First Defense: Alarms and security cameras are effective deterrents for many would-be thieves.
According to the FBI's most recent statistics, burglary is the only form of property crime on the rise in the U.S. In fact, with the exception of a slight dip in 2004, the national burglary rate has risen steadily every year since the turn of the century. As a result, property owners are losing out. Today, burglaries cost victims more than $3.5 billion a year.
As the number of burglaries continues to increase, so does the threat to commercial businesses. In 2005, police in Little Rock, AR, recorded a 105-percent spike in commercial burglaries.
Restaurants are often victims of this nationwide trend. Cincinnati police say one man was responsible for the robberies of 14 Arby's, four Burger Kings and one Wendy's in the Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky area within the last three years. Investigators in Los Angeles are still trying to catch the "Ski Mask Bandits," who they believe have robbed more than 50 restaurants. Community leaders in southwest Philadelphia believe Asian restaurants have become convenient victims for predatory criminals.
Restaurants suffer from burglaries through property loss and damage, business interruption and rising insurance rates. Employee theft is also a significant contributor to business loss. The restaurant industry is particularly vulnerable because a large number of employees often have access to cash as well as product. In addition, many restaurants have high staff turnover rates. The National Restaurant Association estimates internal theft costs restaurant operators about $218 per employee each year.
The good news is that the restaurant industry can protect itself. To minimize loss, restaurant owners can and should arm their properties with quality alarm systems. New technology has made systems more cost efficient and dependable while also making properties more secure. Restaurants do not need to spend excessively to secure their business. Reputable alarm providers can save businesses money by helping to select the right protection for their specific business. A quality provider should also provide cost-efficient installation, maintenance and monitoring as well as help reduce false alarm fees charged by many police departments.
While an alarm system is an expense, the right equipment and provider can be a wise investment. Here are some additional security tips to help protect your restaurant:
- Change alarm codes when an employee leaves the company.
- Use security cameras that record in the dark. They not only act as a deterrent to thieves, they also provide valuable information to investigators.
- Leave some interior lights on at night and keep window coverings open. Dark, closed rooms are easy targets for criminals.
- Make sure lights are not mounted too low where burglars can easily unscrew a light bulb.
- Record the serial and model numbers of all valuable equipment. Engrave the information into the equipment and store the records off-site. The information can be used to recover stolen property or prosecute burglars.
- Lock all doors after hours— even those inside. If burglars get past one entrance, you can stop them at the next.
- Keep entranceways clear of shrubs, signage or anything that would provide a good hiding place for criminals.
- If your restaurant is a stand-alone building, make sure your address is easily visible for police responding to your burglar alarm.
Doug Valenski is the national accounts director for Brink's Business Security, a division of Brink's Home Security.