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While some retailers understand and use powerful insights about crime and risk, many do not.

Understanding crime risk and patterns around store locations, shopping centers and areas affecting store performance, can be critical to site selection, pricing, operations, employee safety and much more.

While most in retail readily use demographic data, and even segmentation data, fewer have realized how incomplete those data sets can be without an understanding of risks, and trends about crime.

For example, in recent years, there have been numerous lawsuits brought against retailers by both customers and employees who have been robbed or assaulted while entering or leaving their premises. Take court filings from a recent case in Tucson AZ: the attorney stated that “the defendants knew, or should have known, that the property was in a high crime area and precautions should have been taken to ensure that defendants were providing a reasonably safe shopping environment.”

No longer are security concerns for retailers limited to loss prevention, as increasingly, they are being held to standards which require them to take reasonable precautions on behalf of customers and employees both inside and outside their stores. The question, of course, is how to define ‘reasonable’.  

By using the CrimeRisk data from Applied Geographic Solutions (AGS), retailers can evaluate the potential risk at each of its existing and planned locations.

While crime incident data is increasingly available for major jurisdictions, the spatial patterns over short time spans can be both difficult to interpret and, in some cases, misleading. CrimeRisk, while utilizing incident data, consists of a series of non-discriminatory models that declutter the noise and identify the underlying neighborhood characteristics that are associated with crime levels.   The results are easily interpreted indexes for each crime type down to the census block geography, allowing comparisons between facilities at both the site and trade area levels.

Tas AGS crime risk

One effective strategy is to classify locations into a few groups – say low, medium, and high risk – using CrimeRisk scores then create risk mitigation strategies appropriate for each level. Key considerations are:

  • Parking lot lighting and security equipment
  • Security personnel and parking lot patrol
  • Opening and closing policies that minimize employee risk
  • Staff training on risk mitigation

Consumers are increasingly security conscious, and a retailer’s visible efforts to mitigate risk can have a significant impact on the desirability of the location. A location in a high-risk area can be made attractive to consumers by ensuring not only that security measures are in place, but that they are obvious to customers. Investments in the security of both employees and customers alike can have significant impacts on store profitability.

“Being fully aware of the potential crime risk in areas where we have stores, or plan to open stores, allows us to plan, project and budget for increased security measures to protect our staff and property, and reduce shrinkage. Using TAS tools that include CrimeRisk, we can easily see potential types of risks, and include that data in our real estate committee discussions. We can directly link our preventative measures taken to both our associates’ wellbeing, and store performance.”

Vice President, Real Estate and Development – Fortune 500 retailer.

TAS AGS crime map


TAS clients using CrimeRisk data include retailers across many segments, from restaurants to retail and shopping center owners. They use the data to assess risk, and then leverage that data in many ways. Some use it for employee safety, others pricing, merchandising, and even construction needs (safety glass, lighting, etc.). Furthermore, some clients use this data in their modeling to weigh those risks and potential impact on sales in determining the validity of a new location, a possible relocation, consolidation, or store format change.

With a variety of applications for your team and concept, CrimeRisk insights, in addition to your other data sets, brings even greater clarity into your decisions.

If you have any questions regarding CrimeRisk or would like to learn more, please contact:

Greg Rutan, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Trade Area Systems, or 617-733-6293

Gary Menger, President, Applied Geographic Solutions, or 805-551-5294


Greg Rutan