By Robert A. Gardner, CPP

No business is totally immune from the threat of crime but a little prior planning and a few common sense precautions are all that is necessary to deter most criminals.

Use this test to conduct a survey of your business. Each "NO" answer indicates a weakness that could help a criminal. As you eliminate the "NO" answers, you improve your level of protection and reduce your risk of becoming a victim. Go through the list carefully and systematically. You will also want to look at the business during the night and on weekends. Those are times when you may be most vulnerable.

Remember, this checklist points out your weak areas. You are not fully protected until each of them is corrected. Of course complying with these suggestions won't guarantee that your business will never be the target of crime but it will improve odds in your favor.

This test is limited mainly to the physical security of your business. There are many other areas which also deserve your attention. A well rounded loss prevention program will also address internal security, customer theft, fraud, safety and fire prevention and emergency preparedness.

Building Exterior

1. Are all vulnerable points adequately lighted?

2. Is shrubbery trimmed to provide for good visibility at all vulnerable points

3. Is all access to the roof eliminated or secured?

4. Have weeds and trash near your building been cleared away?

5. If a fence would improve your protection, do you have one?

6. Is your fence high enough and/or protected with barbed wire or tape?

7. Is your fence in good repair?

8. Are gates in good repair and locked properly?

9. Have you protected solid block walls and wooden fences that someone could climb and/or hide behind?


1. Have you secured all unused doors?

2. Is glass in back doors and concealed or secluded locations protected by bars or heavy screen?

3. Are all doors designed so that the lock release cannot be reached by breaking out glass or light-weight panels?

4. Do exposed hinges have non-removable pins?

5. Is a good quality deadbolt lock used whenever possible?

6. Is the lock designed or the door frame constructed so that the door cannot be forced open by spreading the frame?

7. Is the bolt protected so that it cannot be cut?

8. Is the outside lock cylinder protected from twisting or prying?

9. Is the lock a cylinder type with at least a five pin tumbler?

10. Are keys issued only to persons who actually need them?

11. Are doors with panic hardware properly secured after hours?

12. Are padlocks locked in place when the door is unlocked?

13. Are hasps made of hardened steel with non-removable screws?


1. Are accessible windows protected by heavy screen or bars?

2. Are unused windows permanently sealed?

3. Are bars and screens securely mounted?

4. Are window locks designed or located so they cannot be defeated by merely breaking out the glass?

5. Is burglary resistant glazing used whenever possible?

6. Is valuable property removed from unprotected windows after hours?

Other Openings

1. Have skylights been protected by bars or polycarbonate glazing?

2. Are roof hatches securely locked?

3. Are ventilator shafts, air conditioning ducts and fan openings adequately protected with bars or wire mesh?

4. Do you check panic hardware regularly to insure that it is properly closed and in good working order?

5. If there are common attics, has some provision been made to prevent access through them?


1. Is safe designed for both burglary and fire protection?

2. If safe weighs less than 750 pounds is it secured in place and are wheels removed?

3. Is safe well lit and visible from outside, especially after hours?

4. Is cash on hand kept to a minimum by banking regularly?

5. Do you spin the dial when you lock the safe?

6. Is the combination changed when personnel possessing it terminate?

7. Is the cash register left empty and open after hours?


1. Do you have an alarm system?

2. Does your system meet Underwriters Laboratory standards?

3. Is your system tested daily?

4. Does it report to a central station?

5. Does it have a back-up power supply for power failures?

6. Is your system free from false alarms?

7. Do you or a designated employee respond to every alarm and check it out?

8. Is the system designed to fully protect all vulnerable areas?

9. Does your system include fire protection?

Other Considerations

1. Do you lock up carefully at night, making sure that the safe is locked, doors and windows are secure, lights are on and the alarm is set and working?

2. Have you recorded the serial numbers of all valuable merchandise, tools and office equipment?

3. Do you maintain a good inventory control program?

4. Do you guard against internal theft by having a written security policy and an audit system to maintain employee account ability?

5. Do you carry sufficient insurance coverage?

6. Do you have an effective background investigation program for screening new employees and promotional candidates?

7. If your local police department has a helicopter or other aircraft, are your street numbers painted conspicuously on the roof of the business?

Office Security

1. Do you restrict office keys to those who actually need them?

2. Do you keep complete, up-to-date records of the disposition of all office keys?

3. Do you have adequate procedures for collecting keys from terminated employees?

4. Do you secure all typewriters, calculators, computers, etc. with some type of locking device?

5. Do you prohibit duplication of office keys except for those which are specifically ordered by you in writing?

6. Do you require that all office keys be marked "Do not duplicate" to prevent legitimate locksmiths from making copies without your knowledge?

7. Have you established a policy that keys will not be left unguarded on desks or cabinets - and do you enforce the policy?

8. Do you require that filing cabinet keys be removed from locks and placed in a secure location when not actually in use?

9. Do you have procedures to prevent unauthorized persons from reporting a "lost key" and getting a "replacement"?

10. Do you routinely obliterate code numbers on all keys to prevent unauthorized duplication?

11. Do you have a responsible person in charge of your key control program?

12. Are all keys systematically stored in a secure wall cabinet of either your own design or from a commercial key control system?

13. Do you keep a record showing issuance and return of every key, including name of person, date and time?

14. Do you use telephone locks to prevent unauthorized use of phones when the office is unattended?

15. Do you provide secure areas for employees to store their personal property?

16. Do you have at least one filing cabinet secured with an auxiliary locking bar so that you can properly secure sensitive documents?

17. Do you leave lights on at night?

18. Do you record all equipment serial numbers and file them in a safe place?

19. Do you shred sensitive documents before discarding them?

20. Do you lock briefcases and bags containing important material in a safe place when not actually in use?

21. Do you insist on proper identification from all vendors and repair persons who come into your office?

22. Do you make regular bank deposits and avoid keeping large sums of money in the office overnight?

23. Do you clear desks of important papers every night?

24. Do you frequently change the combination to your safe?

25. When employees work alone at night do they set the door lock to prevent anyone from entering uninvited?

26. Are emergency phone numbers posted near all phones?

27. Is computer access restricted to authorized personnel and are access telephone numbers kept confidential?

28. Are all doors leading to the office protected by heavy duty, double cylinder deadbolt locks?

29. Are all windows, transoms and ventilators properly protected?

30. Is there a closing routine established to make sure that everything is properly secured prior to leaving?

31. If the office is protected by an alarm system, does the equipment work properly and is it set every night?

32. If you employ a guards, do you check their watch clock tape or dial each morning to be certain that they are doing their job properly?

33. Do you periodically review your security policies and procedures and update them where necessary?

34. Are computer files routinely backed up and backup files stored in a secure off-site location?

Policies, Procedures & Training

1. Do you have a Workplace Violence Prevention Policy?

2. Do you have a Crisis Media Management Policy?

3. Do you have a Disaster Preparedness Plan?

4. Do you have a Workplace Harassment Policy?

5. Do you provide on-going training to employees at all levels of the organization regarding these policies?

Obviously, completing this checklist won't solve all your security problems. It will however, give you a good idea of the level of security that now have. With that knowledge, you can begin to develop a security program that provides the type of individualized protection your particular business requires.

If after completing this survey you find that the security of your business is poor or if you have any questions regarding security procedures and equipment, contact a qualified security specialist. They are experts and their cost is well justified by making your business a safer, more secure and more profitable place.

Remember too, this test covers only a small part of a complete business security program. Your business isn't fully protected until you have taken steps to improve the security of every aspect your business.

Business Security Test, Fifth Edition - Copyright © 1995 by Robert A. Gardner, CPP
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