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Current Issues in Commercial Property Crime

Posted by David Charney on May 15, 2024

For the first time in decades, the property crime rate in the U.S. went up year over year according to the Safewise article that references the latest crime statistics from the FBI. The story states property crime offenses rose by 7.1% in 2022 compared to the previous year. In 2022 alone, there were more than 6.5 million reports of property crimes.

Unfortunately, the number of property crimes is much higher than what has been reported. Pew Research Center states Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) most violent and property crimes occurring in the U.S. aren’t reported to law enforcement. Out of those property crimes that are reported, most remain unsolved.

Another report from the Pew Research Center finds more than half of the Americans participating in a survey want crime reduction to be a priority for the president and Congress to address. This is an area in which Republicans and Democrats have grown more concerned about during Biden’s presidency. Reducing crime has gone up by 13 points since 2021 for Republicans and 8 points for Democrats for the same period.

Why aren’t crimes being reported? Some crimes aren’t being reported for different reasons. Recently, a colleague had their truck broken into. They didn’t report it because nothing was stolen as they don’t store things in the truck. It wasn’t worth reporting and the door cameras didn’t catch it. That goes in line with BJS explaining the reason for lack of reporting could be thinking the police cannot help, the crime is too small to report, or fear of retaliation.

Larceny and Theft

When it comes to protecting commercial properties, one of the ongoing challenges is mitigating the threat of larceny and theft. These pose a significant risk to the financial well-being of businesses while undermining their sense of security and stability.

The FBI data from the Safewise article shows more than 7 in 10 property crimes were related to theft. Pew Research Center’s report identifies theft as the most common property crime. Theft occurs at a rate of 1,401 per 100,000 people.

Commercial properties, ranging from small retail stores to large corporations, are prime targets for larcenists and thieves due to several factors. One is the allure of valuable merchandise, equipment, and confidential data. Another is the diverse nature of commercial operations means that there are many vulnerabilities that opportunistic criminals can exploit.

For retail centers, shoplifting remains a prevalent form of larceny. Despite advancements in security measures such as basic security cameras and electronic tagging systems, determined bad actors often find ways to circumvent these defenses.

In addition to physical theft, commercial properties are also vulnerable to various forms of white-collar crime. These include embezzlement and fraud. Employees with financial responsibilities may take advantage of their knowledge from their roles. When this goes unchecked, it leads to significant financial losses for the company.


As the world becomes more and more interconnected and dependent on digital technologies, the rise of cybercrime poses a mounting threat to commercial properties. Hackers target businesses to steal sensitive data, such as customer information and intellectual property. The repercussions of a data breach can be devastating, resulting in expensive penalties, damage to reputation, and the loss of customer trust.

According to Forbes, data breaches went up by 72% in 2023, which saw 2,365 attacks affecting 343 million people. This broke the previous record. On average, a data breach costs $4.45 million as reported by IBM. A Cybersecurity Ventures report estimates the yearly cost of cybercrime will reach almost $10 trillion in 2024.

Business email compromises are responsible for $2.7 billion in losses in 2022 according to the FBI’s internet crime report. Fraudsters capitalize on business email compromises through social engineering. This is why having a security policy and holding employee training are crucial.

Vehicle Theft

Another concern for commercial properties is the climbing rate of car theft. They tend to house many vehicles as people need to park their cars. Motor vehicle theft comprised 14.5% of property crimes. At 80% of the thefts, they’re the highest reported crime. It’s also in second place behind larceny and theft per Pew Research Center.

The problem is so severe that National Insurance Crime Bureau has found that in 2022, auto thefts surpassed 1 million for the first time since 2008. Things were bad in 2008 because that was the year of the financial crisis and the Great Recession. The total financial losses due to vehicle theft in 2022 were almost $9 billion.

The year 2023 didn’t fare much better as vehicle theft went up by about 34% from the same period in 2022 per an Axios analysis of Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ) data. The first six months of 2023 had 104.3% more car thefts than when compared to 2022.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau has calculated that a car is stolen every 32 seconds. This equates to 2,700 car thefts each day and 112 every hour. It’s a harsh reminder for commercial property managers and owners to take action.

