is Michigan’s largest family-owned security and life safety provider. As a local company, we work to protect businesses within our own communities. Our dedicated team have collective decades of experience in the oft-advanced and complex world of commercial security. Our technicians are trained to install and service equipment from world class vendors such as Honeywell®, DMP®, AXIS®, and Digital Watchdog® so our customers know that when they’re getting an EPS Security system, they’re getting a security solution with clout.
For more than 65 years, we’ve made protecting Michigan businesses our business. Whether you’re looking to bolster your existing security systems or are looking for a brand-new solution, let EPS Security help you to protect what matters most.