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Fourth of July weekend ripe for cargo theft

Monday, June 30, 2014

Organized cargo theft rings love holiday weekends.

That’s because they know shipments might be left unattended longer than usual, according to FreightWatch International. Thefts go up over these weekends, and the Fourth of July is no exception.

Thefts occurring over Independence Day weekends between 2010 and 2013 had an average value of $257,016; nine separate incidents involving cargo valued over $250,000 were recorded during this period, according to a FreightWatch press release.

Here are some notable thefts from previous Fourth of July weekends, provided by FreightWatch:

  • $2.5 million full-truckload theft of cell phones in Miami, Fla.
  • $406K full-truckload theft of medical equipment in Duval, Fla.
  • Full-truckload theft of Rx/Scheduled medication in Troy, Ill.
  • $80K theft from trailer of OTC medication in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • $500K facility burglary of televisions in Medley, Fla.

Both in-transit and warehouse operations likely will be targets over the three-day holiday weekend coming right up, so FreightWatch urges security pros to be on high alert.


Parents turn in suspected smash-and-grabbers

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Here's a twist.

Two of the five suspects in a June 13 smash-and-grab robbery at a Saks Fifth Avenue store in Troy, Mich., have been turned in—by their parents.

Joshua Tredez Colvin, 17, of Detroit, was arrested June 20 and arraigned June 24 on a charge of retail fraud, third degree, a five-year felony, according to report in the Oakland Press. Colvin entered a plea of not guilty and was released on a $10,000 personal bond, the report said.

The name of the second supect trotted down to the police station by his parents has not been released. He is a juvenile.

Two people smashed open a glass jewelry case, grabbed seven Cartier watches, but dropped one, as they took off along with their lookout and two other suspects, police said.

Clear photos from store surveillance cameras were made public by police.


Hospital nightmare

Monday, June 23, 2014

FOUNTAIN HILL, Penn.—A 26-year-old man was being treated at St. Luke’s University Hospital here for a head injury sustained in a motorcycle accident. A few days later, he broke through a locked sixth-floor window and jumped. It was the injuries from the jump that eventually caused his death.

This is the stuff of every hospital security staff’s worse nightmare. The needless loss of life? Not to mention that events like this can lead to lawsuits and other consequences.

It’s called elopement. The man tried to leave the hospital four times after he was admitted and was successful twice, according to a report in The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pa. When he did get out of the hospital, he was picked up by police and returned to the hospital, the report said. You can read the full report here.

It’s common for brain-injured patients to try and leave the hospital, the report said.

Condolences go out, not only to family and friends of the brain-injured patient, but to the staff at St. Luke's as well; you know they're reeling and, I'd assume, second-guessing their actions. I don't know any more details than what I've read, and maybe more will come out. I just know from hospital security pros I've spoken to over the last few years that securing people in a hospital setting is very, very difficult.

In a case such as this one, “(d)octors cannot simply strap down or anesthetize an unruly medical patient for long periods of time as they once could," said Marilyn Hollier, president of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety. "Back in the day, you could put patients in restraints for a few hours, but you can't do that anymore," she told the newspaper.

Hospitals face so many challenges these days, from active shooters, gang-related violence, domestic violence that spills over into the workplace and more. That’s why they need to have top-notch security staffs and technology at their disposal.

I spoke with IAHSS President Marilyn Hollier at ISC West this spring and interviewed her on camera. Hear how she’s making sure her facilities at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers are doing their best to protect patients and staff. Hint: It has to do with respecting, honoring and valuing the security team.


More good news in the See Something, Say Something Dept.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A teenager in Sanford, Maine, has been charged with criminal threatening after posting on Facebook that he was thinking about shooting everyone in his class. This occurred in the wake of the shooting of Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Ore.

The teen had motive and means, police say.

The boy got caught before making more definitive plans or taking action because a fellow student told her mother about the threats she had seen on Facebook, and the mother in turn notified police. (Thank you, fellow student, and thank you, Mom!)

