The latest crime report carried out by the British Retail Consortium has revealed the worrying cost of crime to the retail industry. At a total of £613 million, it’s the highest since records began.
This, combined with the influx of customers over the holiday period could mean devastation for small retail businesses, warns the Master Locksmith Association (MLA), the leading trade association for the locksmithing profession.
Here, Dr Steffan George, development director of the MLA, advises retailers on keeping their shops and businesses secure over the festive period and into the new year.
Christmas is the busiest time of year for UK retailers, but while sales increase, so, unfortunately, does crime. It’s the time of year when people feel most financial pressure, and an increase in custom provides perfect cover for people to shop lift.
However it’s important not to panic. Minimise risks with the following precautions and your business will be well protected.
1. Firstly, don’t underestimate the power of deterrents. Anti-theft equipment is becoming more affordable and simple signage warning people that the store is equipped with CCTV and that shoplifters will be prosecuted is proven to be effective.
2. Check your CCTV is working and up to date, and if not, upgrade it. You should look to an expert for advice on where to station your monitor and your cameras – you don’t want an incident to happen in a CCTV blind spot. And it may sound obvious but ensure the recording device is securely stored so that evidence of any break-in is not lost.
3. Ensure all your security hardware is well maintained and up to date too. Just like with CCTV, maintenance is vital for locks, chains and windows rust, cracked panes of glass and rotten frames and sills make entry a lot easier for burglars and are a signal to them that your security isn’t that comprehensive.
4. If your store is in an area prone to crime, you should invest in heavy window screens and burglar resistant glass doors and windows as an extra precaution. Burglars typically spend five minutes at most trying to gain entry into a property so fitting high quality, resilient shutters, grilles or high quality armoured doors will put them off – the longer they spend trying to gain access, the more likely they are to be seen.
5. Make sure no one can see into your stock room. Even if you have bars and grilles it’s a good idea to cover up the windows with blinds too, especially if they’re on the ground floor.
6. Control who has access to outside areas as well as inside. Adding bars and posts to your parking areas is a good step as it enables you to decide who can park around your store and who can’t.
7. Most shopping centres have their own security staff, but shutters or reinforced glass in the windows are always good investments.
8. With the rise in custom at this time of year, as well as security, safety becomes increasingly important. As a retailer you have a duty of care to the general public – your fire safety equipment needs checking, staff need to be aware of procedures and alarms and emergency exits need to be clear and in good working order. Check this sooner rather than later – when the Christmas rush begins it will be a lot more difficult!
9. Get an expert to carry out all upgrades needed – going down the DIY route could mean your security installations won’t meet requirements and therefore you could be putting members of the public at risk by entrapment. It’s worth contacting your local MLA-approved locksmith for a free security survey, they will ensure everything is in top working condition and meets industry standards.
10. Finally, if you are positioned alongside a number of other shops or businesses then why not join forces with your neighbours and invest in security together. You could pitch in for CCTV covering the street for example, or look into security hardware for shared parking areas.
While carrying out the above may sound expensive and time consuming, safety and security are of upmost importance for you, your business and your staff. We highly recommend asking a professional MLA-approved locksmith to carry out a security assessment. They’ll also be able to advise you on appropriate measures that meet your insurance requirements as incorrect or unapproved security equipment can affect your insurance cover or even make it redundant. Details of your nearest MLA approved locksmith can be found at www.locksmiths.co.uk and for a list of security products that have been independently tested to help secure your business, visit www.soldsecure.com.