The holidays are both a great time to connect with family and friends, and often a very profitable time for business owners. However, it can also be a time of year where you see jumps in theft, robbery, shoplifting, and other petty crime.
To help keep you, your employees, your business safe from crime, we’ve provided a few tips.
Safety Tips for Your Business
- CAMERAS: If you have them, make sure they’re working. If you have signs that state that you have surveillance, be sure they’re in plain view. Just the signs alone can deter crime.
- CHANGE IT UP: If your business is being cased by criminals, they’re watching for your patterns, your routines. Be sure to change up what time you/your employees drop cash from the till, and what time money is taken to the bank.
- BUDDY SYSTEM: When an employee is by themselves, businesses are the most vulnerable. If possible, operate with at least two people for all shifts, especially opening and closing shifts.
- EASY TAKING: Be smart. Put money bags or contains, expensive items or other valuables out of sight and protected from grab-and-go criminals. Don’t leave the cash register unattended.
- AWARENESS: Ensure you and your employees are aware of your surroundings. Pay attention! If there is someone hanging around at the time of closing that should not be, don’t hesitate to call a security/police non-emergency line.
- EXITS: Control Access by allowing only one door to be open for customers. It is recommended that all back doors remain locked from the outside. Use a decorative rope or string to help prevent use of these exits except for emergencies.
- LIMIT ACCESS: Close off areas that are off limits to customers. Use signs indicating “Employees Only” for back rooms and storage areas.
- BAGS: Deter shoppers from entering your business with open bags, large totes, etc. Consider using signage at he entrances that indicate no open bags or large bags are allowed. Give customers an option to tape their bag closed with decorative tape that you provide. It is not recommended that you tore bags for your customers.
- VISIBILITY: Maintain visibility throughout the store. Make sure you can see the front door, that there are no “hidden areas,” and your shelves are positioned so that someone cannot hide. Increase visibility from the outside looking in.
- SHOPLIFTING: Don’t Stereotype. Anyone can shoplift or steal from you.
Here’s a few more tips to keep you safe at home and beyond during the holiday season…
Shopping in Stores
- Buy only what you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or ask a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
- Save all receipts. Print/save all confirmations from online purchases. Start a folder to keep all receipts together, and verify credit card/bank statements as they come in.
- Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
- When entering your pin number, cover the keypad.
- Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit.
Walking To and From Your Car
- Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
- Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle.
- Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
- Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.
- Park in well-lit, busy areas where breaking in would be more challenging.
Shopping with Small Children
- If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you are separated from each other.
- Select a central meeting place.
- Teach them to know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.
- Before going online, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.
- Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact.
- Beware of “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
- Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.
Crime Prevention & Safety At Home
- Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes.
- When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail.
- Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer.
- Leave a radio or television on so the house looks and sounds occupied.
- Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.
- When setting up a Christmas tree or other holiday display, make sure doors and passageways are clear inside your home.
- Be sure your Christmas tree is mounted on a sturdy base so children, elderly persons or family pets cannot pull it over on themselves.
- If you use lights on your Christmas tree ensure the wiring is not damaged or frayed. Frayed or damaged wiring can cause a fire.
- Place your Christmas tree in water or wet sand to keep it green.
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