"The most important aspect of this case is that a student reported her concerns about the suspect's Facebook posts to her mother, and the mother immediately called the police and alerted us to the threat, ultimately leading to the suspect's arrest. Since we believe that the suspect had the motive and the means to commit this crime, the student's and parent's swift action was crucial in allowing us to close this case," Sanford Police Chief Thomas P. Connolly Jr. said in a report from

I wrote last month about a young woman in Minnesota. She was washing dishes when she saw something unusual out her window. She notified police, who showed up and found a teenager with elaborate plans to kill his family, set a fire to divert law enforcement, then head for his high school armed with bombs and firearms that he had manufactured and stockpiled with the intent of injuring as many students as he could.

Thankfully, that teen couldn’t carry out his plans.

Meanwhile, I just read today, June 16, about the arrests of two Tennessee teens who studied the 1999 Columbine school shootings and wanted to top that massacre to claim their place in posterity. They wanted to become the most notorious school shooters of all time, according to news reports. Authorities seized their journals and weapons last fall after the investigation began. That investigation began because an alert parent found a notebook outlining the plans to kill people at Volunteer High School in Church Hill. A counselor for one of the boy's saw the plot as real and alerted authorities, according to a report from

"This wasn't just a threat," Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said in the report. "This was a planned attack."

The Tennessee teens have been charged and are in custody. You can read more about their frightening plans here.

There should be GIGANTIC honors for these people who See Something and Say Something.

Know of any other stories like this? Let me know.


Troutdale chief credits drills, training, fast response for preventing far greater tragedy

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What follows is the June 11 official statement from Troutdale, Ore., Police Chief Scott Anderson about the shooting at Reynolds High School June 10 that left two 15-year-olds dead, including the shooter, and injured a teacher.


My name is Scott Anderson, and I am the chief of Troutdale Police Department.

To update the investigation:

The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office completed the autopsy this morning on the shooter and has positively identified him as 15-year-old Jared Michael Padgett.

He was a freshman at Reynolds High School. He arrived at school yesterday morning on the school bus carrying a guitar case and a duffel bag. He entered the boys’ locker room in the building that housed the gymnasium. He spent a period of time in the locker room and during that time murdered a fellow student.

We have not established any link between the student and the shooter.

Teacher Todd Rispler encountered the shooter in the locker room. As he was fleeing, Mr. Rispler was shot once, suffering a grazing wound to his hip. Mr. Rispler made his way to the office, where he was able to notify the administration, which then immediately initiated the lockdown.

As the shooter was moving through the main hallway, he encountered officers who were starting to enter from two separate doorways. At that time, he moved into a small restroom. We know there was an exchange of gunfire between one of the first responding officers and the shooter. Based on the autopsy this morning, we do know that the shooter died of a self-inflected gunshot wound.

The shooter used an AR-15 type rifle in the attack and carried, but did not use, a semi-automatic handgun. Investigators also recovered nine loaded magazines with the capability of holding several hundred rounds.

The shooter also had a large knife. He was wearing a non-ballistic vest used for carrying ammunition and other items. He also was wearing a multi-sport helmet with a camouflage design.

The shooter obtained the weapons from his family home. The weapons had been secured, but he defeated the security measures.

At this time, it would be inappropriate to discuss a possible motive for the murder.

I cannot emphasize enough the role that Mr. Rispler and the responding officers played in saving many, many lives yesterday. Given the weapons and amount of ammunition that the shooter was carrying, the early notification and the initial law enforcement response were critical. Every one of the teachers and students in that school did the exact right thing in a very difficult situation.

Sometimes it may be difficult to understand why we—law enforcement and the schools collectively—do the planning and lockdown drills we do, but yesterday, it worked.

To the parents—we understand there is no greater fear than knowing your child may be in danger and you cannot get to them. We know that some of you had to wait—sometimes several hours—to reunite with them. It was our priority—and that of the school—to get the kids out and get them back to you safely. We appreciate your understanding that it was a process that took some time. The support you provided to us and to your children was phenomenal.

We know that parents, students, and staff are still dealing with the impact of this incident. The mental health resources are available again today, and I would encourage you to take advantage of them at the schools and at Mt. Hood Community College. We will have more information on that in a few minutes.


