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You can't stop a criminal from being a criminal
but you can stop him from choosing you.

Burglary Prevention for Business/Garage

#1: Good Locks | (storage yards, fenced areas, property) #2: Razorwire | #3: Case Hardened | #4: Watch Dog | #5: Security Guard | (outbuilding/garages) #6: Protect Hasps | #7: Motion Sensors | (Inside) #8: Double Lock| #9: Bar Windows | #10: Metal Doors | #11: Medieval Approach | #12: Security Systems| #13: Safe | #14: Video

Many of the necessary basics already have been covered in the burglar proofing your home section. Since with businesses and garages good looks are far less of an issue, you can greatly increase the difficulty level for breaking in. This is important with both because odds are your property is going to be hit with a full-on assault. And it will happen when nobody is there. All security measures must be able to withstand such a siege.

If you are a collector, enthusiast or hobbyist who spends your time in your garage working on cars, motorcycles or other expensive items, you must protect your work area more than you do your home. High value hobbies tend to attract the attention of professional thieves. Such people can come loaded for bear. They will have everything they need to be in and out within a few minutes. And with some of the more violent, surprising them can get you shot.

Tip #1 Use a Commercial American Lock on all Hasps, Gates, Anchors and Containers
We normally do not make it a habit of endorsing brands, but in this case we make an exception -- especially when it comes to the commercial lines. If you go into a slimy neighborhood where gates are pulled across store fronts at night, nearly every lock you see is made by this company.

Reason: The funny looking, round chromed lock that resembles a flying saucer (D100 series) has proven itself against countless attempts to break through by professional criminals. The hasp guarded locks (5300/6300/748 series) are designed to stop someone cold, even with a pair of bolt cutters. You are not going to cut these hasps off. Nor are you going to hammer them off.

You can pretty much forget any lock that you can buy in a grocery store or, in many cases, hardware stores. These cheaper locks just don't have what it takes. The same can be said for combination locks. Both are the reason for the adage: Locks only keep honest people out. A good criminal will be through them in seconds. While American locks are expensive, when combined with a good hasp system and a reinforced metal door, it is literally easier to go through the wall than try to get past these monsters. These locks alone will deter many attempts to break in since they are designed to keep dishonest people out. Return to top of page

Tip #2 If Local Ordinances Allow Put Up Razor Wire on Top of any Fence Enclosing an Area. Unless he's in a full suit of armour, he'll get torn up trying to get through razor wire.

Reason: Unlike barbwire -- that can be easily climbed over or foiled by someone wearing a heavy jacket -- razor wire is not something you can get through in one piece. The way it is installed makes it flexible and unstable to crawl over or through. Cutting it is equally useless. A bladed sheath encases hardened steel wire that nothing shy of bolt cutters will work on. And that maneuver is not too likely when someone is trying to hang onto the top of the fence. When installed correctly, it is not tension that holds it in place, but anchors at the bottom of each loop. Unlike barbwire, the wire doesn't spring away when cut. Cutting correctly installed razor wire is a waste of time because the wire stays in place.

It is, in fact, easier to go through the fence itself.

Your local ordinances -- if they allow razor wire at all -- will have a minimum fence height for its installation. Do not trust a salesman to tell you if it is legal in your area. Look into this yourself.

**Please note:** It is best to have a professional fencing crew install razor wire. If you think getting through it is nasty, wait until you try to install it. The stuff is dangerous, nasty and difficult to run. Professional crews have all the special equipment, safety gear and experience with its whip-lashing, snakelike nature. You're doing this to save yourself money from crime, so don't try to do it on the cheap. Hospital bills and worker's comp are far more expensive than hiring someone who knows what he is doing.
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Tip #3 Don't Use Chain; Use Case Hardened Steel Lines
Chains, like most cheap hasp locks, can be easily cut with bolt cutters.

Reason: Next time you see a cop in the coffee shop, take the time to ask him how often he finds someone with "burglary" tools on him. Then ask him how often he finds crowbars and bolt cutters in perps' car trunks. Criminals are professionals. Like most professionals, they have tools that they use. A pair of bolt cutters and pry bar are, to a criminal, the equivalent of a cell phone and a laptop to the traveling executive.

Just because you don't normally carry them in your trunk doesn't mean the criminal won't. A smaller gauge chain will be easily snipped off, and all the money you invested in locks and fencing will be rendered useless. While the encased steel cables are harder to manipulate, they also are also much harder to cut.

If, for the sake of ease, you still decide to go with simple chain, get case hardened and the heaviest you can find. It should take the guy selling it to you a few minute's struggle -- even using the proper equipment -- to cut through it. Watch carefully how long it takes the sales clerk to go through it because that is about how long it will slow down a criminal. Return to top of page

Tip #4 If You Have "High Criminal Appeal," Get a Watch Dog
If your company is a feed store, there is far less chance of someone breaking into your yard and stealing bales of hay. If, on the other hand, you run a classic motorcycle repair service, you are going attract the attention of not only petty thieves, but serious criminals, too.

