Robbery And Burglary Prevention Safety Tips for Home and Business
Robbery And Burglary Prevention Safety Tips
The following information was compiled from various sources by Officer K. A. Sodimu, Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, DC. Officer Sodimu is a Field Training Officer assigned to the 4th District. More information
For Home and Business
This information should be used as a guideline in protecting your home or business from robbery and burglary.
- Protecting Assets
- Preventing Unauthorized Entry
- Deterring Crimes
- Helping to Apprehend Robbers and Recover Stolen Property
- What To Do If You Are Robbed
Robbery is the taking of personal property in the possession of another, from the person or in the presence of the person, against the person's will, by means of force or fear of injury. Robbery is a violent crime and often includes the use of a weapon. Robbers often case businesses for cash on hand and ways to achieve surprise and avoid witnesses. Burglary is the entry of a business or other property with the intent to commit larceny or any felony therein. Businesses can prevent robberies and burglaries by protecting assets, controlling entries, and employing various deterrent measures. They can also help in apprehending the offenders and recovering the stolen property.
These tips can significantly enhance the security of your business.
1. Protecting Assets
Assets can be protected by keeping them in a safe place, implementing procedures that deny criminals access to them.
2. Preventing Unauthorized Entry
- Locate the register where it is visible from the outside, but far enough away from the window so as not to provoke a quick window smash.
- Use a time-lock drop safe for cash. Keep very little cash in the register. Keep your safe locked when access is not required.
- Safes can be standing or mounted in floors or walls. Standing safes should be securely anchored to the floor. The back should be against a wall so it will not be accessible. If the safe is visible from outside the building, it should be well illuminated and have the front (locking side) turned away from the windows. Floor safes should be located where they can be concealed.
- Use burglar-resistant safes for money and other valuables. Use fire-resistant safes for records. Both types should have an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label with their effectiveness ratings.
- Be unpredictable about moving money from your business to the bank. Vary the times, routes, and methods of concealment. Make deposits during the business day, not after closing time. Assign two employees to make deposits. Vary the assignments over time. Have the deposit carried in a purse or plain bag; never use a bank bag.
- Have employees leave the depository if suspicious persons are present. Have them return and make the deposit later.
- If you use an armored car service, always be prepared for their pickup and delivery.
- Never open your business for anyone after you have closed. Beware of the caller who states your business has just been broken into and asks you to come down. Always confirm (by calling back) that the call was from a law enforcement agency or your alarm company before going to your business.
- Keep all exterior doors locked during business hours except those used by customers or visitors. Some employees or security guards should be located to monitor each public entrance. Emergency exits should be alarmed and designated for emergency use only.
- Post signs to indicate areas that are open to the public and those that are for employees only. Install locks on all doors to interior work areas to control public access. Doors to storage and supply rooms, and individual offices should be kept locked when unattended.
- Have all employees wear ID badges or some other means of distinguishing them from visitors, customers, and others on the premises. Businesses with restricted areas should give their employees photo-ID badges that are color-coded to indicate the areas that the employee is authorized to enter. Offices and storage, supply, and other work areas should be checked periodically for the presence of unauthorized persons.
- Keep doors to public restrooms locked or under observation to prevent abuse of the facilities.
- Anchor computer hardware and other costly items of office equipment to a desk or install an alarm that sounds when they are moved. If neither of these measures is possible, store the equipment in a secure facility when it is not in use.
- Protect merchandise in display cases by keeping the case doors locked and installing laminated glass or clear acrylic plastic in the windows. Use plastic tie-downs or metal chords to secure merchandise on the tops of cases.
- Install good locks on outside storage sheds.
- Keep items stored outside at least 8 feet from perimeter walls and fences. Forklifts, moving equipment, and other vehicles that can easily be started should be made inoperable.
- Park company vehicles in a secure fenced area when the business is closed. If this is not possible, park them close to each other or the building to help prevent gas siphoning, battery theft, and vehicle break-ins.
- Keep shipments inside until they are to be loaded on trucks.
- Open doors only when shipments are being sent out or brought in. Keep doors locked at other times.
- Install a service bell for truck drivers to use to announce their arrival.
The following tips suggest how entry to your business can be controlled. They deal with doors, locks, windows, other openings, roofs, fences, walls, gates, and landscaping. Make sure that all protective measures installed meet the fire and life safety standards for your type of building.
- Exterior single-swing wooden doors should be of solid-core or paneled construction, with a minimum thickness of 1-3/4 inches. Wooden doors can be reinforced with 16-gauge sheet metal for additional security.
- Use strong glass in exterior glass doors.
- Install a wide-angle (180 degree) peephole. This device enables you to identify persons at the door without them seeing you.
- Hinges should be located on the inside or have non-removable pins.
