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Retailer's risks.

Retail stores and single-office buildings are the most likely commercial establishments to be burglarized, according to research done by Temple University's School of Business and Management in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The study, done by professors Simon Hakim and Andrew J. Buck, examines the characteristics of commercial burglaries and the effectiveness of alarms in commercial establishments.

According to the findings, an alarmed store in a mall is almost five times more likely to become a burglary target than a sole occupant manufacturing or service establishment and almost three times more likely than a suite in an office park.

A nonalarmed suite in a single-office building is one-and-a-half times more likely to become a burglary target than similar alarmed suites, while unalarmed suites in office parks are fourteen times more likely to be a burglary target than their alarmed counterparts.

The study also found that remote properties are more likely to be burglarized. Forty-eight percent of all burgled properties that are alarmed and 60 percent of all burgled non-alarmed properties are located more than three blocks away from major roads.

Burglars prefer to break into commercial establishments that are further away from major roads for a number of reasons, says the study. Breaking into a commercial establishment visible to customers and pedestrians increases the burglar's chances of being noticed. Also, access doors to commercial establishments are usually better secured than residences because of insurance requirements, so it takes more time for anyone to get inside, and commercial establishments offer little access concealment, such as shrubs, trees, or pillars.

Most managers of burgled nonretail establishments have a suspect. According to the study, in most cases the burglar is a previous employee, often a drug addict, a cleaning person, or a construction worker from an adjacent property.

The main motive for commercial break-ins depends on the nature of the business. Businesses that are perceived to have large amounts of cash are most often burglarized, says the study. In the case of warehouses, the prepetrator breaks into areas that are poorly illuminated. Retail establishments are more attractive than other commercial establishments because the merchandise is exposed.

Police records reveal several similarities among retail burglaries. Usually only a few items that were visible from the outside are taken. While such stores are often equipped with alarms, the burglar is usually gone in less than ten minutes. (The actual break-in only takes sixty seconds) Suburban police usually take fifteen to twenty minutes to respond; city police take longer.

The high rate of burglaries at alarmed retail establishments does not prove that alarms are ineffective in this setting. The research indicates that the burglary rate would have been much higher in the absence of an alarm.

To be effective, the study found, alarm systems in commercial establishments should serve three purposes--deterrence, detection, and identification. The alarm system must be both audible and connected to a central station. Hidden video cameras should be installed to record the burglary, and signs warning of the alarm system and cameras should be posted to act as a deterrent.

The probability of being burgled with an alarm warning sign is 23 percent, while the probability of being burgled without a sign is 45 percent.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:likelihood of being burglarized
Author:Arbetter, Lisa
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:530
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