Guarding your goods from the inside out
Are you worried about warehouse security issues? Wondering if logistic security protocols have changed since the pandemic? Many industrial facility owners have emerged from the COVID 19 crisis uncertain about what warehouse security services are now needed, especially for large distribution centres. Perhaps you too are re-evaluating your security protocols?
Should you be more worried about crime and risk than before? According to rising theft statistics in warehouse facilities, absolutely!
Each year, cargo theft costs the Canadian economy $5 billion – and often goes unreported. And there is another exciting trend that global security experts are reporting in the post-COVID world: a rise in theft at warehousing facilities: a clear shift from incidents occurring when goods are in transit to when they are at rest, in storage. In short: a joint report suggests storage locations for goods have become critical risk areas in the post-COVID world. Globally, cargo thefts at storage facilities have risen by nearly 30%
From in transit to warehouse theft occurrences: the big problem in logistic security
According to CargoNet, in the US alone, net losses from cargo theft rose from 49 million dollars in 2019 to 68 million dollars in 2020 – with financial losses 10 times more than the value of the stolen goods. But the interesting fact is this: Whereas cargo on the roads used to be the target, according to the 2021 Cargo Theft Report more thieves are targeting cargo at warehouses, distribution centers, and truck stops.
How ‘close to home’ in Ontario is this rising trend of warehouse security breaches?
In April 2022, a trio of thieves in the Durham region staged several break-and-enters at Stor-It Oshawa Police searched another nearby facility finding nearly 200 stolen items and more than two litres of GHB (a psychoactive drug). And in May 2022, $1 million dollars of goods were stolen (and subsequently recovered by police) from an LCBO warehouse south of Whitby. Security companies in Toronto and the
surrounding area will need to step up to the challenge of rising crime incidents like these.
For facility owners, warehouse security issues go beyond simple theft. A new approach to logistic security is needed.
Here are five of the most pressing warehouse security issues you will face in 2022 and 2023 – and tips on how to address them:
One of the main security risks to any warehouse or storage facility is break-ins. These incidents can cost you both in goods stolen, but also damage to your facilities (doors and windows broken, machinery damaged) – and pose a risk to your employees. Break-ins happen when your warehouse is not properly secured, the right type or number of guards are not present, and weaknesses exist in your security infrastructure.
What can you do? Here are a few tips (and more can be found below under “external theft”)
1. Update your warehouse security cameras. Not only a great deterrent for thieves who plan to break in, but modern security camera systems can also collect high-definition footage and upload it to an offsite server to make the identification of trespassers easier.
2. Boost warehouse lighting. Keeping warehouse facilities well-lit is a crucial safety measure—both to prevent theft, and accidents and to reduce incidents of break-ins
3. More security patrols. It’s no longer enough to just have guards. More than ever, you’ll need to ensure they are fully trained and diligent in making the rounds to verify that there are no intruders lurking in security camera blind spots.
2. Health and Safety
Large heavy skids, forklifts, pump jacks – and other big pieces of equipment and machinery in your warehouse pose a safety risk to your workers you may not have fully considered.
If used incorrectly, or without security personnel who are fully trained to respond to emergency situations, you leave your facility open to serious incidents; accidents can happen that can lead to injuries, losses – and even death.
If you have employees working in your warehouse, it is important to ensure that they are safe and feel protected. This means that your warehouse or industrial facility should be secure and only accessible to employed workers and properly trained security staff.
Here are some other ways to boost health and safety at your warehouse facility:
- Make safety equipment use always mandatory. Ensure proper protective gear, as well as the use of safety equipment such as forklifts or hydraulic lifts to raise bulky products, are enforced to prevent major injuries of all kinds.
- Eliminate potential safety hazards. Ensure that floors are free of slip and trip hazards. Also, make regular checks on any potential hazards: electrical cords, spilled liquids, debris, cracks, and pits on the floor. These can cause severe injuries to employees and damage valuable machinery and cargo.
- Provide health and safety employee training. By training your employees on best warehouse security practices, you can ensure a safer workplace with fewer accidents – and encourage people to follow procedures more closely.
3. Fires & Flooding
There are few more catastrophic incidents than the breakout of a warehouse fire. Not only will it destroy or damage your goods, machinery and building infrastructure, but it can also put the lives of your staff members in danger. Whether accidental or intentionally set, the threat of fire is a risk that your security plan needs to address and mitigate.
Nearly as devastating as fire is the risk of flooding. As with fire, water can seriously damage your stored goods, along with your building infrastructure. Whether due to poor weather or issues with plumbing, it is essential to plan for this disastrous event – and be ready to respond should a flooding event ever happen.
