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Business owners know how critical it is to keep their storefront secure during closing hours. Leaving countless shelves of product unprotected overnight or while away can attract thieves looking to do harm to a business for personal gain. Because of this, most modern business owners most likely have various security measures in place in order to protect their business.

New developments over the last century have made it possible to enjoy the luxuries we have now. Modern business security measures are the product of centuries of innovation, trial and error, and wisdom. Contemporary security measures may vary, but many business owners turn to the cutting edge in security, like digital cameras, alarm systems, and keypad locks tied to security alerts on their mobile devices. However, businesses weren’t always this secure.


Many of the most important developments for business and security came from the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s. The 18th century was a time of great change and improved processes, thanks to the ease of manufacturing technology. Here are a few things you should know to better understand business security in the 18th century and how it has evolved into the modern processes we know today.

Business Security Used to Be Minimal

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, keeping property secure was a highly physical task. Generally, it meant building fortresses with moats, guard towers, and impenetrable walls for keeping out anyone who wasn’t invited. For members of the lower classes, however, keeping valuables safe often meant staying near the property with a weapon to ensure no one could steal it.


Shop owners generally lived directly behind or above their storefronts, making store security considerably easier to maintain. No one could break in without alerting them almost immediately, and if it didn’t alert them, then it would alert a guard dog usually kept on the premises. Large ironwork locks and bars would also keep unwanted visitors out of doors and windows.


However, encounters with thieves and intruders could be dangerous, as they often arrived armed or would catch the shopkeeper off guard as a group. Even a supposed trusty guard dog can be bested with distractions or brute strength. However, when the Industrial Revolution arrived, property owners would soon be privy to improved technology for protecting their wares.

The Industrial Revolution Changes the Game

The Industrial Revolution is the name given to the series of technological innovations that deeply impacted the way tools and goods were manufactured and distributed. It automated many processes, causing a societal shift in the ways people worked and went about daily tasks. It impacted about every aspect of life in the 1700s, including the ways businesses were kept safe during off hours.


For one thing, many jobs shifted from being in rural and agricultural centers to cities where manufacturing warehouses were set up. This caused a massive migration into urban centers, spiking populations and causing a desperate housing crisis. The more people there were in cities, especially without a place to live or work, the higher the crime rates rose. As such, business owners had to find new ways to keep their products and property safe, as break-ins could be more of an issue than they had been prior.


Thus, the private security guard was born. As more and more individuals were hired to simply patrol businesses after-hours in order to ward off intruders, the position becomes an institution in entrepreneurship. This is a position and security tactic that still exists in the modern business world today.


Additionally, improvements in manufacturing processes meant better locks could be made en masse for wider use. One of the more advanced locks was a double-acting lever tumbler lock, which Robert Barron patented in 1778. The lock added an advanced layer of security in that it required different pins within the lock to be lifted in different levels, and Barron called it “a lock far more secure than any hitherto made.”

The Modern World of Business Security

Businesses have come a long way since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. 18th-century security practices most likely wouldn’t be enough to ward off modern criminals — although keeping a dog onsite is never a bad thing. Businesses in the 21st century have access to a variety of modern technologies and security practices to keep would-be intruders at bay.


For example, it’s now possible to monitor your business from your phone no matter where you are in the world. Many alarm systems are now installed with multiple digital cameras, the feeds of which can be monitored from tablets and smartphones miles away from the secured location. You can even call in suspicious activity without being onsite and have a security person go check out whether or not your business is okay. Comprehensive inventory management systems enable business owners to track goods and avoid common inventory problems of the past, including potential theft.


Of course, these advancements are not only seeing use in the business world. As they become more popular and affordable, they’ve even begun seeing use in residential properties. Security cameras, access control systems, and security guards are being implemented at condos and apartments across the globe, bringing advanced security to many people’s living areas.


Unfortunately, the smarter business security technology becomes the more people who want to break through those systems adapt. Cybersecurity is the latest concern for business owners, as more and more customers shop online and hackers are stealing business credentials through weak systems. It seems that no matter where business owners are conducting their work, there will always be the timeless struggle of those trying to disrupt them for personal gain.


About the Author:

Frankie Wallace contributes to a wide variety of blogs and writes about many different topics, including politics and the environment. 
Wallace currently resides in Boise, Idaho and is a recent graduate of the University of Montana.