Audio Intrusion Detection Thwarts Pawnshop Burglars’ Rooftop Break-In

By Ashley Willis

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Police arrested three men for breaking into a pawnshop located here with the help of an audio alarm system.

For more than 15 years, the family-owned Classic Pawn and Jewelry has served the Broward County (Fla.) community. With merchandise including car audio equipment, computers, jewelry and musical instruments, it’s no surprise the shop can attract the attention of burglars.

At around 1:19 a.m. on July 7, three intruders attempted to enter the building through an air conditioning vent. As the burglar’s pushed on the wire cage of the vent and dropped a heavy bar, the noise triggered the Sonitrol audio intrusion detection system inside the shop.

“There happened to be some officers working close by,” Sonitrol of Ft. Lauderdale President John Ray III tells SSI. “Because they know us and our technology, they rushed over and found three guys involved. One of the suspects came down immediately, but the other two resisted and needed persuading to come down. But the intruders never got inside the shop because they were banging outside of the building.”

The late night call from the Sonitrol central station proved to be a sigh of relief for Classic Pawn Owner Steve Gambardella, who had experienced a similar incident a few years ago.

“This is the first time that I got a call that wasn’t about a break-in,” he tells SSI. “The operator told me that three people were in custody, and that’s never happened before. A few years ago, two guys tried to break into my store through the air conditioning vent. Sonitrol asked permission to let the burglars into the store, which I agreed to because I didn’t have steel cages around my air ducts at the time. In that incident, the suspects were caught, so for both attempts, there were five different arrests.”

Helping contribute to the arrests is the partnership between Sonitrol of Fort Lauderdale and law enforcement agencies, according to Ray.

“If you talk to police officers, they don’t like alarm companies because 90 percent of the time they put out a false alarm. So our primary way to build that relationship is through the apprehensions we make,” he says.

Ray makes sure to acknowledge local law enforcement’s efforts following each arrest involving a Sonitrol system. After an apprehension, he contacts the shift change lieutenant and asks for the name of each officer involved. He then makes a plaque for each officer and presents it during the shift change meeting.

“Most of the apprehensions take place at night, and that’s when the youngest officers are on duty because they have no seniority,” he says. “So, I’ll read a letter I wrote to their chief commending them for their efforts to the entire group, and each one will come up, receive his plaque and take a picture. Then, I’ll send them a copy of their photographs along with the letter to go into their files.”

Ashley Willis is associate editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION magazine. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.

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