How to Protect Your Retail Business from Crime in Winter

The winter season poses all sorts of insurance concerns for commercial businesses. Weather-borne incidents that impact the property and public are among them. However, there is another that rears its head in the thick of winter – crime.

Criminal activity comes in many forms, with certain elements becoming more predominant at this time of the year. Your business needs to be prepared, or it may incur damages beyond repair. Once again, Park Insurance is here to guide you in the right direction to make sure that your business makes it through many spring, summer, autumn, and winter seasons to come.

5 Crime Prevention Tips for Your Commercial/Retail Business this Winter Season

1. Keep Well Lit

There is very limited daylight in the period between December and February.  Darkness illuminates opportunity for those looking to do harm to your property and the products, materials, and equipment within. Make sure that your shopfront is well lit through the night. Lights should be kept on within the interior as well. It is easy enough for a criminal to disable exposed lights in the front of your business. But if they know that they are walking into a literal and figurative spotlight upon breaking and entering, hopefully they won’t bother. Also be sure to install (or inspect) security lights in the back, where employees enter/exit. This not only prevents break-ins, it helps keep your most important assets safe too – your staff.

2. Take it Easy on the Window Displays

There are two reasons to scale back on the dramatic window displays.

The most obvious, is in regards to placing a lot of product in the window, especially higher end items that can be sold on the blackmarket or to a pawn shop with ease. The winter season tempts opportunists. Extreme cold weather can create desperation, resulting in a smash and grab which damages your property and results in a loss of product. You most certainly can place valuable product in the window, but remember to remove it each and every night, placing it out of sight.

The second reason is often not considered. An elaborate window display (with or without product) can hide much of your shop interior. This is the same as leaving your lights off. If someone was to gain entry from the back entrance (and disable the alarm system), they can take their time and rummage through your wares without being seen from the outside (security, police officers, public). Have fun with your seasonal window displays, but make sure that your shop interior remains visible.

3. Prepare for Power Outages

This item was also noted in our retail business winter preparedness article. The chance of a power outage increases tenfold in the winter. This is especially true if your region is experiencing colder than normal temperatures or extreme instances of weather. For example, Vancouver is having one of the coldest winters on record. When this happens, municipal hydro power may not be able to handle the load. When power goes out, your business becomes susceptible to criminal activity. Connect your property to a backup power generator that will kick in quickly after an outage. This will help keep opportunistic thieves at bay until power is restored.

4.  Protect Your Brick & Mortar Online

There is one form of crime that no commercial business is completely safe from. Cybercrime runs rampant in the early winter, with holiday season shopping opening up the doors for hackers to get into your database. Last December experienced a hack attack timeline unlike any other. This is not exclusive to online-only retailers. You have some sort of software attached to your retail system and that’s all they need to steal and/or compromise sensitive data. For example, Eddie Bauer recently had customer payment card information accessed by malware. Does your business have enough resources to bounce back from both a hard cost and public relations perspective? The hard fact is this. The likelihood that your commercial business will be hacked at some point, is very high. Prepare yourself, and follow these 6 tips to prevent (and react to) cybercrime this winter.

5. Ensure that You Have Optimal Commercial Crime Insurance

For all of the security precautions taken above, nothing will provide you with peace of mind like a comprehensive commercial crime insurance policy can. Talk to a full-service, independent insurance broker to discuss commercial crime coverage, in addition to commercial property (including damage incurred from theft and vandalism), cyber insurance and any other form of criminal activity that can hurt your business this winter, or any other day of the year.

Contact Park Insurance today.