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Tips for Protecting Your Business During the COVID-19 Pandemic

It didn’t take long for the world to see the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis: stocks lost value, people lost income, factory production slowed dramatically.

According to a 2012 study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, crime rates are highest during times of economic crisis, and instances of robbery, specifically, may double.

For many businesses, temporarily closing during the pandemic is the only option. While an obvious concern is loss of profit and the ramifications of that, business owners with vacant properties also need to be especially vigilant with security.

There are a number of things you can do to protect your business premises while they are empty:

  • Presence – visit the premises regularly (every couple days). If you are unable to check on things yourself, have a trusted neighbour or family member do it. Spend a bit of time there making sure everything is normal* and demonstrating that there are people checking in at various time of the day (*pandemic normal, that is).
    • If you can afford it and it’s available to you, hiring a professional security company to patrol the premises weekly could also be a deterrent.
  • Maintenance – keep the grass cut, the walkways clear, and bushes trimmed. Not only does this help make the property look attended to, but ensuring entry points are not obscured from vision may also help reduce the risk of burglary. (Bonus: maintaining clear walkways helps limit possible liability exposure!)
  • Monitor – installing and/or maintaining burglar alarms is an added layer of security. In addition to alerting you and the authorities to any unauthorized entry, it may provide some peace of mind.
    • Expenses like this are not practical for everyone, though, so if installing a security system is not feasible for your company, ask neighbours to keep an eye on things and let you know if anything seems fishy.
  • Video cameras are another good option to deter would-be vandals/burglars and record what’s going on in and around the building. Make sure they are set up to record as many angles/areas as possible, and that they are durable and weather-resistant.
    • Note: there are laws surrounding video surveillance recordings. You should understand what they are in your jurisdiction before installing cameras.
  • Lighting – don’t let your lights burn out! Good external lighting helps reduce the risk of burglary and vandalism. Motion-sensor lights can be a particularly effective deterrent. And keep some inside lights on too to give the appearance of occupants.
    • Good lighting is also crucial if you have video surveillance. The better the lighting you have, the better your footage will be!
  • Windows – close them securely, and install locks where possible. For some spaces, roll-shutters may be a good option, though they can be costly.
  • Doors – check on all doors regularly to make sure they are properly secured and have not been tampered with. All doors should have deadbolts, and installing a better-quality strike plate is a cost-effective way to upgrade your door security (seriously inexpensive – you can get them for $5-$20 at hardware stores).
  • Keys – know who has them, limit who has them, and change the locks if you need to! Limiting access to the building also limits the amount of room for user error (forgetting to lock up or set the alarm).
  • Storage – store stock, electronics, equipment, and anything alluring out of sight. Keep it somewhere secure (locked in a safe, if possible) and temperature-controlled.
  • Advertise – make it clear that you have security measures in place. Visible cameras and signs around your building can do the trick!
    • Be mindful of what you post on social media. If you announce that you are closing, make it known that some employees will still be on site.

While all of these options might not work for your business, finding the right (and reasonable) combination for you is important.

For customized suggestions, contact your commercial insurance broker/risk manager.

Morgan Thomas, BA (Dtn.) | Project Management & Customer Experience Coordinator

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