Catching Criminals in the Act
To help pay for the more than $60,000 system, CCUSD received a grant from its insurance company. So far, the district has seen a decent return of investment (ROI), according to Yant. “It cost us less to install cameras and Gateways at the sites than we lost in computers,” he says.
Additionally, the new system has helped CCUSD security personnel solve a few crimes. “Since the system’s been involved, we were able to capture a serial bicycle thief who was coming to the middle school to steal bicycles,” Yant explains. “We were also able to positively identify two students who were accused of raping another student.”
Impressed with CCUSD’s proactive approach to security, Domene, thinks all schools should follow Yant’s example when upgrading a security system.
“It’s nice to deal with someone who understands what we’re talking about and has realistic expectations,” Domene says. “I look at CCUSD as being very proactive to provide top-notch security for their students.”
Ashley Willis is Associate Editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.
Theft Exposes Lack of Best Intrusion Practices
A string of burglaries between two elementary schools at the Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD) resulted in the loss of more than $15,000 in stolen iMac computers. The event prompted Ted Yant, the district’s security supervisor, to install cameras in computer labs in each of CCUSD’s nine schools.
“One school was hit twice, and the burglars were able to take 10 iMacs. The other school was hit three times and lost a total of five computers,” he says.
The first incident triggered the school’s intrusion alarm, and police responded to the scene within four minutes. Still, the intruders were able to lift four computers. In the other events, the alarm never sounded, Yant says.
“I looked at the alarm system, and I saw that security set it at 10 p.m. on the night of the incident,” he explains. “There was no other arming or disarming of it, so when I called the alarm company that monitors our system, I asked if they received an alarm signal, and they told me they hadn’t. It turns out that the equipment was wireless and the batteries died.”
Yant says the alarm company, which normally informs the district when the alarm batteries are low, failed to notify him that the alarm required a battery change.
“I know this is a function that normally works because they called me at 2 a.m., one time to tell me that the battery was low,” he says. “But they admitted that the technician didn’t set up the alarm that way, so there was no trouble signal.”
To prevent such a thing from happening, Kevin Domene of San Diego-based SDA Security notes that when installing an alarm system, it is important for technicians to call each zone in the central station.
“When you call the zones, not only are you sending an alarm signal from that zone, but you would also pull the battery from that device to basically cut power to it,” he says. “So, that system would register a trouble signal as well because someone is supervising the device.”
While SDA Security does not monitor CCUSD’s alarm system, Domene says the cause for this problem stems from the technicians not putting the customers’ needs first; rather, they are seeking to complete the installation as quickly as possible.
“I’ve seen it before where alarm technicians are in a hurry, so the set the zone up, test the alarm signal, and then they forget the rest,” Domene says. “It’s really about making sure you take that extra step to make sure the alarm works properly.”
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