Vacant Property security solutions
Vacant office space is becoming an issue across London, a trend likely to be matched in most UK cities and cities around the world, as austerity measures continue to make an impact.
There are a number of risks and costs associated with vacant properties and these can be mitigated against if preventative action is taken. Obvious threats are fire, theft and criminal damage, which can be extremely costly.
These risks were highlighted at a recent incident at a high-end refurbished property in the heart of the West End of London for a well-renowned organisation. One evening, security personnel noticed that the lift was moving between the upper floors of the 6-storey building. This was unusual because the building had recently been refurbished and was unoccupied. Having gone to the 5th floor to investigate, they were confronted at the lifts by 3 people, who, when challenged, claimed that they lived there!
The security personnel asked them to leave the premises but they declined, so the police were called. Once onsite, the police confirmed that the property had been taken over by the squatters. The police could do nothing about it and, in fact, asked the security personnel to leave the building and remain outside until a court injunction was gained by the owners of the property.
The police indicated that as long as one of the intruders remained in the building it was theirs and if anyone tried to regain entry whilst they were in situ they would be arrested for trespassing!
It later transpired that the intruders gained entry by crossing the roof of a neighbouring property, breaking into the 5th floor of the building via the fire escape door.
A security officer was placed outside the building to observe the situation and, after 2 days, the intruders finally left the building. A mistake on their part as they left all of their personal belongings inside. However, it provided the opportunity to regain control of the property and re-secure it with additional manpower and trained dog-handlers.
The damage caused in this case was over £50,000 and raised concerns about the security integrity of this property in the future. To avoid this kind of situation occurring it is important to secure vacant premises, with the right balance of electronic security, remote monitoring with key holding and response services.
How to protect vacant properties
One option is to install temporary battery-operated electronic measures, including CCTV and intruder alarm systems. This allows for rapid deployment and no need for expensive installation costs or remedial work to be done. It also means there is no need for power or phone lines to be used, thereby saving costs.
A physical presence to patrol the building internally and externally to maintain the security integrity is also recommended, together with regular mobile inspections.
This makes would-be intruders aware that the building has a security presence and these visits could be performed throughout a 24-hour period.
To identify the cost-effective method of securing the property, a risk assessment must be undertaken. This then allows for the specification of the mix of physical and electronic security that is required to appropriately secure the building.
When a property has been either totally vacated or is newly built or refurbished and is completely empty of tenants, it is very prone to being invaded by squatters and, in most cases, it can take up to a week to get a court order to remove them. Damaged properties devalue significantly, and this in turn can affect the sale or lease value. A properly specified and effectively executed security solution can mitigate this risk.
Sales & Operations Director, KM Security Solutions