Business Safety

Business Layout and Design Tips

Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) is the reduction of incidents and fear of crime through property design, effective use, and maintenance of man-made and natural environments.

Each business’ needs will be different.  These recommendations will contribute to the overall safety and security of your property. However, they do not guarantee that crime will never occur at or on your property. Below are some general guidelines to consider.

For more information about community safety & crime prevention or to arrange a Property Site Assessment contact your local Community Police Service.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Principles

All principles work together as a unit with the end goal to improve quality of life and reduce crime or nuisance behavior. 

Access Control: Encourage legitimate users & keep potential offenders away.

Maintenance & Management: Show that you take pride in your business & expect all users to respect it.

Natural Surveillance: Take away the privacy & anonymity that offenders depend on.

Territoriality: Let all users know that you own & take care of your business.

Target Hardening: Create additional barriers & more physical security measures.

Lighting

Create an even wash of brightness to increase visibility and illuminate dark shadows. Do this strategically though as lighting can promote a safe place of acceptance for desired users and undesired users. This should apply to the interior, exterior, and parking lots or parkades.   

  • Light up all interior and exterior entrances, stairways, alleys, common spaces (such as the underground) with tamper-resistant fixtures. For areas that could trespass into neighbouring areas causing a nuisance, consider installing motion sensors so the light is not constant.
  • Regularly check exterior and interior light sources for burn-out, damaged covers, or missing bulbs. Damaged lights could be an indicator that crime is about to occur and shadows create hiding spots at night.
  • Avoid mixing light sources. For example: bright and low lights. This causes the eye to be confused and creates shadows. An even wash of light allows for better visibility, surveillance camera recognition, human safety, and identification of individuals.
  • Consider installing white light sources with high colour-rendering index (CRI) with 80+ watts.
Landscaping

Create an environment where sightlines are clear and natural access control or natural surveillance are maintained.  Landscaping when used correctly can create an inviting and welcoming space. This should apply to the interior, exterior, and parking lots or parkades.   

  • Reduce blind spots or hiding spaces by ensuring shrubs and trees are trimmed and overgrown low-lying foliage is cleaned up. Maintain this list throughout the year as the seasons change.
  • Trim bushes and hedges to the recommended 2 – 4 feet in height and at least 2 feet away from any walkways, doors, or entrances. If the plants are on a raised bed, limb them up or trim them to max 2 feet. 1 foot is preferred. If the plants must remain at a raised height, remove the bottom limbs to allow more visibility.
  • Remove tree limbs up to 6 – 8 feet, remove any branches that are blocking lights or growing onto your business. This reduces climbing opportunities. If greenery is completely blocking an area – removal may need to be considered. 
  • When considering this also consider the City’s Tree Bylaw 
Interior/Exterior

Interior

Create ownership of a space so desired users want to be in it and undesired users feel uncomfortable thereby creating awareness that crimes or nuisance behavior will not be tolerated.

  • Create visibility by removing obstructive items allowing potential witnesses a better view of the business’ interior. Keep shelves and displays five feet high or less. Remove excess signage or decaling from windows and doors. At night make sure you can easily see into your business after closing.
  • Item placement is essential for crime prevention. Place expensive items in cases that lock. Remove expensive items from window displays at night.  and make sure you can see easily into your business after closing.
  • Ensure public paths are clearly marked and add chimes to allow notification when people move between spaces.
  • Install security mirrors in corners & isolated areas so staff can monitor activity from a central location.

Exterior

Create ownership of a space so desired users want to be in it and undesired users feel uncomfortable thereby creating awareness that crimes or nuisance behavior will not be tolerated.

  • Make sure your address is visible so emergency vehicles can easily find your business. Use walkways or landscaping to direct visitors to the proper entrances and away from private areas.
  • Remove loitering opportunities so it is not tempting to do so. Examples could include: removing objects that may provide informal seating, disconnecting or covering plug ports or water faucets, removing climbing opportunities to the roof or fire escape from the ground or altering your recessed door ways.  These can be changed design wise to being flush with the walls or install gates.
  • Signage directing reporting solutions and no trespassing aids in citizen decision making to act on observations. Ensure these are installed and tamperproof around the property.
  • Maintenance is very important to show you own your space. Graffiti can give the perception of a negative space and should be removed within 24 – 72 hours prevents further vandalism . Remove moss or dirt from the property and repair broken items to present a maintained and cared for space. Pick up refuse and make sure it is disposed of properly. Contact shopping cart businesses to pick them up or if you find carts on public property contact Public Works.
Parking Lots and Parkades

Create increased safety and greater confidence in the community with a space that looks, feels, and is safe so nuisance behavior will not be tolerated.  Don’t forget to review landscaping and lighting to apply to this area. 

