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Commercial Burglary – How Common, Impact, Risk & Deterrents

Businesses are an attractive target for burglars because, depending on the type of business, they tend to be way less secure than homes.

Whether it’s offices, shops or street vendors; none are immune to the crime. According to the UK crime stats, there were 19,011 burglaries in April 2020 alone, constituting both domestic and commercial break-ins.

A commercial burglary involves illegally breaking into an office building, store, warehouse, or any similar structure to steal, cause damage, or inflict harm.

In recent news, 11 out of 13 men who committed over 50 burglaries across the north have been caught, out of which 4 of the criminals were arrested after a commercial burglary in West Yorkshire.

Commercial burglaries have always been very lucrative for criminals and are becoming more common, as the objects stolen, such as from a store, could be worth a lot more than what they would generally find at a residential property.

The only thing keeping them out is the security measures taken by the business, which is why they hold so much importance and must be given topmost priority.

Read on to find out the types of commercial burglaries, the impact they have on businesses, the risks, and how they can be avoided.


Before you take measures to burgle-proof your business, you must understand the different types of commercial burglaries and how they are carried out by criminals.

The West Yorkshire Police department categorizes commercial burglaries into three broad types:

  • Smash and grab

As the name suggests, it involves smashing their way in and grabbing whatever valuables the burglars can find.

It is one of the most common types of commercial burglary with retail shops being their typical targets, but other businesses being just as vulnerable.

According to the police, the smash and grab may also involve the use of stolen cars to be driven, read: smashed, into the premises so that they can force their way inside and get out as soon as possible. This is also known as ram-raiding and causes significant damage to the property along with being a serious public hazard.

These burglaries are carried out at such a great speed to avoid being caught, obviously, and also to avoid the effects of a security alarm installed at the premises.

  • Opportunistic

Burglars are opportunists and take advantage of every vulnerability they can find, such as unlocked doors and windows, poor lighting, and faulty security alarms, to name a few, that’ll help them break in and steal.

Since this isn’t planned out properly, the burglars usually just quickly grab what they can get away with. They might smash a window and steal valuables kept near to it, which is one of the reasons why valuables must always be hidden from plain sight and especially kept away from windows.

Retail stores that display items at the window are most at risk here since it’s part of their product display and marketing.

  • Sophisticated

This type of burglary involves careful planning, observation, and valuable inside information to carry out the crime.

It involves the burglars overcoming, and sometimes even tampering with the alarm systems to gain access to steal high-value goods and target the business safe, which they often remove entirely.

Another common ploy is to set off the alarm over and over again until the police and key holders disregard them as false alarms. With the security alarms disabled, it gives the criminals the chance to enter the premises without any obstructions in their way.


The impact of burglary on a business is pretty far-reaching and includes not just financial losses and property damage, but a lot of other things too.

For many businesses, especially small ones, it is very challenging and it sometimes becomes difficult to bounce back, forcing them to shut down.

The effects of a burglary on any business include:

  • Financial losses

Most burglars are after money and try to steal the most valuable items a business owns.

According to the FSB, around 50% of small businesses in the UK have been a victim of at least one crime in the past two years, amounting to an annual cost of up to £12.9 billion.

That is a staggering amount and doesn’t even take into account the offences committed against larger organizations.

  • Property damage

Acts of crime usually involve force, and forcing themselves inside a property involves the perpetrators breaking things such as doors and windows.

As mentioned above, the smash and grab burglary involves smashing their way inside by breaking stuff, and ram-raiding involves the use of a car to force their way in, causing substantial damage.

Burglars are often in a hurry and have zero regard for the property, often breaking things to find valuable items to steal.

Sophisticated burglars try and tamper with security systems, which sometimes results in huge repairing costs.

  • Lost time

A burglary might result in complete or partial downtime for the business since it needs time for repairing the damages done.

Time is money, and even more so valuable for a business. Every minute lost results in additional financial losses.

Also, the management might need time to deal with the issue and take the necessary measures to avoid any such incidents happening in the future.

  • Employee and customer dissatisfaction

Commercial burglaries often leave the employees and customers of the business feeling dissatisfied, unsafe, and unhappy.

It makes them feel as if the owners and employers didn’t give their safety and security much importance, especially if the crime resulted due to the neglect of the people in charge, such as the use of low-quality locks, lack of security systems, and overall poor safety measures.

It may result in employees leaving the organization and customers choosing competitors over them, which can be disastrous for any business, big or small.

  • Decline in productivity

Burglaries, or any crime for that matter, have a huge psychological impact on the victims.

Feeling unsafe and vulnerable takes a toll on your day-to-day life and affects every aspect of it, including work.

People witnessing a burglary and becoming victims often struggle to concentrate at work, feel unmotivated, lose sleep, and develop anxiety issues.

All of this results in them being less productive at work, putting the business in a tight(er) spot.


Sometimes, businesses unwillingly and just out of sheer ignorance, practice things that put their property and its inhabitants in a risky situation, making their business a potential target for burglars.

These are pretty common practices that seem harmless but can pose a serious threat if not changed or fixed.

A few of the things that most businesses do, and which must be avoided at all costs include:

  • Open access for all

Businesses that have an ‘open door for all’ policy, and implement it quite literally are most at risk. Doors and their locking mechanisms are the first line of defence against intruders and unwanted access.

Burglars look for ways to break into a property, and an open or unlocked door is like an invitation for them.

There must be secure checks at every important entry point of a business, along with a secured entry system such as an access control system.

