Thursday, June 14, 2012

Small and medium sized businesses will continue to be seen as soft targets by criminals if they don’t prioritise security and implement measures to protect their premises, equipment and employees.

This is the view of Telesure MD, Thomas Creamer, who says that the most recent police crime statistics as well as Auto & General’s claims figures for the first quarter of this year suggest that robberies at business premises is increasing and remains an ever-present threat for SMEs.

“Unfortunately, the rising cost of doing business means that a lot of small businesses don’t prioritise investment in security or insurance protection. This is despite various surveys suggesting that crime is a top concern for small business owners,” says Creamer.

In a 2010 survey of SMEs sponsored by the National Youth Development Agency, 50% of decision-makers at established SMEs have sleepless nights about crime. No small wonder given that 14 667 robberies at business premises were reported to the police in 2010/2011.

Earlier this year, the senior researcher at the Institute for Security Technologies, Johan Burger, confirmed that robberies at business premises are on the increase, with most occurring in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal.

“Criminals are always on the look out for situations that they can exploit. With the high density of computers and other valuable equipment conveniently located in one spot, combined with inadequate security, smaller businesses are easy targets.

“Unfortunately, when a business is targeted during the daytime when there are employees or customers onsite, there is the associated threat of violence or injury. So, it’s not only about protecting property, equipment and stock but people too. As such, businesses should implement the best security they can afford,” says Creamer.

Security interventions such as alarm systems, surveillance cameras, security gates and burglar bars, access control to and from the premises, onsite security guards and armed response are among the measures that can be implemented to make a business less vulnerable.

Creamer adds that employees should also be educated on and observe basic security principles.

“It is quite common for criminals to gain entry to an otherwise secure business premises on seemingly innocent or valid pretexts. Employees must be extremely cautious about who they allow into a business premises.

“Staff should also avoid leaving valuables such as cellphones and bags at unattended work stations, and if they are the last to leave the premises, they should know to check all access points and ensure that the building is safely locked-up for the night.

“Everyone must also be made aware of the contact numbers of the security provider or nearest police station should they need to ever call for help,” concludes Creamer.

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