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Preventing Business Crime

Information on steps to take towards preventing business offences

Here you will find information on steps to take for preventing business crime, including: burglary, cash-in transit safety, forecourt security, harassment, assault, abuse, making off without payment, robbery, shoplifting, theft by employees and theft of and from vehicles.

Avoiding Money Laundering

Small businesses are a soft target for fraudsters who want to launder the proceeds of crime.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has warned that small business are being targeted with a new type of scam. This involves overseas "investors" tricking victims into laundering money.

Usually the scam will start with an email or phone call from the fraudsters, who claim they are interested in "investing" in new start-up companies in the UK. The fraudsters build trust over time, and make sure they keep under the cash limits that would cause the banks to question the transactions.

Money laundering is a crime and business owners can be jailed.

Protection and Prevention advice:

  • Treat unsolicited email or messages from people offering to invest in your business with extreme caution.
  • Do not share your financial details with anyone you don't know and trust, especially if its a contact initially made via a unsolicited email.
  • Ensure you conduct thorough research on any potential investor before accepting any money. Check the company is correctly registered in the country they operate in. Any UK PLC, LTD and LP businesses can be checked at Companies House.
  • If you have been or suspect you may have been a victim of a scam, report it to Action Fraud. call 0300 123 2040 or visit Action Fraud.

Business Burglary

The following advice focuses on the business environment such as assets, stock, security and procedures.

Banking Malware

How to Protect Yourself

Do you realy know how banking malware works?Don't click on links you receive in unsolicited emails, texts or social media posts. These could lead to malicious websites and attachments could be malware.

Only install apps from official app stores. Jailbreaking, rooting or disabling any of the default features of your mobile device may leave it more susceptible to malware infections.

Please make use of/install: an antivirus, patches/updates and have a strong firewall in place.

When logging in to your online bank account, be cautious if you're asked for details such as the 3 digit CVV number on the back of your card, the long number on the front of the card, your cards expiry date, or the 4 digit PIN for your card. If the online banking login page you're on does ask for these details, then don't login until you've called your bank to verify that you're logging in to a genuine web page.

Your bank will never ask you to transfer money out of your account and into another. Fraudsters will. If you receive messages, browser pop ups or calls asking you to do this, then don't respond to them. Call your bank immediately.

Download the full Banking Malware Poster here: Banking Malware Poster [4MB] .

Cash and Cash-in-Transit Safety

Please consider the crime prevention advice below to keep your cash safe on your business premises and when the cash is in-transit:

Crime prevention advice to keep your cash safe on your business premises and when the cash is in-transit:

  • Keep as little cash as possible on the premises - do not count cash within anyone else's view.
  • Put tills away from entrance and exit doors - restrict access to the rear of tills and counters using lockable doors or counter flaps.
  • Move excess cash to a safe place.
  • Try to pay your staff by cheque or cash transfer.

Security that you can use to protect cash:

  • Plastic till guards - a cheap but effective way to prevent till snatches.
  • Smoke and dye money pack systems - designed to emit coloured smoke and spoil cash that has been stolen.
  • External access safes - where cash collection companies can supply or take away cash without needing to enter premises.
  • Bullet-resistant glass and fast-rising screens - fitted at till points or pay kiosks - these offer the cashier protection and are a significant deterrent.
  • Time-delay safes - secure and only possible to open after a pre-set time - these safes will keep any cash not in the till, or not yet banked, safe from all but the most determined robbers.


  • Bank cash as soon as possible - do not allow cash to build up on the premises.
  • Choose the right staff for the job - young, elderly, ill or new employees should not be used to transport cash because of their vulnerability.
  • Staff that transport cash should be alert to suspicious people or vehicles.
  • Always use a secure container to carry cash that doesn't draw attention to itself.
  • Where possible, don't use a canvas moneybag - use a pocket/specially-designed carry case.
  • The times and routes used when transporting cash should vary - don't make unnecessary stops.
  • Staff that transport cash on foot should always be accompanied - use the busiest roads and walk in the centre of the pavement, towards oncoming traffic, never transport cash on foot if there is an alternative.
  • Never use public transport to transport cash.
  • If a car is used, a second employee acting as a driver should accompany the person carrying the cash - try not to use the same car each time.
  • Make sure that all vehicles used for transporting cash are well maintained - all doors should be kept locked.
  • If staff are attacked, they should surrender the cash.

Security equipment to protect cash-in-transit:

  • Cash-carrying equipment, such as a security briefcase, bag or product designed for the movement of cash - these may include smoke or dye products.
  • Car safes can be fitted in the boot of a car, ring bolts can be fitted to secure cash-carrying equipment.

Criminal Damage

Criminal damage is where a person destroys or damages property belonging to another.

PC male and female officer walking outside down an alleyway daylightWhat is it?

