With publicans’ minds already boggled over how to pay rent, adopting takeaways and furloughing staff, the last thing you could have foreseen is that you may have to give your site an extra suit of armour too.
But the truth is, during the lockdown, pubs have been targeted by thieves and vandals, reinforcing the susceptibility of our British institution to such crimes further.
The Bank pub in Bolton, Greater Manchester, issued a warning on its Facebook page on Monday 23 March saying its premises had been broken into, as well as four other nearby sites, with thieves targeting alcohol and cash from charity boxes.
A Greene King pub in Hampshire, that had recently undergone a refurbishment and was due to reopen before the coronavirus pandemic hit, was also broken into from which alcohol and furniture was stolen.
But rest assured, The Morning Advertiser has put together some top tips from security experts of how to implement extra measures that can improve safety for your site, yourselves and your staff.
A peace of mind
To deter criminal activity, CCTV is the biggest and most recognised benefit. Outside of being able to monitor your premises, CCTV cameras are a deterrent for burglars.
According to Broadsword Security Services, studies have found that using CCTV in car parks resulted in a 51% decrease in crime; in public transportation areas a 23% decrease in crime; and in public settings, a 7% decrease in crime. Even the lowest figure in these categories – 7% – is a significant improvement.
Innstay managing director Martin Thomas said: “CCTV systems are a crucial deterrent when it comes to property security. Most councils will insist on a certain level of security system as part of the licensing measures for each pub.
“At Innstay, we offer on-site surveys to create bespoke CCTV solutions for each venue, the key is to get a balance between being secure and not intimidating customers by having cameras everywhere.
“The latest technology allows us to install discreet cameras with lengthy storage capability, meaning the licensee has to be involved less and less with their systems, they can just have the peace of mind that they are there if they need them.
“As a lot of pubs no longer have living quarters and many licensees will now be off-site, it is important they can access their CCTV remotely. Innstay’s systems come with the ability to use a mobile app, owners can check on their property from anywhere in the world at the push of a button.”
A camera system provides an increased sense of security, reassurance and peace of mind, particularly in areas where the crime rate is high.
It acts as a comfort blanket and gives you confidence that your property is being watched during lockdown.
Innstay has also drawn attention to the security risk that fruit machines hold during lockdown being a major attraction for thieves.
Innstay marketing director Helena Rudd said: “Fruit machines are often seen as a security risk when sites are locked down. In particularly security-conscious locations, there are devices such as security skirts that can be attached to machines to deter any break-ins.
“When the Prime Minster announced lockdown for pubs and bars across the UK last month, we had a plan in place to secure all of our machines within a three-day period.
“We worked as a team to empty all machines, leave them noticeably open and stuck a sign to each. This sign read ‘Machine emptied due to Covid-19. There is no cash in this machine’.”
Rudd added: “As the machine was left emptied and open, our customers were satisfied that the fruit machines would not act as an attraction for break-ins.
“Many of our customers have provided feedback to say that having their fruit machines emptied has led to one less worry during this uncertain time. Premises security is still a concern for many of them.”
Vulnerable to forced entry
A City of London Police spokesperson has also laid out some pointers to reinforce your security defences.
Protection from the outside
- Identify any areas of your premises that may be vulnerable to forced entry and have them made more secure, paying particular attention to windows and doors
- Make sure any service doors are locked and secure when not in use
- Make sure you have a monitored alarm and that it’s fully operational
- Ensure your CCTV works, provides facial recognition as well as good-quality images, and covers any vulnerable areas – 24-hour digital CCTV is also highly recommended
- Wheelie bins, and the like, should be stored away as these can be used to climb on to gain access to the building, especially via the first floor
- Sufficient lighting around the premises can be used to deter criminals and also help to improve CCTV images captured
- Prune any overgrown bushes or nearby trees as they can provide cover for anyone trying to hide from view
- External shutters, although effective, may require planning approval. We would encourage the use of attack-resistant laminated glass in sturdy frames where possible. Alternatively, film can be applied to glass to make it more resilient
- Anti-ram raider bollards mounted externally can be used to protect the front of premises but may require planning approval. Owners of businesses that may be subject to smash-and-grab-style burglaries, due to high-value stock being kept in their windows, should consider looking into this option
Protection from the inside
- Consider moving high-value goods away from display windows overnight
- Try not to keep cash on the premises and always use a bolted-down safe with a time lock and anti-tamper sensors that trigger an alarm
- Make sure stockrooms are locked and, where possible, keep stock out of sight
- Smoke-generating devices that activate on unauthorised entry create a smokescreen and foil burglary but are designed not to damage stock
- Make sure your keys are not left on the premises and that only designated staff have access. In case of emergency, make sure there’s a list of keyholders who can be contacted
With the lockdown hitting the industry suddenly on Friday 20 March, forcing many pubs and restaurants to close quickly, security may have been compromised.
Therefore, those who haven’t properly secured their premises could be at risk from break-ins and theft during the crisis.
Jonathan Ratcliffe of security company CCTV.co.uk said: “Because all premises are closed and empty, it’s easy pickings for those looking to profit from this time of hardship.
“Our advice is clear – reinforce all security measures before you are targeted.”
Here are some extra steps you can also consider to protect your site:
- Reinforce hard deterrents, such as considering boarding up back doors, cellar entrances and weak points
- All alcohol should be taken out of view, perhaps placed into the cellar or off-site
- Remove all charity cash boxes
- Leave tills empty and open
- Check alarms and CCTV are working
- Draw curtains and secure inner doors
- Add signage to windows to say you have removed all alcohol, food and cash from the premises
Ratcliffe continued: “It’s terrible we are having to issue this advice, but we are sadly seeing pilfering already across the country.
“We aren’t seeing shortages too badly yet, but I’m personally worried that if we do, premises will be targeted for food and alcohol – so the time is now to go into lockdown mode.”