Protecting High Target Theft Areas At Trade Shows

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

It’s inevitable – if you gather hundreds or thousands of people together, a few bad eggs are bound to show up and make trouble. That’s especially true in the business of professional conferences and large events where there’s always valuable electronic gear everywhere. Expensive, often small technology attracts thieves like flies to honey; if you don’t create the impression of a secure venue you could quickly find your event targeted.

It’s the event’s organizers’ job to best ensure that theft doesn’t happen. Hiring a security staff may be important step, but it’s not the only step that needs to be taken.

The unfortunate truth is that we’re not going to prevent all theft. If someone is hell-bent and crafty, they’ll find a way. One of your best defenses is become aware of the likeliest targets, and educating everyone – vendors, volunteers, attendees, and security personnel – on smart, easy, preventative measures everyone can take to help deter a would-be thief.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at protecting high target theft areas at trade shows – and how you can minimize the risk for each.

Small Electronics/Personal Effects

All it takes for a theft to happen is a few seconds. It’s all too easy to put down a cell phone or tablet and forget about it while you’re talking with someone – and it’s just as easy for a thief to swoop in and walk away with it undetected. Keep small electronics (and wallets) on you and in view at all times during the show –and encourage guests to do the same.

A general service announcement reminding people of the potential for theft is helpful. Encourage the use of lockers if a facility has this feature, note security concerns and counter measures on your website.

Floor Exhibits & Vendor Booths

Exhibition spaces are high traffic areas, a bit hectic which makes display equipment a fairly good target.   Displays are especially vulnerable during setup and takedown. A well-dressed man or woman who doesn’t appear out of place can take advantage of someone’s confusion and walk up and snatch whatever he or she can carry away. They’ve likely blended into the crowd before anyone’s the wiser.

Thieves consistently target vendors. Vendors’ displays often involve technology and valuable assets and products. You can caution vendors to keep close watch on their wares and to always lock things up; you can set security staff to watch vendor areas and install security systems, but ultimately, it’s out of your hands. You’ve just got to hope that the measures you’ve put in place are enough.

There are a few preventative measures you can take here:

  • Event security contracts should stipulate that it’s the job of the guards to stop theft – not simply deter it.
  • Pay particular attention during set-up and takedown. Consider assigning extra volunteers to oversee this period of time.
  • Have vendors move items to a secure staging area away from the show floor prior to packing up vehicles.
  • Make sure your event volunteers are easily identified; and that guest and exhibitors badges are bar coded and scanned.
  • Ensure that all items are secured and locked down overnight.

Audio/ Video Equipment

It’s not just your guests or vendors who are targets, either. You are as well. You need to ensure that all equipment – projectors, laptops, speakers; anything you’re using to run your event – is carefully watched. Your team needs to understand they’re responsible and what the ripple effect will be if something significant goes missing on their watch.

Don’t forget planning security around multi-day events. You may need overnight guards or to provide vendors portable storage units. Keep small equipment in offices under lock and key during the show’s off-hours. Some thieves might make off with a specific cord or cable rather than an entire audio rig – but the end result will be the same.