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Encompass® Agency Insights

Crime Prevention: What to Do After Vandalism or a Burglary

When you work hard to make the most of your business, it can be devastating to become the victim of vandalism or a burglary. Unfortunately, it can happen. And, on average, one single act of vandalism can cost a small business thousands of dollars and owners can end up paying even more out of pocket after a burglary.

To minimize the impact on your business, here's a step-by-step outline of what to do:

A broken windows on a business door.

  • Report the crime to local law enforcement. Don't touch anything until the police have documented the scene and remember to ask for a copy of the police report.
  • Inform your employees. Let them know if and how they can help. For example, it's possible the damage is so great that you won't be open for a day — in which case some employees might have to stay home. Alternatively, you might want to ask them to assist you or take over some of your duties while you handle the situation.
  • Take photographs of the damage. Do this before cleaning up or repairing anything. Even if you're tempted to get your premises back in order for your customers, keep in mind that you'll need the photos for your insurance claim.
  • Restrict access to money and valuable equipment. Make sure that cash and valuables are locked away when you're not on the premises. You can use a fireproof safe for smaller items but if you have a large quantity, consider a room or wall safe as well as putting security bars on the windows.
  • Review your insurance policy. As the Insurance Information Institute advises, your policy might list specific steps to take in order to file a claim. You'll need to inventory the damage or losses and provide a proof of loss statement. If the damage is extensive, your insurance company might send an adjuster to investigate. If you're also filing extra expense and loss of business claims, you may have to provide documentation to substantiate those claims.
  • Get bids to repair the damage. Get a minimum of two bids — this will help you keep costs as low as possible.
  • Organize your documents. Keep a file of all the paperwork involved in the claim — including copies of the documents you've submitted to the insurance company, as well as of the police report and all invoices or receipts.
  • Keep your customers informed. If the incident affects your ability to serve your customers, inform them as soon as possible. For example, you could hang a sign on your door, as well as send out an email explaining what happened to inform when you'll be open for business again. If you have any appointments scheduled, make sure to reschedule as soon as possible.

When your business is targeted by vandals or burglars, it can take some time to deal with the fallout. However, if you follow the steps outlined above, you can increase your chances of recovering and getting back to business as quickly as possible.

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