By Sgt. Robert Simmons, East County Policing SGTTopeka Police Department
Violent crimes get the most attention in Topeka; however, property crimes are far more likely. Employee theft, shoplifting, criminal damage and burglaries are all common crimes for some businesses in our community. You, as a business, can help reduce crime.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a concept that has been around for years. In its simplest form, CPTED teaches us to alter our environment to discourage criminal activity. The goal of CPTED is the reduction of opportunities for crime to occur. This reduction is achieved by employing physical design features that discourage crime, while at the same time encouraging legitimate use of the environment.
The Topeka Police Department has sent numerous officers to CPTED training so they may be qualified to complete property assessments for residences and businesses in our community. Contact the Topeka Police Department Community Policing Unit to assist you with an assessment.
In 2014, approximately 31.7% of all reported thefts in the City of Topeka were from shopliftings.
Q. What can we do to reduce shoplifting in our store?
A. Since each business is different, there is no simple answer. Each business poses different challenges and numerous variables alter the advice we provide. With that said, please understand that some of the advice listed may not apply to your specific business, and as a disclaimer, none of the suggestions provided guarantee a crime-free environment.
6 TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR ODDS AGAINST THEFT
1. Train your employees
Ensure each of your employees knows how to handle different situations. If the business is being robbed, do they know what is expected of them? Or, if they witness someone conceal an item on their person, what are they supposed to do next? Are they allowed to confront them? Should they immediately call the police? Don’t wait for these incidents to occur before having a plan.
2. Pay attention to your customers
When customers walk into your business, make sure to greet them. Give them eye contact and make sure they know you see them. It is not only good customer service to have a warm welcome, but it also lets them know you are paying attention to them. Criminals don’t want to stand out.
3. Stay observant
Always pay attention to your surroundings inside and outside the business. We know you might be tempted to check your Facebook status or send text messages, but fight that urge and be aware of everything around you.
4. Be a good witness
The police will need important details from you if you witness a crime. For people, we want to know gender, race, clothing, height, weight, hair color, jewelry worn, tattoos, scars, etc. For cars, we want to know color make, model, approximate year, license plate number, damage, etc.
You get the idea, the more details the better. It also helps if you can tell us what direction they left, so know your cardinal directions (North, South, East and West).
5. Visibility inside and outside
Employees should be able to see as much of the store as possible from a given point, so if someone thinks about stealing something, they know eyes are on them at all times. This is also true for outside. Make sure that when people drive by your business, they can see inside the store. Do not clutter your windows with posters and signs.
6. Surveillance equipment
While cameras may not always in itself prevent crime, it can be very helpful in making an identification of a suspect after the fact. Our Detectives and Criminal Intelligence Unit have made numerous successful arrests thanks to surveillance footage.