While everyone wants to enjoy the holidays and take some extra time off, unfortunately that bit of downtime makes it prime time for criminals to strike. Most retailers and ranges will close on Christmas and New Year’s days, as well as their celebratory eves before. Many FFL owners will also shorten business hours to take advantage of the season’s general good cheer and relax a bit before it’s back to business in January, the SHOT Show and the rolling out of new business plans for the coming year.
This extra downtime increases the chances of your business becoming a target. Indeed, criminals are counting on FFLs being closed while owners and staff are spending time with their families. The bad guys are also counting on law enforcement schedules being lean for the same reason. So before you lock your doors on Christmas Eve, take an hour to make sure you’ve gone over the following 10 steps to keep your inventory secure and your community safe.
- Conduct an alarm system test to make sure all alarm devices are working properly. This walk-through should also include verifying your alarm monitoring service has current phone numbers for all key holders that will be available and able to respond to alarm emergencies. Your lead store manager visiting family out of state won’t be much help if you have a break-in, so change the call list with the alarm company accordingly to accommodate such scenarios.
- If you cannot relocate all your firearms out of sight, at least move your highly desirable firearms, especially handguns and modern sporting rifles, to safes that are out of sight or take other steps to secure them, such as running cable and lock systems.
- If you’ll be closing the store for an extended period, whether for a long four-day weekend or for the full week between Christmas and New Year’s, consider moving your heavy display safes in front of windows and doors as a deterrent to vehicle ram-and-grab thefts (and you can certainly also use these safes to store display firearms).
- Run a check to ensure your security video system has all its cameras working and that the recording medium is functioning properly. If for some reason you choose not to record (perhaps for storage space reasons) during normal store business hours and your device is on a timer that accommodates your normal closed-hours schedule, reprogram that recording time span accordingly.
- Save this task for daylight hours, but you should perform an inspection of roof hatches and other exterior access panels, checking for tampering and even installing additional locking mechanisms if your store will be closed for any extended period.
- Leave an adequate number of sales floor lights on to provide visibility to your store’s interior to passing vehicles and law enforcement. Keep in mind point No. 2 above, though, and remove firearms from sight. A properly lit store interior showing empty display cases deter criminals because they will see there is nothing of high value that’s easily obtainable in a smash-and-grab attempt.
- Do you have company vans or trucks? Park them in front of main entries and overhead receiving doors to deter vehicle-ramming attempts.
- This may seem an obvious thing, but it takes little time to go through your final lockup twice. Make those checks thorough, verifying that all entry doors and inventory and records storage areas are physically locked. This double-check also allows you to do a last sweep for criminals who may be hiding and waiting for you to close up so that they can perform their theft later with the advantage of already being inside the store.
- Take all the cash to the bank! There’s no reason to lose even a couple hundred dollars of cash register starting bank to a break-in, especially when you’ll have to deal with other damage if such a crime occurs.
- Consider hiring a security guard or guards if your store will be closed for an extended time. The extra cost of paying holiday overtime might well be worth it compared to an extensive loss of inventory and firearms.
Be safe, be smart and be ready to greet the New Year with your store ready to do business. Just an hour or two to take the steps above can help you do just that—and enjoy the holidays knowing you’ve done everything you can to protect your livelihood.