There Was a Break-in at the Warehouse: Now What?

There Was a Break-in at the Warehouse: Now What?
Mar 19, 2018

It can happen any day. You head to your business’ warehouse in the morning, and you notice something is wrong—there was a break-in.

It’s a scary moment, and many questions run through your mind:

  • How did this happen?
  • What was stolen?
  • Can I recover the stolen merchandise?
  • Will the criminals strike again?
  • How could this have been prevented?

Though you may be in shock it happened to your warehouse, the truth is, it’s not uncommon.

Location and Volume of Goods Make Warehouses Prime Targets

With the rise of e-commerce, warehouse operations are even more important to business, as they store millions of dollars’ worth of goods waiting to be shipped to various locations. The high volume of product in one location is a draw for criminals. Warehouses are often in remote locations or located on a large property, which makes them a soft target for criminals. Here are some statistics that highlight the prevalence of this problem in the U.S.:

  • Cargo theft cost companies at least $30 billion a year[1]
  • There is an average of 63 cargo thefts per month[2]
  • The value of goods stolen in 2016 was 13.3 percent higher than the previous year[3]
  • 90 percent of thefts occurred in unsecured or unattended locations[4]

Not all criminals pulling off these lucrative heists are using sophisticated break-in methods. Only about one in eight burglars pick locks or use a stolen key to access buildings.[5]

Most thieves who break into businesses gain entry through unsecured windows or doors, or simply break a lock, window, or kick down a door.

Preventative Measures to Protect Your Business from Break-ins

There are several preventative measures you can take to protect your property from a break-in, and many of them have to do with your operations.

  1. Have regular warehouse inspections that identify any vulnerability in your security
  2. Keep good records of your inventory closely, which will help you quickly discover if anything is missing
  3. Store your most valuable products in security cages as an extra layer of protection
  4. Stay up to date on cargo theft trends, such as what type of merchandise is being targeted based on location and season as well as when thefts commonly happen. Industry sites such as Supplychain247.com and Industryweek.com can provide the latest news
  5. Communicate with law enforcement to familiarize them with your operation so they are able to notice suspicious behavior around your property
  6. Stay connected with other business owners in the area to stay informed about incidents or issues happening around your location

In addition to information gathering and improving operational procedures, there are technological solutions that can help prevent crime:

  1. Use electronic access control systems to control access to high-value rooms or cages. These systems are more difficult for criminals to break and provide a trail of who entered the room and when
  2. Install sensors and tamper alarms on entry points around the facility
  3. Install a video surveillance system to monitor and record activity both outside and inside your facility

Video Surveillance Fortifies Warehouses and Deters Thieves

Video surveillance is often the most effective security measure for warehouses, even more than alarms, which common criminals have learned how to disable. In fact, one in five burglars[6] says they cut alarm wires before breaking into a property.

“I’ve seen cases where thieves cut the phone lines, which disabled the alarm systems, and then spend the weekend cleaning out a warehouse with $6 million worth of merchandise—using the warehouse’s own forklifts,” J. Patrick Murphy, president of LPT Security Consulting, told the Wall Street Journal. [7]

Video surveillance, on the other hand, often deters burglars as they look for businesses with the weakest security measures to target. Using surveillance solutions at your warehouse gives you live monitoring of your site, and some products provide real-time alerts when someone enters an unauthorized area.

If criminals do manage to steal goods, video surveillance can aid in finding them after a burglary, which can lead to the recovery of stolen merchandise.

“Cameras are a phenomenal evidence gathering tool. One, they help law enforcement find criminals, and two, they help document the perpetrator being there better than an eyewitness. Some people may think, ‘I don’t want to pay the money for it.’ But I guarantee you the day they come to their business and the backdoor has been pried open and all of their merchandise is gone, they’ll realize it’s a small payment to make to prevent thefts from happening,” Tim Kuchac, a former lieutenant with the San Jose Police Department and current Training Director at V5 Systems, said.

Some of the perceived barriers to installing video surveillance are time and money. While traditionally using this technology required installing another power source that could be expensive and disrupt business while adding new wiring to the facility, new solutions exist that are wireless and easy to install.

V5 Systems provides the next generation of security with a wireless, portable security solution to help protect your warehouse, that way, even if thieves cut the power lines, the security system still operates. The system has sensors that provide the ability to see, hear and smell, so it can detect an unauthorized person on your property and send immediate alerts.

Unfortunately, break-ins happen from time to time, but now you’re armed with information on how to protect your warehouse and prevent any future incidents.

[1] Cargo Theft’s High Cost. FBI. https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/stories/2006/july/cargo_theft072106

[2] Shocking Statistics About Cargo Theft. PLS Logistics. http://info.plslogistics.com/blog/shocking-statistics-about-cargo-theft

[3] Cargo Theft Costs Businesses $114 million in 2016. Transport Topics. http://www.ttnews.com/articles/cargo-thefts-cost-businesses-114-million-2016

[4] Shocking Statistics About Cargo Theft. PLS Logistics. http://info.plslogistics.com/blog/shocking-statistics-about-cargo-theft

[5] Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender’s Perspective. University of North Carolina at Charlotte. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268444817_Understanding_Decisions_to_Burglarize_from_the_Offender’s_Perspective

[6] Anatomy of a Business Break-In. Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/ad/article/security-anatomy-break-in

[7] Anatomy of a Business Break-In. Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/ad/article/security-anatomy-break-in


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