- Adjust exterior sliding glass patio-type doors so that they cannot be lifted up in their tracks to defeat their locks. One way to do this is to install a few sheet-metal screws in the top track with their heads nearly touching the top of the door when it is closed.
Doorknob locks offer no security. Defeating these locks is one of the most common means of forced entry. Chains don't provide security either. They are only good for privacy. All exterior doors should have an additional deadbolt lock. Go to a locksmith or hardware store for advice on locks.
Windows and Other Openings
- Install single cylinder deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Bolts should have a minimum throw of 1 inch. Strike plates should have screws that are at least 3 inches long.
- On all exterior double doors, install flush bolts installed at the top and bottom of the inactive door. These should be made of steel and have a minimum throw of 1 inch.
- Install locking devices on all exterior sliding glass patio-type doors. These doors should have deadbolt locks as well as secondary locking devices, the simplest of which is a wooden stick that is placed in the lower track to prevent the door from opening. Better security can be obtained from thumbscrew-type locks that are mounted on both the top and bottom tracks.
- Install good locks all doors that lead outside through garages or storage areas.
- Re-key or change all locks when moving into a new home.
- Install good locks on gates, garages, sheds. If padlocks are used, they should be keyed and able to survive assaults by bolt cutters or pry bars. The shackles should be made of hardened steel and be at least 9/32 inch thick. It is even better to use a "shielded" padlock that is designed to protect against bolt cutters. Combination locks should not be used because they offer very poor security.
- Use a multi-frequency opener on electrically-operated garage doors, and make sure that the bottom cannot be lifted up to allow a burglar to crawl under the door.
- Use hardened steel hinges, hasps, and padlocks on hand-lifted garage doors.
- Install cane bolts or sliding hasps on the inside of garage doors to provide additional security.
- Go to a locksmith or hardware store for advice on locks.
- Consider installing a crossbar as an additional locking mechanism for exterior doors that have in interior swing. Place a metal bar or 2 x 4 piece of wood in brackets mounted on both side of a door. Slide bolts made of heavy gauge steel can also be effective.
- Use panic deadbolts operated by push-bars to secure secondary exits that are designated for emergency use only. They can be alarmed to ring a bell or sound a horn when the door is opened.
- Consider installing latch guards on glass doors. These are steel plates that are bolted to the frame of the door to prevent the deadbolt locking mechanism from being twisted off or otherwise removed. Some guards also protect the latch area. More expensive guards protect the mortise cylinder and prevent a burglar from drilling out the tumblers.
- Secure double-hung sash windows by drilling a hole that slants downward through a top corner of the bottom window into the bottom corner of the top window on both sides of the window. Place an eyebolt or nail in the hole to prevent the window from being opened.
- Replace louvre windows with solid glass or some other type of ventilating window. If this cannot be done, glue the panes together with a two-part epoxy resin.
- Secure casement windows with key-locking latches. Make sure that the protrusion on the window that the lock is attached to is made of steel and not worn, and that the window closes properly and is not bowed or warped.
- Secure sliding glass windows as described above for sash windows or by the same types of locking devices used for sliding glass doors.
- Consider installing security bars on side, rear, or other windows that a burglar might break to enter your business. Make sure that the retaining bolts cannot be removed from the outside. Bars must comply with Fire Code requirements for inside release to permit an occupant to escape in the event of a fire.
- Use reinforced or strong glass in viewing windows on the lock sides of doors so a burglar cannot break them and reach in to open the door.
- Install strong glass in display windows, i.e., laminated glass or clear acrylic plastic, to prevent window-smash burglaries. The former has plastic sheets between layers of glass. It looks like safety glass but will not shatter easily, even after repeated blows. The latter is also shatterproof but has several disadvantages. It comes in limited sizes, and is susceptible to marring and scratching.
- Secure crawl spaces, ventilation windows, attics that connect to adjoining businesses, and other openings. Make sure that window air conditioners are installed securely and cannot easily be removed from the outside. Seal mail slots in doors if a coat hanger or other device can be inserted and used to release the door lock.
Ladders, trees, fences, drain pipes, and adjoining rooftops can provide roof access if measures are not taken to deny such access.
Fences, Walls, and Gates
- Shroud ladders with locking covers.
- Trim tree limbs that could provide access.
- Secure rooftop skylights, ventilation shafts, air conditioning and heating ducts, and other possible entry points on the inside with grills or grates. Those that cannot be secured should be alarmed.
Well-built fences, walls, and gates are the first line of defense against criminals.
- Install open chain link or ornamental metal fencing unless privacy and noise reduction are needed. These types are preferred because they do not block visibility into the property and are less susceptible to graffiti. Chain link fencing should have its bottom secured with tension wire or galvanized pipe, or embedded in concrete to prevent it from being lifted up to enable a person to crawl in.
