As an entrepreneur, your business is like your other home. You have everything invested in it, and everything in your life revolves around it. When things are going great, you feel great; when they aren’t, you feel stressed and frustrated. Like with your home, if your business is the victim of a break-in, you can feel violated.
Estimates say that around 1 million break-ins happen yearly, many of which occur at small businesses. Even if a business doesn’t have cash on site, they are always a good target for thieves because of computers, electronics, inventory, and equipment. If thieves hit your business, you need to take steps immediately to get through the aftermath. Here’s how to help your business recover after a break-in.
Make Sure It’s Safe
When you get to work and notice the signs of a break-in, such as a damaged door or a broken window, your first inclination might be to run inside to see if anything is gone or damaged. While it’s your business and it’s important to you, do not go in without taking great care. If you can’t see much beyond that initial entry point, you may not want to go inside if the perpetrator is still in there. They may cause you injury or worse if you discover them. Don’t try to be a hero since your life and health are not worth the physical items in your business, no matter how much you care for them.
Contact The Police
Contact the police immediately after discovering a break-in. This is especially true if you are unsure if the criminal is still inside. Crimes are more easily solved the sooner the police can get to the scene. Also, even though your fingerprints are already all over the property, you should avoid touching too many things. That way, you can prevent rubbing off fingerprints or ruining other evidence that might lead to the perpetrators.
Document As Much As You Can
The police may take pictures, but you should take your own set of pictures or videos of the scene. Document any doors or windows that were damaged for entry. Take photos of the damage and the mess inside. Make sure that you include the empty spaces where the thieves removed something from the building. You should be as thorough as possible, as these photos can be used with your insurance claim as proof of theft.
Take An Inventory
The only way for the police or your insurance company to know what is missing is if you tell them. The only way to do that is for you to take a thorough inventory of your property and figure out what is missing. If you are able, make a note of its value as well. This will tell the police what level of crime they are dealing with and tell your insurance company how much you will be looking for in compensation. If possible, your inventory should include the missing brand and type of everything and even where you purchased it. As a business, make it a habit to keep all of your purchase receipts so you can find this information easily should you need it.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Even if the criminals are caught, there is very little chance that you will get your property back. They will often try to sell it quickly to get it off their hands and make their money. The best way to get money back is by making a claim through your commercial property insurance. This coverage will protect you against the costs associated with damage or theft to your property. Along with theft, you can get coverage for vandalism, weather events, water damage from plumbing leaks, and damage to your exterior signage and installments. Depending on what was stolen, a break-in can leave you financially in the hole if you have to replace everything yourself. Having the right insurance will help protect you against financial damage.
Clean Up and Repair
It’s hard to do, but you may need to close down your business for a day or two to get things back to normal. You don’t want customers coming in if you have a mess on your hands. They may think that the neighborhood is unsafe and avoid your establishment. Plus, if there are broken locks, you may be unable to keep things safe. Take the time to clean up the mess so that your business looks as good as new. Contact a locksmith and a door repair service to replace what needs replacing. Get a window professional to seal up any broken sections so they can come back later to install new glass.
Prevent It From Happening Again
Just because it happened once does not mean it can’t happen again. In fact, sometimes criminals will get away once and then return again for items they couldn’t take with them the first time. Therefore, investing in additional steps to protect your business is in your best interest. For starters, make sure that the way they accessed the building in the first place is no longer an option for them. It might involve new locks or stronger doors. You can also get shatter-proof windows that are very difficult to break, even with a brick thrown at them.
You can also get security cameras set up around the building inside and out. Make sure that you put up signage to let people know that you have cameras. Since the goal is to prevent security issues, the signage will deter criminals from targeting you.
It can be heartbreaking to discover that your business has been broken into. However, there is no need to dwell on it. Acting quickly will make it more likely that the police will be able to catch the criminals, and it will help you open back up faster. Take these steps after a break-in to get back up and running and prevent it from happening again.