The latest trends around security at retail properties indicate the benefits of long-term intervention planning.

Security a Shared Concern

Retail property owners, tenants and consumers share the year-round security risks associated with shopping centre surroundings. However, as permanent building occupants who pay prime rentals for long property leases, tenants depend on stringent measures by property owners when it comes to daily security management.
Trends point to new designs that facilitate greater visibility in and around malls, as well as high-tech installations of modern surveillance equipment and regularly revised activity programs of all parties concerned.

Spaces Should be Designed with Security in Mind

However, guidelines by the Broll Property Group suggest that the design and specification of a retail property  itself should enhance the safety of an environment, rather than create security issues.

All Service Providers Need to be Consulted

Key to the greatest security impact on malls, say the experts, is the earliest consultation of stakeholders, with professional security consultants involved during the initial stages of the internal design of a shopping centre. This also applies to retrofits and refurbishments, so that centre owners and managers can revisit existing facilities, and possibly enhance security with built-in solutions.
This approach also allows property management companies to engage with owners and committed anchor tenants, who ultimately foot the bills for good security management. Daily costs incurred by good security measures are over and above the financing of liability coverage for building occupants, who may be management, tenants, shoppers or informal traders.

Design Trends Centered Around Optimal Light

New builds and refurbished centres are increasingly being designed to allow optimum natural light, from top levels down to basement parking spaces, which allows free movement amid brightly lit areas without incurring crippling energy bills. Many examples are seen countrywide where new and refurbished malls feature an abundance of glass enclosures, from roofs to walkways, and windows in parking and storage spaces within basement areas.

Several Factors Influence Retail Security

Major factors that impact shopping centre security are crime levels in nearby suburbs, internal security measures, access and egress control plus ongoing management at retail centres. As a result, the latest successes achieved are due to closer alliances between industry associations, retail players, security companies and local police and community forums. Organised crime, particularly during high season periods when foot traffic in shopping malls may double, result in heightened exposure of banking, logistics and supply chain management service industries.

Continual Revision of Safety Measures Essential

“Industry players are constantly revisiting supply chain management strategies to achieve optimum security in and around retail properties, from small convenience centres to large shopping malls,” says divisional director strategic retail, Preston Gaddy of Broll Property Group. He says that property managers who promote close working relationships between centre management and retailers fulfil a vital role in promoting best practice to overcome constant changes in the targeting of large shopping centres.

Adequate Security Requires Substantial Resources

The process of providing a secure environment entails heavy financing to facilitate safer building designs, such as parking and delivery facilities, as well as installations of state-of-the-art technology to enable round-the-clock surveillance and patrol procedures. The latest measures in high risk areas have seen the joint efforts of property owners and retailers result in contributions toward start-ups of satellite SAPS facilities close to shopping malls.

Communication Key to Thwarting Crime

Industry initiatives are also contributing to maintaining lower numbers of incidents, and are the direct result of increased communication regarding implementation of preventative measures throughout the retail sector.
The Consumer Goods Risk Initiative (CGRI) fulfils a major role in reducing crime and mitigating risk in the industry. This initiative is managed by Leigh Brown as part of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA), in cooperation with private security and intelligence services, and SAPS.
The CGRI initiative’s services to industry players include an Incident Management Database, Employers Reference Site, ID card processes for access control and identification, Instant Alerts service, Best Practices for trends information, Effective Policing services, and Illegal Trade Practices.

CGRI Successful due to Substantial Support

Brown says the initiative is well supported by private industry, as engagement between private security and intelligence specialists promotes all bases to be covered through revised strategies. The staggering of closing times, particularly during high season periods, and increased monitoring of transport activities around dedicated collection and delivery areas are paying dividends, says Brown.
The CGRI is funded through fees of a current membership base of about 1 400, including major retailers such as Clicks, Massmart, Metcash, Pick ‘n Pay, Shoprite Checkers, Spar and Woolworths, as well as manufacturers, distributors and service providers. Another associated business partner is The Shopping Centre Security Initiative and the Jewellery Council, who both promote partnerships between industry role players affected by crime.

Plethora of Partners on Board

Other industry partners include, amongst others, SAPS, Business Against Crime, South African Bank Risk Information Centre, Security Industry Alliance, SA Institute of Security, and the Petroleum Security Initiative.
By mobilising this initiative, the CGRI intends meaningful engagement with law enforcement agencies in the identification of patterns, trends and crime prevention strategies for improved safety of retail customers.
Brown says, although retail crime figures collated by the council may not include all incidents, this 90% accurate indicator aids the process of monitoring shopping centre-related criminal activity.

Increase in Number of Retail Incidences

The CGCSA report for the year 2012 to 2013 saw an increase in total incidents reported at shopping centres up from 469 to 762, which includes robbery and cash in transit heists. Also included are follow-home robberies, which usually originate from banks and ATMs that are located at malls. This occurs after the withdrawal of cash from an ATM or bank, or following the purchases of valuable items, when shoppers are marked inside a mall, and followed home and hijacked either en route or at home.

Gauteng Home to Highest Crime Rates

The report showed the highest targeted provinces to be Gauteng, with 434 incidents, followed by 145 in the Western Cape and 49 in KwaZulu-Natal. A total of 492 armed robberies accounted for the majority of incidents, followed by 229 home robberies and 41 cash in transit incidents. The highest hit commodity was cash, followed by 164 cellular stores and 42 jewellers, also disproving the incorrect public perception that jewellery stores are the highest targeted commodity at retail properties.

Prevention Strategies Set from Get-go

By planning for and implementing modern designs and management strategies for modern day occurrences, any number of security risks in shopping malls can be reduced. Brightly lit areas throughout shopping malls, from delivery and parking areas in basements to entertainment halls, entrances and exits, provide for round-the-clock visibility and shopper confidence.

By Anna-Marie Smith