Recent shootings and other workplace violence on the news are enough to make any store owner uneasy, but some practical steps in parking lots can improve security for your employees and customers.
Incidents of workplace violence have not been tracked thoroughly, but some data from 2003 to 2008 shows that there were 944 homicides involving workers in retail, according to a study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Retail workers face several risk factors associated with their jobs, including contact with the public, the exchange of money, delivery of goods and services, working alone or in small numbers and working late at night or during early morning hours,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics says in an article from the National Retail Federation.
Paying attention to what’s going on outside your store can help you increase the safety of your employees, the article says.
“If parking lots aren’t the scene of the crime, they are the entry point and staging area for a lot of crime that takes place in stores and shopping centers,” the article says.
Yet most retailers don’t try to secure parking lots, says risk consultant Timothy L. Zehring in the article.
“If a retailer has 50 cameras on the premises, 47 of them will be in the store and three will be in the parking lot,” he says.
To lessen the chances of violence and crime in your parking lot and at your store, Zehring recommends the following steps:
- Natural Observation. Make sure that your store greeters or staff who help customers to their cars are paying attention to what’s going on in the parking lot. Noting and reporting people loitering in cars of lurking around the property may prevent a future crime.
- Mechanical Observation. This step requires monitored surveillance cameras. If you don’t already have cameras on your parking lot, consider adding some. If you do have cameras, make sure they’re being monitored regularly for any suspicious activity.
- Organized Observation. A step up from natural observation, taking this precaution involves store employees or security personnel making rounds in the parking area. Increased surveillance during late night or early morning shifts may add a level of comfort for employees.
Increasing parking lot security not only protects employees, but could also boost business.
“If there is an option, people want to shop at the safest place to go. Even in high-crime areas, they will shop at the places perceived to be the safest,” Zehring says.