Crime prevention tips for commercial child care centers
Every week we receive reports of new claims, at child care centers, that involve one type of criminal activity or another. It appears that the same thing motivates most of these types of activity: the opportunity for a thief to take something he can easily pawn for a quick buck. Our loss descriptions come back with comments like: “unknown smashed window and took VCR, DVD, TV, and Stereo” or “door kicked in, office ransacked” and similarly, “unknown broke in stole money and electronics.”
As you are probably aware oftentimes the broken windows and doors and subsequent damage cost more to repair than the stolen items. So, is there a practical solution to crime? I believe there is, but like many things in life for true value to be obtained from the solutions they have to be well thought out, thorough, and consistently practiced. Additionally, when fighting crime a layered protection gives you the best chance of not becoming a victim of crime.
Burglary has been defined as a “crime of opportunity.” You can eliminate the “opportunity” by making your child care center less inviting and more difficult to enter. A modest investment in time and money plus some common sense behavior changes can make your child care center more burglar proof. Ninety per cent of burglary prevention is physical security. If your center is locked up and unauthorized entry is made difficult, time consuming, noisy and visible, chances of a successful burglary are kept to a minimum. The burglar will pass up your business and look for an easier target.
- Remember that crime prevention is an ongoing task, not something to be focused on once and forgotten about. The causes of crime don’t go away and so shouldn’t our vigilance.
- Make sure all outside entrances and inside security doors have deadbolt locks. Locks on all outside entrances and inside security doors should be double cylinder deadbolts with moveable collars. The deadbolt should have at least one inch throw containing a hardened steel insert and protected by a latch guard.
- Doors (all outside or security doors) should be of solid construction, metal lined and secured with heavy metal crossbars. Jams around doors must be solid. All exposed hinges should be pinned to prevent removal.
- Provide training for all employees so they are familiar with security procedures and know your expectations.
- Evaluate outside lighting. Include motion sensor lights, photocell lights, or lights controlled by a timer.
- Consider leaving a personal car parked at your center over the weekend and a light or two on inside the building. Vary your patterns.
- Consider digital security cameras, which can serve as a deterrent and improve chances of prosecution if a criminal is caught.
- Windows should have secure locks and burglar-resistant glass. Move valuable merchandise away from the door and windows to prevent “smash and grab” thefts.
- Use an employee identification system, if practical. If you have many employees this gives you additional control. Do not tag your keys with the name of your business.
- Consider burglar alarm security systems that can also be part of your fire alarm systems.
- If your center collects cash for tuition make bank deposits often and during business hours. Do not establish a regular pattern. Take different routes at different times during the day.
- Organize a business watch, patterned after the Neighborhood Watch concept. Get to know the people who operate the businesses in your area. Watch for suspicious activity and report it to the police immediately. Advertise that you are a member.
- Mark all electronics, including computers, televisions, stereos, and DVD players with an identification number. Keep a record of all identification numbers off the premises with other important records.
- If a thief confronts you or your employees, cooperate. Merchandise and cash can always be replaced, but people cannot.