Houston Police Department

Commercial Burglary Prevention

Most criminals are opportunists. Either the victim himself or the victim acting unwittingly in response to a stimulus created by the criminal may create opportunity. A business door being left unlocked after closing is an example of the victim creating the opportunity. On the other hand, the act of armed robbery exemplifies a response-created opportunity. In either case, an awareness of the potential for crime empowers individuals and businesses to act more cautiously, thus, eliminating the opportunity. It requires, for many, to change the way they think and it requires putting a healthy suspicion into our daily lives and activities. It compels us to shed the “blinders” that we unknowingly wear as we go about our day oblivious to the real threats that exist to our daily safety and survival. Businesses can take an active role in reducing criminal opportunity in and around their property by participating in a variety of crime prevention initiatives.

Businesses can reduce their vulnerability to crime in many ways. Security measures like updated locks, lighting, and alarms can make any establishment a less attractive target for criminals. Remember that most criminals are opportunists, and the goal of a security survey is to reduce the opportunity. These methods include, but are not limited to:

Proper lighting eliminates shadows, which burglars use for cover. Light up all points of entry, including those on the roof. Leave lights on inside just as you would do at home.

Install lighting at the front and back in addition to any side doors of your business.

As with windows, check for signs of any structural weaknesses. Use heavy and solid constructions, and material that is drill-resistant. You can also reinforce the backs of doors with crossbars. Be sure the doorframes cannot easily be jimmied.

Secure doors, windows, skylights and other openings with the best possible locks. No lock is burglar proof, but the longer and harder a burglar finds it to break in, the more likely they simply give up or are caught.

Use deadbolts and be sure to change the locks every time an employee with access to them leaves.

Check window frames to see if they are loose or rotting, and ensure that the windows offer visibility.

Arrange merchandise so that a passerby can see into the store. The store employee needs to be able to notice dangers outside and let witnesses see trouble inside. So keep windows clear of obstructions, from stacked boxes on the floor to high shrubs beside the walkways.

Covering windows with bars or grills for added protection may be necessary. Install burglar-resistant glass or use wire mesh or iron bars over all glass.

Reduce how much cash you have on hand after hours. If you have cash or other valuables, keep them in a safe anchored to the floor and that is in an illuminated location visible from the outside.

Change the combination if staff, who are familiar with it, are terminated or separate from employment.

Install and use a drop safe.

Limit how much cash is in the register and post signs saying that a drop safe is used and registers have only limited cash.

Store displays
Keep your expensive merchandise away from the windows, toward the center of the store.

Check ventilation system to ensure it cannot be used to gain entry.

Make sure that fences are high and sturdy enough so they are not too easy to breach. For some workplaces, barbed wire on top of the fence may be appropriate.

Alarm System
Install an alarm system. At least an alarm offers a measure of peace of mind. It is a deterrent to burglars, or forces them to get out quickly if they happen to break in.

Post warnings in clear view that the business is equipped with an alarm, and train the staff to avoid false alarms.