Five signs your veterinary clinic is an easy target for criminals


Veterinary clinics often have everything a perpetrator is looking for.

Getty ImagesNo, your veterinary clinic is not a Quickie-Mart. But it's a safe bet that veterinary clinics are just as big a target-maybe even more so-if you don't have any security protocol or prevention measures in place.

These five features make a business most attractive to robbers:

> Money is exchanged with the public.

> Employees work alone or in small numbers.

> Business has late-night or early-morning hours.

> The business is located in a high-crime area.

> On-duty employees “guard” valuable property or possessions, such as controlled drugs.

Most veterinary clinics qualify for at least four, possibly even all five features. Phil Seibert, CVT, clinic safety expert, SafetyVet consultant and author of The Veterinary Safety & Health Digest, says potential robbers or predators will often go into establishments and ask for directions or change to get a sense of how the business operates. They're looking for answers to several questions:

> How does the receptionist handle money?

> How many employees are present, and are they male or female?

> Do employees promptly greet customers as they enter? 

Seibert says criminals prefer businesses that “ignore” customers, as they believe them to be less perceptive and less likely to remember details about the robber's appearance.

There are practical steps a practice owner can take to make the business a less appealing target:

> Clear windows

> Good lighting

> Use of a drop-safe

> Posted signs about low cash on hand

> Employees trained in prevention and response procedures

> Visible surveillance cameras

> Controlled public access and automatically locking doors

> An alarm system with “panic button”

> Removal of cash from drawer at night

> Count cash away from front desk

> Security measures for single-employee shifts

> Peep holes or small windows in exterior doors

> Use of a secure safe

No one can expect to “crime-proof” their practice, but Seibert says by combining all of these elements into a prevention program, the business becomes a less inviting target for the planned crime. In addition to security protocol and prevention tactics, he says your best resource may be the local police. “Most police departments have a crime prevention unit with the sole purpose of providing advice about security, crime prevention and personal safety. The best part of that service is that it's usually free!”

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