The security week that was: 06/20/08

Fighting copper thefts

The editorial focus for's homepage this week was copper theft. If you haven't read the feature story on this copper theft epidemic (authored by our assistant editor Joel Griffin), put it on your must-read list. It's rather difficult to say exactly what security directors and alarm companies should be doing to protect copper, since it's not an asset that easily fits into many protection plans, however, based on my discussions with Joel and research into the technologies available, here are some ideas for copper theft reduction at your facilities.

1. Schedule regular security tours/assessments to ensure that outdoor enclosures where copper cabling may be used or stored are properly locked. Some of the standard locks that come on enclosures are poorly designed and can't withstand force attacks.

2. HVAC units have become a popular target for copper thieves. These should be on your security "radar". Good fencing should be considered, and some alarm firms have even been able to deploy alarm contacts that can be triggered when a thief removes a panel.

3. Also of note: Many facilities put the HVAC units on rooftops, which provides some security in and of itself, but only if you have control access to the roof.

4. Consider video surveillance. There have been proposals to make copper thefts a felony, but the real challenge has been prosecution. By adding video surveillance, we increase our likelihood of being able to prosecute these criminals.

5. One of the common tips from heavy users of copper wiring was that the wires be marked. This allows identification of the goods, and can even be used by recyclers to screen their materials purchases. Some of the big communications companies and utilities are already doing this.

6. Alarm remote facilities. In this day-and-age of cellular and other wireless alarm communications technologies, there is no reason a security system can't be placed on a remote facility. When you weigh the cost of a service outage and how that impacts your customers (see our article for some shocking numbers on what a copper theft costs!), the cost of an alarm system and the charges for wireless communications and monitoring seem paltry.

We'd be very interested to hear how you are preventing copper thefts. Whether you're a security director or a vendor with a unique solution, email us and give us a paragraph about how you're keeping your copper.

Summertime alarm sales flare-up
TBFAA says it's seeing increase of unlicensed alarm companies

Alarm companies that are licensed and professional have always griped about the trunk slammers and those companies doing illegal business. Even though our industry has become more technical, these types of firms still make appearances in different markets, much to the chagrin of reputable firms. Chris Russell, president of the TBFAA (and from member company Amazon Alarm, which is based in Dallas), reported to this week that he is hearing of cases where unlicensed companies are coming into some of the Texas metro markets and doing door-to-door sales. While many door-to-door alarm sales firms are licensed (and door-to-door has been a proven sales method for our industry), it's best to remind your own customers that before they switch service or get a new contract, they need to verify they are doing business with a licensed firm.

Also in the news
Midstate Security buys Vision, Systems Depot moves HQ, more

Midstate Security, a large integration firm in Michigan, announced this week that it has acquired Vision Technology International, another Michigan firm. Vision has done not only integration work but also had a thriving private-label business and was also working as a product distributor in the area. Both firms have done full integration services, and Midstate operates its own central station.

The Systems Depot, a distributor of security and fire products, has moved its headquarters to Hickory, N.C. The new space makes room for a redesigned showroom, a training center and a store operation. The distributor has 11 branch locations around the nation.

Leigh McGuire, a new face on the staff at ASIS International (she was formerly with SIA), said that ASIS has announced dates for its Wharton security management/business management program (Nov. 3-7). The program is designed for upper-level security managers and focuses on working inside corporate structures to deal with risk, budgets, corporate politics and more. The ASIS-Wharton program is listed on our calendar, where you can find links to more information.

Finally, we wrap up with a look at the most read articles of the week: