A discussion on ways to mitigate the risks of commercial theft

Dec. 7, 2023
Fencing, video surveillance, and access control systems may be acceptable individual solutions, but integrated and multi-layered security solutions become stronger than the sum of their parts.

In the face of opportunistic criminals and organized crime, a single layer of perimeter security is often not enough. Fencing, video surveillance, and access control systems may be acceptable individual solutions, but integrated and multi-layered security solutions become stronger than the sum of their parts.

Moderator Steve Lasky of SecurityInfoWatch.com is joined by guests Mike Martin, Manager Security and Loss Prevention, Old Dominion Freight Line; and Mark Landry, Director National Accounts, AMAROK for a compelling webinar discussing some of the following issues:

  • How to conduct a threat assessment to analyze your risk,
  • Building a multi-layered security solution from the fence and beyond,
  • The importance of security lights and video surveillance as deterrents,
  • And why training is one of the most important steps in maintaining a robust security solution.

Walking the Fence Line

For businesses and other commercial buildings to remain secure, security professionals must first take stock of their risks. There are multiple factors to be considered when conducting a risk assessment, Martin and Landry note – a building’s location in a high crime area, its proximity to highways or railroad tracks, and its history of previous theft are all contributors to its overall security risk.

When it comes to conducting a threat assessment, walking the fence line is an important first step. Dense vegetation surrounding perimeter fences are popular hiding spots for criminals, and the presence of trash or other items is another indicator of an outsider on the property. Even if these items aren’t present, however, when dealing with organized and savvy criminals, perimeter fencing isn’t enough to deter break-ins.

While perimeter fences mark a section of property as “off-limits,” they offer little in the way of protection. Experienced criminals typically have few issues scaling, sliding underneath, or breaking through fences to access high-value items or property. “Fencing is more a psychological deterrent,” comments Landry. “A fence is always the first line of defense, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Layering your perimeter is key in preventing crime.”

A Multi-Layered Approach

Alarm systems are a popular choice to layer on top of existing security systems. Their value lies in their ability to function as both a psychological deterrent and a threat detection solution and their ability to work as both a standalone and integrated solution. However, intelligent criminals will still case a building’s alarm system over time to see how it works, and alarms that trigger during any breach cause alarm fatigue in security teams, something threat actors will take advantage of.

Layering intrusion detection on top of existing systems is key, Landry says. “Every single sensor will have a flaw, so layering multiple intrusion detection systems will give you a more comprehensive, robust system and a greater sense of confidence.” Intrusion detection systems also offer a form of early threat detection, allowing security teams to take a more proactive approach. Layering multiple intrusion detection systems is the best way to minimize threat risk, he adds.

Landry continues, “There are also a lot of valuable, tactical ways to utilize lighting to deter criminal activity.” Three of four commercial burglaries occur at locations without adequate security lighting, so integrating spotlights into perimeter fencing and other threat points, layering lighting systems, and implementing motion-activated lights work as cheap psychological deterrents to criminals. Working in tandem with lighting systems are video surveillance solutions.

Video surveillance solutions serve as extra eyes for security professionals. Installing cameras in strategic, high-value locations offers another great psychological deterrent for criminals. Installing color cameras is key, notes Martin, as color cameras offer additional pieces of identifying evidence for law enforcement to follow up on. Integrating video surveillance with other solutions and implementing motion detection can make the system more robust; however, video surveillance systems can only capture a crime that is already in progress, cementing it as a reactive solution.

Training, Training, Training

The most proactive solution a commercial operation can take is to train its people - “The first defenses we recommend are your employees,” states Martin. “The overwhelming majority of the time, you’re dealing with the people element when responding to perimeter breaches,” Landry agrees. “You need to understand the nature of criminals and the relationships you create with employees and law enforcement. Security is a negotiation.”

Guard forces are a strong deterrent against criminals, but their effectiveness needs to be properly maintained. Regular training on procedures, frequent walks around the perimeter, and implementing a layered security approach alongside physical guard services are the best ways to improve their efficacy. Maintaining relationships with guard companies to improve guard investment is also an important aspect, notes Landry.

When proper training is implemented, employees can serve as a strong guard force in defending property as well. While some criminals choose to breach the perimeter, others may simply choose to walk through the front door, often while posing as an employee. Regular training on security procedures, in tandem with an access control system, may make a receptionist or front-facing employee the strongest line of defense against this type of breach. “We as security practitioners need to not only protect what’s going on around us,” Landry says. “What’s coming through that door is critically important as well.”

“Security is a push and pull,” finishes Landry. “We have to strike a good balance that’s going to secure your property without locking it down.”

To learn more about mitigating risk by layering security systems, register to listen to the webinar here.


Mark Landry
Director National Accounts
Mike Martin
Manager Security and Loss Prevention
Old Dominion Freight Line
Steve Lasky
Editorial Director