Man-made Threats HomeCrimes • Terrorism • Unintentional Events


The U.S. Department of Justice defines terrorism as the unlawful use of force or violence committed by a group or individual against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

According to the Virginia Crime Prevention Association, terrorism is a politically motivated crime to elicit fear, panic and disorder. Terrorists use many different criminal acts to support their mission including kidnapping, cyber terrorism, illegal drug dealing, identity theft, fraud, burglary and auto theft. Many of the crimes used to support terrorism can directly involve or impact businesses.


How can terrorism affect my business?

Crimes such as burglary, robbery, vandalism, shoplifting, employee theft, fraud and the new threat of terrorism cost businesses billions of dollars each day. These threats can be even more devastating to small businesses, which lose both customers and employees when crime and fear claim a community. Often enough, fear of terrorism, especially for small businesses, causes them to be isolated and this isolation increases the vulnerability of the crime.

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What are examples of terrorism that could affect my business?

  • Cyber-terrorism: One way for terrorists to damage our economy is to hack into businesses' networks to destroy vital documents, shut down e-mail communications or any other computer-driven communcations systems.
  • Chemical biological radiological: The anthrax attacks in 2001 showed the nation that terrorists can use the postal system to deliver deadly toxins right to our mailboxes.
  • Explosive devices: Car bombs in Oklahoma City, the World Trade Center and around the world are the most prevalent weapon in the terrorists' arsenal.

Whether these attacks hit your business or one close to you, they will affect your business through closed roads, downed power and phone lines and damaged facilities. Find more detailed information on types of terrorism in VDEM's Terrorism Preparedness Toolkit.

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How can my business prevent terrorism?

Helping businesses reduce and prevent the crime of terrorism must be a community effort. Businesses can take preventive actions now to safeguard their workplace through these few steps:

  • Work with law enforcement to improve security and design work spaces to reduce risk
  • Small businesses can join together in such efforts as Business Watch to alert one another of crime patterns and suspicious activity. For an example, visit http://www.co.henrico.va.us/police/business_watch.htm. [external link -- will open in a new browser window]
  • Perform a commercial security survey and assessment to find out how vulnerable your business is to crime and terrorism. For more information, visit http://www.co.henrico.va.us/polcie/commercial_surveys.htm. [external link -- will open in a new browser window]
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED, pronounced "sep-ted") is based on the theory that proper design and effective use of the environment can lead to a reduction in the incidence and fear of crime. More information is available at http://www.vcpa.org/CPTED%20Comm.htm. [external link -- will open in a new browser window]
  • Incorporate topics of loss prevention, security and crime prevention in initial employee training and orientation.
  • Implement a burglar and fire alarm system. The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association recommends seeking the services of a reputable and experienced burglar and fire alarm installing company. Learn more at http://www.alarm.org. [external link -- will open in a new browser window]
Virginia Crime Reporting Hotlines
  • Terrorism: 1-877-4VA-TIPS
  • Auto theft: 1-800-947-HEAT
  • Drugs: 1-800-553-DOPE
  • Insurance fraud: 1-999-62-FRAUD

Read about responding to terrorism.

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