According to the FBI, a burglary occurs every 20 seconds. While we all take precautions to safeguard our homes, we don’t always think about our place of work. The fact is that in 2016 461,537 non-residential buildings, including offices, stores, etc. were burglarized.
Unfortunately, after one successful break-in, your office becomes even more vulnerable to a repeat offense. What’s more, break-ins lead to a general feeling of insecurity amongst employees, staff, customers and others who are affected.
If your office is broken into, it’s essential that you take immediate action to secure the area, regain stability and create a strategic plan to prevent future incidents.
Here are 8 steps that will help you take back control immediately after a break-in:
According to the FBI’s Crime in the US report, the majority of non-residential crimes occur at night. If you receive an alarm notification after office hours, do not attempt to enter the building. You don’t want to walk into your office while a burglar may still be inside. Contact the police and they will inspect the building for you. Your safety and that of your co-workers comes first.
Studies show that 58% of break-ins occur through forcible entry, such as a broken window or door. In these cases, the next step is to get the point of entry repaired as quickly as possible to protect against a repeat burglary in the short term. Make sure to take photos of the broken window or door before getting them fixed, as they may come in handy when filing your police report and insurance claim.
If there are no visible signs of a forced entry, it’s likely the thief acquired a key or gained access to an electronic key card or password. In any event, it’s best to change all passwords and locks in case the burglar was able to obtain this information while inside.
Finally, check for any electronic breaches. If the intruder had access to your laptops or mobile devices, the data security of your company, employees or clients may be compromised.
It’s important to let your colleagues know when a break-in has occurred. While the vulnerability of a break-in can make for a tense environment, following these communication tips will help ease your employees’ initial concern:
Make a detailed list of what was stolen or damaged and how much it would cost to replace it. Include the serial number and who it belonged to. You’ll need this list for the incident report.
If any devices have been stolen, do not erase the data immediately. Wait until you’ve spoken to the police as they may be able to use the IP address to track down the perpetrators.
Put together and review any camera footage taken at the time of the incident. If you have it, start off with any footage taken at the point of entry. If you were able to capture the criminal entering the building try to zoom in on and take note of their appearance, identifying marks and clothing.
In the event that you did not have a camera placed at the point of entry, review any street side or external footage for suspicious or unusual activity. Some things to look for include: a suspicious person(s) loitering outside the building or an unknown vehicle parked outside the building during the time of the incident. Keep in mind the 5 W’s of reporting suspicious activity:
Next, retrieve all access control records for that time period. Consider the following:
Did anyone enter the building with a key card or code during the incident?
If so, it will be necessary to check if the employee or staff member in question has misplaced their key card and find out when and where this may have happened.
Who was the last person to leave the building before the incident? Who was the first person to enter the building after the incident?
It’s important to follow up with these people and find out if they noticed anything unusual or any suspicious person(s) in the vicinity.
Were there any visitors or temporary employees/staff in the building this week?
It’s common for more experienced thieves to scout the premises ahead of time. They may have even visited your building on one or several occasions before committing the crime.
Gathering this information will help you piece together the details, providing a clearer picture of what happened.
This is often necessary in order to file an insurance claim later. Try to help the police make the report as detailed as possible. If you followed steps 2-5 you’ll already have most of the information they’ll require.
Here are some commonly asked questions and tips to help you prepare detailed information in advance:
Have a brief overview prepared of the sequence of events that occured from the time when you found out about the break-in (i.e. I received a notification that an alarm had gone off in the building at 4 am. I called the police and drove to the building. etc.)
How did the perpetrator enter the building?
Here’s where your security footage will come in handy. If you were able to capture the incident they will be able to review the information more thoroughly. If not, here is where you can share any photos taken of the entry point or information about access codes/keys used during the incident.
Who was the last person to leave the building before the incident and what time did they leave?
The police will want to establish a timeline for the incident. Here you can share with them the access control records, names and statements taken in step 5.
Describe the items that were stolen.
Include the list you made during step 4 of all the lost or damaged items, their value, cost to replace them and serial numbers.
Have you noticed any suspicious activity or person(s) in the vicinity of your building lately?
This is where your investigation into the external camera footage will come in handy. Be sure to report any suspicious activity using the 5 W’s.
Begin the process of filing your insurance claim. Start by contacting your security company to find out what is covered. Then collect receipts for all of the stolen and damaged items so you can submit them with your insurance claim.
The final step (and one of the most important) is to reflect on what vulnerability was exploited and what can be done to prevent a future incident. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:
Aside from these 8 steps, having experienced security guard services is one of the best ways to prevent future break-ins. Hiring a service with specific expertise in your industry, whether in healthcare, tech or storage and manufacturing facilities, will ensure you get an advanced assessment of the risks and gaps in your current strategy.