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Restaurant owners face many assaults on their businesses. The perpetual rise of commodity prices, unexplained inventory shortages, labor issues, and the constant threat of robbery and internal thefts are everyday threats. But one of the most aggravating and frustrating of them is burglary; someone breaking into your business, rooting through the premises and taking cash, merchandise or whatever they want. The act emphasizes vulnerability and is often taken as a personal affront aside from the cash and/or merchandise stolen.

A few years ago my storage shed was broken into. A big, heavy wooden sliding door was forcibly knocked off the tracks. It wouldn't have been easy to do. When I discovered the crime, I blinked a few times in disbelief. The place was ransacked, and most of my power tools were stolen along with a pressure washer that I had just used the day before. Could the culprit be someone that saw me using it and watched me put it away? Was it someone in the neighborhood? What was I doing when this happened? I thought the building was pretty secure. I was wrong. Someone took my stuff. I felt violated, and truth be told, vulnerable and a bit fearful.

The damage that is associated with break-ins is many times much more than the items stolen. Pried, bent and splintered doors and jambs, smashed windows and damages to equipment need to be repaired or replaced. Calls for repairs, cooperating with the police, reporting and processing insurance claims , while running the restaurant is at best challenging and a tax on patience.

Here are a few tips to strengthen vulnerabilities to burglary.

Interior:

  • Remove cash, checks and valuables from the premises or secure them in a locked safe, bolted to the floor.
  • Check restrooms, closets, etc., for possible hide-ins during closing routines.
  • Rekey all locks and change safe combinations with every management change.
  • Engrave company name on office equipment.
  • Leave cash registers open after hours to indicate there is no cash in them.
  • Keep several interior and exterior lights on and windows and counters clear for visibility of police patrols.
  • Secure or alarm hollow walls shared with adjacent businesses.
  • Make sure all doors and windows are locked before leaving.

Doors and windows

  • Ensure that all locks are in good condition and that keys are controlled.· Display decals on the windows and doors that say, "Cash is secured."·
  • Exterior door hinges should be on the inside or have non-removable pinss
  • Deadbolt locks should have a minimum of a 1-inch throw. Strike plates should have a minimum of 3-inch screws.
  • Secure casement windows with key latches, so the window cannot be pried.
  • Secure sliding glass doors or windows (drive-thru) with screws in the upper track to deter prying.
  • Install anti-pry plates on exterior doors.
  • Keep advertizing on doors and windows to a minimum.

Exterior

  • Secure roof ladders, exterior venting, AC/heating ducts, and other exterior openings that a burglar could crawl through.
  • Trim landscaping away from windows and doors, and keep trees away from exterior lighting.

Alarms/cameras

  • Test alarms and camera system regularly.
  • Display signage on doors, windows and parking lot that say that the premise is monitored by alarm and/or camera systems.
  • Install fault-line monitoring that will send a signal to the alarm if the line is cut or signal is interrupted.
  • Put cameras in containers or domes, so they cannot be tampered or covered.

Please keep in mind that the tips are basic and a thorough review by a security/loss-prevention professional of your specific business will provide additional protection, not only from burglary but from robbery, theft, fraud, safety, food cost and workplace violence. The assaults on businesses come from exposure and very often, we don't know where they lie. Have a trained loss-prevention professional review your business, identify vulnerabilities and take recommended corrective measures, because someone may be looking for the weak spots in your business. You might not see it, but they will and those predators won't hesitate to pounce. They got me; they could get you.

Test your knowledge on robbery prevention, loss control, food cost, safety, fraud, and workplace violence by taking short quizzes on LossBusters.com

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D. B. "Libby" Libhart
D.B. “Libby” Libhart has more than 30 years of experience in the loss prevention industry. He has provided security and safety leadership in retail settings such as department stores, drug stores and quick-service restaurants. Before launching his own company, LossBusters, Libby served as the Senior Director of U.S. Security and Safety for McDonald’s Corp. He entered the QSR industry with Taco Bell and subsequently YUM Brands.
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