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You can help remove the temptation to shoplift by implementing the following ideas:

  • Keep tight checks and controls on restrooms and fitting rooms.
  • Keep unused checkout aisles closed. Schedule adequate personnel to assure coverage during peak shopping hours.
  • Keep infrequently used doors locked.
  • Post anti-shoplifting signs.
  • Use plainclothes patrols in larger stores.
  • Train employees on what to do when they spot a shoplifter.
  • Turn over apprehended shoplifters to the police and follow through with prosecution.
  • During busy periods, station a uniformed guard at your exit.

…Credit Card Fraud

Credit card forgery is a crime that is rapidly increasing. Transactions must be carefully scrutinized, particularly when comparing signatures. Credit card companies or credit departments should be called for authorization numbers especially when:

  • The purchase is over the charge limit.
  • The number appears in the cancellation bulletin.
  • The card is expired.
  • The card is not valid.
  • Signatures do not match.
  • The card appears to have been tampered with or altered.
  • The card holder has no other ID or refuses to produce additional ID.

Helpful theft prevention tips include:

  • Check signatures.
  • Check the purchaser’s date of birth with picture on required ID (pay special attention to age)
  • Require more than one ID in addition to the credit card.

…Bad Checks

The optimum protection against receiving worthless checks and/or having problems with customers is to have an established check cashing policy that is strictly adhered to and posted for everyone to see. You can help prevent bad checks by following these tips:

  • Require two forms of ID (one with a photo).
  • Compare ID information with the person, not just the ID with the information on the check.
  • Use extreme caution when given a personal check not torn from a checkbook in your presence.


Your customers want to feel safe when they visit, and they are likely to return if their visit is positive. Law enforcement encourages businesses to subscribe to the Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) concept as an easy way to ensure that their business is safe and secure.

What is CPTED?

It is the design and layout of the business that eliminates or reduces criminal behavior and at the same time encourages people to “keep an eye out” for each other. The National Crime Prevention Institute defines the purpose of CPTED as:

“The proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction of fear and incidence of crime, and an improvement in the quality of life.”

Apply these CPTED principles to your business:

  • Locate check-out counters near the front of the store, clearly visible from the outside so that employees can better watch all activities.
  • Clearly mark public paths. Make private areas harder for non-employees to access.
  • Use signs to direct patrons to parking and entrances.
  • Prevent easy access to the roof or fire escape from the ground by trimming trees adjacent to the building. Secure roof access and fire escape ladders with locking covers.
  • Provide rear access to shops if rear parking is offered.
  • If possible, install rear windows to face parking areas for increased visibility.
  • Do not cover up windows with advertising or display material.
  • Use interior shelving and displays no higher than five feet, even lower in front of windows.
  • Fully illuminate the exterior of the building and grounds at night.
  • Design loading areas that avoid hiding places for people and merchandise.
  • Maintain clear visibility from the store to the street, sidewalk, parking areas and passing vehicles.
  • Place all entrances under visual surveillance. 
  • Consider installing an alarm system.

Maintaining your property

This is an important part of your overall security. A rundown business can attract criminals. Follow these simple suggestions to maintain a customer-friendly business:

  • Keep buildings and walks clean and repaired.
  • Maintain parking areas to a high standard without potholes or trash.
  • Remove faded posters, broken signs, and other displays that are beyond their useful lives.
  • Keep plants and all landscaping in good condition.

Consider the “nuts and bolts” of security

The following are suggestions to provide a burglar-resistant environment for you and your employees:

  • Utilize deadbolt locks with a minimum 1” throw bolt containing a hardened, saw-resistant steel insert on all exterior doors. If you choose double cylinder deadbolts, check with your local building inspector or fire department to see if these locks are permitted.
  • Pin the hinges on any exterior doors that swing out. Simply remove the center screw from each side of the hinge and insert a metal pin or headless screw on one side. This will prevent the door from being removed.
  • Replace hollow-core doors with solid-core doors. Replace weak door frames or reinforce them with steel or concrete. Protect glass in the door with mesh or a polycarbonate sheet.
  • To secure windows, consider adding clear polycarbonate sheets. If this is too expensive, consider roll down covers, grates, or bars. Remember to check with your local fire department or building inspector on these additions.
  • If you are considering purchasing an alarm system, contact several reputable companies and get a full assessment of your needs. If you do purchase an alarm system, consider adding the following features:

Panic buttons (in case of robbery)

Fire/smoke detectors

Monitored systems (contacts law enforcement if alarm is activated)

Burglary Prevention

Your best prevention against a burglar is visibility: well-lit open spaces, low counters, and large, uncluttered display windows. Put your cash register up front so that the burglar’s activity will be visible from the outside. When closing your business, empty your cash drawers and leave them open so a burglar won’t be tempted to break them open. Anchor safes in concrete. Additionally, you should:

  • Be observant of strangers in and around your business.
  • Don’t tempt a burglar by leaving valuables visible.
  • Etch all equipment with owner’s full driver’s license number

(This includes tools, computers, cash registers, and anything that is easily removed from your business.)

If you suspect your business has been burglarized:

  • Immediately call the Polk County Communication Center at 515-286-3333 or dial 911.
  • Don’t go in – the burglar may still be inside.
  • Don’t open for business – your employees and customers may unwittingly destroy or alter valuable evidence.
  • Contact the Johnston Police Department for a free security survey of your business.