- Use sharp pointed fencing, i.e., fencing with spikes or a barbed- or concertina-wire topping, only in industrial and agricultural zones. In the former it is permitted on top of a fence with a minimum height of 6 ft. The topping cannot exceed a height of 3 ft or project beyond property lines.
- Equip gates with good locks. Latches should be mounted with carriage bolts and nuts that are welded on or secured by stripped bolt threads.
- Gates that are opened on the inside by a handle or knob should have shields that prevent a person from reaching in to open them. They should also be tall enough so that a person cannot reach over the top to open them.
- Gates with beveled latches should be shielded so a person cannot insert a wire or bar between the frame and the gate and push in the latch. A dead-bolt lock with a cylindrical latch would be even better on gates that are not emergency exits and are closed and locked manually from the outside.
- Gates that are opened on the inside by a push bar should be solid or have a solid metal or plastic shield on the inside of the gate that extends at least two feet above and below the push bar. The shield will prevent a person from opening the gate from the outside by looping a wire through the gate and pulling on the push bar.
- Exit gates should have springs that close them securely after a person goes through. Sensors should also be installed to warn the security office or manager that a gate has been left open.
3. Deterring Crimes
- Trim trees so that limbs don't provide a means of getting on roofs or second stories, or of getting over a wall or fence.
- Plant bushes with thorns or prickly leaves under ground-level windows to make access more difficult for burglars.
- Plant bushes with thorns or prickly leaves along fences and walls to make climbing more difficult and prevent graffiti.
Crimes can be deterred by having good visibility and surveillance on the property, installing an alarm system, employing security guards, keeping the property in good condition, posting warning signs.
4. Helping to Apprehend Robbers and Recover Stolen Property
- Keep windows and counters clear. Don't allow them to be cluttered with signs and displays. All advertising and signage shall be placed and maintained in a manner that ensures that law enforcement personnel have a clear and unobstructed view of the interior of the premises, including the area in which the cash registers are maintained, from the exterior public sidewalk or entrance to the premises.
- Install convex mirrors to enable employees to see people in areas that might be blocked by display shelves, walls, or other obstructions.
- Post signs saying that employees do not have access to the safe.
- Post signs saying that the store is covered by CCTV cameras.
- Post a Neighborhood Watch or alarm company sticker on entry doors and windows.
- Know what is happening outside the store or place of business. Post NO LOITERING sign. Look for anyone watching the store, or loitering in or around it. Make sure exterior lighting is adequate.
- Post NO TRESPASSING sign.
- Post NO PUBLIC PARKING signs. Signs prohibiting public parking or stating that parking is for customers only, and stating that unauthorized vehicles will be removed at the owner’s expense. Make sure that the sign be displayed, in plain view, at all entrances to the property.
- If a store has a retail package off-sale alcoholic beverage license to sell alcoholic beverages it must post signs stating that OPEN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTAINERS ARE PROHIBITED ON THE PREMISES. These signs must be clearly visible to patrons of the licensee and parking lot and to persons on the public sidewalk immediately adjacent to the licensed premises. This prohibition also applies to the public sidewalk immediately adjacent to the licensed premises.
- Greet all customers. Make eye contact as they enter the business. Ask if assistance is needed. Customers and clients like the attention -- robbers don't.
- Consider employing well-trained, highly visible security guards. Uniformed security guards that patrol the business on foot can be a highly effective in deterring robberies and burglaries. The company that provides the guards should be licensed and insured. The guards should be licensed as well.
- Dogs act mainly as a psychological deterrent. They can be an excellent supplement to a security system provided the animal can be relied upon to give warning when warning is needed. Dogs can scare a stranger away by either barking or looking fierce. But remember that they can be lured away, poisoned, killed, or even stolen. Trained attack dogs are not recommended because the risk of liability to the owner is great should the dog attack an innocent person. Outside dogs should be kept in a fenced area with a good lock on the gate.
- Install a good alarm system. A basic system has sensors attached to doors, windows, and other openings to detect entries. Sensors can also be installed inside to detect motion or attempts to enter specific areas. Reputable companies will install and maintain a system that will ring an alarm on the premises and silently signal the company's headquarters for dispatching the police or an alarm company agent. Once the company representative has made an appraisal of your security needs, ask for a written proposal and a copy of the contract you will have to sign. Make sure the contract lists all the points of protection, the equipment to be installed, and the initial and monthly payments. You should also check with your insurance company to see if you qualify for an alarm discount.
- Use fencing, gates, landscaping, pavement treatment, signs, to define clear boundaries between your property and adjoining properties.
