It is unfortunate that in our country at the present time because of the high level of crime, it is imperative that the owner of a small business knows how to protect his business against crime.

Recent surveys have highlighted the following factors-

•    Crime is the biggest concern for small businesses especially in the sectors of retail, transport (garages), corner cafes and in emerging businesses in previously disadvantaged areas.
•    There was little confidence about any progress of relief in the future.
•    Many do not see any decrease in crime levels over the next year and others expected crime levels to rise.
•    Burglaries and robberies were the most prominent crimes affecting small business owners
•    In one survey 54% interviewed had experienced one incident of crime in the past year and 31% twice and 20% three times.
•    The main target was cash (gives the criminal 100% return on their investment) and saleable goods-clothing, cameras, laptops etc

The really bad news was that many had limited or no security systems at all, because of the expense involved in acquiring them, and worse still did not have insurance cover. Also, although the figures are not known most reported crimes were only by those who had insurance cover so needed a case number so that they could claim on their insurance. Rape and sexual harassment apparently are on the increase but are not being reported. So the correct figures will never be known. They were therefore easy pickings for the criminals.

In the upper market areas although systems were often in place and the owner had insurance cover, the level of crime was still high because the pickings were much greater and the criminals were taking more risks, especially in retail stores and jeweller shops etc

The negative psychological impact of exposure to crime was very evident amongst those surveyed-trauma and stress was high.


The following points are a guidance-

    There must be better communication with the police and especially follow up by the police.
    Keep in touch with the local neighborhood watch.
    Have a good relationship with other owners nearby.
    You must know your nearest police station, hospital and fire station and how to contact them.
    Always be alert and aware-persons in the vicinity of you premises.

    Don’t let persons into your premises without knowing who they are and ensure that they are escorted.
    Don’t have trees, shrubs blocking entrances, windows, fencing etc.
    Try to get finances to assist you with getting systems such as guards, alarms and especially insurance cover.
    Report crime even if the perpetrators are not known.
    Don’t keep cash on your premises, if it is there, lock it away.
    Have a clean desk policy. Don’t leave confidential documents etc on your desk. Lock them up.
    Watch danger periods and protect your staff going to the banks, change their routes etc
    Don’t leave staff alone at night time.
    Beware of persons looking for jobs.
    Don’t leave briefcases, important documents etc in your car.
    Check out your staff carefully, they may be in league with the criminals.
    Employee relationships are vital; create a positive working place, lead by example.
    Ensure your premises are totally secured at night time, weekends etc.
    Have good lighting in and outside your premises.
    Do you prosecute staff who steal? There are many reasons saying “NO”but I believe that the right course of action is to prosecute. However-“You must go into court with clean hands” i.e. if you yourself are breaking the law (such as not paying VAT), and your staff know, it could prevent you prosecuting because they will report you as well.
    You have an obligation to protect your staff and their assets-handbags etc
    Make sure your fire extinguishers are in order and you have first aid equipment available.
    In buying a small business a security due diligence is necessary, has the seller kept to the law etc. Owners are liable for the safety of their employees.

With regard to specific offences the following points are relevant-

1. Robbery. /Hi-jacking-Often the criminal is armed-

•    Accept their requests-do not argue with offenders.
•    Don’t try to negotiate.
•    It is imperative to identify the robber in one way or the other, such as language, names if used, weapons being used, kind of vehicle escaping in etc.
•    Do not activate alarms unless it is really safe to do so.
•    Deal with the persons in stress-get help.

The best code is DETAIL-

DRESS-what was the robber/criminal wearing
ETHNIC COLOUR-Skin, complexion
TALLNESS AND BUILD-Skinny, fat, tall, thin
AGE-Mid 20s
IMPERFECTIONS-Limp, scars, speech
LOCKS (HAIR)-Length, wavy, clean, dirty

It is not easy to say-but it is better to be a live coward than a dead hero.

2. Shop lifting-

The increase in shoplifting is a cause for concern. Small shop owners must get professional advice-such as lighting, mirrors and rights of searching offenders.

To the small business owner –you don’t want to be a victim of security-precautions are necessary-put them in place. Get training and learn from others experienced in fighting crime.

Having your own business can give you great rewards, one of the dangers is crime, earn how to deal with it. It will be to your advantage, easier said than done.

3. Staff theft

In the chapter on bad habits-mention was made that in certain instances, bad habits were allied
to criminal offences. Within companies, in recent years crime performed by staff has escalated. This crime is generally centred on theft, but in areas such as sexual harassment, there have been increases, which are not often reported. As stated above

I am aware of a case where an owner of a business had R20,000 stolen by a member of staff, and he demanded that it be repaid, or else the owner would inform the police of the theft. The member of staff said in that case he would inform the receiver that VAT had not been paid for 2 years. The member of staff left with the money and the owner took no action against hi, Hence the expression you must go into business with clean hands.

Bob Power, through his business Power Corporate Consultants has been actively involved in training, lecturing and mentoring for many years for those wishing to enter or expand their business, He works on the theme “keep it simple without the use of jargon on legalese”.

He is a lawyer by profession and as a consequence, he has in addition to training. lecturing and mentoring,-formed a business on “Business Advisory Services” which includes services usually required by small business owners/ entrepreneurs-such as legal matters but also financial issues, negotiations, consultancy, due diligence and human resources-in effect collective services which the small business owner/entrepreneur will encountered on his  climbing the ladder of success.

He is also a writer of many books, press cuttings, training material on the same topic of “Assisting those to wish to enter and succeed in business”


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