Burglary prevention steps for offices, factories, and stores.
- Make sure all exterior doors have adequate locks and install secondary locks such as deadbolts where you can. Consider crossbars on side and alley doors and windows if they are accessible. Deadbolts to outside doors, double cylinder deadbolts on doors with glass panels.
- Check all doors and windows routinely at closing.
- Check door and window frames for looseness or rot. Repair them.
- Install an annunciator on entrances so you know when customers enter.
- Leave an interior light on all night.
- Check the exterior of your buildings for possible roof access. Secure all ladders and garbage dumpsters. Secure all roof access – skylights, air ducts, hatches. Don’t forget doorway transoms, sidewalk and basement openings.
- Be sure you have exterior lighting around all entrances and doors, and that you have a maintenance program to replace bulbs. Use vandal-proof fixtures.
- Consider an alarm system and leave a 24-hour phone number posted on the exterior of your building.
- Make sure parking lots are well lighted.
- Move valuable merchandise or equipment away from doors and windows to prevent smash and grab thefts.
- Leave a light on above your safe in view of the street. Anchor your safe to the floor.
- Keep an accurate inventory of all valuables and their location.
- Practice good key security. Sign out all keys and collect them when employees leave your company. To be safe, change locks and combinations.
- Don’t tag your keys with the name of your business, or label them for what they are used for. Develop a code or numbering system. Change locks if keys are lost or not returned by a former employee.
- If doors swing out, use non-removable headpins and install panel doors lined with metal to resist drilling.
- Install a safe or strong security cabinet to store valuable documents and keys used in your business.
- Don’t lock a burglar inside when you leave. Inspect closets, bathrooms and other hiding places.
- Never resist an armed robber. Write down a physical description as soon as it is safe to do so, and call 911.
- Leave cash registers empty and open after hours to deter burglars.
- Don’t unlock your door until you are fully ready to do business.
- Keep cash on hand to a minimum. Make frequent, irregular bank deposits.
- Don’t count receipts until you lock up.
To prevent business fraud, learn to recognize it before it is too late. Here are common frauds to watch out for.
Contributing to losses from bad checks and credit cards is the use of false I.D. To minimize this problem, require at least one primary I.D. that is preferably backed by at least one secondary I.D.
Primary I.D. – Washington State driver’s license with a photo. Do not accept temporary licenses. Washington State identification card.
Secondary I.D. – Check guarantee card with an ‘unexpired’ expiration date. Major credit card with expiration date.
Never accept the following cards as I.D. – Membership cards, library cards, card that appears to be altered or a card that is unfamiliar to you, Social Security cards, temporary cards or I.D.
Do not accept credit cards without proof of identity, or without checking the ‘Hot Sheet’ or telephoning for authorization. Watch for these telltale signs of credit card fraud:
- The card has been altered, has expired or is not yet valid.
- Signatures on the card and sales slip do not match
- The customer makes several purchases in the same department, all under the amount of the floor limit or, which would require an authorization call to the card issuer.
The best advise is to not take on other billed to a credit card account over the telephone. There is just no way you can be sure the purchaser is legitimate.
When You Are Suspicious
Call for authorization, indicate your suspicions and follow instructions. Remember, always destroy carbons so credit card numbers and names do not fall into the wrong hands.
There are a number of ways that fraudulent or stolen checks can bounce into your business. Stolen checks can be forged. Legitimate checks might be altered to show higher amounts. Pay close attention to the appearance of all checks. If any of these telltale signs are present, you may be looking at a bad check. Ask for an alternative form of payment.
- No perforation on top or left side of check
- Apparently altered writing or erasures
- Water spots or alterations of the check’s color or graphic background
- Number under 500 (denotes new accounts)
- Glossy rather than dull finish of magnetic ink (numbers along bottom of check)
Do not accept checks where:
- Signature does not match imprinted name on check and on I.D.
- Does not show the name, branch, city and state where the bank is located.
- Numerical amount does not agree with the written amount.
Remember these important guidelines for prosecution:
- At the time the check was accepted, a WSDL must have been presented for identification.
