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August 4, 2017

Retail Security: Investing in Your Glass Protection

By John Bocker, NSSF Security Consultant Team Member

Almost every burglary incident I reviewed this past May and June included some type of forced entry through an unprotected glass door or window. My question is, if tempered glass is so easy to break through, why do FFLs continue to install it? Isn’t that just like asking for trouble?

The reality is that security glass or lamination can be expensive. When I ask about glass protection during each post-burglary visit or call, I am often told, “Since the glass upgrade was so expensive, we opted for a really good alarm and security camera system instead.”

Truth be told, it’s the layers of physical protection installed that will make the difference between your business being burglarized or sending the bad guys elsewhere.

It’s a YouTube World—For Criminals

Hammer breaking glass window

We have all seen the videos broadcast on the evening news and YouTube showing how easy it is for firearm criminals to use something as simple as a rock obtained from the parking area or a simple hammer to shatter a glass door or display window; it’s almost as if the internet has helped educate criminals in these methods.

And as you know, we continually face the challenge of timely response from local law enforcement. If your alarm sounds when there are other critical activities occurring in your community, including automobile accidents and other burglaries, the police response to your burglar alarm may be delayed. As we have seen on TV and the internet, criminals are now able to access, grab an FFL’s guns, and quickly exit the site within two to three minutes. Because of this quick and easy process, it is almost inevitable that the bad guys are going to be able to escape your penetrated gun shop before police arrive. For this reason, installing additional layers of security to slow down, delay or otherwise deter a criminal act becomes a higher priority on your crime-prevention checklist.

Put Your Glass First

In our FFL onsite security assessment process, the NSSF Security Consultant Team member surveys each location by starting curbside with exterior lighting and physical barriers, including bollards and boulders that can thwart a smash-and-grab incident. We then move to the storefront and other exterior access points and test for easy-to-pilfer access through doors, windows and the roof. In other words, the second step is inspecting for strong security against forced entry, so why isn’t laminated glass or security film installed at this point? You can also include security shutters and roll-down gates in this second-layer assessment, but protecting and reinforcing your glass as your first priority just makes sense.

We have witnessed through investigative analysis that when criminals are defeated or slowed in their process, they often abort their act of burglary and move on to another location or try another day. For you to achieve this, my strongest recommendation is to contact your local glass company and solicit bids for professionally-installed window security film products or replacing your windows with laminated glass. (NSSF also has a Member Benefit Affinity Company that offers a discount on similar services for NSSF Members; more on that at the end.)

As I’ve explained in my prior articles, laminated glass is basically two sheets of tempered glass heat-adhered to an extremely strong layer of Lexan or similar material between the two panes of glass. This provides the utmost protection against vandalism. Please note that security film needs to be professionally installed to be effective—it is not a DIY type project.

Next, you should install, if you haven’t already, glass-break burglar alarm sensors on the inside of your premises to detect any attempted glass breakage incidents and subsequently summon the police. The laminated glass will slow down the criminals, but the alarm system will get the police there in a hurry. Remember, too, that security film or laminated glass is just not a great idea for storefronts, but also for your handgun showcases too. Finally, if your budget permits, install a roll-down security grill or gate on the interior or exterior of your facility’s access point(s) to provide the greatest number of protection layers against a typical break-in.

More Than One is Your Best Defense

Again, creating multiple layers of security is your best defense against a burglary and the unexpected media event, major reconstruction and recovery project, an insurance claim and, of course, an ATF inventory and Firearm Loss Report that will all follow. And, of course, the risk to public safety of stolen firearms being misused by criminals.

Our NSSF Member Benefit partner Window Film Depot highlights the value of 3M Safety & Security window film, especially for storefronts seeking to delay unwanted entry in an attempted smash-and-grab event. This particular security film can delay the perpetrator 45 seconds to a minute, allowing for that much more law enforcement response time that can stop the unwanted entry from succeeding. You may have seen Window Film Depot’s display and presentation at Shot Show. If not, you should watch it now:

For those wanting added protection, Defense Lite and Bullet Shield takes the security initiatives to another level. Defense Lite is an advanced glazing security product designed to deny entry into your FFL business via a patented — and virtually invisible — polycarbonate solution.

In addition to keeping the bad guys out, Bullet Shield is designed to keep bullets out as well. Bullet Shield is a UL-rated, retrofit ballistic shield designed to protect your physical store from natural and manmade disasters, including blast and bomb projectiles, blunt-force objects (baseball bats, hammers, bricks, etc.), handguns and other forced-entry attempts.

NSSF’s Store Security Audit team can help you assess the right glass application and security upgrades for your location. For more information, visit the Retailers section of NSSF also partners with a variety of security product vendors. Log in to the Members-only side of to discover more.

About the Author

John Bocker, NSSF Security Consultant Team MemberJohn Bocker is an NSSF Security Consultant Team Member and the Managing Director at JB Group, LLC, based in Denver, Colorado. JB Group is a business security and integrity strategy consultant organization specializing in maximizing profitability, risk management, employee integrity, ATF FFL compliance, operational controls. Visit or call (720) 514-0609 for more information.


You might also be interested in: Retail Loss Prevention Conference Yields Fresh Insights, New Technologies


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