We are living in unique times when people under economic stress do things they normally would not. We are doing what we can to help business owners protect what they have. And, we are not just talking cybersecurity.
River Run published articles on cybersecurity, remote worker tips and guidelines for remote work in March. In the meantime, we have also been helping our clients with the physical security of their assets.
Because of the pandemic, millions of Americans have been asked to stay in their houses until further notice. Our new national focus on hygiene and hibernation means that we are mostly home, save for necessary trips to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or medical appointments. While it is hard to define being quarantined as a good thing, from a security perspective, it means the chances of experiencing a home burglary are now quite low. Since most home burglaries happen during daylight hours, even the least savvy thief knows it is not a good idea to try and break into a fully occupied house.
But many businesses are near or fully empty. Many business owners are right to fear that the attention of burglars will turn to their business. And that looting may become common as the time spent away from work continues.
Crooks used to home burglarize to get their drug money (their first reason, followed by a gambling addiction as the second), and are realizing that the liquor stores, hardware stores, and pizza shops are closed. With a truck and a brick, they are back in business.
Unlike cybercriminals, prison interviews with burglars reveal most of them are not master thieves. They steal what they can carry out; are deterred by big angry dogs; wear gloves, hoodies and masks to avoid being caught on a camera; and if they trigger a ringing alarm, their most common answer is, “I’ll work faster,” knowing that it is unlikely the local police are arriving from right down the street.
Store owners who run non-essential businesses are now home, so their unguarded and unprotected locations are at risk for daylight burglaries and a crime that we have not seen rampant in many years - looting. Drive by a small strip mall in any city today, and you will notice that all of the businesses are closed at 11:00 a.m. on a Tuesday. The crooks see what we see too. They know that there are not enough police officers to protect every building.
Looting is a social contagion that can spread block to block and across the country in waves. Social and mass media coverage can help start these waves like a virus. Broadcast video of looting helps some people rationalize that “it is stealing but it is not really stealing,” that it is a good solution for them to help themselves in these difficult times, and they deserve to get what they can get.
Although River Run is best known as a provider of IT services, we are also security professionals – and not just cybersecurity. We can help advise business owners how to best secure their buildings and inventory. And, it is more than just upgrading cameras and alarm systems.
Burglarizing a closed store only requires a van and a hammer. Unless that store has bars on the display windows, it is vulnerable to a daylight or nighttime burglary, even with cameras and/or an alarm system.
At times like these, with the pandemic keeping us inside, we need to think outside the box. Consider these unique solutions to help better protect what you have worked so hard for and deserve:
- We suggest that store owners move as much of their most expensive or theft-sensitive inventory to an offsite storage facility (or their homes) until the quarantine period is over.
- We encourage businesses in strip malls to pool their money and hire a security guard firm to watch all of their businesses 24/7.
- Besides making certain that you have fully-functional intrusion alarms, with both ringing alarm coverage and an alarm monitoring service, you should consider the value of adding shatterproof windows to your 1st floor store or office exterior (perhaps splitting the cost with the landlord or property manager) and/or installing window bars or grilles.
- We recommend an assessment of the current security cameras. Too many small businesses have outdated systems that do not save the imagery to a network; where some cameras work and some do not; fake cameras (to save money); bad interior or exterior lighting; or poorly-positioned cameras that make it difficult to identify the thieves.
- You should consider paying furloughed employees to work in teams of two or more, three eight-hour shifts per day inside the store (including graveyard hours), and be visible to anyone who looks in. They can clean, restock, conduct inventory, or do nothing but just sit and monitor what is going on outside and be ready to call the police if a caser comes by or a crowd of looters gathers. We would never even suggest that these employees intervene physically to protect the building or the goods, but they need to be ready to lock down the store or call the police before a potential looting situation escalates.
While we choose not to enter the gun debate, guns and ammunition are among the many items that people are “panic-purchasing” as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread through the U.S.
So many people have been lining up at gun shops and ordering online that some retailers have had to put limits on sales because of a supply shortage. Long lines formed outside Martin Retting Guns' store in Culver City, California each morning before the shop was open, according to USA Today.
Some who fear that the closures will lead to looting have stocked up on weapons. "People are scared," said Drew Plotkin of Los Angeles in USA Today. "There's a lot of panic in the world and people want to be protected for the worst-case scenario.
Ralph Charette, 71, spent $1,500 at a gun shop in Germantown, Wisconsin, after he saw aggressive shoppers at the grocery store, according to the paper. "There's so much uncertainty and paranoia but you've got to protect your own," Charette said.
River Run will stick to our bullet points above rather than discuss bullets. We will arm your technology and alarm system and leave decisions on armaments up to you.
If you have any questions or would like us to do a custom assessment on the physical security of your business, please contact us at 414.228.7474.
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