Burglary and Break-ins

Property crimes like burglaries and break-ins continue to stymie commercial properties. The 2022 FBI crime data shows that 14% of all property crimes turned out to be burglaries. The previously referenced Pew Research Center data lists burglary as the third most common property crime.

How to Get Started in Deterring Commercial Property Crime

To combat the menace of commercial property crime, businesses must adopt a multi-pronged approach to security. This includes implementing robust physical security measures such as alarms, locks, and remote video surveillance to deter potential criminals. Additionally, investing in employee training programs to raise awareness about the importance of vigilance and adherence to security protocols is crucial.

Furthermore, leveraging technology to enhance security is paramount in today’s digital landscape. Employing advanced surveillance systems with artificial and human intelligence, encryption software, and intrusion detection systems can help detect and thwart attempted thefts before they escalate into significant incidents.

The business community collaborating with law enforcement agencies and sharing information can play a vital role in deterring and combating commercial property crimes. By creating a culture of cooperation and vigilance, businesses can collectively work towards reducing the occurrence of larceny and theft, car theft, cybercrimes, burglary, and break-ins to safeguard their assets and maintain peace of mind.

To maintain operations without disruption, commercial property managers and owners must invest in proactive commercial security measures. Here are the top proactive innovative ways to bolster security for commercial properties.

Prioritize security policies

Business email compromise is a huge problem. Technology can only help so much. Employees need to know what to watch for and what to do when they run into social engineering email scams. Therefore, creating, implementing, and maintaining strong security policies is imperative in today’s digital world. Security policies provide a proactive shield to defend sensitive information, critical assets, and the integrity of the business.

Security policies should be easy to understand and access for all employees. Describe the acceptable use of technology, data handling procedures, and the consequences of policy violations in plain language. Criminals keep changing their tactics; therefore, policies need to keep up with those evolving threats and current best practices.

Security policies only work if employees understand them and take them seriously. To do this requires hosting regular security training sessions on the importance of following policies, the role every employee has in security, and security best practices.

Invest in video surveillance with remote monitoring and AI

Traditional security cameras don’t have much power. They’re a reactive security system that can only capture video of the crime. Today’s video surveillance technology is one of the most effective and proactive security solutions. The game changer is the monitoring done by humans and artificial intelligence. They can recognize crime before or as soon as it happens.

This is because artificial intelligence and trained monitoring operators scan the cameras in real time. The pairing of people and technology can achieve more than if they worked alone. Artificial intelligence surveillance contains many preprogrammed scenarios that it looks for while checking all the cameras. AI can detect anomalies faster than humans. The one downside of AI technology is that it’s not always accurate. Humans give feedback to AI to help it become more precise.

When the monitoring operator verifies a problem on a commercial property, then they can issue a verbal warning over an onsite speaker. They can continue to track the intruders’ moves, call the police, and keep the police informed of the suspects’ behavior. This helps the police be prepared for what awaits them, which can save their life.

All the action can be saved as recordings. These serve as evidence and can help identify information leading to an arrest.

Staying Current with Commercial Crime Prevention

Businesses must adopt novel security solutions and change their approach to commercial property security. Investing in a diversity of business security solutions can result in a proactive robust security framework.

Implementing security policies and remote video surveillance is a great place to start. Together, they can close a lot of gaps. However, you’ll want to continue to iterate commercial security by adding more layers such as an access control system, fencing, and smart locks.

As commercial properties endeavor to predict, deter, and mitigate emerging threats, capitalizing on current security measures helps ensure they have the adaptability and resilience required to keep up with changing criminal tactics. In taking a universal and proactive approach to security, commercial properties can help reinforce and protect their businesses with a shield containing multiple dimensions.

To explore this topic further, pick up this Complete Guide to Securing Your Office. For more information on current commercial security solutions, contact us.

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