What You Need to Know About Trespassing

Posted by Rick Charney on August 9, 2019

Trespassing is unlawful and expensive for businesses. Property owners and managers constantly need to find ways to grow revenue, keep tenants happy, and uphold the brand's reputation. How you manage trespassing can greatly affect the bottom-line.

The good news is that you can do something about it. This article covers the trespassing definition, why your business needs a security solution to deter trespassing, and how you can do it.

What Is Trespassing?

Most people know trespassing means entering a property without permission. However, it's not quite that simple. A shopping center, for example, welcomes visitors. Yet, it's possible to become a trespasser on the retail center's property.

Every state has its own trespassing definition. Essentially they have the following in common per Nolo: "Intentionally entering or remaining on someone else's property without authorization."

Thus, a person who trespasses on a commercial property is someone who interferes with the safe operation of the business. If someone skulks in front of a retail center it will hinder business. Customers won't feel comfortable or safe making their way into the building.

It's possible to trespass without stepping on the property. One way to do that is to throw things onto the property or flood it. In this case, the trespasser is causing something to enter the property.

Why Trespassing Is a Concern for Businesses

Trespassing can be a gateway to vandalism, theft, dumpster diving, and loitering. Construction sites sometimes end up with crane climbers. A trespasser who gets hurt on your property could sue your company and hold you liable. It sounds illogical because the person showed up on your property without permission. It happens more than you think.

Companies and property managers have an obligation to help prevent injuries on their property. Yes, if damage occurs on your property, your property damage liability insurance pays for it and covers legal costs if someone sues you. However, here's where it turns tricky. It can be difficult to prove who is responsible for the damage to your premises. Fortunately, there's a solution for that.

Check out these crime statistics. The FBI's Crime Data Explorer reveals the property crimes in 2017 took place in the following locations:

  • Parking lot and garage: 272,269 crimes (No. 2)
  • Department and discount store: 235,935 crimes (No. 3)
  • Alley, sidewalk, street, and highway: 207,994 crimes (No. 4)
  • Commercial/office building: 63,717 crimes

The No. 1 offense is destruction, damage, and vandalism of property consisting of 153,715 incidences in 2017. Next comes burglary / breaking and entering.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports the average number of violent crimes that took place in commercial places between 2004 and 2008 was 12 percent, or a whopping 664,700 incidences. Almost 1 million property crimes — including burglary and theft — occurred on commercial properties in the same timeframe.

Trespassing also impacts how employees, vendors, and customers feel about your business and property. If they feel unsafe, they will go elsewhere. Finding new tenants takes time and money. Searching for a new vendor who can provide what you need for the right price is a difficult process. When customers or residents leave, that's lost revenue and it's hard to get it back.

How can trespassing cause people to feel unsafe? They feel uncomfortable when they see property damaged, people loitering, or items stolen. No matter how hard you may try to keep things under wraps, people have a way of finding out. Fortunately, there's a way to minimize trespassing and its high price.

How to Help Protect Your Business from Trespassers

Property owners and managers have a duty to notify outsiders that the land is private property, and no one can enter without permission. They also have a responsibility to let trespassers know about the potential hazards on the property. You or your business could be held liable if any injury occurs on your property.

The goal is to prevent a trespass situation in which you need to remove the trespasser. In doing so, you won't have to wrangle with the law as to whether it's legal to escort someone off the premises.

Here are three viable options to deter trespassing.

1. Fences and signs

While fences and "no trespassing" signs work well on personal private property, they don't prevent entry, especially on business property. Besides, places like shopping centers and apartment buildings can't always put up fences or install gates because they want visitors to enter without barriers. They can, however, post "no loitering" signs.

Another sign to consider posting is "Area under surveillance." It can deter some potential trespassers but not those with dodgy intentions. Regardless of the fences and signs posted, thieves often trespass on construction sites.

2. Lighting

An affordable yet effective security option is lighting. It reduces or eliminates shadowy areas and hiding spaces. Lighting ensures visitors, drivers, and pedestrians can see where they're going.

In researching lighting, you want to ensure you use the right amount of lighting and the right hue. Soft lighting does little to reassure safety and bright lights can be just as unsafe. Certain types of lights enhance security better than others. Ask your security expert for recommendations.

If you have lighting, confirm the spacing between lights. Too much space creates darker areas. Remember to install lighting in the parking area, outside of the building, parking lot stairwells, and sidewalks.

3. Remote video monitoring

Sometimes the threat is internal from employees. They know the property's weak spots and how to exploit them. To counter this, companies hire security guards. However, there have been reports of security guards helping trespassers. Even if you hire the most honest security guards, security guard liability is an expensive risk. One that could lead to a lawsuit against your business.

Live video monitoring works around all these challenges to help remove security guard liability. If someone enters the property without permission, the trained operator calls the police and helps them find the suspect. People watching the monitors are off-site and possibly in another city or state, thus they cannot steal or commit a crime. This eliminates internal threats.

Surveillance cameras also come in handy to decrease and even eliminate liability claims. They can help prove the business took the necessary safety precautions to create a safe environment. Car dealerships deal with many false claims. A customer can claim the dealership damaged the vehicle while in for service. The dealership video monitoring and review can show the vehicle already had damage when it arrived on the dealership's lot.

Should a company have a healthy budget that can cover multiple security guards, their security still has a weakness. Security guards cannot always have eyes on the entire property. The costs climb exponentially with every security guard you hire. It's far more cost-effective to implement video surveillance and you'll keep more of your profits.

Moreover, security guards can only do so much when it comes to trespassing. What they can do depends on state laws, training, and licensing. "One of the most misunderstood and abused shopping center practices is how to legally handle persons that have trespassed," writes Chris E. McGoey. He says that it's illegal for security to detain and process a shopping center trespasser in most states.

Working with a Live Video Monitoring Company

In working with an experienced monitoring security company, you'll rest easy knowing that trained operators watch your property through strategically placed cameras. They'll see the greatest amount of your property compared to other solutions. Their eyes are sharper than security guards because they work in shifts.

As soon as the operators spot something suspicious, they act. If the situation warrants it, they will contact the police. They can use the audio speaker system to alert trespassers they are being watched. In some cases, they call the manager to notify them of the problem that does not require involving law enforcement. They have caught problems such as the start of a flood, potential safety hazards, and debris blown all over the property.

The other benefit of remote video monitoring is that someone watches your property during extreme weather conditions. The weather has nothing on the right equipment and the operators watching your cameras. While thieves may not venture out in the snow, very cold temperatures can break something. The sooner you know about it, the less damage it will cause.

Operating monitors can catch non-trespassers who damage property. For example, one company's fleet truck damaged inventory during working hours. No one onsite saw it happen. The trained operator could zoom in on the truck to read the license plates and fleet number as well as identify the driver.

In another instance at an apartment complex, a kid climbed the apartment pool fence. An operator caught the kid and activated the speaker warning. The child climbed down and left before anything bad happened.

As specialists in video surveillance, Stealth Monitoring has deterred many trespassing instances before damage occurred. In designing security solutions, one size does not fit all. Stealth customizes every security solution based on your industry, needs, regulations, and property.

You can view trespassing videos to see how Stealth has deterred trespassers and damage. The best security services to minimize trespassing depends on many factors. A security adviser can evaluate your property, business, and budget to make recommendations that fit your requirements. If you'd like to talk to our security specialists, please contact us.


Posted in: Video Monitoring