Verified Audio Alarm Prompts 3-Minute Response, Stops Metal Theft

A common trend that’s effecting business owners and homeowners alike is that of metal theft. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, metal thefts have increased 81% since 2008.

So what does this mean for the electronic security industry? For his part, Videofied President Keith Jentoft, who also serves as the coordinator for the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response (PPVAR), says alarm companies can do their part to help eliminate metal theft with verified alarms.

“Copper theft is a big problem for insurers right now and it’s a very specific type of problem,” he told SSI earlier this year. “Let’s say I steal $400 worth of copper. If I get it all back, the technical term in insurance is called recovery. So if I get the full recovery, I’ll have $400. However, the damage done to the copper is probably $27,000 to $28,000 because of ripping out the walls, etc. There is a lot of damage, and the insurer can’t claim its loss by recovery. The only way that they really mitigate copper theft is to get police there faster and stop criminals through verified response.”

Interestingly enough, about three weeks ago, I noticed a tweet from Sonitrol Pacific about how its verified audio intrusion system, which is installed at a major heavy equipment manufacturer facility in Everett, Wash., stopped an intruder from stealing scrap metal from the site.

The manufacturer specializes in large and high capacity machines to clean all sorts of wood chips, sawdust and shavings, and serves businesses in the panel board, pulp and paper and sawmilling industries. Because of its trade, the company is a frequent target of metal thefts.

On May 27, just before 5 a.m., an intruder cut a hole in the facility’s perimeter fence and walked onto the premises. The sound of crashing metal and footsteps triggered the Sonitrol audio intrusion detection system, prompting Sonitrol Pacific Monitoring Operator Jessica Culver to contact police immediately.

“Our client’s system is designed with interior passive infrared [PIR] detectors, as well as door sensors and audio throughout the facility,” she tells SSI. “After I dispatched police, they arrived quickly because they knew I was calling with a verified alarm.”

When police arrived at the scene within three minutes of receiving the initial alarm call, the suspect attempted to flee; however, officers apprehended him and took him into custody. Police also returned the scrap metal and welding cables that the intruder intended to sell back to the manufacturer. This was the sixth arrest at the site in the past 18 months, according to Culver.

While many agree that verified response is the way to go, it can be ineffective if operators don’t receive in depth, proper training to effectively monitor verified alarms, according to Sonitrol Pacific Operations Center Manager Michelle Evans.

“Our training time is typically eight to 10 weeks,” she tells SSI. “The first four weeks is spent on our training manual and standard operating procedures with observation time on the console. The following four to six weeks consists of one-on-one on the job training. At the end of the training period, instructors will continue to follow employees to insure complete understanding.”

For Culver, who is known as a monitoring audio detection technology expert within her company, says stopping a crime in progress is one of the many joys of her job.

“In my seven years with the company, it never gets old catching the bad guy and protecting the business in the Pacific Northwest,” Culver says.

What are your thoughts, dear readers? What has your company done to help combat metal theft? I look forward to reading your comments!

For tips on how your company can tackle metal theft, check out SSI Editor in Chief Scott Goldfine’s latest editorial, “A Cool Idea to Heat Up Your Summer Sales.”

Ashley Willis

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