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How To Prevent Office Burglaries And Thefts

Burglary and theft can have disastrous consequences for businesses in the UK - especially for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), who may find it difficult to recover after a break-in.

In particular, offices on business premises can be at high risk of burglaries, due to them commonly holding high-value items such as mobile phones, computing equipment, and company cash left on site.

Commercial Burglary And Theft: The Facts

The average burglary costs small businesses up to £2,000, and 47% of small businesses that suffered a burglary were targeted more than once.

Worryingly, up to 37% of small businesses keep equipment worth £10,000 or more on their premises – this includes electronic equipment like computers and laptops, and valuable information such as legal documents and proprietary data, which if taken can put companies at risk of fraudulent activities such as identity theft.

And according to the Commercial Victimisation Survey, retail and wholesale premises were at the highest risk, with 27% experiencing theft and 10% falling victim to burglary between April 2020 and March 2021.

Theft By Employee: A Rising Risk

In a survey by Kit Out My Office, over two-thirds (67%) of workers admit to having stolen from work. While the cost of the average office theft remains low at just £12.50 per year, it all adds up - to a total estimated cost to British businesses of £190 million per year.

Of those that were caught in the act, more than half got off without any punishment at all, and 36% received a warning.

Employing a zero-tolerance policy can help to reduce employee theft in the workplace - particularly when used alongside a system where employees can anonymously report suspicious activity.

The Most Commonly Stolen Items From Offices

To understand which office items need particular protection, we need to look at the trends in theft. The following items are the most common targets for opportunistic thieves and burglars:

• Cash is the most commonly stolen item from both businesses and private homes due to its lightweight nature and ease to conceal on the person

• Mobile phones are a target in 36% of office thefts, at an average cost to replace of £550

• Memory sticks are a target in 23% of office thefts

• iPads and other tablet devices are targeted by thieves in 19% of cases

• Laptops are the target of thieves in 14% of office theft cases

• Chargers and power packs are taken in 8% of office thefts

The Best Methods To Prevent Office Burglaries And Theft

Alarm Systems - There are a variety of alarms to suit the purpose and layout of your office. For example, intruder alarms use sensors on the windows and doors to detect when they are opened without a security code having first been entered.

Motion sensor alarms, on the other hand, use energy waves such as microwaves or light waves to detect movement within the property. Alternatively, sensor-based alarms such as vibration sensors can be used to protect specific items - like valuable artwork, jewellery cabinets, electronics, or safes, for example - by sounding the alarm when the item is touched or moved in any way.

These systems can be programmed to automatically alert the police or a private security company using a phone call or text message. Some advanced models can even be networked to other systems - such as CCTV or voice intercoms – that then discreetly record the burglar to collect evidence which can be used in court.

CCTV - CCTV isn’t just useful in the event of a burglary: It can also record more common crimes such as shoplifting and employee theft. As an added bonus, CCTV acts as an effective deterrent for crime and makes it less likely that your business will fall victim to theft in the first place.

But bear in mind that if your business chooses to install CCTV, you are legally obliged to put up signs. As such, experienced shoplifters may be able to easily scope out your premises and find unmonitored areas that may not be detected on your system.

Therefore, it is essential to position CCTV systems in areas that will show your premises in their entirety, or to position another camera in areas which have poor visibility, such as corners or darkened areas.

Security Lighting - Security lighting is an excellent deterrent for burglars, as it makes them more likely to be seen by staff and passers-by.

When used in conjunction with CCTV, you are also more likely to capture the detail of an offender’s face and clothing; this makes it more likely that the offender will be caught by the police.

A Safe For Cash And Documents - Theft of important documentation can leave your business vulnerable to fraud and data breaches, including corporate espionage. As such, it is important to lock away not only your cash, but also your sensitive company information.

During the day, locking away your documents in a lockable filing cabinet or drawer will help to keep your valuable data away from sticky fingers, while at night, when the premises may be left empty or less populated, consider investing in a safe to ensure the documents are properly protected.

In addition, make sure that you save a copy of your valuable information separately to your computer, in case the physical versions are ever lost or stolen.

Check The Locks - It may seem obvious, but the last person to leave your site at the end of the day should always check that all doors and windows are locked.

But there’s more to it than that - old, rusty, or poor-quality locks may be at higher risk of being picked or broken, potentially granting an intruder access to the premises. So make sure you regularly check and update your locks to keep your premises secure.

Store Valuables Away From Windows - Opportunistic burglars may use ‘smash and grab’ techniques to quickly and easily snatch valuables from office windows. Therefore, always keep your electronic equipment away from windows, and consider installing burglar-proof glass to prevent the windows from being broken into.

Visit Your Premises Regularly - Regularly visiting your premises can help to deter burglars, who may be waiting for the moment when they think the building is empty. However, burglars are known to monitor the movements of property owners, so try to ensure you visit at frequent, but irregular, times to throw them off.

Keep Track Of Your Keys - Always monitor which employees have been given a key or access card to your property, and when they are handed back. Remember, a lost key is an opportunity for a burglary!

Using an access control system linked to ID cards can help you to keep track of who is on your premises - and when - and to identify if an ID card is stolen from one of your employees.

Want to ensure your office is kept safe from burglars and other security threats? Get in touch with our expert team!


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