- The license number and expiration date must be written on the check along with the initials of the person accepting the check.
- The person accepting the check must have compared the photo on the license with the person presenting the check. This person must also compare the signatures on the license and the endorsement of the check.
- The check must have been accepted within the city limits of Seattle.
- The original check must be made available to the police.
- No checks will be accepted that are drawn on accounts of out-of-area banks.
- No two-party checks will be accepted.
- No post-dated checks will be accepted.
- No check will be accepted if at the time it was accepted by a business, it was accepted with the knowledge that there were insufficient funds in the account.
- Checks should be submitted for prosecution within 90 days.
- Checks are accepted by the police department for prosecution purposes only. If only restitution is desired, do not submit the check; keep the check and pursue civil action to recover the loss.
Graffiti and Vandalism
Controlling graffiti and vandalism
Controlling graffiti at and near your businesses requires taking prompt, proactive steps to report and remove it right away. This is proven to be the best way to prevent graffiti from occurring again. Steps to removing graffiti on private and public property differ in some ways. Steps for both are listed here.
As soon as it appears, call the City’s Graffiti Report Line at 206-684-7587 or use the online report form to report graffiti on public property, or on private property that has persisted for a period of time. Make a police report to 206- 625-5011 when graffiti appears on your property. If you see an act of graffiti vandalism in progress, call 911 immediately.
After the police document the vandalism, remove or paint over the graffiti immediately if on private property.
The City of Seattle offers free paint. Call (206) 386-4093 for more information. If you’re not able or prefer to have a professional clean off graffiti or etching, several companies including Graffiti Busters, a SODO-based company at 206-623-0985, can help.
Property with graffiti that is not removed in a reasonable amount of time may be subject to fines under the Graffiti Nuisance Ordinance.
Call the Seattle Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit at (206) 684-7555 for a free assessment of ways you can prevent graffiti on your property. Quick fixes that are known to work include:
- Installing improved lighting and motion sensitive lighting.
- Growing vines or appropriate vegetation to cover unpainted retaining walls.
- Installing a graffiti resistant coating on your walls.
- Keeping matching paint on hand to quickly paint out graffiti.
Seattle Public Utility (SPU) Graffiti Rangers will removal graffiti from City property. Call the Graffiti Report Line at (206) 684-7587 to alert the Rangers with a detailed description of where the graffiti is. The city strives to meet the 10-day timetable for removing graffiti from its property.
To get graffiti removed from Metro Transit bus shelters and signs, call 206-625-1800.
If you are having problems, here are more resources:
- If ink or paint is out of reach, you can contact a professional painter or contractor, especially if your property has unique characteristics.
- Consider using a pressure washer.
- A recent development in graffiti vandalism is acid etching on glass. Unfortunately, this type of vandalism results in permanent marking and the glass often must be completely replaced. A short-term solution is to conceal it with a protective or decorative covering. Contact a professional glass company for removal and replacement recommendations.
Along with graffiti, arson and other forms of defacement, vandalism is one or more crimes against the community — whether it is a business or residential district.
Being an active part in the Belltown Business Association is a proven way to gather community support and action for preventing crimes of defacement. Many of the same strategies used to stop graffiti, work with vandalism as well:
- Repair vandalism immediately.
- Keep the neighborhood clean.
- Make sure a sign is visibly displayed at each business.
- Develop a watch system with nearby businesses.
- Report vandalism to the police by calling 9-1-1- or 206-625-5011.
If You Are Being Robbed
- Do exactly as you are told. If you don’t understand what you are being told to do, ask.
- Give the robber(s) what they want. Don’t argue.
- Don’t move too quickly or reach for anything. Tell the robber(s) what you are doing.
- The longer the robbery takes the more nervous the robber is.
- The average robbery takes less than 2 minutes.
- Don’t fight.
- Don’t use weapons.
- Don’t chase the robber(s).
- Observe the person(s) involved for the purpose of describing clothing and physical features.
- Observe the person or persons’ means of escape, direction of travel and description of vehicle.
- Stay on the phone until police tell you to hang up.
- Record the suspect(s) description on an “I.D.” form or piece of paper.
