This is not going to be a typical holiday season. Granted, the pandemic means changing up your family gatherings. It will also affect your business beyond safety measures. That’s because crime always increases during the holiday season. Thieves act like Grinches in stealing packages and whatever else they can find.
What Causes the Increase in Crime During the Holiday Season?
Why does crime climb during this time of the year? Part of it is people feel pressure to provide for their families. The other part is thieves know people are shopping more. This gives them more opportunities to pilfer.
Add to that the side effects of COVID-19. Businesses have nothing to compare it to because they’ve never been through a pandemic in modern times. The consensus is that it may lead to more crimes because people have lost their jobs or have been furloughed.
The pandemic has hit industries like the travel industry hard. With fewer people taking trips for safety’s sake, hotels and airlines aren’t filling up. Airlines have held many layoffs with no end in sight. Considering the economy is limping, who knows when things will turn around.
States have forced many businesses to shut down. As a result, they have also had to lay off or furlough employees to avoid going bankrupt. Studies have found that when unemployment increases, crime follows suit.
How the Pandemic Can Increase Holiday Crime
The pandemic affects more than retailers. The number of supply chain thefts has multiplied in 2020. The first quarter of 2019 saw little change in the number of supply chain thefts compared to the year before.
That’s not the case in 2020 after the pandemic arrived in the U.S. and Canada. Rather, supply chain theft skyrocketed by more than 40 percent with almost 266 occurrences of supply chain theft in the same period according to CargoNet’s analysis. That’s not the worse of it. Weeks 12 and 16 saw the most significant increases in theft at 150 percent and 140 percent respectively.
How has COVID-19 caused an increase in supply chain theft? CargoNet offers three reasons.
1. Increase in the release of non-violent offenders from prison
Considering COVID-19 has affected prison populations, many prisons are trying to find ways to fight the spread of COVID-19. One such approach some have taken to reduce crowding is by releasing non-violent offenders. Unfortunately, thieves can fall into this group and go back to their old ways.
2. Require huge changes to normal business operations
Just about every business had to pivot in some way. The biggest is allowing employees to switch to remote working. This can create a new problem for these companies. Their buildings sit empty or mostly empty. Criminals see these empty buildings as opportunities.
For those businesses where remote working isn’t possible, they’ve had to change their operations. These changes help maintain social distancing, ensure people wear masks, add hand sanitizers, and implement other protections such as installing clear panels at cash registers and customer service. They may also have to track how many people are in the building at all times.
3. Change in the focus of law enforcement
Prisons working to avoid overcrowding affects how law enforcement operates. As a result, police officers are expending their energies on violent offenses. Thus, they tend to spend less time on non-violent offenses, and theft is one of them. This doesn’t mean they’re letting thieves get away with the crime. Rather, law enforcement has shifted its priorities and the areas they monitor.
What Can You Do to Help Prevent Holiday Crime?
This should be the most wonderful time of year for everyone … except criminals. Here are four things you can do to protect your property so you can enjoy the holiday season.
1. Use proper lighting
Lighting is one of the cheapest security tactics. It’s more of a science than most realize. That’s why it requires thoughtful planning and feedback from a security expert. You’ll want to consider factors such as the kind of lighting you use, how many lights to use, and where to place the lights.
An often-overlooked area for lighting is the parking garage and its stairwells. The lighting is usually not sufficient. People rarely feel safe in a shadowy lit garage and stairwell.
Another important thing to understand is that brighter lighting is not always the best option. For one, it can be blinding and cause more problems. The better approach is to focus on the color of the lighting and the location of the lights. If the lights are too far apart, it can create dimly lit spaces that become hiding areas. If the lights are too close, then it lowers your ROI.
Another item to explore is motion sensor lighting. Anytime someone comes within a set distance of the property, the lights pop on and shine a big spotlight on intruders. This can scare them away. Your best bet is to work with a security consultant who can design an effective lighting layout.
2. Put up a Fence
Another cheap option for dissuading theft is by installing a fence around the property. The disadvantage of a fence is that it can affect aesthetics. Depending on the design of the fence, trespassers can cut through it or climb over it.
The flip side of that is people can see through fencing, which boosts security. Fencing is also a way to add a layer of security. The more layers you have, the harder it is for an intruder to reach the target area.
An alternative is to build a wall. Unlike a fence, you can’t cut through a wall and they’re harder to climb. However, these are permanent. If someone manages to climb over a wall, then no one can see anything happening as walls are not transparent.
3. Add an Access Control System
An access control system controls who can enter any part of a property. It can also manage who can enter the building, the parking garage, and limited-access rooms.
The nice thing about an access control system is you will not have to worry about changing the locks when someone is fired, resigns from the company, or change tenants. If someone does not turn in their badge, then you can shut off access.
A big bonus of access systems is they work better than keypads. People tend to forget the keypad codes. All they need is their badge. It’s the standard operating procedure for employees to wear a badge. An additional benefit is that it’s contactless technology. After the pandemic ends, contactless technology will remain a mainstay as it’ll prevent other illnesses and reduce absenteeism.
4. Implement Remote Video Surveillance
Video surveillance can help deter crime and often catch intruders before they cause damage or leave the property. That’s because remote video surveillance can put eyes on your property 24/7. Video cameras sit in strategic places around the property to provide optimal views. They can capture license plates and other identifying information.
Video surveillance offers multiple layers of security. The first deterrent is the sight of video cameras along with “area under surveillance” signage around the property. Some trespassers leave when they see these. The second layer is the operator issuing a warning over the audio speaker. This will stop some suspects, but not all.
For those who aren’t deterred, then the next layer is the operator calling the police. As law enforcement makes its way to the property, the operating monitor will follow the suspect while providing officers with updates on the suspect’s location.
The next layer is the recording. Everything the cameras see is captured and saved. If the suspect manages to escape before the police arrive, video review analysts will locate the footage and send that to the police. That’s why it’s important to implement high-resolution video cameras. Some cameras aren’t good enough quality to make out faces and other details.
The footage is invaluable in multiple ways. Sometimes the business learns about an incident that happened two weeks ago or longer. Ask the security company how long they retain footage. They can have the analytics team search for the footage of the time in question. These recordings come in handy as evidence to protect your business from injury, fraud, and liability claims.
Video surveillance is a contactless way to monitor the property. On-site security guards add risk. It puts more people on your property, and they cannot see as much as the cameras can. The people watching your cameras are located in a safe place away from your property. When you combine artificial and human intelligence, it improves the chances of spotting something before it happens.
Implementing Multi-Layered Security
These four things provide proactive layered security that buttresses your property to help prevent holiday crime and protect your property 24/7/365. The more security layers you have, the less likely your property will be at risk for trespassing, vandalism, and theft. This can drive down liability insurance premiums.
When you implement an integrated security system, you’ll need fewer people to manage security. Therefore, it saves time and money while delivering a quick ROI.
Keep your property safe and secure this holiday season and year-round. Your holidays will be merry and bright when you ensure the entire property is well-lit, install a barrier, add an access control system, and use remote video surveillance.
Happy Holidays from the Stealth team! If you’re worried about security, contact us and we’ll do what we can to ease your mind in time for the holidays and the New Year.