Every employee, customer, and visitor must go through a check to ensure someone isn’t trespassing. Retailers must also take their door security very seriously since they have a general tendency to leave their doors open for anyone and everyone.

  • Turning off lights

Burglars thrive on stealth and darkness is their ally. They look for places with little or no lights since it makes it easier for them to get away with burgling.

Without proper lighting, both inside and outside of your business, it is just a matter of chance when a burglar strikes your business.

Places like the main entry and exit points, along with parking lots, must always be illuminated, even after hours.

  • Keeping valuables in plain sight

Valuables are called valuables for a reason. They must be given the protection they deserve and kept out of sight, hidden most likely in a professionally installed business safe, which is fixed and difficult for burglars to move.

It is not very smart to keep large wads of cash lying around with people entering your property unchecked.

Sophisticated burglars use inside knowledge to gain access and steal valuable items. Therefore, all such items must be hidden away, with access to just a select few trustworthy employees.

  • No security systems

Not installing a proper security system, or installing an outdated one, is probably one of the biggest mistakes a business can make.

They usually shy away from the costs involved with the installation of such systems, especially small businesses with small budgets. And even if they do have them installed, they don’t have them regularly maintained, which results in them not working properly and just being a showpiece.

People think that just the sight of a security alarm, such as a burglar alarm or a CCTV system, is enough to deter burglars, and that it doesn’t have to be working. That can sometimes work but is a huge risk.

Most burglars are smart and understand such things better than regular people, easily telling a working alarm apart from a broken one.


Commercial burglaries are a real and ever-looming threat over businesses, and the numbers just keep on rising.

There is no way to completely stop these criminals from attacking your business, but there are ways to avoid it and deter them away from your property.

Burglars, as is with most people, look for the easy way that requires the least amount of effort. If they see that a business is hard to break into and the chances of being caught are high, they stay away from such areas since the burglary sentence is pretty strict and requires the perpetrators to serve some serious jail time.

Here are ways to deter burglars away from your property, and to catch them in the act even if they try to break in:

  • Physical reinforcements

High-quality doors and locks are an essential element of any business’s security system, providing a robust line of defence against an intruder or burglar.

Strengthening all the potential entrances is a must since vulnerable doors and windows are one of the first things that burglars look for, them being the easiest way to break in.

Burglars easily snap open the standard Euro cylinder locks, therefore all locks must be anti-snap locks to make it difficult for burglars to break.

Grilles can be installed to reinforce the security of both the inside and outside and laminated glass can be used to protect the entrances from the smash and grab burglary, making it very difficult to breakthrough.

Business safes can be installed to keep valuables protected. A safe is an essential security measure for any business to protect cash, stock, valuables, and important business documents, and is often a condition of business insurance.

Good security safes are ones that cannot be moved and are fixed to the floor, under the floor, to a wall, or inside a cupboard.

  • Restricted access

Just don’t allow any strangers to enter the protected areas of your property. You never know when a burglar might be entering your property in the guise of a visitor.

For commercial places such as offices and warehouses, only allow authorized employees with ID cards to enter after verification. For retail businesses, customers must have access to the store, but all unauthorized people must be restricted to enter the stock/storeroom.

This control over access to certain parts of the business can be achieved by the use of access control systems.

Access control systems are also called keyless door entry systems that give you control over who enters your premises, making it harder to break into.

They make use of readers that are connected to a network, which work by giving access using an intercom, proximity fob or card, keypad, or even a biometric system.

The system checks for the right credentials entered and gives access to the area. In case of the wrong credentials being entered, access is denied.

Access control systems also keep track of who enters and exit the building, and alert the owners or whoever is responsible when there is a break-in or someone enters the premises after hours.

  • Burglar alarms

A burglar alarm is a basic physical security requirement for every business that works to alert the inhabitants and people nearby of an intrusion and scare away the perpetrators.

They work using a series of sensors that go off as soon as they detect any suspicious activity, notifying the owners, keyholders, or anyone in charge to take the necessary action.

A professionally installed burglar alarm along with commercial burglar alarm monitoring services increases the business’s security by employing the use of specialized sensors/alarms that are connected to a central monitoring station, also known as the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), which is manned by professionals keeping an eye out on your premises 24-hours a day without any form of interruption.

  • CCTV

The fear of being watched keeps potential burglars away from businesses under CCTV surveillance.

CCTV systems are considered to be the best deterrent for all kinds of burglaries; domestic and commercial since they make it nearly impossible for the burglars to break in without being noticed and caught.

Even if they don’t get caught right away, their actions are recorded and can be used as evidence and proof against them. HD and IP CCTV systems provide crisp images that make it very easy to identify such crooks and catch them.

Professional CCTV monitoring takes the security up a notch by having experts monitor your system and look out for any suspicious activity. These systems can also be integrated with a burglar alarm installed at the property, triggering it to sound an alarm as soon as the CCTV camera catches something, scaring away the intruders and quite possibly keeping them away for good.

  • Training your staff

To take full advantage of all the security systems and physical reinforcements, you must take the help of your staff by training them on the best security measures and practices, and what to do if the threat of a burglary ever arises. If your staff is incompetent and irresponsible, all your security measures could go in vain.

The importance of keeping a watchful eye for any suspicious activity must be explained to them and how they should always report any such incidents.

They must be told the importance of key security and access permissions must be communicated to them very clearly.

Responsible staff members must be given the duty to lock all doors and windows and to check them at the end of the day as well.

Our engineers at Calder Security have solutions for everything ranging from anti-snap locks to burglar alarms, and state-of-the-art CCTV systems. Contact us right away for all your commercial security needs.

Image by Peter H from Pixabay