Don’t touch anything. There may be suspect(s) fingerprints or other physical evidence crucial to the investigation.
Preventing internal theft
Internal theft is an important part of your business crime prevention program. Below are steps to take seriously to lower your company’s risk for internal theft.
- Before hiring, thoroughly investigate the background of prospective employees. Be sure to check personal and credit references.
- Diplomatically inform new employees of your company’s internal theft policy, what constitutes “internal theft” and provide this information in writing in your new employee handbook.
- Ensure that employees who are hired to handle accounting and funds are adequately bonded.
- If possible, never give one employee sole responsibility for the company’s accounting.
- Number and log all keys before issuing them to new employees.
- Conduct “exit interviews” with employees who are leaving. Significant information may be revealed at this time regarding internal theft.
- Most importantly, as an employer, provide a consistent example of honesty, fairness and accountability.
You and your employees must get to and from the workplace and this often involves some walking from cars, buses or other forms of commuting. Everyday, whether you are walking from the 5th Avenue South busway or from a parking spot next to the entrance to your building, being aware of your surroundings and avoiding certain risks will help you prevent crime. Consider the following.
- When walking anywhere, anytime be aware and know who is nearby.
- Pay attention to the uncomfortable feelings that often warn us of potential danger.
- Don’t be afraid to cross the street, return to a business, or ask for help based on a “funny feeling”. You may be right!
- Learn to carry only what is actually needed.
- Carry only small amounts of cash.
- Carry only small amounts of cash.
- Take only the credit cards you actually plan to use.
- Do not take expensive jewelry to the workplace.
- Don’t carry anything that is irreplaceable unless you absolutely must, even if it has no cash value.
- Your safety should be the number one priority.
- Make a plan for how you would respond if someone tried to steal your purse or wallet. Unfortunately, there is no style of handbag or wallet that cannot be taken. There is no foolproof way to carry possessions. If the robber wants your valuables, chances are he/she will get them. However, there are good strategies to reduce your risk of becoming a victim.
- Don’t resist or try to fool a robber.
- “Instinctive” responses and behaviors can be overcome with practice and planning.
- Handbags should be closed, carried in front of the body with an arm held loosely across it. A bag dangling by your side is much easier for a thief to grab on the run.
- If wearing a handbag with a strap over the head, choose a thin strap, and wear it under your coat. This makes it harder for the robber to grab the strap. A hard yank on a strap may cause a fall and an injury.
- Many women find they don’t need to carry a handbag all the time. Place essentials (keys, small amount of cash, I.D.) in a pocket.
- Avoid carrying house keys in your handbag. Instead, carry keys in a pocket. Chances are your address is on a document in the bag. If the thief has your keys and address he/she has easy entry to your home.
- Consider reducing the items of personal or sentimental value that you routinely carry. Losing family photos, address books, and important papers is usually more traumatic to victims than financial loss.
- If you must carry a large amount of cash or valuable items, do not carry them in your handbag or wallet. Carry valuables in an inside pocket.
- Use the bus schedule to minimize the length of time waiting for the bus.
- Plan your route to use the busiest, best-lighted stop possible, both to get on and off a bus or subway. If you must wait, stay near the attendant’s stand or in the best-lighted area available.
- Be sure to have your fare out and ready before you leave home, office, or store.
- If few people are on the bus, sit near the driver.
- Keep your purse, shopping bag, backpack, packages, etc., in your lap, on your arm, or between your feet — not by themselves on an empty seat.
- Don’t let yourself doze off on a bus, it can make you an easy target.
- If someone is bothering you on the bus, tell the driver.
- If you feel uneasy about getting off at your usual stop, stay on the bus until the next stop.
- Don’t’ make it easy for thieves. They are on the lookout for items left in cars, grocery carts, dressing rooms or desks. It takes only seconds to grab your property and get away.
- When in public be sure your handbag clasp or zipper is closed. Wallets and checkbooks should not protrude from pockets.
- Be especially cautious in busy stores, shopping districts, at public events, on buses, and at bus stops. Thieves are attracted to crowds. Noise and confusion help conceal their crimes.
