Why Physical Security Hygiene Matters

How are thieves thinking when they decide which store to target? Try and see things from their perspective, are there burned-out lights in the parking lot? Are the cameras hanging by a wire or facing the ground? Then great – if you are a shoplifter.

What if it is clean and well lit, with signs that illuminate as you approach and cameras that pan, tilt, and zoom in on your face. Would you feel tempted to sneak something up your sleeve?

An example is a shoplifter that got caught who said that he chose a specific fitting room to defeat tags because in his visits to our store, he saw there was dried ink on the fitting room walls from other previously defeated tags. Since the store staff hadn’t made sure to clean the fitting rooms properly, it made them a target for more shoplifters.

The goal with physical security hygiene is to deter potential thieves by showing them you are paying attention to what they are doing. We do this by emphasizing the importance of security maintenance and smart investing.

Maintaining Your Physical Security

the lower perceived risk that thieves see is the greatest danger that poor physical security hygiene creates. If someone sees a barbed wire fence with holes in it, they might think that either no one cares about maintaining this fence or even that no one is around to see that the fence has been damaged. If someone is walking through a parking lot or past a store entrance and sees that the lights are flickering or completely burned out, they could come to the conclusion that no one is interested in making sure that the area is well lit in order to see who is coming and going. If your store has security monitors connected to your security cameras, but these monitors are turned off or look like they are not working, then they might imagine that the cameras do not work or that they are just for show.

All these instances of poor physical security hygiene, whether they exist independently or in combination with one another, create a lower perceived risk for thieves being caught. And when thieves think they won’t be caught, they’re more likely to target you.

If you invest in physical security but you do not have a good practice of physical security hygiene, you won’t ever get the ROI you expect, that is why it is essential that you consider the cost of maintaining your physical security measures when planning your loss prevention strategy. Physical security hygiene is about choosing the security solutions that work best for you, not ones that will end up working against you if you can’t maintain them.

Choose physical security solutions that work for you. Like many loss prevention solutions, physical security can be a big investment. That’s why you should create a strategy that solves your unique problems instead of buying the new big thing in loss prevention. If well kept EAS antennas and reliable lights have worked for you in the past, then it’s better for you to continue investing in them, along with one or two newer solutions, than to eliminate these security measures entirely so that you can try a whole new security system.

Create a physical security budget that includes maintenance costs. As mentioned earlier, you also need to consider the cost of upkeep for your security, whether it’s replacing light bulbs, updating signage, or repairing damaged locks or antennas. When it’s time for you to review your annual budget, make sure you account for the costs of updating, repairing, or replacing your existing security measures, so you continue to show potential thieves that they will be caught if they attempt to shoplift.

Work with your team to enforce good physical security hygiene. Your physical security isn’t just about having the right tools; it’s also about making sure your team of store associates and loss prevention professionals works together to keep things running smoothly and in apparent good working order. What do you think when you walk into a store and see a security guard on his cell phone? Physical security hygiene has as much to do with appearance as functionality. This could include training your guards to remain alert while on shift, implementing security tactics like confronting loiterers and creating a schedule for your team to periodically check on the status of your security measures and report if anything is broken or needs maintenance.

*Article originally published in losspreventionmedia.com