Reason: You can't reason with a watch dog, and that is why they are so useful. Watch dogs are a combination burglar alarm, crime deterrent and "hired thug." When combined with the other "yard" security measures, they create multi-layered protection with teeth -- literally. What's worse is those teeth are everywhere (i.e., run from the dog into the razor wire).

A large dog will live about 10 years. On very rare occasions, they might last up to 13. When considering the price -- and trained watch dogs ARE expensive -- remember that you are in effect paying for 8 to 10 years of protection. Unlike security companies, dogs don't flake on you and not show up for work. Nor do dogs have criminal records. Which cannot be said for many people hired by security companies, especially in states that don't require a background check and/or licensing.
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Tip #5 If You Have Really "High Criminal Appeal" Get a Security Guard
If you have a warehouse full of stereos, TVs, VCRs and no way to fence your property, this is the best way to protect from a break-in

Reason: A guard with a cell phone is the fastest way to get police protection.

There are several ways to avoid common security company problems. First, ask other business owners which companies they use. Get quality of service reports from them: How good is the company? How long have they used them? How reliable are their personnel and how much do they cost? When you have heard three or four good reports on a particular security company, it is time to look into them.

The question of "how long have you been with the security company" is important. Most security companies pay low wages and have very high employee turn over (Before TSA took it over, one of the major airport security companies admitted to a 1400 percent yearly employee turn over. It turned out that the pay scale was so low that starting positions at fast food establishments were worth half again as much). It is a common trick for security companies to send only their most reliable guards to new accounts. As time passes, however, they begin to send the rank-and-file and newer -- ergo more unreliable -- employees.

This is when the problems usually start, and customers become dissatisfied with service. It is easy to get good service from a security company when you are a new account. But it is long-term consistency that counts.

A common problem about security guards not patrolling a larger complex can be gotten around by installing patrol stations where the guard must punch in on a regular basis. Also see if security guards must go through a background check in your state.

Another option is bypassing security companies altogether and hiring a few retired police officers to work nights. Contact the local police union and tell them what you are looking for. You might want to consider contacting the CEOs of neighboring businesses and see if they would be interested in forming a corporate "neighborhood watch." Each would hire a retired officer. The officers would work out a seven-day shift schedule and then patrol ALL the properties. That gives each company seven day a week, professional security for the cost of only one additional part-time employee. And that is far cheaper than contracting with a security company of questionable reliability
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Tip #6 Protect the Hasp on Storage Containers, Outbuildings and Garages.
The best lock in the world is only as good as the hasp that holds it.

Reason: If you take a sledgehammer to a normal lock and hasp, it won't be more than three or four solid hits before one or the other gives way. The residential hasps that you find in the hardware store are only as good as the screws holding them in place. (And if you have ever stripped those out while installing them, you know how good they are.) Also a pair of bolt cutters work just as well on the hasp's tongue as they do on the lock itself.

To begin with hasps, need to bolt through whatever they are attached to -- not just be screwed into it. This is supported by a steel back plate on the other side of the door that the bolts pass through as well. The same nuts that hold the hasp hold the back plate in place. In order for the bolts to tear out, a burglar has to take out the area of the entire plate. And that isn't really likely to happen.

A shrouded hasp protects the lock itself from being directly struck. You can also buy attachable four-sided steel boxes that bolt through the door itself. These units cover both the lock and the hasp and protect them from sledge hammer, bolt cutter and prying attacks.

If you can't find such a unit, contact a welder and have him make one. The unit attaches to the door and prevents access from both the top and sides, while allowing access to the lock from below. You can slot it so levered door handles will slide in and can be locked into place. This slotted box is especially good for trucks and cargo containers. Return to top of page

Tip #7 Put Motion Sensors Over Entry Points
Constant lighting is good. There are times, however, that it won't reach the doors and windows that can be used as break-in routes.

Reason: First of all a sudden well-placed light flicking on can unnerve a burglar. It shows that someone is thinking about security. And what he supposed was a weak spot also has been considered by someone else. For the thief, this is not a good sign.

Second in areas that are not constantly lit a light flicking on is a serious attention getter, especially when it is coming from a place where nobody should be.

You can also engage in a bit of subterfuge -- or better yet, the real thing. With a little bit of searching, it is possible to find the empty boxes of security cameras. The camera itself is not there, and it is just a box. Mount the unit so it is illuminated when the lights go on. If you are more technically oriented, you can run a wire from the motion sensor to the box and have a little red light come on to indicate that the nonexistent camera is filming.

On the other hand, with the current advances in computing and videoconferencing, why not just put a real camera in? Set it up to film only when the motion sensors are triggered. Those old computers you have laying around have to be good for something. Return to top of page

Tip #8 Whenever Possible, Double Lock.
Although it is an inconvenience, the extra level of safety makes it worth it. Install secondary hasps/locks as far away as possible from the first.

