Your Business Could Be Responsible for Crime

Posted by Rick Charney on August 14, 2019

Here's a cautionary tale that can happen to any business. Legal action forced one Dallas business to shut down. The owner and managers of that business did not commit a crime. They did not sell drugs, commit robberies, or run a prostitution ring.

Rather, their business became the facilitator of crime. In other words, criminals used the property as a place to conduct illegal activities causing security liability to close the business.

Why the Courts Held One Business Liable

It's an important lesson for property owners and managers. They have a responsibility for creating a safe and secure environment. If they don't, they could be held liable like the business in this Dallas Morning News story.

According to the editorial, Dallas is taking legal action against business owners in an area struggling with criminal activity. These lawsuits contain a lot of finger-pointing and businesses claiming that the police aren't doing enough to stop the criminals.

"Property owners don't always have the ability to prevent crime, but it is their civic responsibility to not enable it," writes Dallas Morning News editors.

These businesses might not have gotten into trouble had they implemented the right security solutions. Before digging into that, here's how these businesses find themselves in legal hot water, with some being forced to shut down for good.

The High Price of Liability Issues

Property and business managers have a responsibility to keep their place safe for employees, vendors, and customers. Any injuries or accidents that occur on the property can become a liability problem.

For many businesses, one of the biggest areas of liability is the parking lot and garage. It is understandable considering data from the Bureau of Justice shows more than 10 percent of property crimes over a four-year period have occurred in garages and parking lots.

If you do not have a parking lot, injuries and accidents can still happen on your property. Yes, even if your business is an office building where most employees or apartment tenants spend their day sitting. They may not encounter the same safety hazards as construction workers, but they can still get hurt.

Office buildings contain a lot of cables and wires that are tripping hazards. They have furniture that people move into unsafe locations. In fact, the Center for Disease Control reports that more than 260,000 employees miss at least one day of work because of a fall or other similar injury.

Just how much money can the government and companies save if they take steps to prevent injuries? According to the National Safety Council, the answer is $696 billion per year.

How Trespassing Turns into a Business Nightmare

Trespassing is when someone enters a property without permission. If that is all someone does, then it does not seem like much of a problem. However, trespassing can be a steppingstone to bigger and more expensive crimes. People who trespass tend to have plans to do something more.

Trespassing can lead to these crimes.

1. Loitering

Aimlessly wandering the property does not sound so bad. It is, however, when you consider the consequences. Customers see someone roaming near the front door on the property. They may opt to leave rather than risk their safety.

2. Vandalism

Vandalism is when someone intentionally damages or destroys property. This includes everything from painting graffiti on the property's walls to breaking glass. According to FBI Crime Data Explorer, the U.S. had almost 2.5 million property crime incidents and close to 2.5 million reported offenses in 2017.

The No. 1 offense linked to another infraction was destruction / damage / vandalism property. More than 150,000 incidents occurred in 2017. On average, that is 410 occurrences per day. This data refers only to offenses linked to another offense. Therefore, these offenses involve more than just vandalism.

3. Theft

The No. 2 most common offense linked to another infraction is burglary / breaking and entering. This does not include car theft, car parts theft, shoplifting, theft from building, and more. No business is safe when you consider where the FBI's data showing these property crimes occurred:

  • No. 2: Parking lot and garage (272,269 crimes)
  • No. 3: Department and discount store (235,935 crimes)
  • No. 4: Alley, sidewalk, street, and highway (207,994 crimes)
  • No. 9: Commercial/office building (63,717 crimes)

The high number of property crimes committed has been a problem for years. Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates almost 1 million property crimes — including burglary and theft — happened on commercial properties between 2004 and 2008. Property crimes are not the only problem. Violent crime is too. In that same timeframe, the average number of violent crimes that took place on commercial properties was 12 percent. When you put it in numbers, that translates into a massive 664,700 incidences.

The Need to Mitigate Liability

Here's where it gets interesting and scary. If a trespasser, loiterer, thief, or vandal gets hurt on your property, then the person could sue your company and hold your company liable. Yes, this despite the person entering your property without permission. It happens a lot. Just search the news.

Think property damage liability insurance will take care of the damage and any legal costs for you? Maybe. Maybe not. If the incident turns into a lawsuit, it will be difficult to prove who is responsible for the damage to your property. The good news is that there is a way to help prove it and make your case. Better yet, it could prevent your insurance premiums from increasing.

How to Mitigate Liability

An effective way to mitigate liability and deter trespassing, vandalism, and theft is with proactive remote video monitoring.

First, the presence of cameras alone can be a crime deterrent. More so, when you install cameras in plain sight and post signs such as "Area under video surveillance." However, don't stop there. When cameras are recording activity, they can provide proof that your company did not deliberately violate safety procedures.

Benefits of Remote Video Surveillance

Video monitoring provides liability protection and much more. It can also help prevent crime and damage. It helps you look for operational improvement opportunities and increase productivity. Live video monitoring allows someone to safely watch your property no matter what happens on the site. Trained operators are located somewhere away from the site.

Incorporating an audio deterrent with live video monitoring can heighten your security and video monitoring. What it does is allow the operator to use an audio speaker to alert the suspects they are being watched. Typically, this compels the suspects to leave without ever committing a crime. Regardless if you use the audio feature, the operator can contact the police and stay on the line until they catch the suspect.

In working with Stealth, you gain many advantages over other companies' services. Among them are proactive response, extensive site coverage, quicker response times, and round-the-clock protection. Some clients have seen their operating income increase.

We customize solutions to maximize clients' security while minimizing costs. Our security architects work with you to understand your needs. Then, they design a plan that delivers what you need without the unnecessary extras.

Our systems use a combination of video analytics and human intelligence to make sure that your property has the highest possible level of security. We can tailor, implement, and manage a complete security solution or we can do a part of it. Whatever your objectives dictate, we will work to meet those requirements.

Multiple security operators take turns watching your property. Not only are they more alert than security guards, but they can see more because the cameras give them a view of the entire property. One of the biggest drawbacks of using security guards — among other things — is they can only see what's happening where they're located.

Here are some benefits of video surveillance:

  • Maximized security
  • Minimized break-ins and thefts
  • Cut overall expenses
  • Mitigated property damage and liability

The system delivers savings and reduces expenses in several ways. It can decrease theft, boost productivity, limit risk, and save on insurance premiums. With a remote video security system, companies won't need to use security guards, or they can reduce the number of guards. Investing in video monitoring delivers quick ROI.

For instance, one retail property saw its value rise because it reduced crime and gained more rental income. "And, if a business doesn't do all that it can to help clean up crime hot spots, then it deserves a legal response," writes the Dallas Morning News. Video surveillance has actually deterred crime as you can see in many of Stealth's surveillance videos.

Here are some sample videos:

To learn more about remote video monitoring and how this proactive solution can save you money, decrease your liability and risk, and cover more ground than a traditional security guard for the fraction of the cost, contact us today.

Posted in: Crime Prevention, Video Monitoring