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How to protect your business from crime

Published on 5th April 2019

Running a business, you’ll have to overcome any number of challenges in order to achieve your short-and long-term goals. Of course, the road ahead is certain to be bumpy with plenty of setbacks in store. But with focus and determination, success is within your grasp. Unfortunately, one of the many obstacles we must all be on the lookout for is criminal activity. From theft and fraud to vandalism and cybercrime, many UK business fall victim to a wide range of offences that can affect productivity, morale and staff safety. However, with vigilance, preparation and an effective action plan you can minimise the risk to your business and reduce the negative effects that being a victim of crime can cause with our 8 most effective tips for protecting your business against crime.

Conduct a risk assessment

If you’re worried about crime and are looking for ways to become a less appealing target, you first need to identify the areas that are leaving your business vulnerable to criminal activity. Although you may have already located some areas (maybe from past experience) there may be areas that you’re overlooking. If you plug one vulnerability, you can be certain that they’ll be assessing your defences in order to find another means to attack your business. This is why you need to carry out an in-depth risk assessment and revise it regularly. Do you have enough security personnel and is there a gap between their shifts? How robust is your online security? Is equipment being safely stored out of arm's reach? By carrying out a thorough risk assessment and acknowledging every vulnerability that exists, regardless of how big or small they may be, you’ll be taking a major step towards safeguarding your business’ wellbeing.

Are you worried about your business falling victim to crime? Looking for ways to protect your business without straining your finances? Apply for Business Finance or learn more about how your business could benefit.

Keep your premises secured

One area of your business that criminals may try to exploit could be your premises. Whether during the day or at night, you need to make sure that your workplace is properly secured and with all available security features being activated. This includes:

  • installing strong locks to all windows and doors
  • fit security lights
  • instruct staff to properly lock up before going home

Most burglaries are executed by opportunists who generally don’t set out with a plan, which is why even the simplest of precautions can make a big difference. However, to deter the more cunning and well-organized criminals, you’ll also have to employ more sophisticated security tactics to keep your business secure. As well as fitting a reliable alarm system that will remotely alert you any to intrusions, you should also install a CCTV system.

A high-quality HD CCTV system can be a useful tool for both deterring and securing a successful prosecution. To make sure that you’re premises is properly protected, use a system that is able to connect to enough cameras. You should also carefully consider every camera placement so that there are no blind spots and the entire perimeter is being closely watched. In case of an intrusion, carefully conceal the recording the device. If this is this damaged or stolen, all of the footage that it’s recorded goes with it. Of course, acquiring and fitting a quality alarm and CCTV system can be costly. However, as well as giving you peace of mind, such systems can be smoothing this out in the out in the long-run by helping you reduce your insurance premiums. If you’re looking to make use of alarm and CCTV systems in your business you may want to look at ADT, Swann, Yale, Absolute Security, and Verisure.

Keep your business’ assets secure

Next, you’ll want to make certain that your business’ assets are all properly secured and protected. After carrying out property and equipment audits, which you’ll frequently need to update, assign trusted members of your team to monitor each of the various types of asset that your business contains. When not in use, ensure that valuable equipment is stored away and kept out of sight in order to minimise the risk of theft. Devices such as computer terminals should be fixed to walls and floors. Try to store business vehicles in a lockable garage, whilst also employing the use of steering wheels locks and wheel locks. Most equipment thefts are committed by opportunistic criminals who want to be in and out as quickly as possible. By simply taking steps to make it harder for them go undetected, your business’ assets will be less likely targets for this type of crime.

Make sure your stock isn’t at risk

Another vulnerable area could be your business inventory. To keep on top is this, you need to keep and maintain reliable records of what’s entering and leaving your stockroom. This will help you spot any discrepancies, excessive product refunds and damage claims. Plus, you should regularly carry out stock takes. In order to track your business’ stock, you may want to consider making use of an inventory management system such as Xero, Wasp Inventory Control, Fishbowl Inventory, and Agiliron Inventory Management.

