October 3, 2016 By Suzanne Robertson

October is Crime Prevention Month. This month-long celebration spotlights successful crime prevention efforts on the local, state, and national levels.

If you have a brick and mortar location, it’s critical that you have crime prevention strategies in place. Shoplifting, theft, burglary, purse snatching, and vandalism against and around businesses can negatively affect your store’s reputation and income. Here are some easy steps you can take to keep your small business safe.

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Greet Customers

Is there a store you frequent where you’re always greeted by an employee or the owner when you walk in? This might not be just friendliness, it can be a good strategy to cut down on in-store theft. Personal contact can prevent crime.

Be Visible

Don’t keep your crime prevention activities secret. Ensure that your security measures are visible. That means security guards, alarms and cameras are clearly visible inside and outside your business.

Light It Up

The National Crime Prevention Council blog has good suggestions to increase safety and visibility of your business. They suggest keeping all areas used by patrons well lit to deter criminal activity. That means making sure that the main activities within your business can be clearly viewed from the street. Don’t forget to check the lot where your employees and customers park for good lighting and unobstructed views.

Keep Your Safe Safe

Do you have a safe for important documents, cash and other valuables? Make sure it’s fireproof and anchored securely.


Use the three concepts of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) to deter criminals before they commit a crime against your business. According to the International CPTED Association, these concepts are natural surveillance, natural access control and territorial reinforcement. Suggestions include using lighting, fencing and landscaping as crime prevention tools. Keep bushes and shrubs trimmed so that you can clearly see everyone who walks in the door. Deter vandalism and show pride in your community by planting "thorny" plants and vines around your business to deter vandalism and graffiti.

Establish or Join a Business Watch Program

Business Watch is similar to local Neighborhood Watch programs. Business Watch establishes relationships between small businesses in your area with the local police force. To learn more and read about real-life examples of how police and small business work together, check out this article: How a Business Watch Can Help Protect Your Business.

Prepare for Emergencies

Do you have working fire extinguishers? Are first aid and other medical kits available? Clearly mark fire exits and other evacuation routes and plan regular safety drills for your employees.

The Small Business Administration has prepared a comprehensive 30-minute presentation addressing safety issues. Learn more and access the online course here: Crime Prevention: A Guide for Small Businesses

Finally, if you are ever the victim of a robbery, either personally or in your place of business, comply. Give up your money or merchandise—don’t give up your life. Make sure all of your employees know that this is the only option to use in case of a theft.

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