“Open for business” is a positive, upbeat way to say you’re ready to take on the world. Businesses and service organizations often profess an “open door” approach that makes people feel welcome.

Those open doors shouldn’t be taken for granted. But some guests can outstay their welcome. Some weren’t even invited in the first place. Security guards can help protect you and your properties from unwanted, and unwelcome visitors.

But when does an unwanted guest become a trespasser and subject to criminal charges?

Defining trespass

According to the BC Trespass Act, trespass occurs when someone enters an enclosed property, or who enter a premises and receive oral or written notice that they aren’t allowed there. Trespassers must leave “as soon as practicable” when told.

The act also specifies the kind of notice property owners must give. Signage must be clearly visible “in daylight and under normal weather conditions.” It must use legible words or imagery to describe or show what’s prohibited. The notice must appear where people normally access to the premises, not some obscure location.

Similar criteria appear in the Alberta Trespass to Premises Act, which adds that a notice must appear at each corner, or fence corner, of an acreage.

Protecting your property

Private security guards know how to recognize suspicious activity. When it’s safe to do so, they will give the appropriate verbal notice to potential trespassers, letting them know they’re not permitted on the premises. If a trespasser requires removal, the private security guards will call local law enforcement to intervene.

Imperial Security’s trained guards monitor and record the details of all site visitors as part of foot, bike and mobile patrols. Guards have mobile devices to promptly record incidents, complete with time and GPS-verified coordinates. Property owners receive daily, digital reports. Pairing these with security camera footage enables follow-up when necessary.

Making a case

Property owners can reduce the risk of trespass using private security guards. Should a case of trespass become a criminal matter, Crown counsel will lead the prosecution. A property owner’s documentation can help build the case against the suspect. This in turn helps the legal system do its job, creating a safer environment for everyone.