For the items that you’re displaying in customer-facing areas, make sure that you have trained security personnel running constant patrols during trading hours. Coordinating shift changes is crucial as gaps will provide shoplifters with an opportunity to strike unchallenged. Aisles should also be arranged in a manner that will make it easier staff for them to spot shoplifters so that they can intercept them and prevent the theft from occurring.

You should also be aware of shoplifters who use distraction tactics that allow an accomplice to steal your goods without being noticed. For example, some shoplifters have been known to feign illness in order to draw the attention of your staff. Although it’s important that you provide adequate aid and support to any customer who has fallen ill, make sure that you still have some members of staff conducting their normal duties. Plus, the use of in-store CCTV systems and security mirrors can help keep your stock safe.

Ensure staff safety

In addition, you should also take steps to ensure the safety of your staff. To minimise the risk to your staff, provide sufficient amounts of training (such as how to spot suspicious behaviour) and establish robust security protocols. Should a crime occur, make certain that there are systems in place to allow them to report the crime both to you and the proper authorities. If there’s a serious threat of harm, which could involve a member being threatened with a weapon, it’s better to let them hand over the goods or cash than risk their life. However, to minimise the damage such an event can have on your cash flow, try to keep as little cash on your premises as possible, routinely empty your tills and transfer any excess cash over to your business’ bank account. The placement of ‘staff area’ signs should prevent customers from wandering into areas where they shouldn’t.

Prevent employee theft

Sometimes, the threat to your business can come from a member of your own team. That why you should carry out all the necessary checks into all new hires regarding their previous employment history and criminal records. Introduce a clear and easy policy in regards to theft and possible consequence to each member of your staff. If anyone has suspicions about a member of staff committing theft of fraud, make sure that there are systems in place that can help them raise concerns with their manager. However, in some cases, the culprit could even be their manager. In order to prevent intimidation or suspicious being quashed, ensure that staff also have means to raise concerns with you personally, and in confidence. If do you learn of an employee committing a crime against your business, how you choose to deal with it is up to you. However, if you choose to give them a second chance, tread carefully. Although your intervention may bring a halt to their criminal activity, there’s no guarantee that they won’t try again later or find another way to commit it more discreetly.

Ensure that your data has been properly secured

Yet another way in which your business could fall prey to criminal activity is online. Cybercrime is a growing problem for the UK’s business community, SMEs in particular. If a cybercriminal were to successfully attack your business it could create any number of damaging problems, including lost data, customer data breach, devices and data being held to ransom, service outage and so on. Ultimately, this would damage your cash flow and public reputation. That’s why you need to:

  • Regularly install anti-virus, firewall and operating system updates
  • Periodically change passwords
  • Possibly seek the advice of a professional security consultant
  • Back data up on to a sufficiently sized external hard drive
  • Seek the services of a security consultant

However, that’s not the only way your business’ data can be acquired improperly. Sometimes, it could happen as a direct result of your employees mishandling data or throwing out paperwork without shredding it first, for example. Yet no matter what the reasons may be, improperly handling data or not ensuring sufficient protection systems are in place could cause your business to receive a fine under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines - a fine that could demand up to £20,000,000 or 4% of your annual turnover (whichever is higher).

Need help protecting your business from crime?

As a business owner, keeping a close eye on how your business is operating can prove to be a difficult balancing act. Whilst searching for more ways to ensure growth and remain sustainable, an aspect that we all have to keep an eye on is crime. But by making sure that you have the security features and policies in place, you can minimise the risk of your business falling prey to criminal activity. The challenge, however, is often the cost. If you’re looking to install additional security features such as alarms, CCTV and online security tools, you might not necessarily possess the finances to do so. But rather than dipping into your savings, you could apply for Business Finance.

As well as Secured and Unsecured Business Loans, the Alternative Finance Industry could grant you access to an array of funding opportunities, including Invoice Financing, Merchant Cash Advance, Overdraft Replacement and Asset Refinance. But with so many finance solutions available, how you can be certain you’re applying for a solution that’s suitable for your business? If you’re looking improve your business’ protection against crime but lack the necessary funds to do so, apply for Business Finance today or find out more with Rangewell.

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David Harrison

David Harrison

Content writer
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