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December 13, 2017

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year — For Burglars

By John Bocker, NSSF Security Consultant Team Member

This time of year, thieves understand the same things your customers do: Your store is full of cool, new and expensive inventory! This is especially true during the winter holiday season and, for many stores, in the months during hunting seasons, when your inventory levels are higher to meet seasonal demand. This extra inventory adds to the everyday stress every FFL already experiences when they head home each evening, because they also know that this likely means an increase in gun shop burglaries.

Holiday retailing brings with it a double-edged sword. You need to have a wide assortment of quality inventory on-hand to meet the needs and demands of all the December shoppers and to support your holiday promotions. This seasonal change in stock-keeping practices results in overcrowding the retail floor and stock areas and may even compromise your security standards that you otherwise consistently practiced throughout the year.

Shield your store from burglars

So, what can you do to safeguard against burglaries during this busy selling season? Let’s tackle this issue with a realistic and cost-effective approach.

First, you should stay abreast of crime statistics and criminal activities, including burglaries and robberies in your area, by speaking with your local law enforcement agency and by stopping in at your local police station. Now might be the best time to introduce yourself if you haven’t already and build a good rapport with your area’s law enforcement partners. If convenient, invite the local patrol officers to stop in, meet your team and take a tour of the facility. This will surely help if there is a middle-of-the-night alarm requiring police response.

Next, conduct a thorough security assessment and survey your facility starting at the curb, then working your way through the store, the security systems, and finally through to the rear receiving areas and your store’s exterior. Your security survey should include inspecting your roof and HVAC access and exterior lighting. Remember to inspect the surrounding area outside, too, checking for anything unusual that criminals can use to gain entry, such as stacks of pallets or ladders that may provide access to roofs, windows and other areas.

When checking the security of your building, consider how many layers of physical security protection are installed (or can be added) to slow down anyone attempting to penetrate your facility to access your firearms. If your glass is not protected, for instance, what can you do in the short term to add barriers to entry? Can you move floor display gun safes to block the front glass windows or doors? Can you purchase roll-away scissor gates to add credible and highly visible security deterrence to vandals thinking about busting through your glass? If you have special-order long guns displayed down main aisles, can they be palletized to be moved to secured stock areas after hours? And while you may not remove your handguns from showcases after hours throughout the year, during the high-burglary time of the holiday season, it may be a good time to go the extra mile.

Finally, being creative with your security this time of year may prove to be the critical element in preventing a burglary at your location. Leaving your selling area lights on can create the illusion that employees are on the premises. Many retailers recruit extra staffing this time of year to do overnight stocking. If you have delivery or company vehicles not being used, consider moving them to block doors during those hours and prevent vandals from gaining entry.

Don’t underestimate the value of a sign in the front or rear store windows at night that can alert would-be thieves that all guns are secured after hours. Media has recently reported several burglaries in which gun shops have been vandalized, but the firearms were stored away in security safes or secure areas and were not taken. While there were many thousands of dollars in damage to the retail or range location, not having a firearms loss eased some of the pain.

NSSF’s Store Security Audit team is standing by to assist you with any physical or operational security or safety issue, including post-burglary crisis management, that you may have. NSSF also partners with a variety of security product vendors. Login to the NSSF Member portal to discover more.

About the Author
John Bocker is an NSSF Security Consultant Team Member and the Managing Director at JB Group, LLC, based in Denver, Colorado. JB Group is a firearms security and strategy consulting organization specializing in ATF FFL compliance and protecting FFL’s against unexpected losses resulting from burglary, robbery, and internal control failures. Visit or call (720) 514-0609 for more information.


You may also be intersted in: Common Sense Solutions for Improved FFL Security

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