Business Watch

Introduction to Business Crime Prevention

What steps are you taking to protect the people, money, inventory, private records, and legal documents in your place of business?

Crime prevention is an important element for a successful business. It is essential to reducing loss. It can also help you attract and keep customers by creating a perception of safety in and around your business.

Take the time to assess the vulnerability of your business to all types of crime. Consider the physical layout, employee hiring and training practices, and overall security measures. Learn how to respond quickly and effectively to suspicious or criminal activity and train your employees to do so.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a good starting point. It helps to make your business a defensible space. Implementing CPTED principles does not have to be elaborate or expensive.

CPTED is made up of four key elements:

  • Natural Surveillance: Is it easy to see into and out of your business, as well as the area around it?
  • Territoriality: Create the feeling that your business is your space, and criminals don’t belong there.
  • Natural Access Control: Direct customers to the entrance(s) they should use and discourage or deny access through any other entrance.
  • Maintenance: Keep your business and surrounding area tidy and clean. This shows there is someone who cares about the location and is watching it.

Employees

Choose your employees very carefully. Pre-employment background checks are a good business practice. Also take the time to check references provided by applicants, especially those of former employers or supervisors.

Harden the Target

Install the highest quality doors, windows, locks and safe you can afford. Alarm and camera systems are a good investment. Consider the cost of each security improvement against the potential savings through loss reduction and lower insurance premiums.

Good Record-Keeping

Keep detailed, up-to-date business records, such as inventories and banking records. Record serial numbers from computers and other equipment, along with item name, make, model, purchase cost, and year. For items without serial numbers, engrave with a personalized identification number (not your Social Security number). Put Operation ID stickers near perimeter doors and windows to let criminals know your property is documented. Store back-up copies in another location.

Report Crime & Suspicious Activity

If you see suspicious activity or a crime occurs, call 911 immediately. It’s imperative that you and your employees learn to be good witnesses and to observe important details. Write the information down as soon as possible after an incident.

Key features to note are:

  • Any scars, marks or tattoos
  • Approximate age
  • Clothing
  • Eye color
  • Hair color
  • Height
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Weight

Being able to provide law enforcement with an accurate vehicle description can make the difference between a criminal getting away or being apprehended. License plate numbers, even partial numbers, are of tremendous value. Along with vehicle color, try to use detailed descriptions when identifying a suspect vehicle to police:

  • Kind: Car, truck, motorcycle, SUV, van
  • Make and model: Ford Explorer, Toyota Tundra, Volkswagen Jetta
  • Other: Identifying bumper stickers, dents, detailing, company logos, etc.

Be Aware of Crime in Your Area

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and Stanwood Police Department maintain an online crime mapping tool. This tool allows you to specify an address and time frame, and to select the type of crime activity you want to see mapped on the image. You also can sign up to receive free email alerts when crime occurs in your area.