How to Improve Warehouse Security
Warehouse security is important because warehouses are common targets for criminals. In some cases, this inventory shrinkage is caused by employee theft. In other cases, lost inventory is due to cargo pilferage. Warehouses are also frequently struck by criminals who break into a location, take what they can, and leave the scene before anyone can respond.
There are so many assets stored in most warehouses that these properties are very tempting to those who want to steal as much as possible all at once.
With all these threats, it’s easy to see the importance of strong warehouse security. Companies across North American lose billions of dollars each year due to cargo theft and many of the items that are stolen are never recovered.
The good news is that there are warehouse security strategies and measures you can take that will reduce cargo theft and inventory loss. Here are some strategies that work and what you should be doing to protect your warehouse.
Why Warehouse Security Strategies are Important
As mentioned, having a secure warehouse is crucial. There are many threats, from staff members and employees who try to steal inventory, to criminals who attempt to use deception and false documentation to gain access, to smash and grab criminals who will cut through fences and smash down gates to get what they want. All of these crimes require attention and sound strategies so they can be prevented.
Most warehouses are quite large, and they typically contain many assets that are desirable to criminals. The fact that warehouses typically have already packaged items that can easily be resold on the black market makes it very understandable why theft is common and why warehouse security is so important.
Criminals know that no matter how they get into the property, they will likely be able to take a lot of items that they can quickly sell for a profit. This not only gets the items out of their hands quickly (which makes it harder for police to catch them), but the money generated by these crimes is often used to fund other criminal activities such as the drug or weapons trades.
Therefore, it’s very important to use proven warehouse security strategies to keep criminals out and protect your assets and your people.
Not only do cargo and warehouse thefts result in serious financial losses for the company that was targeted, but these crimes can also significantly disrupt business processes and harm the reputation of a company. If you have goods stored in your warehouse that need to be shipped, and if those goods are stolen or damaged in a crime, you won’t be able to meet your commitment to your clients.
This will harm your business and the damage done to your reputation could result in serious problems for your company. Plus, since most supply chains are so integrated, these crimes cause problems for several other businesses along the line as well.
Therefore, it’s important to take steps to improve warehouse security. However, before you can do this, it’s also important to understand the security challenges that exist.
Warehouse Security Challenges
One of the best ways to determine what should be done to improve warehouse security is to understand the challenges at your property. Before doing this, however, it’s important to recognize that each warehouse is different. No two properties are the same and, therefore, the challenges faced by each type of property are very different.
Criminals will often scout out a property and try to identify security weaknesses before they strike. It can be a good idea to do this for yourself before a crime occurs. Look at your property through the eyes of a criminal. If you were trying to steal from your warehouse, what area would you strike? How would you get in?
Remember that criminals don’t care about your property or your assets at all. They will break, smash, or otherwise damage anything in their way if it helps them get what they’re looking for.
Once you’ve looked at your property and figured out where criminals might strike and what they could be looking to steal, you’ll have more information that can help you determine how to improve your warehouse security.
Common Warehouse Security Flaws
While each warehouse property is certainly unique, when looking at warehouse security in general, certain challenges are relatively consistent across various properties. Some of these issues are:
The size of the property
Many warehouse locations are very large. This can make them challenging to secure for many reasons. The first is that their large size gives criminals places to hide. The larger the property, the more opportunities criminals have to carry out their crimes without being noticed.
The size of most warehouse locations also lets shady employees or staff members hide items so they can come back and retrieve them later (or tell other criminals where they can find them). This is a common crime since this sort of shrinkage often isn’t noticed for quite some time.
Large properties are difficult for security guards to monitor. Even if you have several guards making the rounds at a property, it’s nearly impossible for them to see everything that is happening at a site all at once.
Even if an onsite guard is alerted to an issue (such as via an alarm sounding), it could take them quite some time to get across the property before the criminals can escape.
At many warehouses, there is inconsistent or insufficient lighting throughout the property. While it does not make sense to light areas where staff is not currently working, this leaves those areas vulnerable to criminals. They like to strike in dark areas where they are less likely to be spotted. Poor lighting also makes it tough for security guards to see them.
The number of possible entrances
Even in locations where there is one gate that all vehicles must use, the number of potential entry points at most warehouses is quite large. After all, if the site is protected by a security gate, criminals can and will try to cut through or otherwise damage the gates or fences to get inside. This means you’ll need complete perimeter security 24/7 to prevent this.
Inconsistent inventory tracking
At many warehouses, inventory is not tracked accurately or recorded in real time. If a property only checks for missing assets or does a count of all items infrequently, missing inventory won’t be noticed for quite some time. This makes it very tough to know when something went missing and to track down what happened to it.