New LP VP’s got a lot of good stuff on his plate at NRF

Monday, June 9, 2014

WASHINGTON—I caught up with Robert Moraca at a busy time for him. Just two weeks into his new role as VP of LP for the National Retail Federation, he was amidst preparations for the June 10-13 NRF Loss Prevention Conference and Expo in Florida.

There’s lots of excitement at NRF right now, Moraca said, with many ideas floating around. Chief among those are plans to improve important public-private partnerships, he said.

He spoke enthusiastically of the NRF Fusion Center, which, at the NRF Expo, will give retailers the opportunity to meet with more than 20 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to discuss tactics and exchange critical information to counteract retail crime, all the while enhancing those important partnerships.

Moraca’s to-do list also includes organized retail crime initiatives, including more lobbying for state—and federal—legislation. Cyber issues and credit card fraud efforts are also on that long list.

Then there are the issues that “won’t go away,” Moraca said, including workplace violence, internal theft and active shooter training.

Moraca takes over for Richard Mellor, who retired in February. Mellor is now senior asset protection advisor to NRF.

Moraca’s background  and enthusiasm are impressive. I will miss speaking as often as I have with Mellor. He was always insightful and accommodating in providing information for Security Director News articles. You’ll be missed, Rich!


What do Legos have in common with Tide detergent, baby formula and razor blades?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

If you’re in the loss prevention industry, you know the answer. It seems the popular interlocking toy has joined the list of products targeted by organized crime boosters.

Within the past two weekends, in two separate incidents, thieves took more than $13,500 worth of Legos from the same toy store, Toyworld, in Victoria, Australia. The store’s owner, according to a report from NPR, said his isn’t the only shop hit by the Lego thieves. "It has been a spate of robberies through the smaller toyshops over the last six months or so. And they're only targeting Lego[s]," he is quoted as saying in the report.

An Australian newspaper looked into other Lego thefts and found more than $18,000 worth since October 2013. Law enforcement officials there believe at least some of those thefts have been conducted by “an organized syndicate,” the report said.

Legos have been a hot commodity in the United States as well. Pounds upon pounds of Legos kits have been stolen from toy stores and big box stores here and even from day care centers. The U.K. has seen it share of Lego thefts as well.


Worcester's top cop blasts banks for lack of security

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WORCESTER, Mass.—Police Chief Gary Gemme doesn’t think banks in his jurisdiction are doing enough to secure themselves. At least not when compared to banks abroad, he says.

Ten Worcester banks were robbed between Jan. 1 and May 19; during the same period last year there were four, according to a report from Worcester Magazine. The same suspect might have committed six of the 10 robberies this year.

Here’s an evocative excerpt from the magazine’s report for all of you out there in the banking vertical:

“ ‘I don't think they're very receptive, because if they were they'd already be in place,’ Gemme says when asked whether he believes banks are listening to suggestions on how to beef up security. ‘Banks can afford to make their bank much more secure. I think you should have, particularly in banks, there should be state-of-the-art video footage. There should be stricter controls for people entering the bank.’

“In contrast, the chief says, overseas banks are, by and large, much more attentive to security. ‘You don't see them robbed like you see banks in the U.S., because they take security to a different level,’ Gemme says. ‘A lot of them, before you enter into the bank you have to show positive identification. If you're a tourist, you have to show a passport. If you're a resident, you have to show some positive identification, and they limit the number of people they allow in the bank. Even in a lot of jewelry stores, high-end stores, it's the same type of security in place. They take security to a different level.’

“While homeowners can do many things to make their houses safe, Gemme says businesses are in a better position to install alarms, lighting and better security measures.

" ‘The banks can take a look at the way they operate and make their business less open,’ he says. ‘I know it's a fine line they walk between having customer relations, customer service and having that friendly atmosphere to being concerned about security. You don't see in banks today where they regularly use dye packs or pull alarms. You don't see the glass barriers that separate them from the customers.’

Local authorities and the FBI are investigating the recent spate of bank robberies, Gemme told the magazine.

