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Protecting Your Small Business When The Doors Are Closed

For retailers of every size, theft prevention is a 24-hour concern — and for good reason.

According to the FBI’s Crime in the Unites States 2011 report, more than 291,000 theft attempts involving the use or threat of force or violence took place that year. Of these robberies, 14,863 involved convenience stores and another 7,009 involved gas or service stations.

As long-time security consultant and private investigator Chris McGoey notes on his Crime Doctor website, "The crime of robbery is mainly a nighttime crime, increasing after 8 p.m. and subsiding after 3 a.m. in most areas." For your store that might mean some of your daytime security tactics — like security mirrors and employee surveillance — won’t help protect you after hours.

Here are some ways you can protect your business when the doors are closed.

First-Line Deterrence: Security Lighting

Security lighting can be a robust deterrent to nighttime crime, especially if lights are positioned both within a store and at every entrance. These simple systems aren’t connected to any type of computer monitor or video feed, and instead rely on basic motion detectors that turn on floodlights if any movement is detected. The light automatically turns off after a preset period of time, but it stays on if movement continues.

This is a nice, affordable way to discourage crime when no one is manning the shop. Thieves often target stores at night because they don’t want to be seen; bright lights increase their chances of being caught or detected.

More Complex: Motion Detectors and Security Cameras

The next step up from motion detector lighting is a motion detector camera that’s engineered especially for business. These cameras can produce clear picture quality even in low lighting and are small enough to be positioned anywhere in a store. Often, aiming the camera at entrances or exits is particularly helpful. However, be sure to angle it correctly to catch facial features rather than capturing images from overhead.

Here’s a nice element to look for: A webcam-enabled system can alert you to activity and let you check in on the store from any Internet-enabled device. You can even adjust sensitivity of the detection to avoid false alarms, which can happen if electronics (e.g., a cooling system or wireless router) switch on and off during the night.

The Most Advanced Security Solutions

Centralized and managed security solutions are the highest level of nighttime protection, since they involve multiple cameras, motion detectors, lighting and a response team that monitors a store while it’s closed.

These higher-level systems often provide even more assurance beyond theft. For instance, many include condition monitoring to detect changes in store temperature or potential flooding situations.

For any type of retailer, theft will always be a concern. But making a few simple, strategic purchases can provide strong after-hours protection for your store and your bottom line — as well as more restful nights for you.

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