Keeping your house secure is something over which you have a lot of control. However, one aspect of home security that can be overlooked is the overall safety of the neighborhood in which you live. When it comes to keeping your home and loved ones from harm, it’s just as important to contribute to the safety and security of your neighborhood as it is to protect your individual house.
Neighborhood safety can feel like an overwhelming task, but there are plenty of simple things you can do to help keep your neighborhood free from crime. At American Alarm Systems, we’re committed to helping you with all aspects of security, including neighborhood safety. Here are three easy actions we recommend to help you improve security in your neighborhood.
- Be Friendly
Not only does a friendly demeanor make your neighborhood a more pleasant place to live, it can also make it safer. Get to know your neighbors. And we mean more than just a wave as you pass one another on the way to school or work. Become the type of neighbors that watch out for one another’s property when someone goes on vacation. Learn routines and pay attention to which vehicles and people belong in your neighborhood so you can spot something (or someone) that doesn’t belong.
If you have a neighborhood association, create a directory so that you know how to reach homeowners if something happens when they are away. For those without a neighborhood association, look into throwing a block party or community rummage sale as a way to become more friendly and to suggest taking a more active role in neighborhood safety. It’s also smart to get to know local law enforcement. Invite them to participate at neighborhood meetings or parties and let them know you appreciate their work to protect your community.
- Combine Security Resources
Not all neighborhoods can afford to put in security cameras, but you can identify which homeowners already have cameras, and determine where the weak spots are on your street or block. Coordinate your security efforts with your neighbors to help look out for the whole community, as well as your individual home.
To deter potential burglaries, consider posting signs that the neighborhood is under surveillance. If a crime does happen in the neighborhood, video can make a big difference in tracking down the bad guys. In 2014, the FBI reported more than 1.5 million burglaries committed across the country, and only 13.6% of those resulted in an arrest. To keep your neighborhood from landing on the wrong side of those statistics, all those with cameras should offer any footage they have to help the police identify and track down the perpetrators.
- Take Pride in Your Neighborhood’s Appearance
Believe it or not, a well kept yard can help keep burglars away. Keep your home’s exterior neat and orderly, and encourage your neighbors to the same. Regularly mowed lawns, nice landscaping, and a clutter-free porch or yard are signals to burglars that these homes are cared for, and the homeowners are present and involved.
On the flip side, overgrown hedges and clutter can give criminals extra cover and even help them break into a home, especially if the homeowner left a ladder or stepstool outside. Keep your eye on any vacant homes or open lots and coordinate with neighbors to keep weeds under control and maintain a neat exterior. Work together to mow lawns or shovel snow when neighbors go on vacation, to help keep up the appearance that the home isn’t sitting empty.
Bonus Tip: Park in the Driveway
We just couldn’t resist throwing in this super-simple tidbit. A Portland, OR news team interviewed 86 people serving time for burglary in the Oregon Department of Corrections. Overwhelmingly, those burglars stated that they would skip a house with a car in the driveway. Pass this tip along to your neighbors and coordinate with one another to park in each other’s driveways when someone is out of town.
Neighborhood safety is important, but the great news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. If you haven’t already done so, why not start by getting out and meeting the neighbors? After all, it’s much easier for a group of you to create a safe, serene community than it is for you to take it on alone.
If you’re a business owner, employee theft is one of the most serious threats to your enterprise. Employee theft covers everything from swiping office supplies to embezzlement. No matter the size or scope of your business, you are at risk for loss due to employee theft.
Employee Theft by the Numbers
You may not think that your company could be a victim of employee theft, but recent statistics from private research and public studies indicate that this security threat is on the rise.
- 75% of employees admit to stealing from their employer once and 38% admit to stealing from their employer at least twice
- The FBI has named employee theft the fastest-growing crime in America
- Employee theft costs businesses about 7% of their expected gross revenue
- As much as 33% of businesses hit by employee theft have been driven to bankruptcy
- More than 2 million shoplifters and employees were caught in the act in 2014
- $175,000 is the median loss due to employee theft
- Managers are responsible for more than 37% of all employee theft
- Over 25% of all businesses struck by employee theft lost more than $1 million
What You Need to Look For
With employee theft so pervasive, it might seem impossible to run a business without falling victim to it in some form. If you’re concerned about employee theft, here’s a cheat sheet of warning signs to help you spot potential trouble.
Employees who live beyond their means: You don’t have to pry into the purchasing habits of your employees, but look out for those who seem to constantly complain about making ends meet, but still make big-ticket purchases like a luxury car or high-end vacation. This doesn’t automatically mean that they’re stealing from the company to fund their rock-and-roll lifestyle, but it can be a red flag—especially if this extravagant spending behavior comes on suddenly.
Employees who seek to work independently or unsupervised: If an employee always looks for ways to work on their own, it could be a tactic to remain out of sight and gain access to supplies or funds. Take this observation in context of what you already know about this employee. After all, if they’ve never thrived in the hubbub, this may not indicate anything shady. However, if a typical team player suddenly starts seeking out chances to work unsupervised, pay attention.
Employees who suddenly start coming in early or leaving late: We’d all like employees to give more to their jobs, but if that “extra” involves more time in the office without everyone else, it’s worth watching. If the change in hours isn’t due to a change outside of work (new babysitter, kids starting school, etc.) this might be an indicator of nefarious activity.
Payroll and expense report mistakes: Everyone makes a mistake from time to time, but if an employee starts racking up a number of accounting discrepancies, you need to monitor that activity. Whether it’s timesheet problems, lost receipts, or petty cash issues, mistakes related to payroll or expense reimbursements need to be stopped as soon as possible. The first time it happens, give your employee the benefit of the doubt, but repeated issues can mean they’re trying to skim a little extra.
Ways to Prevent Employee Theft
Whether you already suspect a problem with employee theft or not, it’s smart to protect your business with an anti-theft strategy. As you put together the plan that makes the most sense for you, here are some ideas to get you started.
- Screen all employees pre-hire
- Always have two employees open up and close down the business
- If you use traditional keys, stamp them all with the words “Do Not Duplicate”
- Use surveillance cameras
- Establish clear accounting policies that hold employees accountable and include clear consequences for any violations
- Make daily bank deposits
- Keep track of inventory regularly and follow up on any discrepancies immediately
- Review daily exception reports, noting any excessive voids, refunds, no sales, and other suspicious actions
- Regularly inspect any dumpsters your business uses, especially prior to weekly pickup
- Never let employees ring up sales for themselves, their friends, or their family
It may not be possible to avoid every instance of employee theft, but you can minimize the impact on your business’ bottom line by knowing what to look for and putting safeguards in place. If you’re ready to take the next step to secure your hard work and assets, contact American Alarm Systems for a free consultation with one of our commercial security experts.