A B&E to learn by
By Tom StankiewiczFeatures Business and Operations Health & Safety
Tuesday night I locked up my pizzeria, just like I would any other
night, and went home. About an hour later the alarm system went off.
Besides being monitored by the security company, my alarm system is also
connected to my cell to ring as soon as it goes off.
Tuesday night I locked up my pizzeria, just like I would any other night, and went home. About an hour later the alarm system went off. Besides being monitored by the security company, my alarm system is also connected to my cell to ring as soon as it goes off. This way, I know the second something triggers the alarm before I get a call from the security company. Having it set up to call my mobile definitely gives me additional peace of mind.
When I went back to see what had happened, I quickly realized that we had been victims of a break and enter. Of course, my initial reaction was disbelief and shock. This had never happened to us before. I noticed right away that one of the front windows had been smashed to pieces and the cash register taken. Some change and tape from our cash register was strewn all over the parking lot.
I guess it wasn’t our lucky night because we were the fifth business targeted by the same robber within half an hour. Out of all those businesses, we were the only ones with a security camera system. This allowed the police to look at the tape and see who was doing this damage. Information was quickly dispatched to police officers in the area and the criminal was caught shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, he had robbed two more businesses before he was apprehended. It turned out to be a middle-aged man driving a minivan. I’m not sure how he had got inside the other businesses but he had used a huge rock to break our window. Our windows are very thick but the guy had been determined to get in. The rock broke in half and yet he had kept hitting all windows until one of them smashed.
You might ask why I am sharing this story with you. Well, after this incident, it occurred to me that it doesn’t matter how much security and protection the business location might have. If someone wants to get in, they will find a way. Today’s technology is pretty advanced. You can purchase high-tech cameras, watch your business from anywhere in the world, yet this doesn’t seem to deter or bother a guy with a rock who is determined to steal something from you.
I’m glad we had installed the cameras because they led to quick apprehension of the suspect. But that’s pretty much where my happiness ends. For the nominal amount of money that this guy stole, this whole thing really just created a huge inconvenience and it will cost me about $5,000 by the time everything is fixed. I spent most of the night looking for someone who would have a piece of plywood to cover the broken window. The next day I had to purchase a new cash register because my old one is part of evidence and it can’t be released to me. Then I had to contact my insurance company and my landlord to find out whose insurance will cover the damages. This is when I found out that my insurance company covered only up to $500 of the money that was in the cash register. If your policy is like mine, if you happen to leave more than that, then you might never get it back.
We are located on a pretty busy street and we thought this gave us a definite advantage against potential criminal activity. Well, we were wrong. My advice to every business owner out there is to be smart and use common sense when it comes to protecting your business. It’s great to have a security system but don’t rely too much on it. It is designed to catch the criminals, maybe slow them down a bit, but not to protect anything you have inside your place of business. If you don’t need to keep anything valuable in there, then take it out.
One of the simplest things you can do to minimize potential break-ins is to leave the lights on when you close for the day. It’s definitely not a foolproof guarantee but it’s better than lights off, which makes it more comfortable for the criminals. If you have a separate office space, then keep it locked at night. It’s one more door that needs to be opened by them and hopefully they won’t have time to do it. Ensure you have high-quality door locks installed to prevent thieves from getting inside. The more difficult it is for them to open the door, the less likely it is that they will steal something. Remember that an alarm system only lets you know that someone has gained access to your business; it doesn’t stop them from breaking in. •
Tom Stankiewicz has been in the pizza business for more than 15 years. He has been the proprietor of Bondi’s Pizza in London, Ont., since 2000 and is president of the Canadian Pizza Team.
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