Business watch programs work in business districts much like a neighborhood watch works in neighborhoods. A business watch forms links between local businesses, as well as with the Police Department. Businesses in an area act as eyes and ears for both Police and for other businesses, reducing the opportunity for criminals to strike. By working together and conveying information about suspects, criminals lose the opportunity to shoplift, burglarize, rob, or otherwise victimize your business and your customers.
Consider creating a phone tree or fax network with other businesses in Mount Ephraim or surrounding and bordering towns. Share information about shoplifters you have caught or suspect of stealing from you, lists of people who have repeatedly passed bad checks, merchandise or property that has been stolen from you (in case someone tries to pawn or return it somewhere else) and any other information you feel can prevent a similar crime elsewhere or help identify a suspect. In many cases, criminals generate an M. O. (Modus Operandi or Mode of Operation). This means they often commit the same crimes, employing the same methods and tactics in various different locataions along a given route.communication between local businesses can often lead to not only protection against future criminal acts, but also to identification of possible suspect. The same crook that broke open your vending machine, may have commited the same crime a few doors down and may be looking to repeat the effort in the near future somewhere along the same path. Something as simple as communication can easily thwart this activity and just as importantly keep other business owners on their toes and looking out for specific behaviors. Don't forget to communicate with the Police Department if you feel you have information that will assist us in our investigations as well.
Work with the Schools
Working to educate local students on the availability of careers and jobs in Mount Ephraim will help to reduce the amount of crime that occurs in a number of ways. By teaching high school, and even some middle school students job skills students are more likely to make the transition from school to work smoothly and with the skills needed to maintain a stable economy in the Borough. High rates of employment and a stable economy makes Mount Ephraim less vulnerable to many types of crime, including burglary, robbery, vandalism, drug and alcohol abuse and reduces the amount of bad checks and other fraud that occurs. By reducing these crimes, it improves a business’ bottom line, increasing job security and the possibility of expansion. A low crime rate and qualified workers also helps to attract new businesses to the Borough.
The “broken windows” theory states that the more decay or “broken windows” in an area, the less people tend to take care of it and the more it becomes vulnerable to being taken over by criminal activity. A simple way to help prevent criminal activity from taking hold in a given area, is to keep it maintained and clean. Fixing graffiti, smashed glass, and removing trash from vacant or unused properties all help to deter the criminal element from coming in while simultaneously helping to attract customers. Consider asking employees to volunteer and recruiting community members to help clean up by offering awards, prizes or gift certificates to your store for those who participate.
Remind customers through signage that shoplifting and other criminal activity in your business affects them directly by increasing the price of your goods. Ask for their cooperation in reporting any suspicious behavior they observe while shopping. Leave a phone number they can call if they would like to report it anonymously if necessary. Offer a reward for any tips that lead to the arrest and prosecution for a crime against your business. Give your customers the information they need to help you keep their costs down and your business thriving and at the same time let the criminals know that you are no easy target!