Security Brief: The Vacant Store Next Door

When it comes to running a jewelry store, close friends are important. On March 26, burglars entered a jewelry store in Parker, Colo., by breaking through the wall of an adjacent vacant retail space. In an economy where store closures and vacancies are commonplace, the robbery tactic has become commonplace, said John Kennedy, president of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance. “Empty storefronts are invitations to break in,” he said. “And they give burglars infinite time to work because they know there’s not an alarm in the vacant space, so they can come and go easily.”

We asked Kennedy to share his top tips for protecting your store when nobody’s home next door:

Lock up your merchandise

“People always say they don’t have room in their safe to put away all of their merchandise every night, but if you have a store next door that’s empty, you’d better find a way to put things away,” says Kennedy. “Generally retailers leave out more low-end merchandise, but we’ve seen instances where people leave out hundreds and thousands of dollars in merchandise—plus they have extensive damage done to the store. It can make for a very costly couple of days.”

Alarm your entire store

Door alarms don’t amount to much when your thieves are slicing man-size holes through the walls, says Kennedy. Which is why vibration- or motion-detection security systems are crucial for foiling burglary attempts. “The entire premises need to be alarmed. Too often there’s limited alarm protection, and [upgrading] that protection is particularly urgent if you have an adjacent space that’s empty.”

Call on the cops

Depending on your location, “you can ask police department to give particular attention to the premises” during the time the adjoining store is vacant, says Kennedy. “When police are on patrol, they can take a look at the premise more than your average store—maybe cruising by every couple of hours instead of every four hours.”