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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.


‘Burritos not bullets’ has impact

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

If you have a hankering for one of Chipotle’s famed Burrito Bowls, or perhaps a trio of its soft-shell tacos, the restaurant respectfully requests that you leave your semi-automatic rifles and other firearms behind before you place your order, no matter what your local law stipulates about open-carry and concealed weapons.

The popular purveyor of Mexican fare has officially asked its customers to refrain from packing heat at its restaurants.

Gun-rights advocates staged a recent open-carry rally at one of Chipotle’s Dallas restaurants, and a photo of that rally went viral. That resulted in a social media outcry spearheaded by the group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, which used the hashtag #burritosnotbullets.

Chipotle responded with this statement this week: “The display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers." Chipotle made a request, not an outright ban.

The Denver-based company now joins Starbucks, which was also a target of Moms Demand Action, in sort of declaring their establishments gun-free—at the very least unwelcome.

What do you think? Let me know.


ORC’s ‘vicious cycle’

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I enjoy speaking with Rich Mellor of the National Retail Federation, as I did May 19 about NRF’s 10th Annual Organized Retail Crime Survey, which you can read about here. He always provides thought-provoking insights. Here's the latest.

Retailers continuously take a huge hit from ORC. Consumers face higher prices on targeted ORC products.

But little do they know that both retailers and consumers might be contributing to ORC themselves.

“It’s the availability of the product. That’s huge,” he said.

ORC gangs can go on a stealing spree wiping Crest White Strips or Oil of Olay off the shelves of every pharmacy in a given area, he said. “They clean out the product line completely, and the honest customer can’t buy it. It’s not there,” Mellor said.

Retailers think, hmm, we lose more of this product than we sell, so maybe we just don’t sell it anymore.

When the customers can’t find those products at their local shops, what do they do? They buy it online, many times unknowingly from e-fencing sites, such as auction sites or blogs. How do many of those sites stock their virtual shelves? From ORC.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” Mellor said.

The new ORC survey found that 68.2 percent of respondents said they had identified merchandise stolen from them at e-fencing sites, and 53.9 percent said they had seen a noticeable increase in those sites.


Advance Technology puts on a good show

Friday, May 16, 2014

OGUNQUIT, Maine—Advance Technology ran dual-track education sessions here May 15 during its 5th Annual Technology Expo.

The first track featured, among others, presentations on the cloud and ultra high-def TV. The second was made up of Hugs user seminars sponsored by Stanley Healthcare.

About 200 showed up for the conference along with more than 30 vendors who were exhibiting.

Attendance has remained steady, according to Rob Simopolous, president of Advance Technology, based in Scarborough, Maine. It seems like a loyal crowd—and a happy one at that. The sessions were meaty and informative yet there was a casualness in the air that was just as refreshing as the ocean air. Trivia contests and door prize drawings added just the right touch of frivolity.

I think Advanced Technology knows how to put on a good conference.

The electronic systems integration company will celebrate its 20th anniversary this summer.


Serial ATM thief, the old-fashioned kind, sentenced

Monday, May 12, 2014

A thief responsible for 22 ATM break-ins in Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Utah, Oregon and Arizona in 2012-13 is finally behind bars.

After a plea agreement, Clarence Edward Lancaster, 57, of Las Vegas, was recently sentenced to five years and three months along with three years of post-sentenced supervised release, according to a report from He is required to pay more than $220,000 in restitution.

Lancaster used plain old tools to smash open the ATMS and grab the cash inside—no new-fangled ram-raids for him.

He was caught last year when a professor at Eastern Arizona College called police after seeing him going into a building in an attempt to steal from an ATM, the news report said.

In the agreement, Lancaster admitted to the thefts that resulted in a total loss of $216,178.84—$124,000 in U.S. currency, $88,366.84 for damages caused to ATM machines, and $3,612 of property damage to the buildings and equipment where the thefts took place, the news report said.


ASIS in Atlanta

Friday, May 9, 2014

ATLANTA—I’ve been here this week for the ASIS 2014 Media Tour. ASIS holds this event each year in the city that will host its Annual Seminar and Exhibits in the fall.

As usual, ASIS scheduled some very productive days for the media participants. We visited, among other sites, the Georgia Aquarium, MARTA, CNN, the city’s Video Integration Center and the Delta Command Center to speak with their security pros about the systems they have in place. More to come about all of that.

Securing visitors the city is paramount, especially because city is experiencing a lot of development and moving from being known as a "convention city" to more of a tourist destination, said William C. Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. Opening soon are the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the National College Football Hall of Fame and a number of city marketplaces. A new Atlanta Braves Stadium and retractable-roof Falcons Stadium will follow.

Public-private partnerships ensure that safety, Pate said.

Stay tuned for more as we wrap up the tour today.