Retail Storefront Security: How to Prevent Break-ins and Theft

Burglary, shoplifting, and smash-and-grab theft are all huge problems that retailers of all sizes have to deal with. As a retailer, you have a lot of money invested in your store’s merchandise, so it’s very important to evaluate your property’s security and make improvements as needed.

Fortunately, improvements in retailer security are being made constantly and there are a lot of ways you can affordably boost your store’s defenses.

We have years of experience working with retailers and retail security experts, so we wanted to put this article together to share some of our best tips on improving storefront security.

 

Retail Security Tips from the Pros

One of the best ways to evaluate your store’s security is to hire a security expert to conduct a thorough threat assessment. 

During a threat assessment, the expert thoroughly examines your retail store and its existing security measures to identify gaps in your defenses, including vulnerable potential entry points for burglars.

You may be able to get a threat assessment from a local security system company or find a private professional to contract. We also offer threat assessments as part of our full range of glass security services.

 

Improving General Storefront Security

There are many ways you can beef up your retail store’s security and deter criminals from targeting your business. A comprehensive storefront security system should include a combination of elements for maximum effectiveness.

  1. Video Surveillance
  2. Alarm Systems
  3. Bells and Buzzers
  4. Lighting

 

Video Surveillance

Installing modern, high-resolution video surveillance systems is an excellent way to deter would-be thieves, catch burglars in the act, and aid in the prosecution of criminals, if it comes to that.

Make sure to install interior cameras that cover all 360 degrees of your store, as well as exterior cameras that cover entrances, parking areas, and any other vulnerable areas. Don’t leave any blind spots that criminals could take advantage of to hide their activities.

There are some other handy features to consider when choosing your retail surveillance system, such as:

  • Monitored surveillance
  • Motion-activated recording
  • Cloud storage of footage
  • Infrared recording (for nighttime)
  • Wide-angle lenses
  • Tilt/pan/zoom functions

All of these features can help improve the effectiveness of your video surveillance at thwarting criminals.

 

Alarm Systems

Another key component of any retail security system is a working, monitored alarm system. This serves to alert you and the authorities when an entrance to your store is breached.

For an extra deterrent to forced entry, choose an alarm system that makes a loud sound when intrusion is detected.

A wireless alarm system is also a good choice because it ensures that burglars can’t cut any lines to disable the system before breaking into your store.

Bells and Buzzers

A bell or buzzer that sounds whenever a customer enters your store certainly isn’t high tech, but it’s a time-tested method of letting you know when someone’s in your store and can help deter shoplifters.

If any individual enters your store, you know to keep an eye on them right away, and they know you’re aware of their presence.

 

Lighting

Make sure all areas of your store, both inside and out, are brightly lit to discourage would-be thieves. 

Inside, ensure all aisles and corners of your store are well-lit to make it easy to see what shoppers are doing and discourage shoplifting.

Strategically install bright lights around the exterior of your property to illuminate entrances, parking lots, and any other dark areas where criminals could potentially get up to no good. 

You can opt for motion-sensing lights near things like back doors and side entrances, so they only light up when someone gets too close. This puts a spotlight on them to discourage any criminal intentions.

 

How to Secure Windows from Burglars

Windows are the most vulnerable points of entry on most retail stores — and experienced burglars know this. That’s why it’s incredibly important to make sure your windows (and glass doors and storefronts) are properly secured.

  1. Install Security Bars or Grills
  2. Upgrade the Locks
  3. Reinforce Window Glass
  4. Install Security Screens
  5. Secure Window AC Units
  6. Install Window Alarms

 

Install Security Bars or Grills

Bars and grates are an old-school method of securing windows from burglars, but one that still works. However, bars and grills can end up making your windows look like they’d be more at home on a prison building.

Besides reducing the curb appeal of a retail store, bars and grills also don’t really work for a large glass storefront. They’re better suited to smaller, individual windows. 

If you do decide to use bars or grills to fortify your windows, make sure you still have a way to exit through a window in the event of an emergency.

 

Upgrade the Locks

Pretty much all windows that can open have some sort of locking mechanism, but older mechanisms can be really easy for an experienced burglar to jimmy open.

Remedy this by replacing older locks or installing multi-point locking mechanisms on your windows. 

For example, you can add pin locks and deadbolts to most types of windows. Putting a bar or stick in the bottom track is also a tried-and-true method of securing sliding windows.

 

Reinforce Window Glass

One of the best ways to secure windows from burglars is to reinforce the glass itself. There are a few different ways to do this:

Applying security film to your windows won’t prevent a determined burglar from breaking the glass, but it is a very affordable and effective deterrent to forced entry. 