These are crimes where a person destroys or damages property belonging to another. The damage caused must be deliberate and permanent to be classed as criminal damage.

Why do something about it?

This is a crime type which has a high level of repeat victimisation - nationally around a third of victims are targeted again within a year. This type of offence undermines the pride people take in their community.

It can effect staff morale and be off putting to customers. It can also lead to an increased risk of other types of crime - burglars are more likely to target properties that have already had criminal damage.

What can be done?

  • Specific crime incidents should be reported to police by calling the single non-emergency number - 101.
  • Improve surveillance - look at investing in CCTVor talk to other local businesses about working together and supporting each other.
  • Carry out repairs rapidly to reduce the risk of escalation.
  • Contact your crime reduction officer for advice on target-hardening.
  • Talk to your local Police Community Support Officer - they can take details of the general problem and complete a citizens' contact record with you.

Forecourt Security

Petrol forecourt retailers are asked to consider the crime prevention advice below.

This advice is intended to reduce bilking and other petrol forecourt crimes. It is not exhaustive, but is aimed at helping forecourt retailers to examine their premises and procedures.

Examine the layout of your forecourt:

  • Does the kiosk operator have a clear view of all the petrol pumps?
  • How many points are there where vehicles can enter or leave the forecourt?
  • Are there speed humps?
  • Are there painted bays for vehicles to park in while filling up?
  • Does your garage have Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) and/or Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).
  • If so, do CCTV cameras have a clear view of each petrol pump?
  • Does the kiosk operator have access to the CCTV equipment and do they know how to work it?
  • Is there a CCTV management system in place?
  • Is the CCTV footage recorded in a format that courts can view? This is especially important for digital systems.
  • Is the CCTV registered under the Data Protection Act 1998? Are there signs telling people that the cameras are in use?

Examine your procedures:

  • Do you have an active policy of prosecuting non-payers?
  • Do you display signs that tell people that you prosecute non-payers?
  • Is there a petrol pump management system? For example, one that turns off outside pumps at quieter times of the day?
  • Do you have online authorisation facilities for payments by card?
  • Do you examine your 'drive-off' figures for patterns in the times and frequencies of drive-offs, and do you act on them?
  • What procedures do you use to vet your staff? What crime prevention/reduction training do they receive?
  • Is there a reward system for staff that prevent crime?

Harassment, Assault and Abuse

Work-related violence is defined as any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.

The Health and Safety Executive have produced two leaflets which give detailed information to employers.

You can find them going to the Harassment - Health and Safety Executive website.

Making Off Without Payment

Bilking is often used to describe a customer 'making off without paying' for goods or a service. Bilking can be committed against restaurants, service stations, taxi drivers/companies or in a number of other situations.

If a customer makes off without paying you should report it to the police, giving as much of the following information as possible:

  • A detailed description of the person/people involved.
  • A detailed description of any vehicle involved, including: make and model, colour and registration number.
  • Their direction of travel.
  • The monetary value of the goods or service.
  • Whether the person/people involved made any attempt to pay.

If there is a dispute over service or cost where the customer won't pay, but leaves their details after you accept their offer to do so, then this is a non police matter. However if a person leaves false details with the intention of not paying they may have committed a criminal offence.


For a comprehensive guide on Robbery and how to prevent it, we recommend that you read:  Advice on Robbery [473KB]

Silhouette of a person in a cell black and whiteKeep windows clean and clear: Remove posters and advertising from windows. Your staff will feel safer as clear windows make it easier for them to spot a potential threat and take action, it also means people passing by can see into your shop, which will put off some criminals.

Notice your customers: Greet all customers as soon as they walk into your shop as criminals often check out premises before they rob them. They don't normally like places where they know they've been seen by staff.

Take extra care when opening and closing: You and your staff may be more vulnerable at these times, if it is possible try to get two people to open and close your shop. Stay alert and look out for suspicious people or vehicles. If you have any concerns, do not open your shop. Move to somewhere safe within the premises, for example into a back office.

Record suspicious incidents: Write down anything suspicious that happens in and around your premises. Include details such as descriptions of the people and vehicles involved, vehicle registration numbers and the date and time of the incident. It will also help you work out whether you need to take specific measures for particular or persistent problems.

Get to know your local police: Working closely with the police can help us keep crime down and help you protect your premises better. Let them know about anything suspicious that takes place in your shop and ask for advice on security and crime problems in your area.

Other useful tips:

  • Use a secure container for carrying cash but do not draw attention to it. If you have large amounts of cash to bank, use a recognised cash carrying company to collect it.
  • Vary your route and the times that you go to the bank. Don't use public transport. Use busy main roads and walk against the flow of the traffic.
  • Consider a personal attack/hold-up alarm for staff that is connected to a monitoring service.
  • Install a secure safe. Consider counter-drop safes, safes with time delays, night safe facilities or cash transit safes.
  • Consider CCTV equipment and position to capture a face view of anyone entering the premises.
  • Have a pre-arranged signal that you can use with colleagues to indicate that a robbery is taking place.

