The current Coronavirus pandemic has affected thousands of businesses within Wales and the UK, causing businesses to continue their operations from home or having to furlough their staff – leaving commercial properties empty and easy targets for criminals.
Whilst having employees working from home is helping the nation keep moving and maintain productivity, leaving your commercial property empty could leave you at risk of crime, damage to your property or accidents – all of which could cost you money and a massive headache.
We understand that the safety of your staff is your priority right now, but you still want a property that they can go back to when the pandemic is over, and restrictions have lifted. So, to ensure that your property is kept safe whilst your employees are working remotely, here are 5 of the biggest risks that you can avoid.
Crime and Vandalism
For criminals, an empty property is a very attractive target, even if you’ve emptied out valuable assets. However, do not underestimate criminals who will go to extreme lengths to make quick cash. Wiring containing high valued metals, copper piping and radiators all have considerable value and most criminals won’t think twice about tearing your premises apart and selling every last bit of it for scrap. And it’s not just criminals that target buildings for their scrap value that you have to look out for. Vandals and delinquents can also be attracted by an empty property and can easily cause thousands of pounds worth of damages, with you having to pay for the repair work and clean up.
How to protect your property:
There are a number of ways you can dissuade criminals from targeting your premises whilst it lays empty.
- Ensure that all access points such as emergency exits and entry points are fitted with looks or door reinforcements.
- If you know your property is to be vacant for a large period of time, it may wise to consider boarding up the windows and doors.
- Invest in professional security services such as mobile patrol security, manned guards, CCTV systems and alarm response services. Having a strong security presence at your property can easily dissuade criminals from targeting your premises and risking them getting caught.
With homelessness within our cities on the increase, many will look too empty properties to find shelter from the elements. And with the employees working from home, your property could be the perfect target. Squatting refers to the practice of occupying or living in an empty or abandoned property without the permission or knowledge of the owner. Even though squatting in residential property was deemed illegal in 2012, the laws surrounding squatting in commercial properties is a bit more complicated in the eyes of the law.
According to GOV.UK being on someone’s non-residential property without their permission isn’t a criminal offence but a civil offence – meaning property owners must obtain a court order and issue claim against the squatters for eviction. However, if other crimes such as the theft, damage or the using of utilities are committed this could help speed up the process and result in the arrest of the squatters.
How to protect your property:
- Ensure your property is properly secure and alarmed.
- Have yourself or security guard perform regular checks on your building for signs of forced entry.
- Turn off/disconnect utilities.
- Hire a 24/7 security guard to man the property and deter any entry.
- Consider mobile patrol services to check on the property and respond to any alarm call outs and suspicious activity.
Fire or Water damage
Whether caused by accident or intentionally done, fire and flooding can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage, leaving you to foot the repair bills and preventing your business or offices from reopening when you can.
With the winter month turning colder, many properties with older water systems are at greater risk of water pipes bursting and causing damage. However, burst pipes don’t mean a huge burst causing gallons of water to flood an office or business. When water freezes it expands, causing pipes to crack or come loose at joints and when the temperature increases, water can easily leak out of these damaged areas. And if your property is unoccupied, it could be days or weeks before anyone notices that there is a leak. And the longer the leak is left undiscovered and dealt with, the more damage and the bigger the repair bill will be.
Fire is the most destructive and if the fire is not tackled quick enough, it could lead to you losing your property and whatever other assets you have inside. Although some fire damages are caused accidentally (faulty wiring /electrics) most are caused by arson attacks and for arsonists, an empty property is a perfect target. Within the UK there are around 60 fires a day occurring in or near vacant or abandoned properties in the UK.
How to protect your property:
- If your property is vacant for a long period of time, turn off your water supply at the mains.
- To avoid your pipes freezing during the winter months, put your boiler system on a timer.
- Hire a professional mobile patrol to conduct patrols within your business to check of any leaks or burst pipes.
- Consider outsourcing your key holding services, so your property is accessible 24/7 to make essential repairs.
To protect from fire:
- Check that your property follows fire regulations and ensure that your insurance covers fire damage and is valid.
- Perform regular fire alarm tests to ensure it is working correctly and is able to detect any fires and smoke.
Loss of assets
Some businesses who have vacated their premise for a long period of time would have either removed or stored much of their assets away from prying eyes. However, if you’ve taken the decision to leave your property vacant for a short period of time and left valuable assets out on display, then you are going to attract criminals looking to make quick cash. However, if you’re a larger business, removing assets from your property isn’t a viable option especially if you are looking to quickly bring your employees back to work.
How to protect your assets:
- Ensure that all doors and windows leading to and within office spaces/work areas are closed and secured.
- Audit all assets that are within your premises before leaving and perform another when returning to ensure nothing has been taken.
- Register or mark assets with a UV pen so they can be returned if stolen.
- Set your alarm systems to ensure any break-ins are detected
- Consider investing in alarm response services to ensure that every alarm activation is thoroughly investigated and resolves, minimising hassles and danger for you and your employees.
With the recent government announcements for employees to work from home once again in Wales, it can be easy to assume that your insurance provides cover for your property if it is vacant for a large period of time. But this isn’t always the case and if your property has been a target for criminal activity whilst vacant, it could see your insurance not paying out on repairs.
Before you leave your property, you should notify your insurance provider of your decision and check the details in your policy surrounding the vacating of your property for long periods of time. Depending on the policy you have, your insurance may be reduced or become invalid if your property has been vacant for a long period of time and classified as unoccupied (typically after 30-45 consecutive days). As empty buildings are at greater risk of crime, damage, and decay, you may need to purchase further unoccupied insurance to ensure that your premises and its contents are protected.
How to protect your property
- Consult with your insurance provider and check how long your property can remain unoccupied before the insurance is reduced or becomes invalid.
- If you surpass their limit, ensure you update your cover.
What else can you do to protect your property?
Although we have highlighted some suggestions that you can implement yourself, you can take further steps to protect your building. And that is investing in a reliable, experienced and professional security provider such as A&R Security Services.
Here at A&R Security Services we service a large number of commercial properties within South Wales and offer a range of effective security services such as:
- 24/7 Concierge security
- Manned Guard Security
- Mobile patrols services
- Key holding
- Alarm Response Services
- And much more
To learn more about our professional security services give our friendly team a call on 01656 713950 or visit our website.