With the holidays upon us, thieves are realizing the same thing your customers have come to expect at this time of year. And that’s the fact that your store is full of cool new and expensive inventory! And this just adds to the everyday stress every FFL already experiences regarding keeping your inventory safe and secure when you head home each evening.
What we can be sure of at this time of year is the typical increase in gun shop burglaries resulting from the increase in store inventory levels. Holiday retailing brings with it a double-edged sword. You need to have a wide assortment of quality inventory on-hand to meet the needs and demands of all the December shoppers and to support your holiday promotions. This seasonal change in standard stock-keeping practices will result in overcrowding the retail floor and stock areas and may even compromise your security standards consistently practiced throughout the year. And to be realistic, it’s just what retailers must do this time of year with hopes of “stacking it high to watch it fly”!
So, what can you do to safeguard against burglaries during this busy selling all season?
Let’s tackle this issue with a realistic and cost-effective approach.
First, you should stay abreast of crime statistics and criminal activities including burglaries and robberies in your local area by speaking with your local law enforcement agency and by stopping in at your local police station. Now might be the best time to introduce yourself if you haven’t already and build good rapport with your local law enforcement partners. And if convenient, invite the local patrol officers to stop in, meet your team and take a tour / see the layout of the facility. This will surely help if there is a middle-of-the-night alarm requiring police response.
Next, conduct a thorough security self-assessment and survey your facility starting at the curb, working your way through the store, the security systems, and finally through to the rear receiving areas and finally the exterior. Your security survey should include inspecting your roof and HVAC access, and exterior lighting. And remember to inspect the surrounding areas, checking for anything unusual that criminals can use gain entry such as stacks of pallets or ladders which may provide access to roofs, windows and upper level areas.
When checking the security of your building, consider how many layers of physical security protection are installed, or can be added, to slow down anyone attempting to penetrate your facility to access your firearms. If your glass is not protected, what can you do in the short term to add barriers to entry? Can you move store display gun safes to block the front glass windows or doors? Can you purchase roll-away scissor gates to add credible and highly visible security deterrence to vandals thinking about busting through your unprotected glass?
If you have special-order long guns stacked down main aisles, can they be palletized to be moved to rear stock areas and secured after hours? And although you may not remove your handguns from display showcases after hours throughout the year, this may be a good time to do so to provide temporary and higher-grade security. Remember, the most critical part of preventing burglaries is creating layers of security that will slow-down the burglary process to prevent access to firearms and allow more time for police to respond to a burglar alarm.
Finally, being creative with your security this time of year may prove to be the critical element in preventing a burglary at your location. Leaving your selling area lights on can create the illusion that employees are on the premises. Many retailers recruit overnight staffing this time of year to do overnight stocking and recovery. If you have delivery or company vehicles not being used, consider moving them to block doors that vandals may use to gain entry.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the value of a hand-made sign in the front or rear store windows at night that can alert would-be thieves that “all guns secured after hours”. The media has recently reported several burglaries where gun shops have been vandalized and firearms were stored away in security safes or secure areas, resulting in no losses of firearms but many thousands of dollars in damage to the retail or range location. So, send the right message this holiday season and avoid unnecessary damage, headache and heartache.