6 Common Crimes Against Small Businesses and How to Prevent Them

Crimes against small businesses are prevalent anywhere there are small businesses, and this issue is very apparent in larger U.S. cities like Chicago. Even though crimes against small businesses are on the rise, there are ways that you can reduce your risk as a small business owner. Here are six common crimes against small businesses and how to prevent them.

#1: Burglary

When a small business experiences a burglary, this means that a person unlawfully entered the building (usually when the business is closed) with the intent to steal. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in the Chicago area or other large cities and small towns around the United States. The good news is that there are ways to reduce the risk of your business being burglarized. They include:

  • Making sure that all outside doors and windows have locks.
  • Removing all expensive items from display windows at night.
  • Ensuring there’s adequate lighting all around your business.
  • Investing in an alarm system.

#2: Employee Theft

Unfortunately, employee theft (also known as internal theft) is also a common crime against small businesses. Even employees that pass a background check can one day decide to steal from the company. Of course, this isn’t true of all employees— even those who may have stolen in the past— but ways to reduce the risk of employee theft include:

  • Using strict hiring practices that contact all references.
  • Limiting access to the safe, alarm codes and other passwords, store keys, and computerized records.
  • Rewarding employees for saying something when they notice something is wrong.
  • Taking quick action when/if internal theft is uncovered.

#3: Fraud

Fraudulent activities against small businesses can occur in a variety of ways, but the two most common are check and credit card fraud. Fortunately, fraudulent checks are usually easy to spot and many businesses aren’t accepting checks anymore since debit and credit cards have become more common. However, this has led to credit card fraud being on the rise. Some ways to reduce your risk of credit card fraud as a business include:

  • Taking note of customers who make several small purchases.
  • Taking note of the appearance of suspicious customers and reporting them to the authorities.
  • Training employees to abide by each credit card company’s authorization procedures.
  • Carefully examining the signature on the back of the credit card.

#4: Robbery

Robberies are similar to burglaries in that they both usually involve the intent to steal, but robbery is defined as theft through force. The good news is that robberies aren’t as prevalent as they once were, but they still do happen at times. Here are ways that you can reduce your risk of being robbed:

  • Follow the same tips to reduce your risk of being burglarized.
  • Greet everyone who enters your business; friendliness can deter would-be criminals.
  • Review your store’s layout to find blindspots that can potentially hide a robbery in progress.
  • Make bank deposits during business hours and take different routes/deposit at different branches so a pattern isn’t established.

#5: Shoplifting

Shoplifting, unfortunately, isn’t uncommon when it comes to small (and large) businesses, and small businesses take a huge hit from shoplifting. Not only are businesses affected by shoplifting, but so are their customers. Here are some tips on how you can prevent shoplifting:

  • Keep your store neat and free of clutter.
  • Mirrors and/or security cameras can help eliminate blind spots and deter would-be criminals from shoplifting.
  • Train employees on how to pick up on signals of shoplifting and how to reduce opportunities for shoplifting.
  • Limit the number of items allowed in dressing rooms and prohibit merchandise in restrooms.
  • Place employees or security personnel at the exit(s) of your store.

#6: Vandalism

Vandalism occurs when someone intentionally harms your property, whether through graffiti or other means of damage. This is a very frustrating crime, but there are ways to reduce the risk or even prevent it from happening to your business.

  • Use landscaping to your advantage (prickly shrubs can make it harder for vandals to access your property.
  • Use good lighting, as most vandals will not vandalize if they can be seen.
  • Install security cameras around your property.

Realistically, many of these crimes can still happen even with these tips put into practice, but they can help reduce your risk. They can also help you catch and identify perpetrators. Working with your local law enforcement can also help catch criminals and deter criminals from committing crimes in the first place.