Page 78 - Security Today, July/August 2018
P. 78

Reducing Crime Minimizing vandalism on your commercial property
BWy John Distelzweig
ith police departments often being under bud- geted and over worked, resulting in reduced patrols and delayed re-
sponse, many business owners have come to expect that valuable assets stored outdoors are going to be subject to theft and vandal- ism, and these costs just need to be absorbed.
However, businesses do not need to ac- cept anticipated loss just because their op- eration has assets in outdoor locations. Auto dealers, construction sites, marinas and remote facilities are just some examples of locations that can use advanced surveillance technology to cost-effectively reduce or elim- inate these losses.
Security starts at the perimeter of the property, not at the perimeter of the build- ing, though many traditional security de- signs have been limited to securing only in- terior assets, not exterior ones. Let’s look at the highest priority physical security risks for commercial properties, and the technologies designed to mitigate these challenges and in- crease crime prevention.
Theft and Vandalism: Top Security Risks
Many businesses are impacted by property crimes. In fact, four out of 10 small busi- nesses will probably file a property or general liability claim in the next 10 years, according to a 2015 analysis by The Hartford, an insur- ance firm.
One of the chief property crimes com- mercial locations are at risk of is theft. Twenty percent of all small business insur- ance claims are for theft and burglary, ac- cording to The Hartford study. The effects of just one burglary can be particularly harmful for businesses that store valuable assets out- doors, causing a loss of operations, profit- ability, or future opportunity if customer needs are not met because the business is un- able to sell desired products.
For instance, a Public Storage lot in Fred- erick, Md., had 250 units broken into dur- ing one weekend at the end of October 2017. Upset customers and temporary closure of the facility due to the police investigation were just some of the costly consequences this Public Storage facility faced. By Decem- ber 2017, no suspects had been identified and the value of the stolen property was estimat- ed between $65,000 to $75,000.
Another high priority physical security concern for commercial structures is vandal-
ism, or the intentional damage to a building, property or equipment. In its Preventing Vandalism guide, the Urban Institute Justice Policy Center defines vandalism as “graffiti, trash dumping, light smashing, removing/ bending signage or ornamentation, break- ing windows, or other defacing of property.” While assets may not necessarily be stolen, they are certainly impaired, which negatively impacts the feel and look of the property.
Cost of Crime Substantial
When a commercial property is physically compromised, the financial and business impact is significant. Take graffiti vandal- ism, for instance. To remove graffiti, facility managers can use chemical removers to dis- solve the paint or they can repaint the area entirely. In some cases, it is better to replace the sign or structure altogether. An estimated $12 billion is spent cleaning up graffiti annu- ally in the United States, according to Graf- fiti, a publication by Community Oriented Policing Services. On a smaller level, the U.S. Small Business Administration estimates this breaks down to about $3,370 per incident.
When a property is defaced, not only are there repair costs, but there are also busi- nesses losses as well. A retail store whose windows are broken into may appear less safe so fewer customers come in to purchase merchandise; this can result in a decline in sales. Likewise, a public park whose signs, benches and tables have been tagged with graffiti may attract fewer families.
Wild West Cars and Trucks, a used car dealership in Seattle, is a prime example of a business that was substantially affected by vandalism. On Dec. 31, 2017, a vandal sprayed a highly corrosive substance onto the dealership’s cars. Twenty-seven cars, or a quarter of the dealership’s inventory, were affected. It was estimated that there was $150,000 in damages.
For storage facilities, a booming business sector, the average cost per cargo theft event is $196,109, according to CargoNet, an in- formation services firm.
Recovering stolen goods rarely happens, and when it does the goods are often dam- aged or unable to be sold as new. Removing graffiti or repairing structures from other

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