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The worldwide Coronavirus pandemic is having a severe impact on everyone. The world’s economy has gone into massive decline as workers and customers remain at home in lockdown or self-isolation. Many businesses, large and small, have been forced change their working practices and in some cases close their doors resulting in a growing number of burglaries as criminals target premises left empty during the Coronavirus lockdown.
And it’s not just businesses who are suffering due to unscrupulous criminals during this crisis. Homeowners, farmers and keepers of smallholdings are increasingly being targeted. What’s more, experts from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of GCHQ - have said that a range of attacks are being conducted by cyber criminals to make money out of exploiting people’s fears over COVID-19.
Here’s some practical advice and recommendations that will help businesses and individuals remain safe and secure as we get through this outbreak.
Pubs, clubs, gyms and entertainment venues, along with many other businesses, have been forced to shut their doors for however long it takes to beat the Coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, there are many people who have suddenly lost their income and who urgently need cash. It’s therefore inevitable that crime and burglary will increase in these troubled times.
The reality of this situation was made apparent in this recent report of a break-in that occurred at the Concorde 2 music venue in Brighton. The establishment was brazenly targeted in broad daylight by a masked burglar who was recorded on CCTV using a brick to smash his way through the front door of the building and grabbing an iPad that was used as the door entry system, making his getaway on a bicycle.
The club owner, Russell Haynes, commented that it had not taken long for his establishment to be targeted by an opportunist criminal. He said:
“It didn’t take long, we’ve only been shut for a week so I’m sure others will be at risk.
I was worried about break-ins but I didn’t think it would happen this quickly.
The police were really helpful but they didn’t sound surprised.”
While police are appealing for witnesses, Mr Haynes went on to say:
“Now I’ve got to empty the place of anything of value so more burglars don’t come.”
This, along with many similar reports of brazen robberies up and down the British Isles, highlights the urgent need for businesses that have closed their doors due to Coronavirus, to seriously consider their physical security precautions and what they can do to avoid becoming victims of crime.
Security experts are warning business owners and managers that crime will increase during the Coronavirus lockdown. UK police forces are already stretched and the additional lockdown responsibilities mean that there are fewer officers available to deal with crime so it’s essential that businesses take every possible precaution to avoid the often costly impact.
Here are some practical security tips for closed business premises and venues to reduce the risk of burglary and damage.
In addition, business premises can be routinely patrolled and inspected by professional security service providers who offer this service.
While it’s important not to “scare-monger” or contribute to what some people call “project fear” it’s essential that we are all aware of what may happen as the Coronavirus crisis persists and that we all take appropriate steps to mitigate risk.
Our police forces are already stretched to capacity and this crisis is only adding to their burden. As time goes on there will be increasing risk of theft and even civil unrest so it’s important that people minimise the risk of becoming the victims of crime.
Many of the precautions recommended for business premises security (noted above) are also applicable to home security in these difficult times. But there are some additional security considerations that people need to bear in mind.
For example, shortages have already arisen due to panic buying of toilet tissue, hand sanitiser and other products resulting in some opportunist vendors charging astronomical prices in order to profit from the outbreak. As this crisis persists, demand for low-availability items, medicines, hygiene products and foods will inevitably increase. Going on social media to proudly show people that you are fully stocked with high-demand items like this will potentially attract unwanted criminal attention, so don’t do it. Similarly, leaving desirable products in highly visible locations (e.g. stacking toilet tissue in a window) will possibly be irresistible to an opportunist thief who knows he can resell loo rolls for ridiculous prices.
Another concerning crime trend that’s arisen in this Coronavirus outbreak may have been sparked by an early egg shortage caused by panic buying. There have been a number of reports of chickens being stolen from their coops across the country. It is thought that some have been specifically targeted by criminals who are taking the hens for their egg-laying capabilities. But some of the stolen birds have been elderly, non-laying pet hens that are likely to be sadly abandoned or killed when it becomes apparent that they can’t lay eggs.