  • Paint underground walls white to increase the light levels. This reduces hiding places for criminals and maximizes visibility for any patrols (or for potential witnesses to a crime). To help with cost start with pillars and the top half of the parking lot to reflect the light.
  • If the parking lot is large – the use of emergency telephones that directly dials security or the local police may be warranted.
  • Consider installing ICBC ‘wait for the gate’ or ‘crime prevention reminder’ signage. These are available through the local community police station for free and are great reminders for staff and visitors to protect your property and their own while using the space.
  • Management practices of this space has a significant impact on safety. This could relate to cleanliness, availability of staff, payment process, crime reporting, and access control. 
Target Hardening and Security

Create more difficult spaces to break into and a means to secure physical aspects of a building such as doors and windows through hardware and target hardening. 

  • Exterior doors should be solid-core & secured by at least one deadbolt with a minimum 1″ throw. Those with glass should have double cylinder deadbolts. Some groups may use a mortise lock and these should have rotating cylinder guards and strike plates.
  • Strike plates on doors should be secured with 3″ screws & door locks should be placed at least 40” from windows so they are out of reach. If you have doors with outside hinges, use non-removable hinge pins. Install panel doors lined with metal to resist drilling.
  • If possible, use security window film instead of installing security bars on windows in order to maintain open sight lines & project a welcoming appearance. If security bars on windows are needed, choose decorative designs that meet security requirements without making your business look fortressed.
  • Every exterior opening offers a potential point of entry. Do not overlook security at places like fire escapes, skylights, roof openings, air ducts, windows above doors, loading docks, sidewalks and basement openings.
Alarm Systems and Surveillance
  • Install a monitored alarm system and/or video cameras – ensure these are checked regularly. Remember to post signs advising that the area is under video surveillance. Make sure it is wired to go off at all potential points of entry, including doors, windows, roof openings, loading docks and vents.
  • CCTV Best requirements: coloured, high resolution, records activity, and placement considerations are as mentioned above.
  • Consider installing bars on doors and windows that trigger if the glass around them breaks.
  • Place height markers at the main entrance so employees can use them to gauge the height of a robber as he/she leaves your business. Place strips of differently coloured tape at the 5 feet, 5 feet 6 inches and 6 feet heights.
Cash on Site
  • Keep as little cash around as possible. Make bank deposits frequently, but, irregularly so as not to establish a discernible pattern.
  • Securely anchor your safe in a highly visible, well-lit location. Change the combination if a staff member who is familiar with it leaves. Install and use a drop safe.
  • Empty your cash drawers and leave them open after hours. Locate your cash register at the front of the store, near the door, where it’s visible from outside.
  • Put a cash limit, such as $50, in place. Train employees to check regularly for cash over the limit and to place it in a drop safe that they can’t open. Then post a sign that the maximum amount of cash in register is $50. 
Crime Prevention Management Tips

Create increased knowledge and consensus among staff regarding policies and procedures so that everyone follows these practices, even when you are not able to be there as a manager.

  • Some employee safety tips include: keeping side or back doors locked at all times and have employees use the main entrance and employees should have access to safe, visible parking located close to the entrance (especially if they work at night).
  • Create some safety checklists: Check all doors and windows at closing time to ensure they are fully engaged, check hiding places (like bathrooms, closets, and storage areas) – the last thing you want to do is to lock a burglar inside; Try to have two staff on hand at opening and closing times as these are attractive times for robbers; or develop a system of key security. Make sure all keys issued are signed for and turned in when an employee leaves the company. You may even want to change locks and combinations. Before you leave, check all potential hiding places, like bathrooms, closets and storage areas. The last thing you want to do is to lock a burglar inside.
  • Get to know your business neighbours by working to promote shopper and business safety and either have similar or stagger hours to create your own community of eyes and ears for each other.
  • Customer service is one of the most effective crime prevention measures you can take. Friendly staff that greet & talk with customers will discourage many potential off enders from hanging around. This can be completed in conjunction with staff training on how to recognize “suspicious” & criminal activity, to respond safely & to properly report it to police. Request Community Police Assistance with this.
Business during Emergencies or Prolonged Closing Periods

Create a space with limited opportunity for criminal activity to be warranted. 

  • Make it look like there is nothing to hide: keep storefront, sales, and exterior lights on; leave the cash register in plain sight – open & empty, and do not leave any cash on the premises.
  • Secure all equipment, stock, and valuables with heavy duty locks. If possible, you could consider removing items out of the business for additional security.  You would need to check with your insurance as to what is able to be completed with what coverage you have. 
  • Secure and lock all doors and windows, turn on security system & security surveillance equipment and store back-up copies of your business including serial numbers for all your computer equipment and merchandize, store keys, alarm codes, files, licenses and permits, passwords, and payment receipts. If you are ever victimized, you can assess losses more easily and provide useful information for law enforcement investigations.
  • Remember your Emergency Preparedness Toolkit for Businesses. Refer to the site for more information.