Burglary Prevention

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.


There are two basic types of intruder detection alarms, i.e., ringing and silent. The primary purposes of alarms are to deter an intruder from entering your business or to alert law enforcement of an illegal entry and assist in the rapid apprehension of the suspect. Some of the many time-tested reliable alarm devices are as follows:

* Audio Detectors * Motion Detectors
* Photoelectric Detectors * Electromechanical
* Electronic Fences * Radio Frequency
* Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) * Electronic Doors and Gates

Regardless of the kind of alarm device you choose, be sure the alarm device thoroughly covers the intended area of protection. An alarm system should include these important features:

* A battery backup, fail-safe system. * A fire-sensing capability.
* A testing feature to check its operation.

Identity Theft


It is important to remember that the victim of identity theft is a person whose identity has been fraudulently assumed by another with the intent to obtain credit, goods, or services without the victim’s consent. No financial loss is necessary. Identity theft includes the criminal assumption of someone’s name, address, credit card information, driver’s license, social security number and other personal data. Criminals use this information to impersonate their victims, spending as much money as they can in as short a time as possible before moving on to impersonate someone else.

The victims of credit and banking fraud will usually be liable for no more than the first $50.00 of the loss. In many cases, victims will not be required to pay any part of the loss. However, victims are supposed to notify financial institutions within two days of learning of the loss, although this is often waived.

Even though victims are usually not required to pay their imposters’ bills, they are often left with a bad credit report and must spend months and even years regaining their financial health. In the meantime, they have difficulty writing checks, obtaining loans, renting apartments, and even getting hired. Stealing wallets used to be the best way identity thieves obtained credit card numbers and other pieces of identification. Now more sophisticated means are commonly used:

  • Accessing your credit report fraudulently by posing as an employer, loan officer or landlord and ordering a copy;
  • Stealing mail from your mailbox to obtain newly issued credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, or tax information, and;
  • Dumpster diving in your trash containers for discarded credit card and loan applications.


The SJPD suggests the following crime prevention techniques to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft:

  1. To minimize the amount of information an identity thief can steal, do not carry extra credit cards, a social security card, birth certificate or passport in your wallet or purse, except when needed.
  2. To reduce the amount of personal information that is in circulation consider the following:
    • Remove your name from the marketing lists of the three major credit reporting bureaus, i.e.,EquifaxExperian (formerly TRW) and Trans Union. This will limit the number of pre-approved offers of credit that you receive. These offers, if thrown away in the trash, are potential targets of identity thieves who will use them to order credit cards using your identity.
    • Sign up for the Direct Marketing Association Mail Preference Service and the Telephone Preference Service. By doing this, your name is added to computerized name deletion lists used by nationwide marketers.
    • Have your name and address removed from telephone books and reverse directories.
  3. Install a locked mailbox at your residence or business to reduce mail theft or use a post office box.
  4. When you order new checks, do not have them sent to your home address. Have them sent to a post office box or arrange to pick them up at your bank.
  5. When you pay bills, do not place the envelopes containing your checks in your home mailbox for the letter carrier to pick up. If stolen, your checks can be altered and cashed by identity thieves. It is best to mail your checks and other sensitive mail at the post office rather than your home or neighborhood mailbox. Write checks with a fine-point permanent marker.
  6. Pay bills with an electronic bill payment service.
  7. Reduce the number of credit cards you actively use to a bare minimum. Carry only one or two credit cards in your wallet. Cancel all unused credit card accounts. Even though you do not use these accounts, account numbers are recorded in your credit report along with other data that can be used by identity thieves.
  8. Keep a list and/or photocopy of all your credit cards, account numbers, expiration dates and telephone numbers of the customer service and fraud departments in a secure place (not your wallet or purse) so you can quickly contact your creditors in case your credit cards are stolen. Do the same with your bank accounts.
  9. Never give out your credit card number or other personal information over the telephone, unless you have a trusted business relationship with the person or company and you have initiated the telephone call. Identity thieves have been known to call their victims with a fake story that goes something like this, "Today is your lucky day! You have been chosen by the "Jane and John Doe Sweepstakes Committee" to receive a free trip to Europe. All we need is your credit card number and expiration date to verify you as the lucky winner."
  10. Order your credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus to check for inaccuracies and fraudulent use of your accounts. Make sure that you recognize every line of information established in your file.
  11. Always take credit card receipts with you. Never throw them in a public trash container.
  12. Watch the mail when you expect a new or reissued credit card to arrive. Contact the issuer if the card does not arrive.
  13. When creating a password or Personal Identification Number (PIN), do not use the last four digits of your social security number, date of birth, middle name, the name of your family pet, consecutive numbers of anything else that could easily be discovered by identity thieves.
  14. Ask your financial institution to add extra security protection to your account. Most will allow you to use an additional code (a number or word) when assessing your account. Do not use your mother’s maiden name, as that is all too easily obtained by identity thieves.
  15. Memorize all your passwords. Do not record them on anything in your wallet or purse.
  16. Protect your social security number. Release it only when absolutely necessary (tax forms, employment records, most banking, stock and property transactions). The social security number is the key to your credit and bank accounts and is a prime target of identity thieves.
  17. Do not have your social security number printed on your checks. Do not let merchants write your social security number on your checks because of the risk of fraud.
  18. Order your Social Security Earnings and Benefits Statement once a year to check for fraud.
  19. Carefully review your credit card statements for unauthorized use.
  20. Do not throw pre-approved credit offers in the trash or in a recycling container without first shredding them. The discarded credit offers can be used by identity thieves to order credit cards in your name and to have the credit cards mailed to their address.
  21. Do the same with other sensitive information like credit card receipts. Home shredders can be purchased at many office supply stores.
  22. Demand financial institutions to adequately safeguard your data. Request a special password that only you would know. Memorize all passwords. Discourage your bank from using the last four digits of the social security number as the PIN they assign to customers.
  23. When you fill out loan applications, find out how the company disposes of them. If you are not convinced that they store them in locked files and/or shred them, take your business elsewhere. Some car dealerships, department stores, car rental agencies, and video stores have been known to be careless with customer applications. When you pay by credit card, ask the business how it stores and disposes of the transaction slip. Avoid paying by credit card if you think the business does not use adequate safeguards.
  24. Store your cancelled checks in a safe place. In the wrong hands, they can reveal a lot of information about you. Never permit your credit card number to be written on your checks and places you at risk of fraud.
  25. Any entity involved in handling personal information should train all its employees, from the top to the bottom, on responsible information-handling practices. Persuade the companies, government agencies and nonprofit agencies with which you are associated to adopt privacy policies and conduct privacy training. Employees should be trained to check picture identification cards when accepting credit cards.


If you become the victim of identity theft, it is important to act immediately to stop the thief’s further use of your identity. Unfortunately, at this time victims themselves are burdened with resolving the problem. It is important to act quickly and assertively to minimize the damage. In dealing with authorities and financial institutions, keep a log of all conversations, dates, names, and telephone numbers. Note the time spent and any expenses incurred. Confirm conversations in writing. Provide your police report number to expedite reporting the crime.

Send correspondence by certified mail (return receipt requested). Keep copies of all letters and documents. Sometimes victims of identity theft are wrongfully accused of crimes committed by an imposter. If a civil judgment has been entered in your name for actions taken by an imposter, contact the court where the judgment was entered and report that you are a victim of identity theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted of criminal charges, contact the state Department of Justice and the FBI. Ask how to clear your name.