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Thieves and vandals are targeting temporarily closed business properties across the UK during the Coronavirus lockdown

As businesses around the country follow new lockdown rules and close for the foreseeable future, the risk to owners of all unoccupied properties grows greater day by day.

We thought it might happen but, when it did, the rapid closures were sudden and caught most retailers and hospitality outlets on the hop. Having to shut-up a business, literally overnight, with all the stock still on the shelves, has caused all sorts of problems for business owners and property managers.

Unfortunately, many of the closed shops, pubs and restaurants have already been targeted for their alcohol and cash because they’re seen as easy pickings.

Within days of the lockdown commencing, two vacated pubs in Kent were broken into and Police across the UK have reported similar cases of burglary and vandalism in Manchester, Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Glasgow.

The UK’s pub trade publication, The Morning Advertiser, reported on the issue that news of the lockdown hit the industry suddenly, forcing many pubs and restaurants to overlook security as they rushed to close their doors. It is likely that those who haven’t properly secured their premises will, therefore, find themselves at risk from illegal occupation or squatters, the theft of stock or criminal damage during the lockdown.

Following a rise in cases, the Police are urging business owners and property managers to reinforce their security measures to prevent their properties and land from being targeted. Security industry providers strongly echo this advice and are advising clients to better prepare.

In an interesting article from Avon and Somerset Police, businesses are being encouraged to work in partnership with local communities to reduce their risk, through the sharing of information online. Opportunist thieves are taking their chances during the lockdown, but if communities follow the advice to work with local police then, together, they stand a chance of keeping the number of burglary and theft cases down.

Effective security measures that can be taken to secure vulnerable properties and land include concrete barrier perimeter protection, steel doors, steel window screens, video-verified alarm systems and CCTV, and even hired security guards or dog units.

We understand that for many of you this may be the first time your properties or sites are being left empty for an extended period of time. You should be concerned, but there are precautions you can take immediately to secure your properties and sites from opportunist break-ins and theft.

  • Reinforce hard deterrents such as locks and bolts, and consider boarding up back doors, cellar entrances and vulnerable points such as windows.
  • All alcohol should be taken out of view, perhaps into the cellar or preferably off site if possible.
  • Remove all charity collection boxes or staff gratuity tins.
  • Leave tills empty and open.
  • Check alarms and CCTV are working and reposition cameras, if necessary, to cover entrances and exits. Consider installing extra units for added protection in the interim.
  • Draw curtains, close blinds and secure inner doors.
  • Add signage to windows to say you have removed all alcohol, food and cash from the premises and the property is under security surveillance.
  • Remember: it’s all about visual and physical deterrents.
  • And finally, don’t forget to check your insurance policy to make sure you’re covered in these different circumstances, especially if the property is insured as being occupied 24/7 and is now empty.

Clearway is happy to provide advice and guidance on protecting vulnerable properties and to answer any questions you may have, particularly in these extraordinarily challenging times.

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