Here are a few effective methods to help mitigate warehouse fires and floods:
- Install fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers, fire doors, and fire extinguishers
- Have security personnel regularly inspect fire detection systems, such as smoke alarms.
- Conduct regular flood risk assessments and inspections to identify any areas or goods that are particularly susceptible to flood damage.
- Ensure you hire warehouse security guards fully trained in fire and flood detection and response.
4. External Theft
The most common type of warehouse security issue involves criminals entering your facility and stealing your warehouse goods. Incidents like this are more likely to occur if your warehouse is not secure. They can lead to a great deal more than a few items being stolen; losses and damage can be so dramatic that they threaten the future of your business.
How can you guard against theft by criminals at your warehouse facility? Here are some tips:
- Improve Lighting, inside and outside. Dark areas in and around your warehouse make it easier for criminals to go unnoticed. Adding extra lighting makes it easier for staff and security guards to immediately identify anything suspicious. Pay special attention to external areas, including perimeter fences, entrances, exits and parking lots.
- Secure your windows. Windows are a weak point in any building, including industrial facilities; they are an easy entry point for thieves. Where your warehouse has ground-level windows, make sure they are shatter-resistant. You may also wish to consider security systems specifically for broken windows, where a microphone picks up the sound of smashed glass, and triggers a loud alert to warn thieves and rally security personnel.
- Maximize video surveillance. Security cameras are the best way to monitor large areas, especially those in low traffic zones and vulnerable areas of your warehouse. Combined with good lighting, cameras give you visibility of any suspicious activity. The presence of cameras is also a strong deterrent to would-be thieves, both internally and externally
5. Internal theft – Employees: the biggest concern
In September 2020, $150,00 in cell phones were stolen from an Alberta warehouse. More recently an Amazon warehouse in BC had hundreds of thousands of products stolen and, $70,00 worth of appliances were not long ago recovered from a warehouse theft in Abbotsford, Alberta. Was the culprit a desperate outside criminal? No – these were crimes committed by warehouse employees themselves!
With the difficulties of COVID, a tough economy and changing times, a rise in employee theft is being reported across many industries, including industrial storage and warehousing.
Have you noticed inconsistencies in your sales records? Invoices are missing or appear as duplicates. Or stock is constantly found near exits or loading bays? You may be a victim of internal theft.
Lower traffic, fewer staff, higher risks:
A lot has changed since COVID. You may have laid off staff or become less vigilant in your hiring practices. With fewer people on site, more attention needs to be paid to who works for you – and the logistic security systems and guards in place.
What can your facility do to combat internal employee theft? Here are some tips:
- Beef up your background checks before hiring warehouse staff. Whether you use your own HR professionals or hire a company, it is critical to do your due diligence on new hires before letting them into your facility
- Toughen up and communicate your company policy on theft. Now is the time to communicate a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to theft or fraud. You may wish to have employees sign a code of conduct that clearly outlines how violations will be punished.
- Better security guards: Recruit only fully trained and trusted warehouse security personnel. Inside jobs can also occur through the security staff you have contracted that man your facility. Today, it is more critical than ever to only work with reputable security firms that provide only well-trained, carefully screened and fully vetted security personnel. Not only will you rest easy that the guards on duty will never be the ones committing crimes, but they will also be more able and alert to spot any internal or external transgression and take steps to stop criminals in their path.
- Conduct internal financial audits of logistic operations. Signs of employee theft and fraud that may be hidden out of sight in your warehouse or logistics centre may be revealed in during the course of an internal financial audit of the operations. Irregularities in accounting details may be the first clue that something is out of order and warrants investigation. This can be the first step in identifying and stopping ongoing theft that may otherwise go unnoticed for years! This approach may be especially effective where the theft or fraud is sophisticated or organized. Internal audits of operations can also be an effective tool for improving performance and productivity. If you do not have an internal audit staff of your own, contact your accountants or an accounting firm with audit capabilities like Deloitte or Peat Marwick.
A more “tech-forward” warehouse security services approach is needed now:
Ultimately, the world is changing – and security needs for warehouse and industrial facilities owners are too. To keep up, you’ll need logistic security and warehousing teams that are honest, reliable, and fully trained in the newest technologies – including leading-edge computers, access systems and CCTV units. With a reduced staff and rising crime, you will need to make security your number one priority
Choose the right systems, staff, and guards — and the future of your warehouse will be a brighter one!
Perhaps our most important lesson over the past 30 years is the importance of building and maintaining a strong employee culture powered by extraordinary professionals. We’re very lucky to have both, and it’s one of the main reasons why we’ve been able to maintain long-standing relationships with so many clients. As we say, Wincon Security is Built On Service—Driven By Culture. It’s more than a tagline.
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Winston Stewart, President and CEO