I recently received emails and calls from people in our community wanting to know how to better secure their businesses. Here are some tips:
Keep your cash register in plain view from the outside of your business so that it can be monitored by police and passersby during and after business hours.
Keep only small amounts of cash in the register. Empty cash drawers and leave them open after hours.
Make bank deposits often and during business hours, but don’t establish a noticeable pattern.
Be sure your safe is fireproof, securely anchored and in plain view. Use a drop safe so cash cannot be taken out once it is put in, and post signs accordingly.
Do not keep valuable goods in display windows when the store is closed.
Consider installing anti-theft devices on inventory.
Train your employees to report any suspicious activity or person immediately, and write down the information for future reference.
Make sure employees know how to reduce opportunities for shoplifting. Use mirrors to eliminate “blind spots” that might hide shoplifters.
Talk to employees about what to do if confronted with a robber. Remind them that they should cooperate to avoid harm and notify police immediately.
Establish and enforce clear policies about employee theft, and educate employees about these policies regularly.
Mark valuable equipment such as registers, computers, air conditioners, and calculators with an identification number (driver license of owner preferred). Post around the store warning signs that equipment has been marked appropriately for police.
Create a company emergency plan, and post evacuation plans in highly visible areas.
Make sure employees are aware of their responsibilities in an emergency and know exit routes and evacuation plans for a building.
Provide fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, and individual preparedness kits in the correct size and number for the facility.
Designate a meeting location for employees if the building or shopping center is evacuated.
Create emergency plans with telephone numbers of employees who are disabled or require assistance.
Finally, keep lights inside and outside on especially around doors, windows, skylights and other entry points. Before investing in an alarm system, decide what level of security fits your needs and learn how to use your system properly. Train all employees who open or close on how to use the system. Keys that are issued to employees should be stamped “do not duplicate” and make them sign a commitment to that affect.
Recently, I visited San Jose, California, and attended a Neighborhood Watch meeting with the San Jose Police Department.
It’s amazing that although we are thousands of miles apart, their issues are the same as ours here in South Florida. Mini Le, a crime prevention coordinator there for 20 years, deals with the same concerns we have here, such as “lock your cars,” “call the police when you see something suspicious,” “turn your front porch light on,” and “don’t leave your gun in the car.” It was a great meeting and we exchanged ideas and recommendations for stronger Neighborhood Watch programs. I look forward to staying in touch with Le to better serve both our communities.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.