The Top Six Ways to Improve Warehouse Security
There are many security strategies and, as mentioned, each property is unique. However, much like many warehouses suffer from some of the same potential security flaws, there are also several warehouse security improvements that can work at different properties
Here are six of the most effective ways to improve warehouse security.
- Use real-time monitoring
- As mentioned, many warehouse properties are very large. This makes it nearly impossible for security guards to see everything that is taking place at once. Criminals take advantage of these situations, wait for security to move on, and then strike when no one can see them.
- Live remote monitoring tools can be used effectively to watch the entire property. Cameras will be installed so that live agents can monitor the entire site in real-time. Criminals won’t be able to hide from the cameras, since they will be positioned to see everything.
- If any suspicious activity is noticed, agents will immediately use a two-way speaker system to let the criminal know that they have been spotted and that police will be called if they do not leave immediately.
- In situations of employee theft, not only will the security team notify the person that they have been spotted, but a report will be sent to management (complete with video) so the employee can be dealt with according to company policy.
- Improve perimeter security
- Since warehouse properties are large, they often have large perimeters as well. That means there are many places for criminals to enter. In addition to “official” entry points like gates or doors, there’s always the possibility of a criminal cutting through or climbing over a fence.
- Live monitoring cameras can be installed around the perimeter of a property, so that security agents can see everything that is happening in real time. If they notice any suspicious behavior, they will communicate with the site using the two -way speaker system, letting the criminal know that police will be called if they do not leave right away. This deters criminals from striking, not only protecting your assets but your property as well. If a criminal leaves before they cause damage, you won’t need to do any repairs.
- Live monitoring agents can also handle access control duties. This means cameras will be installed at your gates. When anyone arrives, the agents will check their credentials, ensure that they are authorized to enter the property, and only permit those who are allowed. This keeps criminals out and protects your warehouse.
- Use intelligent lighting
- Warehouses often have poor or inconsistent lighting. Improving this lighting can greatly improve warehouse security. For instance, consider using motion-activated lights that will only come on when someone is in an area. Not only is this more efficient than leaving lights on at all times, but the light suddenly switching on can potentially spook a would-be criminal.
- In addition, live monitoring cameras can capture clear footage even in poor lighting or low lighting. This means that agents can see what’s going on at all times.
- Run background checks on all staff
- It’s important to run background checks on all new staff members and to check their references before hiring them. Often, when warehouses are desperate for staff, they’ll hire quickly without doing the proper diligence. This could let criminals sneak in and steal items from your warehouse while they are “working” there.
- Ensure documents and credentials are valid
- Another deceptive way that criminals rob warehouses is by creating fake identification, shipping documents, or even entirely fictional companies. They then use these fake credentials to try to trick the security guards at the gate into letting them in.
- If live monitoring agents are performing access control duties, they will verify that the person matches the photo on their ID and check that they are authorized to enter the site before letting them in. Agents will also examine documentation to confirm its authenticity using the high-definition cameras.
- However, it’s also important that warehouses do research about every company that applies to pick up or deliver shipments. Make sure you know the businesses legal name, business number, contact information, and much more before you add a business to the authorized list.
- Properly track inventory in real time
- Live monitoring agents provide more than just security. They can also check shipping manifests and bills of lading at the gate; track assets as they enter and move around the property; and provide real-time inventory services.
- Knowing what assets are on site can help reduce theft and make it easier to spot any crimes that happen quickly.
Solving Warehouse Security Challenges
As mentioned, understanding your business is one of the keys to keeping it safe. The best warehouse security strategies are the ones that take the unique aspects of your property into account.
Once you have identified the potential challenges at a property, it’s time to create a plan to solve them. One powerful way to do this is by using two-way live remote monitoring services. With live monitoring, cameras are installed in and around the property so that security agents can see everything that is happening at your warehouse and around the perimeter 24/7.
This sort of comprehensive security means that the entire warehouse will be secured at all times.
If agents notice any suspicious behavior, such as someone trying to tamper with your gates, they can communicate with the site using two-way speakers. At this point, they can tell the criminals that they are being watched and inform them that police will be called if they do not leave the scene.
Agents can also use the cameras to see in poor lighting since high-definition cameras can capture clear video in almost all lighting conditions.
Warehouse Security Strategies that Work
The team at Birdseye Security Solutions understands how to protect properties and keep warehouses secure. We have years of experience in live site surveillance, facility monitoring, real-time security, and much more.
We can work with you to understand your unique security situation, determine a strategy that will keep your property safe, and successfully implement and maintain warehouse security.
We are a trusted expert and a North American leader that can keep your site and your people safe and secure. For more information on live remote monitoring and how it can improve warehouse security, please contact Birdseye Security Solutions today.