These pliable Mylar coatings get applied to the inside of your glass and can hold broken shards in place after one or more impacts. 

Security window film doesn’t stop the glass from breaking, but it can deter a would-be burglar by delaying their entry. When they realize it isn’t as easy to get through your window as they imagined, they’re more likely to move on and find an easier target.

Laminated security glass, on the other hand, is a type of reinforced safety and security glass that can be retrofitted into your existing frames and offers varying levels of impact resistance. 

This type of security glass provides a much higher level of security than window film and can remain intact after multiple blows from common burglary tools like crowbars, hammers, and more.

If you’re interested in laminated security glass, we recommend Riot Glass™ for retail security applications. Riot Glass™ is up to 5 times stronger and 100 times stiffer than traditional interlayer safety glass.

For the absolute highest level of retail glass security, we suggest installing polycarbonate glazing shields over your existing glass. The impact resistance of polycarbonate is so high that it is virtually unbreakable.

We highly recommend ArmorPlast™ AP25 polycarbonate glazing shields to all our retail clients looking for the ultimate glass storefront security upgrade.

In summary:

  • Choose security window film for basic glass reinforcement
  • Retrofit windows with Riot Glass™ laminated security glass for more impact resistance
  • Install ArmorPlast™ AP25 polycarbonate glazing shields for virtually unbreakable strength

It’s also worth noting that, in addition to providing burglary protection, products like Riot Glass™ and ArmorPlast™ AP25 are an effective way to protect your retail store during times of civil unrest.

The same qualities that make laminated security glass and polycarbonate glazing shields a barrier to forced entry make them an excellent choice for preventing vandalism and looting during riots.

 

Install Security Screens

Another way to create a barrier over your windows is to install slash- and impact-resistant security screens. 

These are very similar to the fine mesh window screens you may use to keep bugs out of your home in the summertime, but the mesh is instead made of high-strength stainless steel.

Security screens are an effective alternative to bars and grills and are especially nice if you want to be able to leave some windows open for ventilation during the daytime without worrying about leaving your business exposed.

When used in combination with reinforced glass of some type, security screens make your windows very hard for even a determined burglar to breach.

Campbell Corporation is proud to offer our proprietary line of Campbell’s Security Screens. Here are some key features of these screens that set them apart:

  • Made from tight-weave, marine-grade stainless steel mesh
  • Resistant to knives, crowbars, and other burglary tools
  • 100% custom-made to fit your windows perfectly
  • Can be released easily from the inside for emergency exits
  • Come with a jimmy-proof 3-point locking system

 

Secure Window AC Units

If your commercial property has an in-window air conditioning unit, this can provide would-be intruders with an easy entry point. 

They can often simply pop out the air conditioner and climb in the window, or slide partially-opened windows the rest of the way open to gain entry.

You can secure AC units to the side of your building with heavy-duty steel brackets and add sliding window locks that secure windows in place even if they’re part way open.

 

Install Window Alarms

Don’t overlook your windows when setting up your retail store’s alarm system. You can install small individual motion sensors on each window that go off if it gets opened or breached when it’s not supposed to.

Alarms that sound can scare off burglars attempting to force entry and monitored alarm systems notify the authorities immediately, so they can come and try to catch criminals in the act.

 

Other Retailer Security Tips

Besides the physical security measures we’ve mentioned above, there are other ways you can improve your retail store’s security. By following the below best practices, you can reduce the risk of your business being targeted by thieves or catch them in the act:

  • Limit the number of employees with keys/access cards
  • Restrict access to back rooms and storage areas
  • Be alert during business hours and watch for suspicious behavior
  • Don’t stereotype — thieves don’t “look” like any one type of individual
  • Keep shelving low to maximize visibility in your store
  • Don’t leave cash registers unattended
  • Double-check that all doors and windows are locked when you close
  • Put up obvious warning signs about alarm systems and video surveillance
  • Install corner mirrors to eliminate blind spots in your store

 

Final Words

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading — and learned something from — this article about how to improve retailer security. 

As with all security concerns, there is no one-size-fits all approach to protecting your business from threats such as burglary, shoplifting, and smash-and-grab theft. The best approach to security is always an omnichannel approach.

When you implement the right combination of security upgrades, including physical barriers and other deterrents, you can greatly reduce the risks of all of the above.

Contact Campbell Corporation today for more information about how we can help you secure your business against burglary and other threats or to schedule a consultation and get started!