Reason: Time and attention are the enemies of burglars. A secondary lock system will often deter all but the most dedicated criminals.

This is especially true on garage doors. Return to top of page

Tip #9 Put Bars on Windows.
This goes double on any side or alley-facing windows. In fact, if you have really expensive stuff in there, you might want to consider putting in a second set on the inside.

Reason: Windows can be broken. But a set of bars that is bolted through the wall is not going to go anywhere even against a sledgehammer attack.

Since this not a designated sleeping area, you don't need to put in the more expensive units that can be released from inside. This makes them even more secure. If wrought iron bars are out of your price range, you can get the same effect by bolting flat iron strips on the inside of the window. It is also advisable to frost the windows so someone can't see in, but light is still allowed in. Return to top of page

Tip #10 Use Reinforced Metal Doors and Multiple Locks-- Especially on Alley Exits. Unlike a wooden door, metal doors cannot be split with a sledgehammer or ax.

Reason: Although most modern business buildings come with such doors for fire safety, there are still older building (or garages) that do not have them. Whatever the circumstances, make sure that the 'tongue' of the lock goes into the wall -- not the frame -- but the wall around the door. Return to top of page

Tip #11 Go Medieval on Alley Entry Doors
As well as the obvious multiple locks on the outside, bar the door on the inside.

Reason: Many business have back doors that face alleys, and often these are double locked. Alleys allow deliveries and trash pickup, however, they also provide the criminal an area where he can work with impunity. Unless there are apartment buildings immediately behind you, most alleys are functionally blind. Unless you are driving by their mouths and deliberately looking down them (like police do), you aren't likely to see what is happening in them, even if the criminal is making a lot of noise. The alley also often allows the criminal to drive to the location and bring along a plethora of heavy duty tools to use breaking in

Barring the door does several things. First of all, it strengthens the primary locks. It prevents the door from being moved enough to put strain on locks and break through. Second, even against massive force, it receives and distributes the force over a much wider area, lessening the chances of the door giving way. Third, it is confusing. Since criminals don't have x-ray eyes, they don't know where to focus their attacks when the obvious locks should have given way.

There are commercial versions available that look like something off a submarine door. You just turn the latch and shoot the bolts. A cheap version is to simply take a couple of large stair-shaped brackets (believe it or not, we've seen them in hardware stores named "door bar brackets") and bolt them through the wall/frame. Take two different lengths of 2x4s, attach the smaller one in the center of the larger one and drop it into place. On fire doors (outward swinging doors) use four braces, two in the frame, two in the door itself -- this will also prevent the door from being removed if the hinges are cut off. This in no way slows down the ability to exit in an emergency since the bar just lifts out from the inside.

Neither of these units are attractive, however, they are siege tested.

On garages that face the alley -- especially ones that have been converted into workshops -- do what commercial sites do with bay doors. Install internal sliding bolts that prevent the door from being lifted. In business situations, while anyone can close and lock the bay doors, assign the responsibility of a security sweep at closing to someone (as well as doing it yourself). Return to top of page

Tip #12 Get a Burglar Alarm/Security System. In the old days, a burglar alarm simply meant that a bell would go off for hours and annoy the neighbors. Not anymore

Reason: Modern security systems come in wide varieties. Some will alert the security company, others have a direct line to the police. With the latter, not only will the police be notified any time the alarm goes off, but hitting the "panic button" is the equivalent of a 911 call. It will bring them running. This will give you 24-hour protection. Other units do have an internal alarm that sounds like the legions of hell have arrived, but it goes off after a short period. And these will scare away the casual thief. The best have all of these features. Return to top of page

Tip #13 Get a Safe. Many small-business owners or an employee lock up at the end of a day and then make a night deposit at the bank. This is not a good idea.

Reason: It is well known that most businesses bank somewhere near the establishment. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out when a business closes. Nor is it difficult to sit in a car and wait until people start leaving and then follow the most reliable-looking one to the bank -- especially if he or she is carrying a deposit pouch. And there you rob the person. (And don't think that they can't pull in behind you, jump out and get to you in the drive through).

Because of the risk of robbery, especially with cash businesses, it is easier to get a safe and bolt it down to the floor or wall (or get an in-floor or in-wall unit). Make a bank run sometime during the next business day. The unpredictability of the time makes it highly unlikely that you will be robbed.

A safe goes miles towards ensuring the safety of you and your employees. And if someone does break in, he is not going to get the day's receipts if they are in a safe. Nobody is going to get through the outer defenses and a safe before the police arrive -- summoned by the alarm system.

Tip #14 Video
In these days of Web cameras you can easily put a motion-activated camera to record any activities in your business.

Reason:  While constant filming takes up way too much space, motion activated cameras are only recording when someone is present. Such taping may not prevent a break-in, it will assist in the capture and conviction of burglars. Also, strategically placed cameras can reduce employee theft. If you go this route however, make sure that the computer box that the images are being recorded is in a secured area. Otherwise it is a small matter to steal the computer in order to hide one's crime.

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