Dr. Steve Albrecht has penned a very practical, helpful article for Security Magazine titled, "Keeping Unoccupied Stores Safe from Burglaries or Looting in the Time of the Coronavirus." Albrecht's words address the reality of the herd mentality, which often gives rise to panic and looting, is a real threat in a pandemic such as the coronavirus. -- IFPO.
Looting is most often a mob activity, where one or two people find a store, break the window and starting running out with whatever they can carry. This draws a crowd, who feel compelled to do the same and the situation can move along a block of shops (unoccupied or not). The looters feel entitled to do what they do, based on the current social circumstances. If they manage to get caught, they’ll tell the police they didn’t start the initial break-in, and besides, everyone else was doing it.
Looting is a social contagion, that can spread block to block and across the country in waves. Social and mass media coverage can help start these waves. Lots of video of store looting helps some people rationalize that “it’s stealing but it’s not really stealing,” that it’s a good solution for them to help themselves in these difficult times, and they deserve to get what they can get.
As security professionals, we can help advise store owners how to best secure their buildings and inventory. It’s more than just telling them to upgrade their cameras and alarm systems. Burglarizing a closed clothing store only requires a van, an accomplice and a hammer. Unless that store has bars on the display windows, it’s vulnerable to a daylight or nighttime burglary, even with cameras and/or an alarm system.
At times like this, with the coronavirus running our lives, we need to think outside the box. Consider these unique solutions to help us better protect the properties of small-business store owners:
- Suggest that store owners move as much of their most expensive or theft-sensitive inventory to an offsite storage facility (or their homes) until the quarantine period is over.
- Have businesses in strip malls pool their money to hire a security guard firm to watch all of their businesses 24/7.
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