By Retailers Insurance Company

If your parking lot is putting customers at risk, then you’re also putting your staff at risk.

Parking areas can pose several dangers – a place for slip and falls, or for thieves to pray on shoppers or break into vehicles. In fact, FBI data shows that 4.1% of all crimes occur in parking lots or garages, including many hate crimes and domestic-related assaults on employees.

Good lighting and video cameras are an obvious way to mitigate risk or catch suspects. But what else can you do?

Loss Prevention Magazine suggests dedicating some employees to patrol lots in cars or golf carts that are clearly marked with a strobe light or signage. A patrol person also can help transport customers with bulky items or elderly or disabled customers – common targets for thieves – to their cars.

A security professional positioned at the main entrance can also keep an eye on those entering and leaving the store, and take reports from anyone who sees something suspicious in the lot. During busy times, they can also help direct traffic to available parking spaces in crowded lots or garages.

If you haven’t developed a relationship with your local police department or community policing officer, do so now. They can warn you of any rise in crime. In addition, regularly review area crime statistics to help you beef up security if needed. Most municipalities have crimemapping data available through their websites.

For your employees’ sake, Loss Prevention suggests, “Coordinate employee parking with work schedules. For example, assigning all third-shift workers to one parking area makes workers safer because it ensures other workers will be coming and going in the same area of the parking facility at the same time.”

Make sure your security personnel feel free to escort employees who are nervous walking alone to the garage or parking lot, or tell employees to use a buddy system as they leave work if they feel unsafe.