Advice News

How do I secure my car dealership during this shutdown?

Time 6:07 pm, March 24, 2020

What started as a trickle soon became a steady stream – and now a huge wave of dealership closures has been announced across the UK.

But what about the real estate that’s left behind – the showrooms, forecourts and workshops that will be lying empty? Once your premises have been left unattended for a few days, there’s a chance that they will attract the attention of crooks and vandals – and that’s the last thing we need at the moment.

Even without coronavirus, it’s estimated that around nine million crimes are committed against commercial premises annually in the UK. So if you’ve never been particularly security-conscious, now would be a good time to change your ways.

My staff and I won’t be at work for a few weeks, but I’m worried about the security of my premises. What can I do?

Well, we’re going to start by stating the obvious. Make sure the premises are secure when you leave. Even in 2020, most thieves are opportunistic and if they spot a gate that’s ajar or a window that hasn’t been secured properly, they’ll be in like a rat up a drainpipe. If your gates and doors are firmly locked, your windows shut and any skylights closed, you’ll have taken a good first step to avoid becoming another crime statistic.

Anything else I can do at my site?

Thieves will steal anything that’s not nailed down so don’t leave anything on view that might attract a crook. Stow away all materials, tools and even any scrap metal you have lying around, perhaps bits of
bodywork or engine parts. Be especially careful with items like ladders, crowbars etc., anything that could help someone gain access to your premises. Clear any stray rubbish and waste from your site as well, to avoid attracting the attention of arsonists.

Anything else?

We don’t want to make you too suspicious but think about the other people who have keys to your premises apart from you. You may consider all your keyholders honest and trustworthy but even with the measures the government has put in place, many of us will be heading into a period of financial hardship and that can bring out the worst in people. Keys, alarm pinpad codes and other access information should be confined to an absolute minimum number of senior colleagues.

What about using technology to keep my premises safe?

A good burglar alarm will of course provide a good level of protection and also act as a deterrent – and CCTV will help too. Both are fairly costly options but certainly worth considering – especially if you have had problems in the past.

In these important areas, there are plenty of companies out there who can help you. Their working hours may well be shorter in the current situation – on the other hand, they might be glad of a new order being placed. If you are willing to make the investment at a difficult time for all businesses, it could be worthwhile. If you do have an alarm or CCTV – either a new system or one you have had for a while – make sure it’s switched on!

I’ve heard a lot about more modern ideas too…

You’re probably thinking of systems such as Hive which can connect a home or business to your phone to help you monitor security. Smart lights, motion detectors and other clever gizmos can let you know – via your mobile – if there is any activity at your dealership when you’re not expecting it. Window, door and motion sensors are priced around the £30 mark so going down this road might be a cheaper way to get a bit of peace of mind.

Will it help to let the authorities know we won’t be around for a while?

Yes, it’s definitely a good idea to tell the police. Of course, they’ll be pretty busy at the moment since we’re in the middle of a public health crisis but chances are they’ll swing by your premises occasionally to make sure everything’s in order. This is even more likely if you’re on a trading estate or industrial park where other firms have shut up shop. Give them your phone number so they can contact you if anything is remiss.

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Dave Brown's avatar

Dave, production editor on Car Dealer Magazine, is a journalist with more than 30 years' experience in the worlds of newspapers, magazines and public relations.

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