Bars and taverns have often been the target of
criminals. Usually, it's for cash that hasn't been dropped in a
safe overnight. Sometimes it's the safe itself if it's on the
smaller side and not bolted into the floor or wall. Anything
loose and available is also targeted: booze and cigarettes for
their fix, miscellaneous, but potentially valuable electronics
like laptops, televisions and peripherals that can be resold.
There's even the occasional string of metal thefts - AC units
stripped down for their copper parts.
ATMs and the video gaming vaults are often
tampered with, but are usually too well-secured to be big
targets. They're almost always bolted into the structure and are
reinforced well enough that cutting into or prying them open
requires time a burglar usually doesn't have to spare, so they
stick to lower-hanging fruit.
A recent burglary here in Madison County, however,
may point to a change in that logic. Earlier this week one of our
insureds was burglarized in a way that's a little more planned
out and brazen than your usual 5-minute smash and dash burglary.
The perpetrators knew which door was on delay, so
they went in there first, forcing entry and ripping the alarm off
the wall before it could signal. They cut phone and internet
lines. They tried killing the camera system and didn't quite
succeed, but they did disable some of the cameras using a ladder
they brought along and left behind.
With the luxury of a little time from an alarm
that wasn't going to sound, they broke open the ATM that was
bolted down. Perplexingly - and perhaps why this bar was targeted
- the gaming vendor's vault for the video gaming terminals was not
bolted down. So they tried hauling it off using a dolly they
brought along. It proved too unwieldy, so they abandoned efforts
to remove it and tried, unsuccessfully, to break it open as well.
Clearly, this bar had been selected and targeted
carefully, presumably cased a time or two beforehand. Authorities
suspect the burglar(s) probably spent about 20 minutes inside.
So what can you do to deter would-be-burglars?
Review your safety procedures.
Put yourself into the mind of a criminal and take
a look at your establishment through their eyes. What's the
easiest access point? Is anything that could be stored in a
locked room or closet done so? Are your cash handling procedures
as diligent as they could be? The prospect of breaking into your
building, then breaking into an office, then breaking into a
safe, drawer, or cabinet may be enough to deter thieves looking
for an easy mark.
Reinforce your shut-down checklist with your
After conducting your own review, have a staff
meeting to emphasize certain points and make sure they share your
concerns. Many bars, especially once the kitchen closes, have a
skeleton crew by the end of operating hours. Are these employees,
eager to wrap-up and get home, starting their end-of-shift
procedures before all patrons are out of the building? If so, a
back door that was checked prior to close could be
surreptitiously unlocked or left ajar by a patron who plans on
returning later. Leave an internal light or two on overnight, so
passerby's may notice activity inside after hours.
Make sure your camera systems and security alarms
are in working order.
If you have these systems in place for theft
deterrence, make sure your alarm contract is paid up and the
alarm is activated. Ditto for your camera system; do all your
cameras work? Instead of just providing a closed-circuit tv
system, do they record to a hard drive to be reviewed later? If
possible, restrict access to central computer terminals and
security systems even from employees. Periodically change access
codes and passwords.
Ultimately, there's only so much you can do to
protect yourself. But the old saying, "an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure" seems applicable to
this subject. It's easier to stop something from happening in the
first place than cleaning up the damage after it's happened.
Even your insurance will cover the break-in and
the stolen items and cash, it can take weeks or months for the
claims process to run its course. Your profit margin is probably
already thin enough; a disruption to your operations and cash
flow from a theft or burglary could seriously cripple your
business. Take a little time to make sure you're doing all you
can within reason to not make yourself an opportunistic target.