Businesses Premise Security- COVID-19 25 March 2020
These are unprecedented times and while we physically distance during COVID 19 to try to flatten the viral curve; it will take time and patience. It will also be a time of information overload and with misinformation through social media and sometimes through mainstream media, it will be challenging to bring facts to the surface.
Before we address business security risks, presented by isolation, and COVID-19, we recommend confining your quest for virus knowledge sources to three trusted sites in BC where information integrity has not been breached.
As many of you may have also done, Lions Gate Risk Management Group has transitioned our team to work remotely. Our support and communications systems have been migrated to support this change to our service delivery.
Those of us who own or manage businesses have an obligation to remain effective and compliant as we follow the direction given by both Provincial and Federal Governments.
Having said that, we are very aware of the opportunities that the current circumstances present to criminals. We all must take the necessary actions to safeguard our facility assets. We want to help you do the same.
Decades of law enforcement experience among our team tells us, that residential break and enters normally take place during the day when householders are at work, and commercial and industrial break and enters, are more common at night when workers are home.
COVID-19 has changed the offender risk for residential break and enter considerably now that homes are occupied most hours of the day and night. Commercial and business locations are being vacated. Large clusters of business properties are empty and with this comes the loss of and natural surveillance and ‘neighbor guardianship’. These are very enticing opportunities for motivated criminals and opportunists.
Our objective here is to share some relevant information and provide you with a generic COVID-19 Business Security Toolkit to assist you with business security and continuity as we all ride out this virus.
So, what should you be doing if you are migrating your operations or temporarily suspending business operations?
- Contact your insurance company and clarify your coverages during COVID-19. In particular where premises are left vacant. Are there clauses in your existing policy that cover unprecedented events? Insurance companies are very exposed right now with multiple incoming claims expected and potential losses as a consequence. You do not want to be surprised by an absence of coverage in the event you have to make a claim.
- Make sure the levels of security required by your insurance company are in place. Having that specific conversation is key and you must ensure decisions, determinations and coverage outcomes are documented for reference.
- Update your fire plan and security procedures and ensure your fire plan, including facility floor plans, are accessible to your local fire department. Let them know you have vacated.
- Vacant premises with accessible valuable items are attractive to criminals. Motivated offenders will already be doing the math regarding opportunity. Law enforcements ability to respond to calls for service is going to be stretched during the viral crisis. If the situation worsens, you cannot expect to receive an immediate police response to your break and enter. So, do what you can to remove or reduce the temptations and opportunities for criminals to target your business.
- The time may come when you need to be or arrange your own first response to your own criminal events. That is NOT a sanction for any vigilante action, but it is a stop and think security layering moment for you.
- For security design, normal crime prevention rules are unlikely to apply. Contrary to what we may want to believe, not all criminals are stupid. They will be fully aware when a business is occupied or vacant and they will plan as they always do…. but now they have many more opportunistic targets to choose from.So, what do you do?
- The answer is to layer your security provision. In security planning and mitigation, there is no one plan fits all. Here are some considerations:
- Starting at your business property perimeter. If you have a fence is it undamaged? Gates: Are they closed and robustly locked? Do you have adequate lighting at the perimeter? Do you have internal and/or external real time monitored video surveillance*¹. Does it cover your perimeter? Is your business of a size that warrants a security guard presence or random patrol? Have you posted security warning signage?
- Open ground, landscaping, parking lots: Do you have adequate lighting in the parking lot and over entry / exit doors? Are there any fleet vehicles still in the parking lot and if so, are they secure? Could these vehicles be placed in storage or to homes? (would they be insured if you did so?) Does real time monitored video surveillance*¹cover your parking lot and entry/exit points?
- For your buildings: Are doors, windows, roller shutters, bars and grilles all securely and robustly locked? If the building is covered by real time monitored video surveillance*¹, is there appropriate lighting to aid image capture? Have you posted security warning signage*³?
- For building interiors: In the absence of staff, normal limitations on security rightly imposed by fire code, do not apply; so, lock all doors; storage containers, anything that can be locked down. Remove CRAVED items into secure storage on site or take them home. CRAVED stands for concealable, removable, accessible, valuable, enjoyable and disposable. This would include cash holdings which should always be locked in a safe or better still be deposited in a bank. Lock down documents particularly proprietary or trade secrets. Lock down your server and enable remote access for remote workers. Ensure cyber security is properly addressed for equipment taken home and server access. Data is far more accessible to hackers in remote locations. Check that your intruder alarm provides coverage in key areas to support detection*². Check that real time monitored video surveillance*¹covers key areas also to support detection. Check that interior lighting levels support image capture.
- Ask yourself for each layer:
- What have I done to deter offenders?
- Do I have a means of detecting offending in real time?
- Will security measures in place delay the progress of an offender?
- Finally, do I have a plan for immediate response that is not reliant in the first instance, on law enforcement?
- If you can delay an offender for long enough to allow the arrival of your response team then you have denied offender access.Your proprietary or contracted response team can validate the alarm, if video surveillance has been unable to do so, and interrupt criminal proceedings. If you assume this responsibility, you are going to reduce the burden on law enforcement first responders and alleviate some of the considerable pressure they are going to face. More importantly, you are being proactive in protecting your own property and assets.
*¹ Cameras can easily be monitored through cell phones and using smart technologies. Alerts can be received to your smart phones in real time.
*² Your alarm monitoring station is going to take on a vital role while the virus sees law enforcement focus on public order. If you feel the need and have the means, you can consider engaging a mobile patrol response from a credible security company and instructing the alarm company to call them when there is any activation.
*³ Security warning signage reinforces your security posture and helps to support you in exercising your duty of care. No Trespassing. Premises under Monitored Video Surveillance, etc.