Small Business

Crime - burglary, robbery, vandalism, shoplifting, employee theft and fraud - costs businesses billions of dollars each year. Crime can be particularly devastating to small businesses, who lose both customers and employees when crime and fear claim a neighborhood. When small businesses are victims of crime, they often react by changing their hours of operation, raising their prices to cover their losses, relocating outside the community, or simply closing. Fear of crime isolates businesses, much like fear isolates individuals - and this isolation increases vulnerability to crime.

Helping small businesses reduce and prevent crime must be a community effort. Law enforcement can work with owners to improve security and design their spaces to reduce risk. Small businesses can join together in such efforts as Business Watch to alert each other to crime patterns and suspicious activities. They can help young people in the community learn job-seeking skills and give them jobs, when possible.

Finally, businesses must reach out to others - law enforcement, civic groups, schools, churches, youth groups - to fight violence, drugs, and other crime and create a safer community for all.

Laying a Foundation for Prevention
Take a hard look at your business - its physical layout, employees, hiring practices, and overall security. Assess its vulnerability to all kinds of crime, from burglary to embezzlement.
  1. Burglary Prevention
  2. Check Fraud
  3. Credit Card Fraud
  4. Employee Theft Prevention
  5. Organize a Business Watch
  6. Robbery Prevention
  7. Shoplifting Prevention
  8. Vandalism Prevention
  • Make sure all outside entrances and inside security doors have deadbolt locks. If you use padlocks, they should be made of steel and kept locked at all times. Remember to remove serial numbers from your locks, to prevent unauthorized keys from being made.
  • All outside or security doors should be metal-lined and secured with metal security crossbars. Pin all exposed hinges to prevent removal.
  • Windows should have secure locks and burglar-resistant glass. Consider installing metal grates on all your windows except display window. Remove all expensive items from window displays at night and make sure you can see easily into your business after closing.
  • Light the inside and outside of your business, especially around doors, windows, skylights or other entry points. Consider installing covers over exterior lights and power sources to deter tampering.
  • Check the parking lot for good lighting and unobstructed views.
  • Keep your cash register in plain view from the outside of your business, so it can be monitored by police during the day or at night. Leave it open and empty after closing.
  • Be sure your safe is fireproof and securely anchored. It should be kept in plain view. Leave it open when it's empty, use it to lock up valuables when you close. Remember to change the combination when an employee who has had access to it leaves your business.
  • Before you invest in an alarm system, check with several companies and decide what level of security fits your needs. Contact your local law enforcement agency to recommend established companies. Learn how to use your system properly. Check the system daily, and run a test when closing.
Looking for Community Partners?
Chambers of Commerce
Chambers of Commerce exist in thousands of communities. They can help start a Business Watch, offer crime prevention information to area businesses, or organize seminars on "hot" topics, like bad checks or credit card fraud.

Business Associations
Merchants may join together to address a problem that directly affects their business operations. Some examples include poor street lighting, lack of police patrols, parking, loitering, or prostitution. A business or merchant's association could price employment for youth, community improvements, or funding for a manual on small business security.

Service Clubs
Many communities have local chapters of such service groups as Exchange Clubs, Kiwanis, Lions, Junior League, General Federation of Women's Clubs, Jaycees, Rotary, and Optimists. These groups take on a variety of community and business service projects. They often have many members from the local business community.

Special Interest Associations/Groups

Businesses often join others with similar interests. Retail merchants as a whole, specialty stores, computer retailers, drug stores, grocers, cleaners, restaurants, or convenience stores may all have associations in a city or region.

Private Security

Increased partnerships between business groups, private security, and police can enhance each other's efforts to protect commercial areas.

Community Associations
Business groups can find effective partners in community and neighborhood associations. Both groups have a strong stake in thriving residential and commercial areas. They are often well versed in strategies for securing physical improvements such as street lighting or road repairs. In partnership with business, they can also reach out to help solve problems that affect the entire community's well-being - such as homelessness, lack of jobs, or the need for battered women's shelters.