Written By: Brad Campbell | March 22, 2021
When it comes to losses incurred by hurricanes, storm damage is often just the beginning. Unfortunately, there are people out there who take advantage of the destruction to loot. It’s important for business owners to be aware of this and take steps to prevent hurricane looting.
Hurricane looting refers to the theft of property after a hurricane passes. This occurs because hurricanes often create prime conditions for criminals to steal.
The first reason criminals love to take advantage of hurricanes and other storms is the storm damage they cause.
If a business lacks the proper protection, the strong winds and storm debris carried by them can smash through storefronts, leaving them totally exposed.
Essentially, the storm has already done half a criminal’s job for them — they can just walk in through a broken window and grab what they want.
Another reason looters take advantage of the aftermath of hurricanes is that there are often power outages. This means that street lights are out and many security systems aren’t working, so it’s less likely for criminals to be seen or caught on camera.
Finally, there is usually flooding and general disorder after a hurricane, which means that mobility is limited, emergency services are overloaded with calls, and business owners are often stranded at home.
This chaos creates a window of opportunity in which looters can prowl around, snatching what they like and feeling relatively confident that they’ll get away with it.
Though it’s important to note that reports of looting are often exaggerated by the media after natural disasters, it is a very real issue, and it’s important for businesses to take precautions to avoid financial losses due to crime.
So, what can you do to protect your business or commercial facility from hurricane looting?
In the next section we’ll take a closer look at these strategies for preventing looting after a storm.
Prevent Hurricane Looting Before the Storm Even Hits
Any building’s windows are its most vulnerable potential entry points. Standard window glass can be easily smashed out by a flying piece of storm debris or by a would-be intruder wielding a crowbar or any other heavy object.
If you want to prevent looting, you absolutely must not overlook the strength of your windows. Luckily, many of the same methods of protecting windows against storm damage also protect them against forced entry.
For a budget-friendly (albeit labor intensive) option you can board up your windows and doors with plywood sheets before a storm. Or, for a more convenient, secure option, cover your windows with storm panels or hurricane shutters.
Both of the above options work just fine to protect your windows, but if you want the highest level of round-the-clock protection against storm damage, forced entry, and other threats, we recommend overglazing your glass with polycarbonate panels.
For example, a containment-grade polycarbonate panel like ArmorPlast® AP25 is ideal for stopping looters dead in their tracks. These glazing shields have a glass-like appearance and surface feel, but are virtually unbreakable.
This means you don’t have to alter the appearance of your business by boarding or shuttering it up before a storm, but your windows are protected even more than they would be by either plywood or hurricane shutters.
Everything inside your business probably has some value, but take a look around at what looters would be most interested in and take steps to secure those items even further.
If you have a safe or a more secure backroom inside your property, lock the most valuable items in there. Or, you can take the most valuable equipment and merchandise with you to wherever you’re going to be sheltering during the storm, if possible.
Install an emergency generator in your business and hook up things like surveillance cameras and alarm systems to the generator. That way, if the power goes out because of the storm, your security system will still be up and running.
Make sure that your surveillance cameras are visible and have something like a blinking light, too, so would-be looters know they’re working. Motion-sensing lights hooked up to the generator are another good deterrent.
Simple signage can make looters think twice about targeting your business. For example, put up signs advertising that the property is being monitored or that there is someone armed inside. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not — criminals don’t like to take unnecessary risks.
Besides securing your glass against storm damage and forced entry, there are other types of physical barriers you can install on your property to keep looters out of your business.
For example, you could secure a warehouse by putting up a barbed wire fence around the perimeter. Or, you can plant thorny bushes below a store’s windows to make them harder (and more painful) to access.
Naturally, not all types of physical barriers make sense for all types of businesses, which is why glass reinforcement is so important.
The last thing you want after a hurricane is to show up at your business and discover that not only was your property damaged by the storm, but you’ve lost valuable merchandise or equipment to hurricane looters.
Fortunately, there are a variety of security measures you can implement to decrease the likelihood of your business becoming a target for looting.