- Pickpockets often work in teams; one creates a distraction by bumping or shoving, dropping something, or asking a question while others lift wallets from pockets or handbags.
- If a robber grabs your bag, resist the impulse to play tug of war. If you hang on, chances are you will be knocked down, hit, or kicked and the robber will get your bag anyway.
- Victims sometimes tell a robber they have no money. This technique may backfire. It is safer to give up a few dollars. Carry a little money in an accessible place for just this purpose. Keep it separate from other funds.
- If someone demands your property and displays or implies in anyway that they have a weapon, hand the bag or wallet to them.
Robbery prevention and response – Reducing the opportunity for a robbery
Robbery is potentially a very dangerous crime because it involves direct contact between a perpetrator and a victim or victims whose life or lives are often threatened. Reducing the opportunity for a robbery is as important as what you do in case of a robbery. Review these two important sections on these topics, and then complete the survey to help increase safety in your workplace.
Make sure you and your cash register are clearly visible from outside. Create a “fishbowl” look. Limit use of window signs and floor displays. If you can see out easily, passer-bys and police can see in.
- Place large bills in a drop safe or other secure device as soon as you get them.
- Ask customers if they have exact change or smaller bills. This will help you minimize the money in your register.
- Record the serial number of several bills (“bait money”) that are given out only in the event of a robbery.
- Be certain you have adequate inside and outside lighting. Eliminate any dark areas.
- Utilize photo sensors to insure lights come on at night.
- Replace burnt out bulbs promptly.
- A neat and clean environment is great for business but uncomfortable for most robbers.
- When not making a sale, stay away from the register. Most robbers do not like to spend the extra time it takes to bring you back to the sales counter.
- Know what is happening outside as well as inside your business.
- Watch for loiterers and ask them to leave.
- Greet everyone who enters your business.
- Don’t be afraid to call police (911) when you see suspicious persons or activity.
- Keep shelves and displays low and aisles clear to increase visibility.
- Install annunciators (bells or ringers) on all unlocked doors.
- Provide adequate lighting and eliminate blind spots.
- Where appropriate, utilize security staff, convex mirrors, CCTV, electronic sensors, cables, tags, locks and chains.
- Make it difficult to steal merchandise. Bolt racks down; alternate the direction of hangers on the racks, tie appliance cords together; lock small valuable items in cabinets and keep other valuables away from store exits.
- Limit the number of items allowed into dressing rooms.
- Post signs warning that shoplifters will be prosecuted.
- Encourage employees to greet customers as they enter the store. One phrase every shoplifter hates to hear is “Can I help you?”
- Maintain a neat, orderly store with tight inventory controls.
- Develop a store policy and provide training for shoplifting incidents.
- Be knowledgeable of the shoplifting laws in Washington state.
- Nervousness or unusual actions of any kind.
- Aimlessly walking up and down aisles.
- In store longer than usual, loitering.
- Handling many items of merchandise.
- Dropping articles on the floor.
- Concealing merchandise in any way.
- Asking numerous questions or refusing the clerks help.
- Looking into surveillance mirrors at the sales clerk or other customers instead of the merchandise.
- When an employee is suspicious of someone.
- When an employee thinks someone shoplifted but is not 100% sure.
- When an employee actually sees someone shoplift.
- When another employee reports an incident.
- When a customer reports an incident.
In all Five situations, the basic employee response should be the same. Acknowledge the customer and make a statement. Examples of employee statements include:
- “I saw you looking at the (item). Did you find what you wanted?”
- “The (item) you selected is a great buy.”
- “Is that (item) for you or is it a gift?”
- “Will that (item) be cash or charge?”
- “That (item) you selected should go on sale soon.”
When you are suspicious of a customer’s intent, ask if you can help them find something. If they respond “No, I’m just looking”, tell them to just nod if they need help…you’ll be watching. That’s just what a shoplifter does not want. You will find providing good customer service goes hand in hand with shoplifting prevention. Some shoplifters will fail to respond to your statements and exit with the stolen item(s). Allow them to leave the store unless the store employee is trained in detaining and apprehending shoplifters. Personal safety should always take priority over retrieving property or detaining a shoplifter. Report the crime to the Seattle Police Department by calling 911.
