Protect your business from crime

The high crime rate is a reality of doing business in South Africa. Smaller companies, with fewer resources to secure themselves, are particularly vulnerable. Find out what basic measures you can put in place to make your business less of a target.

Security is one of the most important aspects of running a business, so it's not an area where you can afford to cut corners. There are various ways of assuring your company and your employees' safety.

Prevent employee theft

One of the most common threats to the livelihood of a small business is internal theft and fraud. Research shows that the biggest pre-emptor of theft is opportunity, so minimise them:

Implement internal controls 

Put strict policies in place to safeguard assets and financial reporting. For example:

  • Don't allow only one person to record and process transactions
  • Restrict access to financial assets and information to authorised employees only
  • Develop internal controls for initiating, authorising and reviewing transactions
  • Do regular stock-taking to ensure all supplies and equipment are accounted for

Have a strict recruitment procedure

Don't be lax about who you bring into your company. Honesty and integrity should be right up there with skill requirements for the job. To sift out the good from the bad, include pre-employment checks in your hiring policy:

  • Check to see if the person has a criminal record involving theft or fraud
  • Verify that educational qualifications are from recognised institutions
  • Call at least two previous employers to confirm his position, length of employment and why he left

As much as you would like to trust the people working for you, it's important to enforce these policies and take temptation out of the equation. If you do find that an employee has been stealing from you, seek legal advice about how to deal with it.

Bring the community together

Crime against businesses affects everyone living in the community. Your company creates jobs and the security measures you take will improve the safety of the vicinity in general.

  • Team up with other local businesses and share security tips, incidents of crime or suspicious activities, and potentially even the costs of hiring security companies to patrol the area
  • Remind local residents that your security also benefits them. Encourage them to report crime to the police and inform you of any incidents
  • Community Policing Forums have proven very effective in reducing crime in various areas. Contact other businesses, community leaders and the local police station to find out how you can work together to combat crime
  • Establish a good relationship with the neighbourhood police. Support their crime-busting initiatives and ask them to regularly update you on criminal activity in the community

Other tips

  • Hire permanent security guards to patrol the premises and keep track of people coming in and out. Make sure that these guards have been properly checked out
  • Install CCTV cameras to 'keep an eye' on the property, especially at night
  • Spotlights with motion sensors can act as a deterrent for would-be criminals
  • Install tracking devices on all company vehicles and send your drivers on an anti-hijacking course
  • Vary the times of doing and taking deliveries, when you do your banking, etc. Having the same schedule every day can make you a target for robbery
  • Encourage employees to be vigilant when entering and leaving the premises, and to make sure they have secured their property and vehicles
  • And finally, make sure your business is adequately insured against crime. There's nothing worse than having to pay out of your own pocket to replace stolen goods or repair related damage

You don't have to be a victim of crime. Find ways to be part of the solution to make your business and the broader community more secure.

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