Modern business owners cannot afford to ignore security concerns. And while most 21st century security threats are of the cyber variety, old fashioned crimes, such as burglary, theft and vandalism still occur with alarming frequency.
Savvy business owners do their best to limit such crimes. They install auxiliary lighting and alarm systems; some even hire security personnel to monitor the property. But most fail to consider the ways in which the trees on the lot influence the security profile of your retail store, warehouse or office.
Don’t misunderstand: A row of palm trees will not turn your property into Fort Knox. In fact, trees can even make your property less secure, if you install them improperly or fail to keep them pruned. But with some thoughtful planning, you can maximize the security-enhancing benefits of your trees, which will help keep you, your employees and visitors safe.
- Trees often act as visual barriers, which can give criminals places to hide. It is really important to reduce (or eliminate, to the extent that it is possible) the number of hiding places present on your property. Not only can criminals use these places to remain out of sight, but they may even be able to monitor your employee’s habits, as well as things like key codes or entry procedures.
- Trees and shrubs can be used to form dense hedges or boundaries. You probably can’t stop sophisticated or especially motivated burglars with a row of columnar trees or bushes, but you can deter most casual or opportunistic criminals by simply making your building harder to access. Dense hedges can re-route would-be thieves, and force them to travel through well-lit and monitored areas. By using trees and bushes that are armed with prickles, thorns or spines, such as honey locusts and some acacias, you can make such hedges even more impenetrable.
- Well-pruned trees indicate that a property is frequently maintained and (probably) under surveillance. As with criminals targeting homes, burglars and vandals often search for businesses that look neglected. Unkempt or dead trees are like a beacon to burglars, as they suggest the property isn’t regularly monitored or maintained – it may even be unoccupied. By simply doing things like keeping your trees well-pruned, you can encourage would-be trespassers to target some other business.
- Trees can serve as anchors for hidden security cameras. Security cameras are a great way to help protect your business, and some security professionals even recommend fake security camerasfor some situations – people are less likely to commit crimes when they believe they are being watched. However, it is sometimes advisable to mount cameras in inconspicuous places, to catch people that don’t think they are being watched. Trees provide a great way to mount clandestine cameras, as their branches and leaves will help camouflage it well.
- You can hang lights from trees to help illuminate the ground. Even if you have a few large street lights and some flood lights near your parking lot, chances are, your business’ property has plenty of under illuminated areas in which criminals can hide.
- Trees can effectively prevent local graffiti artists from accessing their canvass. Large, blank walls are like magnets to your local graffiti artists. One of the best ways to keep the walls from being covered in unauthorized, potentially offensive, language and art is to plant appropriate trees right up next to the walls. You’ll need to work with a skilled arborist to select species unlikely to produce invasive roots and an appropriately shaped canopy for the location.