Is your business safe from burglary? The following information is designed to help you fight burglary through a risk management approach. Risk management may be defined as identifying areas of criminal vulnerability, analyzing the resulting potential profit loss and implementing appropriate security measures at a reasonable cost to your business. An effective business burglary prevention program requires your active interest and concern. Remember the following:

  • Consider key control. Are office keys, master keys, safe keys and vehicle keys lying about? Do you know to whom your keys have been issued or entrusted? If management cannot answer these questions, your security risk factor is very high.
  • Keep a record of all keys issued. Master keys and extra duplicates should be locked away for safekeeping. When a particular key is needed, everyone must sign for its use.
  • Have all keys stamped with the words “do not duplicate.’’
  • Familiarize your employees with your security systems and procedures. Efficient, alert, well-informed and understanding employees are necessary to help you protect your business.
  • The address and name of your business should be visible from the street. Use large, reflectorized numbers. Mark your address with large, reflectorized numbers on the roof of your building for high visibility to police helicopter patrols.
  • The entire perimeter of your property should be well fenced. Depending on location, barbed-wire topping is recommended.
  • When not in use, gates should be secured with good padlocks and chains.
  • Electronic gates, alarms, closed circuit television, two-way communications and electric-eye gate openers assist in the detection and identification of intruders.
  • Gates should have a predetermined opening and locking schedule with one employee responsible for that duty.
  • Post warning signs encouraging customers and employees to always lock their unattended vehicles and to lock valuables in the trunk because valuables left in plain sight attract thieves.
  • Deny burglars access to your roof by securing ladders, pallets, boxes, and crates away from your building.
  • Property belonging to your business that must be stored outside of your main building should be protected from vandalism and theft by placing property in a locked storage shed.
  • Deny burglars a place to hide by keeping grass and shrubs trimmed and debris cleared away from your property.
  • Alarms, trained guard dogs and regular security patrols will also help to secure property that must be stored outside.


At night, properly placed lighting will deter burglars. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) recommends Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) Outdoor Lighting to improve security for your business. More light usually means less crime. The DWP Outdoor Lighting can help you prevent crime and it is inexpensive and maintenance-free. All you need is a wooden DWP utility pole with an appropriate voltage within 25 feet of your property line to mount the light. The DWP will help you select fixtures that are best for you and provide free installation. Lights for your business cost approximately $16.00 to $21.00 a month, and provide up to 165 times as much light as a standard 60 watt bulb. For more information regarding the DWP Outdoor Lighting program call 1-800-342-5397. Remember the following:

  • Illuminate your entire property from dusk to dawn to eliminate the dark areas intruders and criminals prefer.
  • Install floodlights for alleyways, rear and front entrances and parking lots.
  • Lighting should illuminate the roof of your building.
  • Use lighting fixtures with a photoelectric cell or timer to ensure that lighting will be on when you need it.
  • Locate light fixtures at the best height and location to maximize illumination, avoid blind spots and reduce shadows that provide hiding places for burglars.
  • Install vandal-resistant covers over bulbs and locate fixtures to prevent easy access and to reduce the chance of intentional breakage.
  • Burglars prefer darkness. Maintain interior lighting at a level that allows clear visibility into buildings to allow for law enforcement and civilian surveillance.
  • Be sure that lights do not shine into the eyes of people passing on the street, motorists or police officers on patrol.
  • Inspect your lights regularly. Replace burned-out or broken lights immediately.

