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Two retailers, two creative ways to secure their businesses

Published March 16, 2020

Editor's note: A version of this story ran in the March issue of BRAIN, part of our series of articles about smash and grab thefts.

HATTIESBURG, Miss (BRAIN) — When it comes to preventing smash and grab retail theft, James Moore and Aaron Goss took matters into their own hands.

No, they didn’t go all Charles Bronson. More like Bob Vila.

Both bike retailers designed and fabricated creative ways to add extra security to their stores. With many neighborhoods having ordinances forbidding barring windows and doors, bike store owners can be faced with challenges to combat smash and grabs with methods beyond the usual alarm systems and security cameras.

“I didn’t want to make our store look like a liquor store on the wrong side of town with the bars out front,” said James Moore, owner of Moore’s Bicycle Shop in Hattiesburg. “Having been an alderman in the past, there are some community standards and ordinances that prohibit that, so that’s not even an option even if you own the building.”

Aaron Goss, owner of Aaron’s Bicycle Repair — also known as Rat City Bikes — in Seattle, moved into a new location three years ago and did some renovation as part of the build-out. 

“I was concerned because the neighborhood was a bit rough, and the entire front of our store is glass,” Goss said.

Moore, who had two “significant” burglaries beforehand where damage was done and lost a bike and $1,000 from the register, built an interior metal grid system out of three-quarter-inch square tubular rods to look like regular windows with 12x14-inch panes mounted into the frames. With the help of his father, a welder, Moore constructed a plywood frame jig to hold the rods in place and welded. For his door, Moore made a grid that fit over and hinged it.

Total cost was less than $600 to secure the windows and door and three hours of labor, he said.

“Looks like a regular storefront,” said Moore, who did the work about four years ago. “I’ve had zero attempts to get into my building since. I sleep so much better at night knowing someone might cost me a couple hundred dollars breaking a window out of meanness, but they’re not going to walk away with anything that’s in the store.”

Goss, who was broken into only once before and had cash taken, took a novel approach of integrating bikes into securing the windows. Each bike is U-locked to vertical poles and held by rails in the front and back windows. He installed the poles, rails, and bars to two doors. Total cost was about $1,500.

“With my current security, I sleep well,” Goss said. 

Despite his extra security measures, Moore reaffirmed the need for cameras. 

“We have 16 cameras that protect the property,” Moore said. “Those have proved invaluable in solving cases, and there’s no telling how much damage they have prevented just from being there. My cameras solved a break-in over one weekend. Two guys hit 18 businesses on my side of town on a Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday morning. The only lead was seven seconds of my exterior camera that caught part of one of the guys before he went up to cut the power and kill the phone lines. That was able to catch those guys.”

Goss, however, said cameras can do only so much.

Basically, make your store harder to break into than everyone else,” he said.

Aaron Goss integrated bikes into securing the windows of his shop in Seattle.
Topics associated with this article: Smash and Grab, From the Magazine

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