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6 Ways to Deter Crime When It’s on the Rise

Posted by Shawna Ivy on Aug 9, 2022

Many companies are laying off their employees. Inflation has been a thorn for a while. These and many other signs indicate a recession is coming. Unfortunately, when the economy tanks and inflation skyrockets, crime soars. An article from Reuters on crime provides evidence that it has climbed every recession since the 1950s.

Richard Rosenfeld and Matt Vogel show the effects of inflation on crime in Homicide, Acquisitive Crime, and Inflation: A City-Level Longitudinal Analysis. That is exactly what happening as the numbers speak volumes. In the U.S., the average price of goods climbed by almost 9%. This is the highest in 41 years according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index. By comparison, inflation usually goes up by only 2% per year.

No doubt you’re tired of hearing this. Still, you need to know this to avoid becoming complacent. The National Retail Federation (NRF) report on the state of national retail security and organized retail crime indicates that COVID is still affecting the retail industry. It has increased risk for retail, has grown more complicated and expensive, and has seen a rise in the average loss per shoplifting and robbery incident.

The report says, “The increasingly risky environment has repercussions that extend well beyond a company’s bottom line into actual threats against employees and customers.” Moreover, everything points to the need for more support from legislators and law enforcement. Unfortunately, there are no laws to prevent organized retail crime and its dangers.

The Latest Data on Crime

No industry is safe from the surge in crime. Here are crime statistics for different industries.

NRF’s report shows that 82% of loss prevention professionals indicate mall or store violence and shooting incidents have gotten more attention in recent years. Behind are cyber-related crimes, organized retail crime, and internal theft. All three have over 50% claiming these are high priorities and concerns.

That’s not all. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed reported the pandemic resulted in a slight or significant increase in workplace violence and more than half saw an increase in organized retail crime. Shoplifting, employee theft, and cargo theft all went up.

It’s not just retailers being hit. The construction, scrap metal, and recycling industries have been affected. The largest cause is the escalating price of lumber, precious metals, and other materials. Tools and equipment have also jumped. It doesn’t help thieves have a huge market for where they sell the stolen items. They use resources like pawn shops and online marketplaces such as Facebook and Craigslist. It’s impossible to trace these stolen goods.

Not only are businesses dealing with the mounting crime rates but also violent crimes. FOX News has an analysis of major cities. The result is that violent crimes rose from 5% up to 40% compared to the same time frame in 2021. SafeHome.org research indicates vehicle theft went up by 48% over the past decade.

To find out how your city fares, do a search for your city and ” crime rate.” For example, many businesses in Portland, Oregon, tell KGW8 News they’re afraid for their lives. They’ve formed a safety group because the police have not been helpful. They’ve hired security guards, but there’s a shortage. Besides, security guards can be a liability.

Car theft is also bad. According to Car and Driver, car thefts shot up in early 2022 with 12,569 compared to the same period in 2021 at 6,692. Insurance Information Institute (III) reveals that in 2021, there were 246 vehicles per 100,000 people stolen.

The data is more likely to be worse than what’s reported. The situation is so dire that David Glawe, the president and chief executive officer of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) testified to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Cargo theft affects multiple industries. That is also on the rise because cargo theft brings in a lot of money for criminals. The U.S. Cargo Theft Report from Sensitech shows the average loss value per cargo theft incident during the third quarter of 2021 was $337,000. Furthermore, cargo theft is growing at warehouse and storage facilities.

Many incidents of lawn equipment theft have occurred around the U.S. It’s a real problem because inflation is driving up the cost of rental and replacement equipment. They cost 10% more as confirmed by WNEP and Cleveland.com. Many industries are being touched by crime in different ways.

6 Ways Businesses Can Help Deter Crime

The fact is that crime hurts all businesses across all industries. Everyone must take steps to bolster security. Here are six ways to help avert crime and minimize damage.

1. Partner with Your Community

If your company is in a business district, it’s a great idea to connect with other business owners and managers. Perhaps, schedule a couple of meetings every year to discuss the current status of crimes. You might have guest speakers like police officers and security companies. The police department may be able to suggest speakers.

Encourage all businesses to watch each other’s properties. Any time someone catches something suspicious, contact them or the police. You might consider creating a private group page to keep each other informed about problems and other things happening in the neighborhood. For example, if a streetlight goes out or a stop sign breaks, file a report with the city and notify the other businesses about it.

2. Get to Know Your Local Police

Just like you want to meet your neighbors, you also want to introduce yourself to the police officers and build a relationship with them. They may be willing to drive by your business on a regular basis. Your community police may assign officers by location. Make sure you connect with the ones who cover your property’s location. Treating them to beverages and snacks could go a long way in building that relationship. Even giving them a handwritten thank you note can mean a lot.

They work out of their vehicle. At times, they might work in a parking lot. Invite them to set up shop in yours. Bring out refreshments when they do. Something that might be worth pursuing is to find out if your local police department offers a free security review. They’ll survey your business and make recommendations on how to enhance security.

3. Use an Asset Tracking System

An asset tracking system makes it easy to enter information about your most important assets and stay on top of inventory. Add another layer of security by etching identification numbers into the most expensive equipment.

Take photos of the equipment and save them into the asset management system. Since you’ve built a relationship with the local police, ask them about the best way to label equipment. Also, talk to them about marking up catalytic converters in your vehicles.

4. Protect the Perimeter

Perimeter security helps protect your property as well as everything surrounding it including the parking areas. One thing you want to check for is that your address is easy to find and it’s clearly visible to everyone. This helps ensure first responders can locate your business as every second counts.

Lighting is another factor. It’s one of the easiest and most affordable crime prevention tools in your toolbox. As you research lighting options, consider the placement as well as the type of lighting. It’s not a simple matter of brighter is better. Certain types of light work better than others. There’s a science to smart theft-deterrent lighting.

Thieves love bad landscaping because it gives them potential places to hide and work their way into the building without being seen. Do a review of your landscape design to verify its impact on security. Maintenance is equally important. Overgrown trees and shrubs can obstruct views and help intruders.

5. Create and Enforce Policies and Procedures

The aforementioned data shows internal theft is a problem. You can take action to help reduce employee theft and bolster security. Start by documenting policies surrounding security and business processes. For example, you want to make it a policy to do background checks on new employees before you officially hire them.

Once hired, new employees must undergo training on these processes and procedures as well as those related to security. Employees should sign off on the training indicating they understand the policies and procedures and will abide by them. Not only do you want to train new employees but also require refresher training for all employees.

The training should encourage them to report suspicious people and activities as soon as possible. They should write down identifying information about the suspicious people while it’s fresh in their minds. Train employees on how to handle different situations, everything from robbery to an active shooting.

Educate employees about how you secure your facility. The more they know, the less likely they will attempt to commit a crime. The more security layers you have, the harder it will be for them to find weak spots as these six ways will help make that possible.

6. Implement Proactive Remote Video Surveillance

Most traditional security systems are reactive. This means they don’t do anything until after something has already happened. By the time anyone knows, it’s too late. A proactive security technology like video surveillance with remote monitoring can help avert crimes before they happen.

This involves strategically placing cameras around the property. Video analytics and a trained monitoring operator watch for potential problems in real-time. As soon as they spot something unusual, they can issue audible warnings without being on the property and call the police. Officers often arrive before the criminals leave the property.

When you implement all of these six things, you create a safer and more secure environment for your employees, customers, and visitors. For more information about video surveillance and other crime prevention solutions, please contact us.