These days there are security cameras everywhere: ATMs, schools, restaurants, bars, traffic lights, libraries, book stores, and so forth. If your business doesn’t have a security camera, it will really stand out – and not in a positive way. The absence of security cameras is an invitation to burglars whether it be a passersby or one of your own employees. There’s an additional risk of shoplifting if your business sells one or more of the most commonly stolen items: clothing, books, music, jewelry, tires, and other car parts. A security camera can help stop theft before it happens, alert you to crimes that are in progress, and – although you hope to never use it for this – assist law enforcement with recovering the stolen items and identifying the thieves. So how can you use security cameras to reduce theft in the most efficient way? Keep these three tips in mind:
1. Location, Location, Location. Purchasing a security system is the best investment in your business’ safety, but a pointless one if you don’t know the best and smartest locations to place the cameras. Before installation, identify what products in your store or warehouse are most likely to be taken – and that includes filing cabinets with important information, and the cash drawer. Those are the very best places to install your first cameras. Second, figure out what the most high-traffic areas are. Thieves will not necessarily avoid the front door! Some may even use the employee entrance. Remember that just because somebody works for your company, that doesn’t mean that he or she may not also be in the shoplifting business. It is a multi-billion dollar industry every single year! Point your cameras at your employees as well as your customers.
Thirdly, identify what parts of your business floors are vulnerable because they are the least likely to have traffic, or the least likely to have employee supervision. That could be the corner beneath a convex security mirror. That could be the shelving area that is always dusty because few people purchase those products. Remember that you still need to have security cameras in places where there is not any merchandise. A thief could walk into the bathroom or a maintenance closet with an item in plain sight, and leave with it in his or her pocket.
Timing is also critical. You may think that you don’t need a security camera pointed down the hallway directly across from your cashier. While that may be a fine idea if your employee is alone behind the cash register, and exceptionally vigilant, the majority of the time they will be dealing with something else, even if it is just cleaning up. Thieves work in pairs – sometimes in teams. A partner purchasing something for a dollar at the cash register can block the view of someone snatching a hundred dollar product right behind him. Security cameras do not get distracted, take bathroom breaks, or even blink. They are your eyes every minute of the day.
The location of the security camera monitors matter, too. Will they be in your office? Behind the front desk or cash register? Will you have a central security room and hire new employees whose job it is to sit and watch the monitors all day? Or, do you trust your employees to be security conscious, and to check the monitors only if they happen to suspect a robbery is in progress? Perhaps you just want the cameras around for insurance purposes and don’t plan to look at the monitors unless you need them to identify a thief who already succeeded. Have the answers to all of those questions before you start spending.
2. Install More Cameras Than You Think You Need. Professional burglars have learned how to find and exploit security weaknesses. They can identify blind spots and use them to their advantage. You may assume that a security camera directly above the cash register or a safe of petty cash can never be exploited, but a professional could figure out that there is twelve inches of the floor that lacks adequate coverage. If your business is vandalized, it is critical to have a camera shot of every face from every angle. Security cameras that point in every direction, especially systems that overlap slightly, will catch both the side views and the face dead on.
3. What Type of Camera Do You Need? There are a variety of security cameras. Do you need cameras that are stagnant, or ones that are movable and can be operated to follow a potential thief around? Maybe a camera at the loading dock does not need to be on constantly – perhaps one that operates with a motion detector is all that you need there.
If you want someone to be able to remotely move the cameras, your best bet is to get what is called a PTZ. With that joystick you have the ability to swivel, point, tilt, and zoom in and out with the camera. If you need to cover an exceptionally wide, open area, a dome camera would be appropriate. Thieves can’t tell which direction the lens is pointing. If your priority is to save money then you should get bullet cameras. These are the most common ones, but also the least obvious because of their small size.
4. Consult with an Expert. For your own peace of mind, it might be best to meet with a business security professional. Experts might be able to think of security details that you had not considered. For example, when finding the best locations for security cameras at the entrances and exits of your business, did you take the type of door into consideration? Does the door swing in or out? A security camera that is blocked by a door is a serious blind spot. What is the lighting situation? Are there shadowy corners where a thief can hide his or her face? Would a new light bulb be so bright that it causes lens flares in the camera? A business expert would be able to find vulnerable areas that you never considered.
Remember that the security of your business is one of your most important investments! Put cameras on your front line.
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