Verified Video Security System Stops Car Thief in His Tracks

By Ashley Willis

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Police here are crediting real-time video security monitoring for helping apprehend a man after he attempted to steal a truck from an automobile rental lot.

The incident occurred late one evening during the holiday season, Sonitrol of Ft. Lauderdale President John Ray III tells SSI. After breaching a perimeter fence, the intruder walked onto the rental lot and attempted to hotwire a truck in an apparent effort to drive away with it. His actions triggered a SonaVision wireless video intrusion system, which sent live video images to Sonitrol’s 24-hour central station. Upon viewing the intruder, a central station operator immediately contacted the Broward County Sheriff’s Department.

Police quickly arrived at the lot and put a perimeter in place, which included K-9 and aviation units, to prevent the intruder, who police say was intoxicated, from fleeing the scene.

“This guy was drugged out of his mind,” Ray says. “When he heard police coming, he hopped the fence only to find police waiting for him on the other side. This incident shows that you don’t have to be smart to wreak havoc on places. Drugged out guys do damage to vehicles too.”

Weeks prior to the incident, the auto rental company installed the monitored video solution after a string of break-ins at three of its locations. The intrusions resulted in numerous vandalized and stolen vehicles.

“The customer actually had cameras on their sites, but the recorded footage only showed a dark figure doing all this bad work,” Ray says. “We suggested the real-time monitored video system to them, but they had never used it before so they were unsure about installing it. However, they were willing to try it. Once we nabbed this guy, they were very happy with their choice.”

The SonaVision system incorporates a motion detector and camera lens in one unit. Once triggered, the motion-activated signal sends real-time video to the Sonitrol monitoring station, enabling operators to verify activity before contacting the proper authorities. The system also provides wireless carrier service that doesn’t impinge on customers’ bandwidth or phone systems, according to Ray.

Recently, municipalities such as Mt. Prospect, Ill., have tried to eliminate central stations from monitoring systems. Knowing that Sonitrol central station operators have aided law enforcement in apprehending criminals, Ray believes that police departments will fare badly if central stations no longer monitor alarms.

“The last thing police officers need to be doing is directly monitoring alarms,” he says. “Our central station operators are expertly trained to watch the video and know exactly what’s going on every single day and night. They really are better prepared to look at the information and tell the police exactly what’s going on.”

However, Ray acknowledges that alarm companies have to offer some sort of verified response technology if they want to fight against the local competition, be it local law enforcement or other alarm dealers.

“The wave of the future of our business is verification, whether it’s audio or video,” he says. “It’s going to take some time, but if you’re not onboard with verifying alarms for your company in some way, you’re going to miss the boat and be left behind eventually.”

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

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