How to keep your property safe while it’s closed

Millie Milliken

Millie Milliken

27 March 2020

As reports of break ins and thefts start to circulate as restaurants, bars and pubs sit empty during the coronavirus pandemic, there are key ways to keep your business safe

Amid the warming stories surrounding the UK pub, restaurant and bar industry during the covid-19 pandemic, there have also been sad tales of thieves targeting empty premises for alcohol and cash.

Earlier this week, The Bank pub in Westhoughton near Bolton reported a series of break ins on its Facebook page: ‘We have heard of five different premises broken into today around Bolton and Westhoughton. With fewer people about some places become targets. Watch out for any suspicious activity and report it immediately to the police. Now is the time for us to stick together. If you own a business, do as we have and remove all valuable stock and equipment to safe places. Make sure your alarm monitoring is working and CCTV is active as a deterrent.’

In Shropshire, £1,200-worth of food meant for a community food delivery service was stolen from The Old Vicarage hotel and brasserie in Worfield. ‘We just can’t believe this has happened,’ owner David Blakstad said.

The combination of a stressful situation and financial worries means that some security enforcements may have been overlooked

‘Times are really tough for us as a business and we have closed our doors to customers in line with government advice… This serves as a warning to other business owners, with people stripping food, and now the alcohol sections of supermarkets and shops, our bars and kitchens are a target.’

Up in Glasgow, The Thornwood pub was broken into (nothing was taken but there are damages to repair), while café Where The Monkey Sleep had £600 stolen from its till.

‘Because all premises are closed and empty, it’s easy pickings for those looking to profit from this time of hardship,’ explained Jonathan Ratcliffe from security company ‘Our advice is clear – reinforce all security measures before you are targeted!’

As the crisis continues and the pressures increase the more desperate the situation

Jonathan Ratcliffe

With Friday’s (20 March) announcement for all restaurants, bars and pubs to close, the combination of a stressful situation and financial worries means that some security enforcements may have been overlooked, Ratcliffe believes. ‘It’s terrible we are having to issue this advice, but we are sadly seeing pilfering already across the country… the time is now to go into lockdown mode.’

With closure time being unclear, regular safety check are important. ‘Hard defences [boards and shutters) work all the time,’ advises Ratcliffe. ‘However recurring steps such as patrols can be effective. It’s just important to make sure the property has enough deterrents to make it unattractive to a thief.’

However, he also recognises that as time goes on, break in attempts may become more frequent. ‘The problem is that as the crisis continues and the pressures increase the more desperate the situation. This means the risk reward changes and people will take more effort to pilfer.’

Ratcliffe’s top 7 tips for keeping your property safe

1. Reinforce hard deterrents such as considering boarding up back doors, cellar entrances and weak points.
2. All alcohol should be taken out of view, perhaps into the cellar or off site.
3. Remove all charity cash boxes.
4. Leave tills empty and open.
5. Check alarms and CCTV are working.
6. Draw curtains and secure inner doors.
7. Add signage to windows to say you have removed all alcohol, food and cash from the premises.

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