Trespassing, Vagrancy & Drug Activity
Transients and Vagrancy
From time to time, camps and/or groups of transients crop up in Belltown. Usually this occurs under freeway ramps, in vacant lots or in cars. The Seattle Police Department (SPD) will break up these camps and have Seattle Public Utilities cleanup and clear away debris, and/or have cars moved, but it will take 72 hours after the occurrence has been reported. To report transient camps or vagrancy, call at the Seattle Police Department at 206-684-5011.
If transients or vagrancy is a problem at your business, the Seattle Police Department will come to your assistance. To be prepared and to speed up actions that can be taken, consider completing the Seattle Police Department ‘Trespass Authorization Form’ that gives SPD authority to come onto your property’s common areas to remove transients and their belongings. To access this form, visit the Seattle Police’s Criminal Trespassing Program website.
Like all large U.S. cities, Seattle faces a growing battle against illegal drugs. The police need community involvement to solve this problem. It is important to know what an investigation entails and how you can help.
It is often hard to be certain that what you are seeing involves drugs, but some patterns may indicate drug activity.
- An unusually large amount of traffic coming to a building in cars, taxis or walking, often at strange hours. Visitors may sometimes pound on doors or shout to be let in. This traffic is usually quick with people staying only a short time. Sometimes people do not go in the building at all; others come out to meet them.
- Finding drugs or drug paraphernalia – syringes, pipes, etc in the vicinity.
- Repeated, observable exchanges of items, especially where money is visible.
- Offers to sell you or your employees drugs, or conversations about drugs that are overheard.
- Noxious odors from or around the building, such as ‘musty’ smells.
- Buildings where extreme security measures seem to being taken.
- Buildings where no owner or primary tenant is apparent and there is no maintenance being done.
Don’t assume police already know or that someone else will call.
For drug activity that is in progress and needs an immediate response, call 911. If a patrol car is available, an officer will respond.
If the situation is occurring over and over and police need to be aware of but it does not require an immediate response, there are three things you can do:
Make a Narcotics Activity Report (NAR) by calling the SPD Narcotics Section from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm at 206-684-5797.
Call the SPD at 206-684-5011, 24 hours a day.
Call the SPD Community Police Team serving the West Precinct at 206-684-8996.
Crime Reduction Survey
Answer the following questions and take the appropriate steps to keep your company, employees and property safe.
- Do you train employees in crime reduction procedures?
- Do all your employees know how your security equipment functions?
- Do you have an above ground safe?
- Is your safe bolted to the floor?
- Is your safe near the register and visible to customers?
- Are windows blocked by signs, displays or other materials?
- Is the cashier clearly visible from outside the business?
- Would the robber also be visible from outside?
- Are proper trespassing/loitering/parking signed posted?
- Are there drawer limits for cashiers?
- Is a drop safe available?
- Is you change fund secured?
- Do you hide money?
- Do you perform random till checks or cash audits?
- Do you use an armored car service?
- Do you have a secure counting room?
- Does your counting room have adequate locks, a phone and a door peephole?
- Do you vary the times of your trips to the bank?
- Do you vary your route to the bank?
- Do you disguise your bank deposit bag?
- Do all exterior lights work properly?
- Do all interior lights work properly?
- Are lights turned off or on at appropriate times?
- Is there adequate lighting inside your business?
- Is there adequate lighting outside your business including the side and rear areas?
- Does your store use video surveillance equipment?
- Does your equipment have a date/time generator?
- Is there a video monitor placed where a potential robber can see it?
- Are your VCR and video tapes secured?
- Have you checked the position of your cameras?
- Do you regularly clean your camera lenses and VCR head?
- Is the resolution on your video system good?
- Do you have a panic alarm?
- Do you have a robbery alarm?
- Can all exterior doors be easily locked?
- Is the telephone readily accessible to the cashier?
- Do you report all crimes to police?
- Do you encourage police to visit your store?
- How many times have you been robbed in the last 12 months?