Video-Enabled Alarm Helps Catch Marine Yard Thieves

By Ashley Willis

FT. LAUDERDALE,  Fla. — A video intrusion alarm system protecting a storage yard at Florida Marine Propulsion (FMP) located here is being credited for helping apprehend two propeller thieves. Previously-installed intrusion systems had been unable to foil other similar break-ins.

With more than 50 years of serving the Ft. Lauderdale marine community, FMP offers the largest inventories of propellers for yachts and cruise ships in the country, according to the company’s Web site. The company’s storage yard is about a quarter the size of a football field and has proven particularly vulnerable to theft in the past. Intruders have been able to climb over the yard’s fence and take thousands of dollars worth of cruise ship and custom propellers.

On Feb. 19, an early-morning intruder was captured on video walking across the storage yard after tripping a recently-installed Sonitrol SonaVision real-time video intrusion system.

“The company had been hit a few times before and the owner was really angry,” Sonitrol of Ft. Lauderdale President John Ray tells SSI. “He came looking to us for a solution. The whole staff just felt violated.”

The thief’s movement interrupted an invisible beam, triggering a video camera. An operator at Sonitrol’s central monitoring station saw the intruder moving through the yard on live feed and contacted Fort Lauderdale Police. When the police arrived at the scene five minutes later, the intruder had already fled. However, officers immediately located two men nearby in a pickup truck hauling two propellers from FMP. The suspects were arrested on the spot.

Ray believes the verified video alarm response system played a major role with helping police find the suspects.

“Because there was light on the site, our central station monitors were able to see in color,” he says. “They were able to describe exactly what the suspect was wearing, which helped police know what to look for.”

FMP installed the SonaVision system less than a year ago, Ray says. Prior to the installation, FMP employed a CCTV system in its yard that did not provide live video feeds to a central station. The integrator also replaced a non-verified digital alarm system with Sonitrol’s verified audio detection technology inside FMP’s building.

SonaVision has been installed in a few dozen locations in the Ft. Lauderdale area, Ray explains. He adds that verified video alarms are a big hit among police agencies because it reduces false alarms as central station monitors can see what is happening during an incident. “Verified is the key word,” he says.

The popularity of verified video alarms will continue to rise as video becomes less expensive, Ray notes. However, he thinks that larger security companies with many accounts will have difficulties monitoring video intrusion alarms.

“It’s one thing to monitor 100,000 accounts and call the police if there is a glass break,” he says. “But you have to have people, manpower and time to look at video clips. How will the larger companies be able to handle all of the live video coming in at their current headcount level? They are going to have to get the math right on that.”

Since 1972, Sonitrol of Ft. Lauderdale has been a fully-integrated electronic security provider. Servicing 98 percent commercial accounts, the franchisee offers verified intrusion detection systems, remotely-managed access control, CCTV, fire systems and monitoring.

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


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