During a robbery

Despite taking crime prevention measures, you and your staff still need to know what to do in the event of a robbery. Firstly, remember that if you only keep small amounts of cash in your till, robbers will have little to get away with. If your premises are robbed it's important to:

  • Stay calm: try not to panic - although it's distressing, most robberies are over quickly.
  • Safety first: remember that the most important thing is the safety of you, your customers and staff.
  • Alarms: if you have a hold-up alarm, use it, but only if it is safe to do so.
  • Remember details: try to memorise as many details as you can, such as the age, sex, height and hair colour of the people involved, as well as what they are wearing and the things they are carrying. As soon as you can, write down everything you remember.

Immediately after a robbery:

  • Close your premises.
  • Call 999 and ask for police and other emergency services, if required.
  • Don't move or touch anything.


You should contact your local crime reduction officer for advice on how to make your premises more secure.

The following tips may help:

  • Look at what deterrents can be installed in the store, such as mirrors and cameras. Think about how easy it would be for a shoplifter to take items unobserved from your store.
  • Put large 'shoplifters will be prosecuted' signs in prominent positions in the store to act as a deterrent.
  • Train staff to be observant at all times and to report anything suspicious to their supervisor. Remember well trained, vigilant staff are one of the best ways of combating shoplifting.
  • Have a bell by the till and set up a warning system, such as two rings if you think something suspicious is going on.
  • Check references carefully before taking staff on.
  • If you have security problems don't wait for them to get worse - call in the experts.
  • Don't put expensive items where they can be easy targets for opportunist thieves.
  • Think about the hiding places people may bring into shops with them - bags, push chairs, even umbrellas.
  • Some shoplifters operate in groups and use distraction. For example, complaining loudly or asking to see the manager, so that the others are free to operate.

To reduce the amount of shoplifting in your business you could:

  • Establish a policy and ensure all your staff understand it.
  • Train your staff to be your eyes and ears and give regular refreshers.
  • If you suspect somebody in the store, make yourself busy near them, smiling, making eye contact and others sales techniques - this can be an effective deterrent.
  • Use dummy display goods for high risk items.
  • Use display 'loop' alarms and tagging for high value items.
  • Ban persistent offenders from entering your store.

Theft by Employees

Employee theft can include a variety of things including:

  • Theft of cash from a till.
  • Forgery of company cheques.
  • Theft of inventory items/equipment.
  • Employees granting a friend or other person a discount at the register or charging for fewer items than the amount purchased.
  • Theft of information.

You can reduce the risk of this happening by:

  • Always checking references - even for temporary employees.
  • Establish a clear policy on theft and security and give to all employees.
  • Keep cheque books locked up and restrict access to cash and cheque's.
  • Divide financial responsibilities among several members of staff.
  • Control cash flow and document accurately where money is spent.
  • Make regular deposits of cash in banks rather than allowing them to accumulate in cash tills.
  • Check all invoices to make sure they match what was delivered and to ensure vendors were paid.
  • Closely monitor high-value items like laptops and sat-navs by using a sign-in and sign-out system.
  • Remove the opportunity to steal - where possible have different people taking it in turns to carry out different functions and checking one another's work.
  • Refunds, voids or over-rings should only be authorised in the presence of the customer.
  • Check bins regularly and at random intervals.
  • If there are any anomalies with the cash at the end of the day then respond appropriately.
  • All employees should be allocated a secure place for their personal belongings within a staff-only area.
  • Two employees should be employed to be present at the opening and closing of the store.

If you suspect theft has taken place you should:

  • Make sure you have your facts straight - making a false allegation is very damaging to employer/employee relations throughout the business.
  • Contact police and discuss your concerns with them.
  • Make sure you follow the statutory disciplinary procedures fully or you could end up losing in any future industrial tribunal.

Theft of and from Vehicles

Local Policing Team Van Side To reduce the risk of theft, there are a number of steps which can be taken:

  • Remind employees of basic crime reduction tips: always lock vehicles; don't leave items on view; use a steering and handbrake lock; etch your registration on all windows and headlamps.
  • If you provide a company car park, look at improving security on the site for example removing large shrubs from the site, installing good lighting and CCTV.
  • If you provide company cars, it may be worth investing in security devices such as engine immobiliser's. You may also consider looking into which cars are least likely to be targeted by car thieves.
  • Ask employees to look out for each other - if they keep an eye on each others' cars it can help deter potential thefts.

Also see our Crime Prevention section on Vehicle Crime.