Shop Security

Advice on locks, cameras, watchdogs, security procedures, and staying within the law in protecting your shop and tools after closing. February 6, 2010

I was wondering what most people do to keep the tools in the shop when no one is working? I have an alarm service that calls me and the police when it is tripped. Also, how many of you have been broken into? When my father owned the shop we came to work one morning and all the small tools and both big air compressors were gone, they even took the wrenches off the walls. These guys even ate my shop candy and left me the empty bag.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor T:
If someone wants in, they will get in. Keep records, pictures and serial numbers. Insurance is obvious, but had to say it. Maybe motion lights, or signs that say "door blocked" will keep some out, or at least direct them to the neighbor. Video surveillance is cheap these days.

From contributor Z:
Put everything away - out of sight out of mind. Put dog alarms on doors and windows. Better locks and grates over the windows are good too. Also Ė insurance as mentioned.

From contributor M:
I see several aspects when considering security.

1. Insurance. First, make an appointment to walk through the shop with your provider. Find out exactly what they need from you. Documentation is great but in my experience they also require considerable evidence to support your purchase price. This was a nasty problem for things that came to me from several generations of family.

2. Access control. This means control not over entry from the outside but a well thought out scheme of internal access controls. One example is - where do you keep your security system? After looking at options, we keep ours in a completely separate location and use a fiber optic link as a tie. Fiber is dirt cheap now.

3. Passive security. Simply lay out where and when you need access to valuable items. Build in layers of protection consistent with that scheme. If you slow bad guys down, they normally move on. They don't burgle banks anymore because it takes too long.

4. Active security. Mobile guards are really, really cheap. If there is an active account anywhere near your location, you will be surprised how cheap it is to add them to your system. I have an ambulance company near me. I could dog-pile on their account for less than 3% of my insurance bills.

5. Don't pull any cowboy stuff. Your building could burn down at a total loss and not cost you anything near what a "spring gun" or "man trap" law suit will cost. You don't even have to hurt someone to get a multimillion dollar judgment against you for cowboy tactics. I have seen the results of a "man trap" suit myself when a buddy built a clever "man trap." Trust me, the guy who built the trap will never satisfy the judgment against him. He is ruined for life.

6. Do exactly what you are doing. Talk to people. Talk to your attorney. Especially, talk to your insurance carriers.

From contributor X:
One thing to make sure of is to secure your forklift at the end of work. They can wipe a shop out of tools and materials in four hours time. They may even use your trucks also. Itís happened before.

From contributor S:
In the Philippines this is a big problem. Here are my solutions: bars on the windows, serious locks on all doors, and a noisy alarm.

All the small and expensive hand tools are kept in a small cement block tool locker room that has a serious door on it. The tool locker serves a more important purpose that when the day is over I can look in the locker and immediately see if there is anything missing. You are a lot more likely to have employees steal than a burglar. There is no theft insurance in the Philippines.

From contributor W:
We put in a camera and a small monitor behind 2" thick acrylic so those who might have entertained the thought, see themselves right at the front door. The sign says video surveillance in progress throughout. Motion sensors trip lights outsides, and alarm chirps as a car alarm would if someone gets too close to the doors. Not so much as a broken bottle out front and itís been about a year and a half.