Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Is Your Business An Obvious Target For An Armed Robbery?

I spent a considerable amount of time yesterday pounding the pavement on the west side of Detroit. I visited a myriad of businesses of all kinds in an effort to establish rapport and to find opportunities to partner with fellow entrepreneurs. Accordingly, I entered a wide variety of business environments in which there was a wide disparity in approaches to security.

In some businesses, I was impressed with their security consciousness. However, there were times in which I encountered environments in which it appeared that security was not a serious concern. By the end of my adventure, I felt that it would be useful to my readers to share my observations. For obvious reasons, I will not be disclosing any identifying information about the business operations I observed.

Decide The Level of Access To Your Business
The first logical area of concern with respect to security is the actual entry area of the business. Believe it or not, some businesses either did not have a front door to allow access for the general public or directed delivery-men to drop off goods at the rear of the building. In either case, signs were hung that directed people to walk around the building, enter an alley, and approach the back door to gain access. Forcing people to enter a business via a back door, especially when it is located in a secluded alley, is a safety concern for customers and suppliers. It would be rather easy for an armed predator to launch an attack in this environment.

The vast majority of businesses I visited did allow access via a front door. For these locations, a prudent strategy that balances safety and commerce needs to be adopted regarding access. On one end of the spectrum, restricting easy and unimpeded access would be impractical as it would interfere with the flow of commerce. High traffic venues such as convenience stores and liquor stores fall into this category of businesses.

As such, it makes obvious sense, in these cases, for appropriate security measures to be in place just in case bad guys enter the building while attempting to blend in with everyone else: bullet-proof glass, video cameras, and annunciators. These options, however, do not provide absolute protection. They serve more as a deterrent measure to discourage all except a truly brazen bad guy who could enter and assault customers regardless of whether his face was captured on grainy video.

At the other end of the spectrum, there were many small businesses operating in small retail store-fronts. Many of these businesses had low random traffic, relative to a gas station. In many of these cases, there weren't many employees present on the premises. As such, restricting random access is a good idea. I observed a variety of approaches. A buzzer fits the bill for many businesses. Visitors won't be allowed access until an employee has properly vetted them and is ready to receive them. Access is granted by pushing a button that temporarily enables the door to be opened.

Alternatively, employees could use a more old-school approach - answering the door in person. Some employees open the door without asking any questions and allowed immediate access. Obviously, this method is fraught with all sorts of imaginable peril. Another approach I observed was vetting the visitor through a locked door. Unexpected or undesirable visitors can be met, vetted, and dismissed without risk. If any documentation needed to be exchanged, it could be transferred through a portal built-into the door.

In two venues that I visited the other day, the front doors were unlocked and nobody was there to receive me. In essence, they were extremely vulnerable to theft of their property on the premises. After waiting for a few moments, I left some literature and left.

Properly Staff Your Business
Another area of concern that I observed in one boutique that I visited was proper staffing levels. The door was wide open to the small property. I walked in and a young lady seemed startled by my presence. She didn't seem old enough in my mind to be the proprietor, so I asked for the manager. She informed me that she was the person in charge. She also told me that she was the only person on the premises.

For obvious reasons, I would not advise a solitary person to be working at a location in which there was unrestricted access to the building. Furthermore, I would not advise a person working alone to divulge to visitors that no one else is present. I smiled, thanked her for her time, dropped off some literature, and left without giving her a lecture. I think that I already unintentionally scared her enough.

Address Loitering
Loitering also seemed to be an issue at some businesses that I visited. In one specific case, I walked into a convenience store and thought that I had secured third place in line. When the first customer had concluded his transaction, the guy directly in front of me wanted to defer and allow me to talk to the cashier. I refused his overture and then he left building. I could only wonder why that guy was just "hanging out" in the store. He could have been selecting customers to rob in the parking lot. Businesses should not tolerate loitering - inside or outside - on their premises. It creates a security concern for customers.

Don't Over-Rely on Signs
Many businesses I visited placed a lot trust in signs on their property. Among the posted messages I saw, included the following: "No Soliciting," No Guns," "Cameras In Operation," "No Cash on Premises," "Alarm System," "No Masks or Hoodies," and "No Loitering." The key message I like to deliver about signs is that bad guys do not obey them. A business should not strictly rely on signs to provide security.

Furthermore, I visited some businesses that had so many signs, flyers, and political campaign posters posted that it made looking into and looking out of the business very difficult to do. Too many signs can create a safety hazard as criminals may use the lack of visibility to commit a crime on the premises without worrying about being seen by potential witnesses.

Bottom Line: Have A Plan
Businesses can be vulnerable to violent crime. However, some practical measures can be undertaken by all business owners to minimize the odds they are selected for victimization. All businesses, regardless of size and traffic, should be properly staffed to both get work done and not invite crimes of opportunity. In addition, workers should stay alert for anything that may look suspicious.

High random traffic venues have to make some tough choices that strikes an acceptable balance between limited safety and access. Business owners operating out of small office store-fronts can minimize their risks by restricting random access by employing buzzers and security doors with portals.

For more personal protection tips, visit our site - Legally Armed In Detroit - over the Internet:

About The Author
Rick Ector is a National Rifle Association credentialed Firearms Trainer, who provides Michigan CCW Class training in Detroit for students at his firearms school - Rick's Firearm Academy of Detroit.

Ector is a recognized expert in firearm safety and has been featured extensively in the national and local media: Associated Press, UPI, NRAnews, Guns Digest, Tactical-Life, The Truth About Guns, The Politics Daily, Fox News Detroit, The Detroit News, The Detroit Examiner, WJLB, WGPR, and the UrbanShooterPodcast.

For more info about free shooting lessons for women and Michigan CCW Classes, please contact:

Rick's Firearm Academy of Detroit
Phone: 313.733.74

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