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Do vacant properties require manned security?

We've written on this blog before about the benefits of buying manned security services for your workplace. The presence of trained professionals on your premises at all hours can provide peace of mind for your employees, deter would-be burglars, and ensure an efficient, effective response to raids and break-ins.

But what if your premises are unoccupied? Security is a very different proposition for vacant properties - whether offices, warehouses, retail units or homes - than for active ones, and some might assume that the absence of key business assets, stock items and human resources make it less important to provide a manned security presence for empty buildings.

In reality, though, there are many compelling reasons to employ manned guards or mobile patrols to protect vacant properties, even if the threats themselves are a little different. Read on for a few examples.

Vandalism and criminal damage

Occupied premises aren't immune to vandalism, arson and graffiti, but for the most part, vacant properties are much more susceptible to these crimes. Depending on factors like the value of the building and its contents, and the risk profile of the site, this might warrant 24-hour guarding to prevent serious criminal damage. The presence of CCTV and alarm systems is sometimes a deterrent, but miscreants may also be emboldened to see that the premises are without a human occupant and find ways to circumvent your defences.

Having a security professional on-site, conversely, proves that your property isn't entirely cut off from human hands and eyes, and that there's someone close by who could drive away an intruder if necessary.

Weather, leakages and electrical faults

Of course, it's not just criminals that can cause damage to vacant properties. Issues like devastation from inclement weather, fires caused by electrical faults, and water and gas pipe leaks are all sources of a disproportionate number of headaches for owners of empty buildings. If these problems aren't detected at the earliest convenience, the costs associated with them are liable to spiral out of control.

Organisations today have a wide range of technologies at their disposal to help combat these threats, including centralised fire alarm systems and water flow sensors, but it's still not the same as having an on-site response to inclement weather and water, gas and electrical faults. This is particularly true if your unoccupied premises are out in the sticks and it might take a long time to mobilise once the alarm is sounded.


Since 2012, squatting in residential properties has been a criminal offence in the UK. Squatting in commercial properties, however, remains legal, so owners of empty offices, warehouses and other non-residential buildings should be aware that their premises may be at risk of inhabitation. Not all squatters are harmful, but issues like the unauthorised use of utilities and fly-tipping are serious concerns for landlords, and the process of removing inhabitants can be difficult and time-consuming.

Manned security is a sure-fire way to prevent squatters from taking up residence in a vacant commercial property, however. The presence of one or more guards on-site, or intermittent visits from a mobile patrol, indicates to would-be occupants that the building is still being actively looked after and hasn't been left to dereliction. If your premises are likely to be targeted by squatters, it's a smart investment to make.



Posted by Andrew Miller

Image courtesy of Thinkstock 


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