The Ultimate Solution to Protect Storefront Glass


The right to assemble and peacefully protest is one of the country’s foundational principles. However, too often protests become violent, leaving businesses in the middle of a precarious battleground and looking for solutions to protect storefront glass.

When Protests Become Violent

Not all protests become violent. However, there are a number of reasons why some protests do turn into rioting. For example, what we saw in 2020 following the death of George Floyd, psychologists suggest that violent protest arises from the protesters feeling unheard and that they have “nothing to lose.”

Then there are activists who view civil unrest as an opportunity. The presence of these individuals can significantly increase the potential for violence, acts of looting, vandalism, or destruction of property.

Regardless of what instigates the protest itself, business owners must be aware that dangerous riots in America could break out at any time and prepare accordingly to offset the impact.

How to Prepare for a Riot

In any situation with the potential for violence, business owners will want to prioritize the safety of their customers, employees, or other building occupants. This may involve sending people home or telling other staffers not to come in. For this reason, owners should verify that their employee contact information is up to date.

Owners should also discourage employees from wearing company branded clothing, particularly if the business is in a sector that may be targeted by rioters.

All existing emergency systems and protocols should also be reviewed. If there are alarms, they should be checked to ensure the alarm company is receiving the signal. Likewise, any security personnel should be briefed to prepare a response in a worst-case scenario.

Storefront glass doors and ground floor windows are the most vulnerable points of entry and should be assessed. If the company’s openings are not already protected against forced entry or vandalism, the owner should consider boarding them up.

Alternative to Boarding Up Windows

There are numerous solutions available today to help business owners, particularly retailers, prevent falling victim to dangerous riots.

Left without other options, boarding up windows is a useful resort when there is enough time and no other alternative. However, business owners can still expect broken glass, the cost of replacing anything that was damaged, as well as the message vandalism sends to customers and staff.

When riots start, it is always better to have your safety precautions already in place.

Products like RiotLite™ and DefenseLite® are retrofit security glazing solutions that are an alternative to boarding up windows. These products allow for round-the-clock glass protection without negatively impacting customer experience or instilling fear in employees.

DefenseLite® is a clear overmount polycarbonate shield. It protects existing door and window glazing materials with an impact resistance that is 250 times greater than glass. As such, it is virtually unbreakable, mitigating multiple forced entry attempts. Vandals do not want to spend excessive time trying to force their way inside. In most cases, if entry proves difficult, they will give up and move on to easier targets.

Another option to consider is RiotLite, a laminate solution that is applied directly onto existing glass surfaces. It is optically clear making it invisible and always in place in the event of civil unrest. RiotLite was specifically designed to withstand high impact threats by absorbing the impact of blunt force.

Looting Versus Smash and Grab Crime

It is easy to conflate protesting with looting, as many of the recent protests have led to instances of rioting. However, looters and peaceful protesters overwhelmingly are not the same people. Protests that are especially emotionally charged, like those decrying police violence, have more of the ingredients likely to lead to riots and property damage.

In those protests, many looters and rioters are likely to target symbols of either authority or affluence. Many other looters are not affiliated with the protest at all. Rather, they are there to instigate and profit by knocking out windows and ransacking businesses.

Looting almost always occurs along with a larger demonstration. Smash and grab crime, on the other hand, can occur any time. In fact, organized retail crime has been on the rise for the last few years.

More alarmingly still, much of this crime has been occurring in broad daylight during business hours, increasing the need for 24/7 protection. Luxury merchants are especially susceptible, as criminal rings will target their businesses, smash into display cases, and leave with thousands of dollars of merchandise.

In these instances, the motive is not disguised by a larger political movement. It is simply opportunistic for the purpose of profiting off stolen goods.

The nature of retail is to be in a constant battle with shrinkage caused by theft. Sometimes theft occurs subtly and does not include property damage. Other times, it is bold smash and grabs, whether committed after hours or, increasingly, in broad daylight.

DefenseLite was designed specifically to provide the solutions retailers need. High-performing and cost-effective, these products fit over existing glass entry points, are visually unobtrusive and effectively prevent loss. There are also options such as BulletShield® made for ballistic protection, specifically tested to meet ballistic and blast resistant standards.

To learn more or to request a threat level assessment, contact a dealer near you.