How your business looks can affect whether or not a criminal may target you for a crime. If your building or business looks run-down and not cared for, you may attract criminals who assume you are an easy target.

Take care of your property, including landscaping, sidewalks, and any parking areas.

Store layout

  • Place your checkout counter near the front of the store, so employees can easily monitor inside and outside
  • Do not use large displays or posters that cover windows
  • Keep the building, especially the rear, well-lit at night
  • Loading areas should be clean and free of large objects where someone could hide
  • Install an alarm and consider surveillance of all entrances

Prevent break-ins

  • The best protection against break-ins is well-lit and open spaces
  • When closing, leave your cash drawer empty and open, and visible from outside
  • Use deadbolts with a minimum 1-inch bolt and a saw-resistant insert on all exterior doors
  • If you are considering installing or upgrading an alarm system, consider a monitored alarm, with a panic button in case of robbery

We’ve had a break-in – now what?

  • If it has just happened, call 9-1-1 – if there is a time delay, call 604-717-3321
  • Do not go inside, as there is a chance the thief might still be there and evidence could be accidentally destroyed

Credit fraud

These schemes are used to defraud manufacturers, suppliers, or distributors of their merchandise. Con artists set up fake companies and buy materials and goods on credit, then vanish without a trace.

What to watch for:

  • A new customer ordering an unusually large amount of merchandise on credit
  • A customer’s business references can’t be verified.
  • A sudden change in a customer’s management staff without notice
  • A customer’s payments start to lag behind
  • A company suddenly increasing its orders for no apparent reason


  • Get to know the new management of the company
  • Do a thorough credit check
  • Make sure that new orders are not filled until the credit check is complete

Credit card fraud

Signs a credit card may be stolen:

  • The card has been altered
  • The card is expired or not yet valid
  • The signature on the back of the card does not match the one on the sales slip

Suspect a card may be stolen?

Call the credit card company for authorization and indicate your suspicions.

What to do if the card is stolen?

Tell the customer there is a problem getting authorization and you have to keep the card. If they become abusive, call police.


Email scams and malware are becoming more complex, increasing the risk for both business and their clients. Prevention is key to keeping your business safe and secure.

How to safeguard your business from cyber-attacks:

  • Report all cyber-attacks to police
  • Hire an IT professional or cyber-security contractor to look at your network and respond if you have a cyber-event
  • Connect with the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre for advice on preparing for and handling cyber-events

Visit Get Cyber Safe, a Canadian government website, for more information on how you can protect your business from cybercrime.

Learn more Cybercrime prevention tips.

Internal theft

A business could lose more to employee theft, than to shoplifting, burglary, and robbery combined.


  • Have strict hiring practices, and contact all references and former employers
  • Have clear and strict policies on theft and accepting bribes
  • Set a good example – don’t take supplies or equipment for personal use, or without paying for it
  • Maintain a high level of morale – employees who are happy to work in your business, and who are treated fairly, will take pride in the business, and will be much less likely to steal from you
  • Get to know your staff and ask them for suggestions on how to improve their work environment
  • Keep your salaries competitive, and consider a profit sharing-program

Embezzlement and theft

Possible warning signs:

  • Records rewritten so that they “look neater”
  • An increase in stock shortages
  • Staff who refuse a vacation or promotion
  • A change in business patterns when a certain employee is away
  • Errors in monthly statements, and complaints by customers
  • A decrease in profits
  • Employees who seem overly sensitive to routine questions about procedures

Possible methods:

  • A cashier may ring in a lower price to conceal their theft from the till, or they may overcharge a customer and keep the difference
  • An employee purposely damages stock so that they can buy the item at a reduced price
  • Staff may hide merchandise in trash bins and collect it later
  • An employee may save discarded customer receipts to pretend that they have paid for their stolen goods


  • Have thorough inventory control and conduct unexpected checks
  • Limit employee access to stock and inventory records
  • Periodically check trash bins and infrequently used rooms – trash removal should be done at specified times, by a designated employee

Refund fraud

  • Make your refund policy clear to customers by putting up a sign by the cash register
  • Issue cash refunds only if they have the original receipt
  • Consider offering an exchange-only policy



  • If you must work alone, turn on a TV or radio in a back room so it sounds like someone else is with you
  • Vary the times you make bank deposits and keep minimal cash in your till to minimize your loss
  • Put up signs that a second key is needed for the safe and it is not on the premises
  • Install a security alarm, and consider getting a panic button – put up stickers stating you have an alarm and ensure your staff know how and when to use the panic button

During a robbery:

  • If someone threatens you with a weapon and demands money, give it to them – you may be risking your life if your refuse
  • Push a silent alarm if you have one and the robber won’t be aware – otherwise, wait until the robber has left
  • Try to get a good look at the suspect, so you can give a description to police officers

After a robbery:

  • Call 9-1-1 and immediately write down everything you can remember and a description of the robber, including their height, weight, hair and eye colour, clothing, scars or tattoos, and type of weapon
  • If it’s safe, take a look at the escape vehicle and license plate numbers, and the direction of travel
  • Keep everyone away from surfaces or objects the robber may have touched


Behaviour to watch:

When honest customers shop, they generally look at items, checking for price and size. Shoplifters tend to look around the store for cameras and clerks — some even wear sunglasses to hide the fact they are not looking at merchandise.

Shoplifters may hide items in their sleeves, boots, or socks. They may be fidgeting with their cuffs, bending down to tie shoes laces more than once, hitching up their pants or rearranging their clothing. They tend to wear bulky or out-of-season clothing.

Groups of children or teenagers often loiter in front of a store, looking for security measures and how attentive the staff are.

Shoplifter Techniques

  • Padding items: hiding extra items inside boxed or bagged merchandise they intend to purchase|
  • Using children: hiding items in their infant’s stroller or diaper bag, or using small children to conceal merchandise or carry it out of the store
  • Wearing it out: after trying something on and wearing it around the store for several minutes, they simply walk out – often they first remove the price tags, or tuck them out of site
  • Hiding in plain sight: generally used for large or heavy items, thieves hold an old receipt in one hand and walk out of the store as if the item has been paid for; they may also bring an empty bag in a pocket or even bag with merchandise into the store and start filling them with new items; it’s common for someone to just walk in to a store and walk out with merchandise in under a minute and not even get noticed
  • Grab and run: shoplifter walks into the store, grabs what they can, and runs out to a waiting car driven by an accomplice


  • Train your employees to spot shoplifters
  • Keep your store and display shelves neat and organized, so staff can see the customers and notice if something is missing
  • Consider anti-theft tags for merchandise
  • Keep items away from exits — design your layout so that anyone entering or leaving the store must pass by security personnel or staff
  • Keep expensive items in locked cases, and limit the number that employees can remove at any one time
  • Fitting rooms and bathrooms should be watched at all times — limit the number of items taken into a fitting room, and don’t allow unpaid merchandise in restrooms
  • Keep the cash register inaccessible to customers and monitored at all times

Vandalism prevention

  • Ensure your landscaping doesn’t provide cover or hiding places
  • Keep the area around the building well-lit and visible to the street
  • Schedule cleaning staff at night when most vandalism happens
  • Repair any damage or remove graffiti as soon as possible

Vancouver SHIELD

Vancouver SHIELD partners with public and private sectors to strengthen the city of Vancouver’s resiliency against terrorism, violent extremism, and other threats. The program aims to increase safety awareness, strengthen security partnerships, and enhance resources and information sharing.