The building where you conduct your business is your second line of defense. Your building is an intruder’s primary point of attack. Reduce vulnerability by hardening the target. Every opening in your building is a potential point of illegal entry. Remember the following:


  • All exterior doors should be constructed of steel or aluminum alloy or solid-core hardwood, with a minimum of 16-gauge steel on side and rear doors. Glass doors should have burglar-resistant glass installed.
  • Double doors should be secured with heavy-duty, multiple point, long flush bolts.
  • The frame of the door must be as strong as the door.
  • Exterior swinging doors should have a one-inch dead bolt with hardened steel insert and a free turning steel or brass tapered-cylinder guard.
  • Double cylinder locks are recommended where glass is located within 40 inches of the locking mechanism.
  • All exterior door latches should be of the anti-shim, dead- locking type.
  • The strike plate should be securely attached to the frame of the door in direct alignment to receive the latch easily.
  • All outside hinges should have non-removable hinge pins.
  • Install jamb studs in all exterior doors and security room doors with outside hinge pins.


  • Sliding glass windows and single or double-hung sash windows should have locking pins, bolts, locks or swing latches installed to prevent opening from the building’s exterior.
  • Secure all windows. First floor windows should be protected with burglar resistant glass.
  • To provide optimum window security install bars, grilles, grates or heavy-duty wire screening.
  • Mylar window coverings are inexpensive deterrents.
  • Skylights, ventilation openings, air conditioning/heating ducts and crawl holes are all potential entry points for burglars. Permanently secure these openings by installing metal grilles or grates. If these openings cannot be permanently secured, be sure they are protected by an alarm system.
  • Secure fire escape ladders to rooftops.
  • Install locks on outside fuse boxes.
  • Maintain an inventory of all office equipment; include the make, model and serial number of each item. Keep this inventory in a safe place. Keep it current by adding the identification numbers of all new equipment. Engrave your business name and your California drivers license or California Identification card number on all office equipment. Secure removable equipment with cables.
  • Keep a log of keys issued to employees; use interchangeable cylinders on locks; change keys and combinations periodically.
  • Install convex and wall mirrors. Remove high cost merchandise near cash register. Small, expensive items should be kept in locked cases.


The most common assaults on padlocks are made with bolt-cutters and pry bars. Quality padlocks should have the following:

  • Laminated or extruded cases.
  • Hardened steel shackle with a minimum diameter of 9/32 of an inch.
  • A double locking bolt providing “heel and toe” locking.
  • At least 5-pin tumblers in the cylinder.
  • A key-retaining feature that prevents removal of the key until the padlock is locked.
  • The chain or hasp you use with the padlock should also be of high-quality hardened steel.

The interior of your building is your third line of defense. Your business should have a security room. The size of the room is dependent upon your specific needs. Remember the following:

Security Room:

  • The security room should be void of windows.
  • The solid door should open out and have a minimum one-inch dead bolt.
  • Door buzzers and alarms are recommended.
  • The number of personnel having access should be strictly limited.


When a safe is used for your business, use a “money” safe for currency and a “records” safe for documents. Be sure that the resistance of the “money” safe is compatible with the needs of your business. Remember the following:

  • Anchor your safe firmly to the floor.
  • Standing safes should be well illuminated and visible from outside the building. The front (or combination side) should be turned away from windows.
  • Limit the number of persons having access to keys and combinations. Change locks and combinations when principal employees are discharged or leave your employment.

Tools and equipment:

In addition to their potential for theft, unsecured tools or equipment may be used by a thief to knock down doors, open a safe or gain entry to your security room or cabinets. Remember the following:

  • Tools and portable equipment should be secured in locked drawers or cabinets at the close of each business day. Large equipment should also be secured.
  • Business machines should be secured by installing locks that secure the equipment in place.
  • Your blank checks, check protectors, credit card machines and similar property should be secured in your safe at the end of each business day.
  • Valuable merchandise should be stored in your security room when your business is closed.

Employee training:

  • In the event of a burglary, the chances of apprehending the burglar are greatly increased if the scene is left completely intact. Microscopic evidence may be vital and should be protected.
  • Instruct all employees and co-workers to leave the scene completely undisturbed, if possible. Avoid using the burglar’s entry and exit points.
  • Telephone the police immediately.
  • Assist responding officers by providing information regarding all missing items, including the prerecorded list of serial numbers.