Security Cameras for Your Retail Business
Can security cameras have an impact on the success of your retail business? [Image by Stefan Krasowski via Flickr]
With Big Brother watching us from every angle of our lives these days, there’s no denying the importance that those in authority place in the power of knowing what’s going on among the populace. And while the general lack of privacy in the 21st century so far may be discouraging to many, it should also serve as a clue if you own a retail business: security cameras are an advantageous resource. They help you keep track of your things and the people who have designs on making your things their things without a fair exchange of reciprocal commodities (read: folks who want to jack your stuff).

The Lorex 8-Channel Video Security DVR with Four Digital Wireless Security Cameras, for instance, is a reasonably priced, multi-camera surveillance system that can help you keep would-be thieves at bay. But it takes more than just raw technology to ensure the safety of your property. It takes a strategy.

Security Cameras Deter Thieves, Unless…

Well-placed security cameras certainly have the power to deter people from doing bad things to your home or “liberating” your property. And, to be fair, many homeowners are deterred from installing security cameras in the first place because of how much wiring they think is involved.

Anyway, “well-placed” is the important qualification, here. The most expensive security cameras — whether installed in the home or the retail business — do no good if they’re set up somewhere that misses all the action they’re intended to spot.

Security Cameras Are Only as Smart as Their Placement

So how do you know when the security cameras you’re placing in your retail business are set up in an optimal position to catch crooks and other misbehavers red-handed? First, you need to be aware of the field of view that your particular security camera — or series of security cameras — is able to capture. This will take some trial and error at first. Even having three cameras blanket covering an area from the corner of your store will result in a blind spot or two into which the security cameras cannot see.

While such blind spot dead zones are inevitable, your real goal is to maximize the effectiveness of your security cameras even in the face of such inevitability. What steps can you take to do so? Consider the resources that you’re trying to protect, and find creative ways to harness the weaknesses of your particular situation into strengths.

Say what? Well, it’s a bit like making lemonade from the lemons that life is handing you, as they say.

Strength in Weakness

If you own a retail business, chances are that you have an employee or two on staff to help you mind the shop. Maybe they’re family members or students trying to make a little extra cash to fund fuel for their motor scooters and Saturday night milkshakes — or whatever the kids are spending money on these days. In an ideal scenario, these employees are industrious and dutiful toward your mission of providing reasonable goods and services to your community at a reasonable rate of exchange. In a less ideal scenario, you’ve hired on a slacker who is always looking for loopholes around whatever system The Man (that’s you: authority figure and object of derision, no matter your actual gender) has put in place to keep them down (i.e. make them work for the money that you’re giving them).

Hey! That’s a weakness you can turn into a strength when you’re trying to figure out the ideal placement of your security cameras! A slacker beleaguered by the prospect of actually having to work is going to be aware of any security system you’ve put in place, and will know how to duck into those aforementioned blind spots for their mid-morning naps and marathon text sessions with the rest of the slacker network — presumably participating in similar work avoidance programs from their respective (if not respectable) jobs.

Once such blind spots are identified, you can use them to your advantage. One strategy for dealing with these blind spots is to stock your cheapest — or biggest, most difficult to conceal — items there. While there’s nothing keeping someone from picking up an item from another area that’s well-monitored by your security cameras and bringing it to a blind spot for the actual pilfering (the clever thieves will be aware of this trick), you’ll at least have a better handle on the situation. (To your advantage: most thieves aren’t all that clever).

Security Cameras Whack-a-Mole: Keep ‘Em Guessing

Creatures of habit, we human beings become accustomed to patterns that we see around us and react accordingly. Such reactions spawn still more patterns, and the cycle continues. Don’t be complacent: switch the places that your security cameras cover (and don’t cover), and move your stock around regularly. A surveillance system that keeps moving will keep the lazy employees and the would-be burglars guessing and, it is hoped, deterred from bad behavior.

Do you own a retail space and have experience with how to best utilize the investment of security cameras in your place of business? Please feel free to share your wisdom with the rest of us in the comments below!