While businesses sit empty as many practise physical distancing in the face of COVID-19, some criminals can see an opportunity. Jennifer Kee, a crime reduction co-ordinator and community engagement specialist with the Alberta RCMP, outlined a few tips for business owners to help protect their property.
A sign noting that the business is frequently monitored, has video surveillance in place, doesn't keep cash on the premises and has an active alarm system in place can help deter potential criminals looking to take advantage of empty property.
Items like shovels or ladders that are kept outside or near a door can potentially be used as break-in tools or even weapons. Consider storing them safely inside so they can't be used by criminals.
Ensure an alarm system is up to date and working properly. Remember to double check the batteries and confirm connections are working properly with the alarm company. If a break-in does occur, an alarm system can quickly notify police.
Ensure all outdoor lights are working properly and consider leaving a light or two on inside. The extra light increases visibility for police on patrol and a light inside can give the impression someone's present.
A watchful eye
Kee recommends driving by your business a few times a week to make sure there's nothing out of the ordinary. Beware of pry marks and broken windows and doors. If it looks like someone tried to gain access, report it to police.
Report suspicious behaviour
Report all suspicious behaviour, break-ins and attempts to police. The reports help officers and crime analysts determine potential hotspots and where they should focus patrols. If you catch someone in the act, call police rather than confronting them yourself.
Look out for each other
More people at home practising physical distancing means fewer people out and about to report suspicious activities. Work with neighbouring businesses to look out for each other. Consider forming a neighbourhood watch group to keep everyone informed.