- Keep your property in good condition. Criminals are attracted to property in poor condition because they see that the owners or tenants do not care about it. Keep property free of trash, litter, weeds, leaves, dismantled or inoperative vehicles, and other things that indicate neglect. Remove graffiti as soon as possible after it is found. This will discourage further vandalism. The graffiti should be covered with matching paint so a "canvas" is not left for the vandals. Hardware or paint stores should be consulted regarding the best products for removing various types of graffiti from specific surfaces without damaging the surface. Extreme care should be used in applying special graffiti removal products like MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) or "Graffiti Remover" on glass or unpainted surfaces. Replace broken windows or screens. Repair broken fences and gate locks. Remove loose rocks and other objects that could be used to vandalize your property.
- Leave a few interior lights on at night in the back of the store or office where they may illuminate and silhouette intruders, and not create glare for passing patrol cars.
- Illuminate all external areas of the property, including entry areas, storage yards, and parking lots. Such lights are usually mounted on poles, the sides of buildings, or the edges of roofs. Timers or photoelectric cells can be used to turn lights on at dusk and off at dawn. Motion sensors can be used to turn lights on when any motion is detected. Streetlights or lights from adjoining properties should not be relied on for lighting the property at night. Also, the lights should be directed so they don't shine into the eyes of passing motorists or police patrols.
- Replace burned out bulbs promptly. Use screens, wired glass covers, or other protection for light fixtures and bulbs. Install padlocks on circuit-breaker boxes to prevent the lights from being turned off.
- Keep landscaping trimmed to preserve good visibility on the property and deny criminals possible hiding places. Trim bushes to less than 3 feet to eliminate possible hiding places, especially near windows, sidewalks, and exterior doors. Trim tree canopies to at least 8 feet. And make sure that trees and bushes do not block lights.
5. What to Do If You Are Robbed
- Train your employees on what to do during a robbery.
- Use "bait money" if you can. Keep a list of serial and series numbers. Do not use these bills to make change.
- Keep a record of descriptions of suspicious persons or vehicles. Be alert to your customers and surroundings, especially at opening and closing. Be aware of thieves using physical disguises: wigs, mustaches. If possible have two employees open and close.
- Place colored height marks at all exits to estimate suspect's height.
- Develop a mutual aid system. Form an agreement with nearby merchants to keep an eye on each other's businesses and watch for suspicious activities. An inexpensive buzzer system can alert adjoining businesses to an emergency situation.
- Install video cameras to cover the front door, register, safe, and other areas where there is no surveillance by employees. They should be mounted where they cannot be covered or tampered with. Dummy cameras should not be used because most criminals can tell the difference between real cameras and dummies. Monitors have to be watched continually to enable crimes in progress to be observed and reported, and actions taken to stop them and apprehend the criminals before they can escape. Otherwise cameras only help deter crimes by providing a record of the crime that might be used to identify the perpetrator.
- Install panic alarm buttons at cashier and other vulnerable positions.
- Place the company's name or some identification number on all company-owned items, e.g., office equipment, tools, vehicles, and machinery. This can be done by engraving or etching, or by using a permanent adhesive, or by attaching microdots.
- Keep a detailed, up-to-date record of your valuables. Include type, model, serial number, fair market value.
- Make address numbers easy to read from the street to avoid delays in police response. (Numbers on curbs or mailboxes should not be the sole means of identification. If numbers are painted on curbs, they should be located near driveways where they are not likely to be blocked by parked vehicles.) The numbers should be at least 6 inches high on a high-contrast background, and lighted so they can be seen at night. Where numbers at the main entrance are not easily visible from the street, e.g., for businesses in a shopping mall, additional numbers should be posted where they will be visible. Numbers should also be posted in the rear of the business and on the roof so they can be seen from alleys and the air, respectively.
The first thing to do is to train your employees on what to do in the event of a robbery. Every robbery is different. You will need to assess yourself, the robber, and the situation to determine what you should do. Here are some general tips:
- Act calmly. Do exactly what the robber says. Keep your movements short and smooth to avoid startling the robber.
- Do not resist. Cooperate for you own safety and the safety of others. Robbers usually are excited and easily provoked. Tell the robber about any movements you plan to make.
- Activate an alarm if it can be done safely without alerting the robber.
- Observe carefully. Study the robber's face and clothing, note any other distinguishing features, observe the direction of escape, record the license, make, and color of any vehicle used in the robbery. Write down everything you can remember about the robber and the crime itself.
- Lock the door and call 9-1-1 immediately after the robber leaves. Call the police before you call the owner or anyone else.
- Preserve the scene. Discontinue regular business until officers have searched the scene. Cover any surfaces the robber may have touched and keep away from areas where the robber may have been.
- Ask witnesses to remain. Get names and phone numbers if they are unable to remain. Ask to see their driver's licenses or other ID to verify this information.
- Don't discuss the robbery with others until all statements have been taken.
Last edited by Howard Hartman; 06-29-2008 at 08:48 AM.