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State of Retail: What steps do you take to prevent smash-and-grab theft and protect digital information?

Published October 11, 2022

A version of this feature ran in the October issue of BRAIN.

BOULDER, Colo. (BRAIN) — For our October magazine edition, we asked our State of Retail panel members: What steps do you take to prevent smash-and-grab theft and protect digital information? What are the additional protections you would like to put into place to prevent theft?

CINCINNATI: David Bordewisch, manager Biowheels

David Bordewisch

We are fortunate to be in a high-traffic area that’s close to local police. Our current security measures are minimal, aside from understanding and following concealed carry laws. However, as Frank Abagnale said, "We live in a time when if you make it easy for someone to steal from you, someone will," so I do protect our wireless network with encryption. We only use two forms of trusted online payments. And nothing ships until payment is confirmed. So far, that’s been enough, but security cameras are inexpensive, and they protect both the shop and its clients. I want to add cameras showing all areas outside of the shop, plus inside to protect everyone. I also would add better outside lighting and do a quarterly inventory on items in the showroom.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: Linda Coburn, co-owner Pedego 101 Electric Bikes

Linda Coburn

We have a 24-hour monitored alarm service, outward- and inward-facing cameras, and motion sensors on rear and roll-up doors that trigger alerts to our phones 24/7. We lock all showroom bikes and after hours block the door to the warehouse/service area. Our store is located in a non-retail space (a business park), so we also pull down blinds over the glass window storefront at night so thieves can't go "shopping" before breaking the windows. The primary cybersecurity measure we use is to not store customer payment information on our systems. Almost all of our business operating systems are cloud-based, so we don't have much for hackers to steal or hold ransom. Our biggest issue right now is the rising cost and availability of insurance since we had three break-ins in three months in 2021, the only time we've experienced theft in eight years of operation.

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.: Francisco Cornelio, manager

Francisco Cornelio

We have over eight motion-detecting cameras with blinking lights and have signs throughout the store that say, “Smile, you are on live internet.” Our computers are Apple Mac based and they come with their own protection included.

 So far, the local thieves know we have all that equipment active. When we were first open, some people tried to steal, but we called the police while they were shoplifting, and they were caught.

ALTO, Ga.: Joe Elam, owner Habersham Bicycles

Joe Elam

I am not foolish enough to believe that there is any way to have 100% protection from a thief. It is very much the same as when I sell someone a bike lock. The lock will keep the honest man honest; however, a thief will find a way to pass the lock. Smash-and-grab theft is something I'm sure we all worry about. I currently have security cameras and an alarm system, which would only provide some after-the-fact evidence of the event. I have considered gates or fencing; however, I have not moved forward with that investment.

As far as cybersecurity goes, I have McAfee protection on all devices which access the internet. I use AIM, Vortex, and TSYS for all credit card transactions, and they have all assured me that their systems are very secure and compliant with PCI regulations. With this I simply do not store any clients credit card information on my systems.

In my early days, security would drive me crazy and make me worry. As I have aged, I have come to the conclusion that there are way more things which I do not have control over than the things which I do.

ENCINITAS, Calif.: Will Schellenger, owner El Camino Bike Shop

Will Schellenger

After a break-in and a snatch-and-grab theft during the height of the pandemic, we seriously looked at our store's security. New security doors were installed and camera systems within and outside the store were added. We are lucky to be located in an affluent neighborhood where this type of thing is rare, but our eyes were opened after the two incidents. We have both motion- and glass-break sensors now for evening time, and during the day, all the bikes displayed near the front of the store are now secured with a long cable lock to prevent any opportunistic thieves. It helps that our mall has a full-time security guard that walks the premises, and it's nice to be less than a block from the sheriff's department.

Cybersecurity for us is mainly dependent on our vendors who we pay for our point-of-purchase system and website management. As a single-location shop, I am not too worried about someone hacking into our system, as I cannot imagine what they would gain from that. Our online sales are monitored by the vendor whom we pay to manage our website, but it is also dependent on use to review orders and determine if something looks fraudulent. Only one person is allowed to process online orders, and they keep an eye out for anything that looks suspicious.

So far we have been successful in preventing any new crimes at our location. As far as additional protections, I think the best we can do is educate employees about how to look for suspicious people or activity and to make sure they are utilizing the measures we already have in place.

PORTLAND, Ore.: Tom Martin, sole proprietor TomCat Bikes

Tom Martin

After a smash-and-grab two years ago this summer, I had some metal artists rummage through my metal recycling bins. They fabricated steel gates for the doors and windows. The gates are beautiful and have been discovered by neighborhood walking tours. For additional measures, I only have one person at a time in the sales area, because my shop is so small. I also lock up all of the repair and display bikes overnight and during business hours, the bikes outside are locked up with cables.I use two-factor authentication for all social media accounts, financial sites, and POS access. I don’t have an e-commerce platform, so my exposure is minimal.

BENTONVILLE, Ark.: Jannie Fitzgerald, co-founder of Buddy Pegs Family Ride

Jannie Fitzgerald

I guess we may be a little too trusting of people, because in the short time that the retail store has been open, this has not been a priority. We do not really have any major theft measures in place other than a Ring camera and wireless alert system, and we haven’t implemented cybersecurity measures. Our focus is children: teaching them to ride and providing the gear they need to do it. We work with families to learn about them, and get them and their kids stoked to ride. We feel like if someone screws us over and steals from us, they just have some really bad karma coming their way.

HATTIESBURG, Miss.: Jenny Moore, co-owner/manager Moore’s Bicycle Shop

Jenny Moore

We have taken several measures to prevent smash-and-grab theft. In addition to our 16-camera security system, we have broken glass sensors mounted on the windows and doors that notify us, as well as the police, when activated. We installed custom 1-inch tubing on all windows/doors in the shape of the window panes. We also built a steel grid that covers our exterior power box so the power and the alarm system that’s plugged into it cannot be disabled. We do not use a point-of-sale system, nor do we sell online. On the rare occasion when someone puts a bike on layaway by phone, we check the card and ID when they come in to retrieve the bike. These security measures have worked well so far. We have been broken into before these extra steps were taken and we have learned from those experiences and adjusted accordingly.

CHAMPLIN, Minn.: Pam Sayler, owner Trailhead Cycling

Pam Sayler

The best defense against theft comes down to being aware and alert. We train our staff to be alert and tell them what to watch for. They are also trained to respond to a theft or burglary. In our shop, smaller items that are easy to shoplift are located at mid-store; we have glass-break sensors on each window, and cameras on the outside of the buildings. Most of these measures are responsive, not preventative. For cybersecurity, we have redundant parallel hard drives, each with a firewall, a firewall on the server, and passwords for each station. Our most recent cyber audit shows we need to strengthen security. Of course, wouldn't any cyber audit say that?

Will Schellenger.

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