And criminals are not restricting their attention to poultry. There have been a number of recent reports of sheep rustling and lamb theft. In one case, a pair of pet Suffolk ewes were stolen from their 80 year old owner and in North Yorkshire police seized a vehicle containing 70 sheep that were alleged to have been stolen.
Perceived and anticipated food shortages are what’s prompting these targeted crimes on pets and livestock. Although the government has attempted to reassure people that the food supply chain is secure they are continuing to panic-buy which is leading some to suggest that food rationing in the UK is inevitable.
If you run a farm or keep a smallholding with poultry and animals you should pay attention to the security recommendations noted above. Moving your animals to be closer to your house is a good idea and ensuring that your animal enclosures are highly secure is vital.
Coronavirus fears are a business opportunity for cyber criminals. As noted, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has issued a warning that a range of attacks are being conducted by cyber-criminals. An example is bogus emails being sent to people claiming to be from health authorities, offering links to sites allegedly providing important updates on the outbreak. When clicked, the links then install malware giving the cyber criminals direct access to the computer and the ability to access passwords and account details.
With hugely increased numbers of people working remotely from home, the security mechanisms that are typically put in place to protect enterprise systems are less likely to be available to them. Businesses need to ensure that remote home-working doesn’t compromise their enterprise cyber security status. And individuals need to be aware of what they need to do to protect themselves and keep their accounts safe.
The need for beefed up security in these difficult times is likely to be worrying to many cash-strapped businesses. But luckily there are many low-cost but highly effective security enhancements that have been tried, tested and proven to both deter and prevent theft and damage. Here are a few that we can recommend.
Replacing old, ineffective padlocks with high quality, high-security locks which are resistant to attack is easy and doesn’t cost a fortune. Business premises, gateways, animal enclosures, sheds and outhouses can be effectively secured using high quality padlocks and chains.
Combining high-security padlocks with equally high-security chains enables you to strengthen security at your vacant business premises or around your home. It sends a clear signal that security has been thoroughly considered, which acts as a deterrent for many opportunist criminals. Padlock and chain combinations are not only excellent for securing doorways and gates, they provide an easy way to lock-down valuable, mobile equipment such as quad bikes, which could otherwise be stolen easily.
When security valuable mobile items such as motorcycles, quad bikes and caravans it’s important that they are attached to an immovable anchor point. Ground anchors are a low cost, easily installed solution that provide steadfast anchor points for securing valuable using security chains and padlocks.
Installing anti-climb deterrents around the perimeter of your property can discourage criminals from attempting to gain entry. Highly visible anti-climb wall and fence spikes provide a low-cost yet highly effective perimeter security enhancement.
Most property break-ins gain access via doorways and windows. It therefore makes sense to pay special attention to ensure that all window and door locks and hinges are highly secure. Additional low-cost door-security can be achieved using lockable door security bars which extend across the full width of a door, firmly secured to the door frame on either side.
Window bars represent another highly effective, widely respected and recommended window security enhancement. Modular window security bars are an easy-to-install, low cost security improvement that works.
Security marking and asset labelling is recommended by both the police and insurance companies. Businesses should establish routine asset marking protocols to ensure that all valuable equipment and property can be identified if it’s ever stolen or lost. Homeowners and individuals will also benefit from security marking their valuable property.
Closed circuit camera systems have become much more affordable in recent years. Highly visible CCTV cameras along with warning signage can be enough to deter many burglars which is why dummy CCTV cameras are a cost-effective alternative.
When using various forms of perimeter security such as anti-climb paint, CCTV cameras and wall spikes it’s essential that people are warned. Warning signage will help to discourage some of those who would otherwise have attempted to gain entry.
If you have removed all cash and valuables from your business premises then it can be beneficial to present a prominent sign telling would-be burglars that there is nothing of value in your property.
After shelves at the fashion retail outlet Monsoon, in Maidstone, were stripped bare police are advising business owners to take extra care over security.
They recommend that businesses display clear signage telling people that valuables are not kept on the premises and providing contact details that can be used if anyone witnesses something suspicious.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding business or home security remember that we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll give you some free, expert advice.
This message was added on Friday 27th March 2020
Need Help or Advice?
Call the Insight team
01273 475 500