The magazine said banks that were robbed declined to respond to Gemme’s comments.

But you can. Please do.


This is not your father’s video

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
By Mike Matta
Co-founder and CEO of Solink

Is video surveillance an underdeveloped asset in the world of Big Data analytics and security system management?

That is the question many security industry executives and managers are beginning to ask themselves as new technologies prove an expanded role for video content in the day-to-day operations of any competitive business environment.

For years, video surveillance has been thought as nothing more than an expensive insurance policy that protects the organization from theft, accident fraud and employee misconduct. Video has been a defensive tool in protecting assets, employees and customers, and continues to serve that limited function in millions of businesses today.

However, recently introduced software applications and technological advances have begun to move video surveillance from a reactive tool to a proactive role in developing data-driven strategies and in providing contextual video content for resolving a variety of timely business challenges.

Surveillance video has become both the blessing and a curse of the 21st century. We produce over 413 petabytes of recorded video data on a daily basis and have invested billions in recording and storage devices that house all of this information. For the past decade, the security industry has continued to create new and innovative ways to record and store video, but has not addressed the question of how to make the best use of video content produced by that expensive investment.

Until recently, the timely accessibility of this wealth of information has been challenging at best. More manual than automated, it was almost impossible to find a reliable way to correlate video with other types of recorded business data to take action or predict future behavior.

The challenge has always been that recorded surveillance video and traditional business computerized data is stored in different parts of the enterprise network and have not been considered a collaborative business tool across the enterprise.  Other than time stamps and some programmed event trigger alarms, there were not too many reliable ways to use one in cooperation with the other.

With the introduction of simple exception-based reporting systems, video can now be proactively programmed to become part of any marketing, operations or investigation activity by linking it directly with the corresponding transactional or business data. This approach provides a more contextual understanding of any questionable activity or business opportunity. 

Recorded and live video provides the ultimate form of contextual insight to know exactly what happened at any given date or time.

The applications for this new asset are obvious in the areas of proactive theft and fraud detection and prevention. The alignment of video and other recorded business data can also have a positive impact on employee training, inventory control, retail promotions and sales, and other areas of the business where predicting employee or customer behavior can lend itself to building a more competitive business strategy.

The emergence of IP video has made a lot of these new solutions possible. Digitizing live and recorded video has made it accessible to and compatible with other applications and video solutions available today. Business executives and managers are currently searching for new ways to democratize the data stored in their existing security and enterprise network equipment without investing in additional expensive hardware fixes.

There seems to be an inevitable convergence of video data with other forms recorded information that will connect customer actions and transactional events to one another. The ability to pull targeted bits of information from the collective data stream already exists with other forms of data. Retail, financial, entertainment, transportation and medical are all industries that are driving the demand for the context found in recorded and live video to improve their business operations.

Video surveillance is quickly emerging as a critical part of all future data-driven applications and activities. For better or worse, it has become an essential component in the information mix that is pushing data-driven content into all aspects of our lives and the corporate boardrooms. Video analytics platforms and other decision-support systems are in the market and can easily connect with any web-enabled device, such as, a smart phone, tablet or laptop computer. 

The market acceptance of the trend to manage video and data content as a whole will drive the next round of video surveillance tools and applications, from a device that simply records events to a converged enterprise platform that enable actionable and timely business intelligence.

Mike Matta is co-founder and CEO of Solink in Ottawa, Canada. Matta has a long history in the creation and implementation of date analytical products and services.


What do Memorial Day and car thefts have in common?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Honor Memorial Day, security directors, but keep an eye out on cars parked in your jurisdiction.

The Memorial Day holiday is one of the Top 5 holidays for car theft, according to Inilex, a provider of automotive telemetry solutions.

Apparently car thieves prey on vehicles left unattended on Memorial Day, as owners attend cookouts, hike a trail over the 3-day weekend, travel and park in unfamiliar places.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau says 2,078 cars were reported stolen in the country on Memorial Day 2012, the latest statistics available. The holiday with the lowest rate of car thefts? Christmas Day. In 2012, 1,347 vehicles were stolen on that date.