The True Cost of a Break-In

(Spoiler alert: It costs more than you think.) Some thieves cut through your fence and stole cars from your showroom floor last night. What's your day look like?

What is the true cost of a break-in? Picture it – your phone rings in the middle of the night. Thieves have cut through your chain link fence, broken into your dealership and stolen cars from your lot and showroom floor.

Your nightmare’s just getting started — actual losses will be substantially higher than replacing lost inventory or repairing your property. Managing the recovery will divert your attention from sales and service, and crime scene tape never helps walk-in traffic.

It’s the kind of experience you won’t want to repeat.

Before we can see the true cost of a break-in, we have to start by surveying the damage

the true cost of a break-in

Break-in costs add up fast (remember, the true cost of a dealership break-in is all costs that wouldn’t exist without the crime). Start with your direct costs, because those are the easiest to calculate.

Replacement costs for new and used inventory, as a deductible applies to each vehicle, are just the beginning —

  • Missing/vandalized vehicles
  • Stripped tires and wheels
  • Stolen parts
  • Fencing damage
  • Smashed reactive security cameras
  • Broken LED flood lights
  • Shattered interior windows
  • Damaged locked desks
  • Missing key box
  • More

Those costs all go on the tab.

More bad news — the thieves also took catalytic converters

It turns out the thieves showed up with a cordless reciprocating saw. In just a few minutes, one of them cut the catalytic converters off a few of your used cars.

Stolen catalytic converters sell for as much as $200, as scrap dealers want the platinum, palladium and rhodium. You’ll have to replace them and that cost could exceed the dollar value of your damaged cars.

Add up the total related cost of a break-in and stolen cars

Now it’s time to call your insurance carrier. Remember, from the moment you file a general liability claim, you and your carrier sit on opposite sides of the conference table. You should probably call your attorneys too and tell them to start the meter.

It might be wise to expect a potential rate increase if you’ve filed multiple claims in the past. And your carrier could be thinking about non-renewal.

Don’t forget the time of management and associates

How do you put a price on lost productivity? Someone will have to supervise property cleanup and repair, deal with law enforcement and insurance carriers, and file or review reports.

Total those hours.

You’ll have to spend time with your attorneys. And what if you don’t have garage keeper’s liability coverage?

Someone will have to call the customers and tell them their cars have been stolen or damaged. They’ll need to file claims with their insurance companies too.

Finally, estimate the true cost of a break-in

Calculating indirect costs is harder, but you can’t forget them. Of course, even if you do have garage keeper’s liability insurance, assume that customers who’ve had a car stolen or vandalized at your dealership won’t be happy.

If they have to file a claim, they’ll probably take their business somewhere else. You could also see a ripple effect, as these customers share their negative experience with their families, friends and colleagues.

You’re looking at a substantial loss of potential business, spread by word of mouth — the most effective form of advertising.

Was it an inside job?

Auto dealership thieves often rely on inside help. If an investigation determines that someone who works for you was an accomplice, you’ll need to add the cost of replacing that employee.

That’s recruiting, screening, hiring and training. If your investigation leads to criminal prosecution, you’ll need to talk to your attorneys about that, too. This will bring up the cost of the break-in. 

Do you trust your security system?

car dealership security cameras

If you haven’t had a break-in at your dealership, maybe you’re worried about one. Why have a security system if it doesn’t give you peace of mind?

It might be time to look at a monitored video surveillance solution, one that provides real-time detection and deterrence.

That means 24/7 live monitoring and proven criminal deterrents — alarms, strobe lights and personalized audible warnings. Basically, you want to make life miserable for criminals.

Anything less may keep you up at night.

Why live security guards may not be the best solution

Live security guards are expensive – maybe even more than the cost of a break-in. They have to operate in teams to do a good job and there’s always the risk that their attention will wander over the course of a shift.

Security guards aren’t law enforcement professionals — they’re company employees. If they injure or kill a suspect, or they’re injured or killed during a crime, your dealership could be liable for substantial damages.

The right technologies cover more ground

Live remote monitoring, using state-of-the-art cameras, takes a more proactive approach to security. Why? Because preventing break-ins is more cost-effective than recovering from them.

When security professionals monitor your dealership, they can verify alarms and contact law enforcement if necessary.

Expect more from your security system

Does your current security system protect you against false damage claims? How do you prove damage didn’t occur while you were servicing a customer’s car?

What about safety compliance? Do you know if your employees are complying with your safety, security and human resources policies? If there’s ever a question, wouldn’t you like to have the answer?

Looking for a better way?

Camera watching auto dealership car lot

Maybe it’s time to talk to Pro-Vigil. We process over a million events a day, stopping over 271,600 crimes a year. Our security solutions deter criminals and trespassers in 97% of all instances and we contact local law enforcement to handle the other 3%.

We’ll work with you to develop a customized, cost-effective security system that gives you peace of mind — and that has a real value.

Talk to us.

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