4 Steps to Take to Improve Retail Store Security

The increase in retail crime is a world-wide trend. It is no longer simply about the spontaneous theft of products by individuals from store shelves. The definition of retail security has expanded to include co-ordinated theft by organised gangs, the ram raiding of store fronts using vehicles, and looting by large, uncontrolled crowds. The focus of this blog post is on ways to physically stop or slow down the criminals.

Physical security barriers like gates and roller shutters are not impenetrable. But the better they are designed the more resilient they are to attack. Criminals are forced to spend more time than planned to try to get through. This buys time for security services to react and stop the attack from succeeding.

The way they are designed is key to how long these barriers will hold out under attack. There is no local watchdog body in SA that physically tests barrier security products and sets standards by which to judge and rate them. In general, insurance companies have set the standard, and this is at the bare minimum.

Leading security barrier manufacturer, Trellidor, went the international route. High security Trellidor designs are certified to BRE Loss Prevention Standard LPS1175 specifications. This is an internationally recognised, independent third-party security rating that tests the strength of security doors under forced entry attack using various tools. Several Trellidor security barrier designs have achieved this certification.


Physical security products to improve store security

The financial loss to retailers as a result of crime is huge and costs are often passed on to customers, who face higher prices. Then there is the safety aspect. How do you make sure staff and customers are safe in-store? There are several ways to provide physical protection for merchandise, staff, and customers. Let’s look at four of these in more detail.



1. Protect the store front with high quality security doors

The need for this type of solution was highlighted during the unrest experienced in Durban in 2021. Many properties were vandalised by rioting and looting crowds. It was all captured on social media for the world to see.

Stores that had inferior quality roller shutters or trellis gates stood no chance of keeping these crowds out. The vandals simply smashed their way through the barriers and surged into the stores.

The lesson learned here was that it is no use replacing cheap store front security barriers with more of the same. It is worth investing in high quality gates or shutters that are capable of withstanding a severe assault.

On a daily basis, retailers usually face less dramatic, more common crimes such as smash and grabs of merchandise displayed in windows. High strength security doors such as anti-lift roller shutters are a worthwhile investment. They do an excellent job of protecting visible stock from this type of robbery after trading hours.





2. Protect staff and customers with a safe zone

The armed attack on Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013 gave retailers around the world a wakeup call. Staff and shoppers were terribly exposed to the violence. It raised the question of whether physically protected safe zones within stores could have protected more people from the terrorists? The answer depends on the circumstances, but a safe zone is definitely worth considering.


An in-store safe zone is an area that has been fitted with physical barriers in windows and doors. If there is sufficient warning of a criminal attack, staff and customers can take cover in this safe zone, protected until help arrives.


This solution involves installing a high-quality roller shutter in the doorway of a suitable room, possibly the stock room. Windows should be protected with strong burglar proofing. The danger is that people could be trapped in the safe room, so plans should include an escape route through a back door or window with burglar proofing that can be opened in an emergency.





3. Protect targeted merchandise in-store with secure cages

There are certain categories of merchandise that criminals seem to favour. These include perfume, cigarettes, e-cigarette products, alcohol, and mobile phones. This was a growing problem for a large UK retail chain, particularly for their stores located in fuel station forecourts.


The answer was to fit secure cages created with lockdown roller shutters around the area where these products are displayed and sold. The products are hidden inside the cage, so there is less temptation and access. There is also less work involved for staff as these products don’t have to be taken to a stock room at the end of the trading day to keep them safe.





4. Use physical security barriers to slow criminals down and risk discovery

Criminals aim to get in and out as quickly as possible. Any delays put them at risk of being caught. The more barriers they have to overcome, the higher the risk of discovery. This is why retail store security providers usually advise the installation of layers of several types of security to protect a store against crime.


A retail security checklist should include a range of security systems. The list will include some or all of the following:

  • External and/or internal trellis gates and roller shutters. If strong enough, these barriers increase the time it takes for criminals to get inside the store.
  • Alarms and sensors that are activated upon an attempted break-in to alert armed response that a robbery is in progress.
  • Surveillance cameras catch the robbers in the act and help to identity them.
  • Bollards or large, sturdy plant pots or other physical deterrents outside the store to help prevent ram raiding.



In conclusion, the cost of retail crime in all respects is far too high to ignore. There are many steps to take to improve security within a store but the one that makes the most sense is to get expert help. Providers of the various forms of retail store security are usually willing to work together to find the best solution to keep customers, staff, and merchandise safe. To find help with physical barriers, contact your nearest Trellidor outlet.

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