The COVID-19 outbreak has changed many things over the last few weeks. Not only has it had a massive effect on our nation’s health and the way we interact with society. Unfortunately, it has also had a significant impact on the commercial sector – both fiscally and the risk of increased anti-social and criminal behaviour in our stores. The impact on businesses will vary and will naturally be defined by its location, size, criminality, customers, produce and its security.
We must all work together to get through these unprecedented times. The impact of the coronavirus has been significant and one that has affected many communities, including the business community.
Below are some general crime prevention tips that may assist your organisations in this time.
If your premises/venue has been temporarily SHUT, ensure that:
- Test your alarm, ensure it is monitored and fully operational
- Identify any vulnerable areas. Rectify these. Ensure security gates, bollards and fire exit doors have been secured prior to closure of the premises.
- Ensure service doors are closed and locked when not in use.
- Make sure you have list of key holders who can be contacted in times of emergency.
- Ensure your contact details for staff are up to date.
- Consider moving high value items into secured stockrooms and out of view.
- Ensure keys to the premises or other venues are not left inside and are instead with dedicated key holders.
- Consider timer switches or ensure sufficient lighting is left on at the premises/surrounding area.
- Ensure there are no combustible materials left in the proximity of the building such as packaging – consider the risk of arson.
- Review your CCTV to confirm it is operational, provides good quality images and is positioned to cover as much of the businesses public and private areas. Ensure that all the CCTV images are backed up to the Cloud and/or your hard drive is locked away.
- You may wish to consider a mobile phone app that allows connectivity and a vocal capacity to engage with any intruder.
- Ensure that no cash is retained on the premises overnight (leave a note on the door stating that no cash or valuables are kept overnight) or store them in a security accredited safe bolted to the floor.
If your premises/venue has been temporarily SHUT, please review physical protective measures as below:
- Secured by Design products – use security rated products where possible such as PAS 24/2016 (www.securedbydesign.com)
- External shutters are recommended but some buildings may be subject to planning approval before installation
- Ensure all doors leading from public to staff arteries-loading areas etc. are kept secure and monitored by CCTV.
- Laminated glass or security film that can be applied to existing glass to make it more resistant to a physical assault. Shutters and grilles (subject to planning regulations may also be a consideration)
- An insurance rated safe should be bolted to the floor or wall. Anti-tamper sensors can be fitted to set off an alarm if attacked.
- Anti-ram security rated retractable bollards can be mounted externally to protect frontages but may require planning approval.
- Consider use of anti-theft alarms on most desirable household items.
- Fogging devices that activate as a result of an intruder activation may also be beneficial-you can’t steal what you can’t see.
If your premises/venue has remained OPEN, please review the measures as below:
Large gatherings / queuing
- Premises should be adequately staffed with prominent management present who are able to make decisions or be identifiable to emergency services
- Meet and greets on main entrances to provide reassurance, customer care and deter prospective thieves
- Where appropriate SIA licensed security officers should have a visible presence on the premises in strategic areas
- Establish queuing contingency plans, including any car parking areas, and ensure there is commensurate security, and staff in this area and the main entrances. Some customer may be anxious,
- Good communication between staff and customers is key to reduce anti-social behaviour
- Ensure that all staff are fully briefed each day on emergency procedures and working practices
- All staff should remain vigilant and report any violence or suspicious activity to the police
- Check that your emergency equipment/grab bags, first aid supplies and radio communication systems are operational
- Consider deploying staff to areas that store goods which could be a potential flash point
- Check and test your building security and emergency systems
Beware of COVID-19 scams
Unscrupulous criminals are exploiting fears about COVID-19 to prey on members of the public, particularly older and vulnerable people who are isolated from family and friends. Law enforcement, government and private sectors partners are working together to encourage members of the public to be more vigilant against fraud, particularly about sharing their financial and personal information, as criminals seek to capitalise on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment.
Examples COVID-19 scams identified
Below are some of the COVID-19 scams which have been reported. These scams can affect businesses but also your employees who are home working and/or self-isolating.
- Email scams that trick people into opening malicious attachments, which put people at risk of identity theft with personal information, passwords, contacts and bank details at risk. Some of these emails have lured people to click on attachments by offering information about people in the local area who are affected by coronavirus.
- Fake online resources – such as false Coronavirus Maps – that deliver malware such as AZORult Trojan, an information stealing program which can infiltrate a variety of sensitive data. A prominent example that has deployed malware is ‘corona-virus-map[dot]com’.
- Companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips.
- People seeking refunds should also be wary of fake websites set up to claim holiday refunds.
- Illegal money lenders are expected to prey on people’s and organisations financial hardship, lending money before charging extortionate interest rates and fees through threats and violence.
- There have been reports of thieves extorting money from consumers by claiming they are collecting donations for a COVID-19 ‘vaccine’.
- Criminals targeting older people on their doorstep and offering to do their shopping. Thieves take the money and do not return.
- Doorstep cleansing services that offer to clean drives and doorways to kill bacteria and help prevent the spread of the virus.
- Fake sanitisers, face masks and COVID-19 swabbing kits sold online and door-to-door. These products can often be dangerous and unsafe. There are reports of some potentially harmful hand sanitiser containing glutaral (or glutaraldehyde), which was banned for human use in 2014. 4
- As more people self-isolate at home there is an increasing risk that telephone scams will also rise, including criminals claiming to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company.
Additional useful information
If your business is remaining open, please check the National Business Crime Centre for guidance and crime prev
ention tips – https://nbcc.police.uk/