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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.


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.



She saw something and said something: Thank you, Chelsie Schellhas

Monday, May 5, 2014

A woman washing dishes at her home on a Tuesday night helped prevent another god-awful school tragedy.

Thank you, Chelsie Schellhas.

According to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Schellhas noticed a tall teenaged boy with a backpack and a fast-food bag walking through her back yard in Waseca, Minn., toward a nearby storage unit facility.

She told the newspaper, “He walked through the puddles when there was a perfectly good road he could have walked on. It just didn’t seem right to me because we see people come and go with their trucks, and they don’t come on foot and cut through people’s back yards. It was like he was blatantly trying not to be seen. That’s why I thought it was odd.”

The newspaper further reports, “And then it took ‘some time’ for him to open the door, leading Schellhas to believe he was breaking in. Before he shut the door, Schellhas noticed trash and Wal-Mart bags in the unit. That also ‘didn’t look right,’ she said.”

Schellhas, under the advice of her cousin, called police. (Thank you, Cousin.)

When police arrived at the storage unit they found 17-year-old John David LaDue, who they eventually learned had an elaborate plan to kill his parents and sister, 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.

Police said LaDue "was fully prepared and ready to go.”

You can read more details of the teen’s plans and his acquired arsenal in the newspaper report. They’re grisly and will leave you cold. He allegedly had been planning— and testing—this siege on his family and school for months.

But it only took Schellhas a few minutes to thwart it.

She saw something and she said something.

That mantra is not for nothing.

Thank you again, Ms. Schellhas, who reportedly has received flowers and notes of thanks from parents in the area. And thank you to the speedy response from law enforcement that helped prevent another national tragedy.

More arrests in huge Eli Lilly heist

Monday, April 28, 2014

So by now we’ve all heard about the $80 million theft of prescription drugs from an Eli Lilly warehouse in Enfield, Conn., in 2010. But now we have more arrests in the heist, believed to be the largest in the state’s history.

Two men, brothers, were previously charged in the case. One of them has pleaded guilty is awaiting sentencing; the other has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Recently, three other men, all Cuban citizens living in Florida, were arrested and charged with conspiracy and theft in the case, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

The theft included thousands of boxes of Zyprexa, Cymbalta, Prozac, Gemzar and other drugs.

The thieves apparently used a ladder to climb on to the warehouse’s roof, cut a hole, dropped down into the building and disabled security alarms, prosecutors say. They then uploaded about 49 pallets of drugs into a waiting truck.

That truck was then driven to Florida, where the drugs were unloaded into a storage building in the Miami area.




Boston Strong!

Monday, April 21, 2014

I’ve been following news out of the Boston Marathon all day today and breathing a sigh of relief every time I read about Police Commissioner William Evans reassuring news outlets that the route is safe.

Heightened security for the more than 35,600 runners entered in the race, the second largest ever in the marathon’s 117-year history, included 100 new cameras in a connected, live-monitored network; 45 canine units, up from 12 last year; 8,000 strategically placed steel barricades, up from 6,800 last year; 3,500 uniformed and undercover officers on patrol, more than doubling last year; and 50 observation points around the finish line, according to NBC News.

"We have plenty of undercover officers out there, but technology, you know, is going play a big part," Evans told NBC.

Evans, you might remember, had just finished the marathon last year when he was called back to scene due to the bombings. His expertise at that time resulted in his promotion to commissioner.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said this year's security preparations were “on steroids.”

Boston Strong! A big thanks and congratulations to all those involved in race security—from first responders to the Boston Athletic Association, which hosts the marathon, to the hoteliers and retailers in the area who all worked hard to ensure a save haven for the athletes and their fans.