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This Is How Crime Affects Commercial Property Management in the Pandemic

Posted by Matthew Clark on Nov 13, 2020

The pandemic has forced some large retailers to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As of this month, Forbes
reports more than 14,000 stores have closed this year. In 2019, almost 10,000 stores closed.

What about the smaller retailers? The definition of a smaller retailer is one that employs fewer than 10 people. The International Council of Shopping Center (ICSC) states that almost 70 percent of shopping center tenants are these small businesses.

The National Federation of Independent Business reveals that COVID-19 has adversely affected 92 percent of these small employers. They cannot survive for more than two months of the pandemic conditions.

Fortunately, some commercial property management owners are providing their shopping center tenants with short-term relief.

Commercial Property Management Works with Struggling Tenants

A CNN story references a survey from the Main Street Alliance. They report that 60 percent of its members completing the survey have delayed or reduced their rent payments. About half say they’ve borrowed against their home or used business credit cards to pay for business expenses.

Some businesses are negotiating with their commercial property management owners. If the small business tenant leaves, then the landlord would not collect rent. It’s harder to find new tenants quickly.

The economy isn’t going to let up anytime soon. That’s why property management is more willing to negotiate the lease. James Famularo, President of Meridian Retail Leasing, recommends property managers do all they can to retain tenants.

In some cases, the landlord allows the small business to pay a fixed percentage of generated revenue. Some have offered tenants free rent for X number of months or for them to pay half the normal rent if they sign or renew their lease.

A few U.S. city councils have passed a resolution that provides rent relief. The Star Advertiser
conveys Honolulu has done just that through a grant program for commercial property owners. The landlord would apply for the grant, but the funds go to their tenants in the form of rent assistance.

The article refers to a survey of more than 1,000 businesses by Ryan Tanaka, president of Island Business Management LLC. Tanaka discloses that more than half the businesses have shut down or partially shut down, therefore will miss rent payments for the rest of the year.

Commercial Property Crime Growing in the Pandemic

The University of Pennsylvania Professor David S. Abrams has completed a study on the effects of COVID-19 on crime. Abram’s COVID and Crime: Key Findings looks at U.S. cities to determine if the pandemic has affected crime rates.

The good news is that personal property crime has dropped. The bad news is that commercial property crime has gone up. The explanation for the change is simple and logical. With more people at home, it lowers the chances of a burglar finding an empty home to ransack.

Since more people work from home, commercial buildings stand empty. Abrams’s report shows an increase in commercial property burglaries by almost 40 percent on average in all the cities studied.

In addition to protecting their buildings, commercial property management needs to watch over their vehicles and parking lot. This is especially true in Philadelphia, which now has 2.5 times more car thefts than it did prior to the pandemic. Other cities including Austin, Denver, and Los Angeles are experiencing a spike in car thefts, but not to the degree that Philadelphia has.

This trend may continue for a while. Researchers at Stanford say it’s a result of less half of the workforce continuing to work from home. Because of this, commercial properties remain vulnerable to break-ins and vandalism.

Empty or close-to-empty parking lots send a message to prospective criminals that the building is ripe for illegal activity. If there are no visible security cameras in the parking lot or around the building, then it bumps up the chances of crime occurring.

Some businesses have a handful of workers going into the office. With most employees working from home, owners and managers go into the office to keep an eye on things. This puts them at risk. Trespassers may not realize the building contains a few people and it could become a precarious situation.

What Can Commercial Property Managers Do to Deter Crime?

If they haven’t already, commercial property managers or owners will want to request a security evaluation. This involves bringing in an independent consultant. Ideally, you want someone who has experience in your type of property. A manufacturing company would need a different evaluation than an office building or a car dealership.

A security assessment typically covers the following areas:

  • Security cameras and recordings
  • Parking lots and garages
  • Locks and access control
  • Lighting
  • Landscaping and fencing
  • Access for employees, visitors, and vendors
  • Storage for valuable items and hazardous materials

The outcome of the assessment will inform your security plan and priorities. You may not be able to implement all the recommendations. In that case, ask the security consultant to prioritize items from those with having the biggest impact on security to the least.

suggests implementing the following for commercial property security:

  • Video surveillance
  • Access control
  • Training employees and occupants

It is possible to integrate remote video surveillance with an access control system. Integrated security
lets you match the time stamp from the access with the video to see what happened at a specific time. This unifies all your technology to maximize security and see an ROI quickly. For instance, if a crime occurs, you can match the time stamp of the access control with the video to see who may have been in the building at the time of the crime.

Selecting the Right Video Surveillance System

In “Preventing Theft Inside and Out,” a security consultant recommends using video cameras for security. Selecting the right cameras is key. They need to have a high enough resolution for a clear view of faces and license plates to make an identification. Cameras may also dissuade employees from stealing something. If only a few employees come to the office, it can be tempting to take something home.

Be transparent about the video cameras. Inform your employees and tenants that you’ve added a video surveillance system to keep them safe. This openness shows that you’re focused on safety and protecting the property. Otherwise, they may think property management doesn’t trust them.

For buildings that have employees coming in, conduct training and information sessions with employees and tenants. The purpose of the training is to educate them on the importance of not letting strangers in the building, not leaving doors propped open, and not allowing tailgating and piggybacking to happen.

How to Implement Remote Video Surveillance

Video surveillance cameras have advanced to the point that images are crystal clear instead of the blurred images you’ve seen on the local news. Today’s cameras can clearly show license plates and faces. However, not all of them have this capability. Ask the security consultant about the resolution.

The sight of video cameras can and does deter crime. Still, there are criminals who aren’t fazed when they see cameras. That’s why you want to ensure someone watches your cameras.

Various options for monitoring are available. Some companies choose for remote monitoring at night. During non-monitoring hours, they rely on analytics monitoring. In this scenario, the system has been programmed to watch for specific actions. When any of them happen, it alerts the monitoring operator who reviews the footage.

Speaking of footage, that’s another important component of the video surveillance: recording. It provides you with the proof you need. This is especially a lifesaver in liability cases. Beware that incidents can be discovered days or weeks after the event occurred. Ask the security company how long they retain footage.

Benefits of Remote Video Surveillance

Remote video surveillance provides commercial properties with the following advantages:

  • Helps cuts risks and liability
  • Helps control access
  • Could save on insurance premiums
  • Can help to increase operational income

Monitoring operators are not on your property. They watch from another site. The benefit is that it reduces the chances of internal theft. Unlike security guards, they’re not onsite. No one knows who is watching the cameras. Criminals can’t approach them for inside information to help them plan a crime.

Best of all, remote video surveillance and security operators cost up to 60 percent less than traditional security guards.

One of the many advantages of video surveillance is that it’s proactive. Security guards, on the other hand, are reactive because they can only respond when they see something. Besides, security guards can be the cause of the crime. Here’s a video surveillance clip of a guard doing donuts in a parking lot.

Guards may not be in the area when the crime takes place. By the time they get to the area, the suspect could be gone. An alarm system is also reactive. The only way to set it off is for something to trip it. Video surveillance can see an intruder approaching the property.

If you’d like to learn more about commercial property security and how it can do more than catch criminals, check out Live Video Monitoring: More Than Just Catching Criminals. To get a customized security solution that fits your requirements and budget, contact us.