As a business owner, there is nothing more terrifying than finding out you have been robbed. Unfortunately, retail smash-and-grabs have become increasingly popular within Ontario. Two suspects were recently arrested earlier this month in connection to multiple robberies. These occurred at jewelry stores in Mississauga and Brampton. With headlines like this, it’s understandable that business owners within the province may be scared of being the next target. Luckily, isure has a list of tips to help prevent smash-and-grab robberies, keeping you and your business safe.

What is a smash-and-grab robbery?

To ensure your business is safe, we must first understand what a smash-and-grab robbery is. This type of robbery is exactly what it sounds like. Generally, one or more people will force their way into doors or windows by “smashing” them and stealing as much product as they can. These types of robberies are usually done so quickly that the culprits flee the scene long before law enforcement shows up. Though they generally occur when a business is closed, they have recently been happening in jewelry stores in broad daylight during business hours. In busy shopping malls, no less!

“Organized retail crime poses significant safety risks to both store employees and consumers and it leads to the sale of both stolen and counterfeit goods,” TPS Board Chair Ann Morgan said back in October of 2023. These types of break-ins result in leaving the business owner with costly repairs, stolen merchandise, and possibly having to temporarily shut down their business.

How can I prevent a smash-and-grab robbery from occurring?

It may seem like smash-and-grab robberies are inevitable, however, this is not necessarily the case! By following our tips on how to prevent them, you can make sure you have peace of mind knowing your business is kept safe from any intruders.

1. Ensure the safety of your store

This may seem like an obvious tip, but you’d be surprised by how many business owners tend to cut corners when it comes to security. It is important to make sure that you have an alarm system that will immediately alert you (and the authorities) of any suspicious movement or break-ins outside of business hours. Even if the intruder is gone before authorities arrive, they must respond quickly. Additionally, it is crucial to make sure you are using high-quality security cameras. Even when masked, a good security camera can help better identify an intruder.

As mentioned before, due to the speediness of smash-and-grab robberies, sometimes a good security system alone won’t always prevent occurrence. This is why it is important to take some extra steps concerning your store’s security. The truth is, your business is likely targeted long before the break-in occurs. Burglars will locate businesses and storefronts with large windows or doors that can be shattered easily. Any valuable items must be kept away from entrances and windows to ensure that they aren’t visible from the outside while the business is closed. If you want to go the extra mile, consider installing metal bars on the inside of the business windows. Or purchase a time-delay safe to store high-value items both during and after business hours. Though it may not be as aesthetically appealing, it will go to great lengths to prevent these types of break-ins.

2. Keep your store well lit

As mentioned earlier, robbers will generally scout businesses that are easier to break into. A good way to deter robbers is by making sure you leave lights on throughout the night, as well as motion-sensor lights to catch any movement. Not only can this deter people from entering the business, but it will allow security cameras both inside and out to capture better footage of intruders.

It is important to make sure that you promptly replace any light bulbs that have gone out inside or outside of the business. When a business is dark inside after closing, it makes it more susceptible to break-ins. If you find yourself forgetting to keep your business adequately lit, consider a timed lighting system that will turn on and off during off hours.

3. Hire security personnel

If you are a bigger business that houses high-value items, such as jewelry, consider hiring security personnel. These security guards will drastically improve the safety of your business when your doors aren’t open. Let’s face it, no matter how much security technology has improved over the years, there is nothing that will deter a smash-and-grab more than an actual human being.

By hiring a security guard, you are ensuring that your business will have eyes on it overnight, while you’re on holiday, or even when you’re working. Not only will a security guard on site decrease your chance of smash and grabs, but it will also deter other types of unwanted persons, such as vandals or other robbers and thieves.

4. Do not keep a large amount of cash on the premise

Retail or not, keeping a large amount of cash in your registers, even during open hours, is never a good idea. It is important to make sure that you go to great lengths to make sure you have as little cash on hand as possible. If you have to have cash in the store, it is important to keep it in a safe deposit box, or a time-delay safe. Assure that this is large or bolted to the ground, as a thief can easily take the entire safe. Most places with large amounts of cash or high-value items on hand, like banks, will usually have a visible sign stating there is a time-delay safe. This may help deter any would-be thieves!

5. Educate your staff on smash-and-grab robberies

It is important to make sure that as a business owner, your staff are educated on what to do if a smash-and-grab robbery occurs. We understand it can be easy to assume this will never happen, but being prepared is always important. If you are a new business or looking to hire more people, try using a human resource agency. This helps ensure the stranger you are hiring is deemed both trustworthy and knowledgeable. It is important to first earn the trust of your new employee before disclosing any information. Though rare, employees in certain situations have been known to collaborate with criminals from the outside. This involves providing them with information that will make their smash-and-grab robbery easier.

6. Make friends with your neighbours

Whether you are in a big city or a small town, you likely have neighbours at your business. By making sure you keep a good repertoire with them, you will foster a relationship. This provides your business with several pairs of eyes to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. This not only can prevent break-ins from your business, but in the community as a whole; a neighbourhood watch if you will. If you are a new business, you can learn more about the area and learn of any advancements in security.

7. Be prepared for smash-and-grab attempts

Remember, even with all the security and preparation in the world, situations will arise, unfortunately. This involves more than just smash-and-grab robberies. This is why it’s important to be prepared and have the proper insurance in place should a break-in occur. The type of insurance you have may differ, but the bottom line is it can save you a lot of money and potentially save your entire business for closure. Luckily, we’ve outlined the top insurance coverage options you should have in place below.

What types of insurance coverage can protect you from smash-and-grab robberies?

1. Commercial Property Insurance

This is one of the most common types of business insurance. In retail alone, crime costs Canadians roughly $4.6 billion each year. Most business owners are aware of the amount of thefts that occur, so commercial property insurance is usually their go-to. A commercial policy will protect your building contents. This includes equipment, furniture, machinery as well as other’s property. On top of this, if you own your building, it will also be protected.

2. Business interruption Insurance

When you’re robbed and equipment is taken or damaged, your business will unlikely be able to operate until repaired. For example, a broken front door will result in customers being unable to properly enter the business. This will result in temporary (or permanent) closure, and your bank account will suffer. Furthermore, if your merchandise is stolen, or a jewelry case shatters during a smash-and-grab, you will likely need to temporarily close down for cleanup and repairs. You will also need time to replenish what’s been stolen. Luckily, Business Interruption insurance coverage will help cover your loss of income during the time it takes to get back on your feet.

3. Employee Dishonesty/Commercial Crime Insurance

Though most crimes are committed by people who have no association with your business, that isn’t always the case. Employees can sometimes be guilty of colluding with outside criminals for a cut of the stolen profit. This may include providing them with inside information that will best assist them in their scheme to rob your store. Employee theft is a real problem when it comes to small businesses. According to the Retail Council of Canada, employee theft costs Canadian businesses roughly $1.4 billion every year.

Bonus: It is important to keep in mind that Commercial Auto Insurance is also a smart policy to have if you have a company vehicle. Standard commercial auto insurance will provide you with coverage if your car is damaged via an accident or theft.

Smash-and-grab thefts: In conclusion

We hope that with these tips and tricks, you can rest easy knowing your business is as safe as possible with proper protection from smash-and-grab robberies. Contact us today for more information regarding your policy or request a quote!

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