Managing Director Iain Moran

Storefront security: reducing risk, protecting people and improving high street environments

At Crowdguard, our mission and business model have been built on a simple principle: keeping people safer. But it has become clear that our remit is not just to safeguard people; it’s also to protect assets, which are increasingly coming under threat from both targeted attacks and accidental damage.

Indeed, according to data collected in the US over the past decade by the Storefront Safety Council, there have been more than 24,000 storefront crash incidents in the past 10 years in the USA. This data has been scaled up by Lloyds of London, and the scaled data indicates that storefront crashes occur globally 100 times per day, with 46% of all incidents resulting in an injury, and 8% resulting in a fatality.

“The Storefront Safety Council (www.storefrontsafety.org) has determined that, in the United States, vehicle-into-building crashes occur 100 times per day, injuring more than 16,000 Americans every year and killing as many as 2600,” explains security and safety expert and Co-founder of the Storefront Safety Council, Rob Reiter. “Such accidents occur all over the world, and in every country such incidents are largely foreseeable and preventable when risks and threats are reviewed and acted upon.

It’s a risk that has been highlighted once again by a recent spate of incidents involving coffee shops and restaurants in the USA. In one recent incident, 14 people were injured when a driver mounted the pavement and hit a busy restaurant bar in Virginia, with several of those affected sustaining serious injuries. Meanwhile, a single coffee shop brand has seen 16 such incidents at various premises over the past year and, while these have not resulted in any serious injuries, the costs associated with lost trading hours, the price or repairs and the potential damage to the brand all add up to a significant problem.

Let’s be clear, none of these incidents were intentional or malicious acts; they were the result of dangerous driving. The causes could include a range of factors, such as the driver becoming distracted or unwell, drink or drug driving, or simple recklessness. Whatever the reasons, the outcome for those injured, and the impact for businesses left with a bill for the damage and loss of earnings are the same.

The stark reality for businesses is that an incident like this could happen to any storefront, on any high street at any time. The financial fall out is not only in the cost of repairs and lost trade while they are closed, but also in their rising insurance premium. Indeed insurance risk could make it difficult for vulnerable traders to find an insurer at all.

That’s certainly proved to be the case for some luxury brands in prominent retail locations, which have become vulnerable to vehicle attacks designed to aid robberies. Designer brands grace some of the most exclusive retail locations in the world, with valuable stock in the window display, in addition to the products in the store. This has led to attacks where enterprising thieves purposefully drive at the building to smash the window so that they can help themselves to goods quickly and make their getaway before police arrive.

In both the accidental and criminal damage scenarios, toughened glass and structural reinforcement can help, but by far the most effective – and cost effective – solution is a certified HVM system installed outside the store to prevent impact before the vehicle reaches the window. What’s more, this can be achieved in a way that is both flexible and actually enhances the aesthetics of the location. Consequently, it benefits both the store owner/brand and the local authority responsible for the public realm, as well as protecting people.

The solution we recommend for storefront protection is the Unafor Core.  An IWA-14-1 certified semi-permanent HVM system with easy installation and rapid deployment by a single technician, Unafor Core requires a foundation just 300mm deep and is just 500mm tall, so it is less intrusive but just as effective as other certified HVM systems.

The flexible Unafor Core system can be used in combination with street furniture, planters, or bollards, which can be branded or colour-coordinated with the streetscape and provide a welcoming, attractive public realm, while protecting people and property.

Paving or surface finishes can be placed around the Unafor Core sockets, enabling the installation to blend into its surroundings and the system’s innovative click and lock mounted installation method enables posts to be inserted into foundation sockets and locked into place with a firm and stable fit. The chosen seating, planter or bollard is then mounted on the posts.

When we talk about public realm environments, it’s often in the context of event security or pedestrian safety, but Crowdguard is receiving an increasing number of enquiries about storefront security. With the Unafor Core system, retailers and property owners can be protected themselves from business continuity and financial risk, while protecting people and their brand. What’s required is for retailers, local authorities and insurers to work collaboratively and implement improved storefront protection for the benefit of all.