It feels like the beginning of another day at work, but soon you realize that something is wrong. A half-open door or a broken window in your company’s building confirms that the worst has happened—someone broke in and stole money and valuable equipment, sometimes including items that belong to your client.
Nothing can prepare a business owner for the feeling of helplessness left by a break-in. The mixture of revolt and insecurity can impact your business forever, with a sense of fear spreading among your employees and customers. Your company can even become a more vulnerable target for future thefts.
If a thief invades your business, you need to take immediate steps to protect the area and your business reputation. These steps also help to prevent future incidents.
Report to the Police
If you suspect burglary, never run into the building alone. Perhaps the thieves are still there, or your entry may compromise some evidence accidentally. Notify the police the moment you notice any sign that a robbery occurred. Wait for the police to arrive, comply with their instructions and answer all their questions. The police report will be essential for the subsequent process with the insurance company.
Assess the Damage and Document the Scene
As soon as the police allow you to enter the building, inspect the premises to identify damaged or stolen items. Photograph the damage to help with the insurance company afterwards.
After you’ve made an initial list, take a closer look at your inventory because the burglars may have stolen something you didn’t notice initially. Include the serial number of the stolen goods so the police can retrieve and identify them in the future.
Identify the Point of Entry
With the help of the police, try to identify how the thieves entered the building. Take the necessary precautions to reinforce security at this entry point. In the case of broken doors or windows, cover or block these entrances temporarily to prevent other thieves or vandals from entering.
In a second step, gather and analyze all camera images taken at the time of the incident. If you don’t have monitoring cameras in your business, ask neighbouring companies. Notify the police if you can get images of the break-in or those suspected of doing it.
Explain the Situation to Your Employees
You may not want to scare your employees at first, but this is the kind of situation where trying to hide information just makes it worse. Communicate to employees what happened. Guide them through the next steps, as the police may ask that the company stay closed for a few days.
A theft in the company can also be traumatic for employees. Some of them may no longer feel safe working there. Be sincere and show that you care about improving the security of the building. Unfounded rumours can reach your customers and suppliers and make the situation worse.
File the Proper Insurance Claims
With the police report and the list of damages and stolen items, you can begin the insurance claim process. These are the policies that may help you after a break-in:
- Commercial Property Insurance– This is the policy that protects your company and its physical assets (like equipment, tools, inventory, furniture, etc.) in case of damage, disaster, or theft. It can also cover repair and replacement costs.
- General Liability Insurance– While property insurance directly protects your business, general liability insurance can cover theft of items belonging to a third party. For example, if a hard drive or equipment that belonged to a customer or supplier was stolen, they may accuse your company of negligence. This policy protects you against such claims.
Revisit Your Security Needs
The last step is to try to identify weaknesses and invest in ways to prevent future incidents. Some questions can help you:
- Was the point of entry identified and reinforced?
- Do the building and surrounding area have sufficient lighting?
- Did the monitoring cameras help identify suspects? Should you invest in a better one?
- Is there a wall or fence around the building, and is it high enough to prevent access?
- Is it time to invest in a more modern alarm system with motion detectors?
Don’t forget to change locks (especially if they are easy to break) and reinforce doors and windows. If the loss was substantial, you could also consider hiring a security company, at least for a few months.
Close Your Doors to Burglars
According to the FBI, theft is committed every 20 seconds in the United States. In 2019, 917,464 burglaries were committed, 37.2 per cent of them in non-residential buildings. The total loss reached 3 billion dollars.
The life of a business owner is complicated enough without having to deal with theft and break-ins. Before or after a crime, invest in ways to prevent future occurrences. Some immediate measures can guarantee the safety of your company and your employees.
It can also be a good time to update or revise your insurance coverage to help with your business’s financial recovery after such an unfortunate incident.