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Ram raider wasn't after an Apple product, just another type of fruit

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I’ve written about ram raids before, where vehicles are used to plow into storefronts for destructive robberies. Convenience stores, especially those with ATMs inside; pawn shops; and jewelers are likely victims. Ram raiders even target pet stores.

There’s also been a high incidence of ram raids at Apple stores where the culprits smash and grab expensive computers, tablets and phones. But this man in Connecticut apparently wasn’t looking for an Apple product. No, he was looking for a banana.  Yes, a banana.

I’ll quote directly from an NBC Connecticut news report:

“Police in Newington are looking for the man who they said committed a bizarre crime early this morning when he backed an SUV into a Connecticut gas station, stole a banana, ate and left in the damaged vehicle.

“Police responded to the Citgo Gas Station, located at 502 Cedar St.,, after a burglary alarm went off at 1:48 a.m. [Jan. 9] and noticed extensive damage to the doors, police said. 

“When they reviewed surveillance video, they saw a light-colored Ford Freestyle station wagon with Connecticut registration plates back into the store door several times and break the glass.

“Then, a man went into the store, took a banana from a shelf, peeled it, ate the fruit and left the store, police said. 

“The man was not wearing a mask, did not try to conceal his face and did not take anything else, police said.” [Emphasis on: "did not take anything else."]

A photo of the suspect, posted by the NBC Connecticut website, shows him quite clearly. He took off in the same SUV that smashed into the gas station.

Ram raids are a serious threat to the retail industry, and I don’t mean to make light of this threat for a second. Thank goodness there was no one inside the gas station at the time who could have been injured. But, again, all that for a banana? Did the thief destroy the storefront and once inside undergo a stroke of conscience and then just decided to grab a banana for his efforts? Or did he simply have a very, very strong hankering for a banana?

Can’t wait to learn about his thought process and. I’ll keep you posted.  





TechSec's coming fast!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Today I posted five more profiles of our prestigious "20 under 40" winners. I only have five more left to post, which means the TechSec conference is not far away.

After talking with these young professionals over the last few months, I am so looking forward to meeting them in person. Last year, my first time at TechSec, I learned a lot from our winners and called on them many times after as sources for articles I was writing for Security Director News. Each and every one of them, both those I met last year and those I 've spoken to this time around, are smart, personable and passionate about what they do. You can't ask for more than that. Their employers should be extremely proud.

I am excited to once again moderate a Next Gen Security Series panel titled, Security directors' perspective: Young security professionals' use of new technology on the job. This panel, featuring four of our "20 under 40" winners, is a highlight of the show.

There's still time to register for the TechSec conference that will be held at the end of this month. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, great educational sessions are planned—check them out—and this is not a conference that tries to sell you on any particular system or solution. It's all about learning and sharing ideas, and there's plenty of time for some fun, too. [And I can tell you that after these first days of January in Maine, I'm also looking forward to a little sunshine and beachtime.]

Congratulations again to SDN's "20 under 40" winners!






Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 20, 2013

We here at Security Director News would like to wish all of our sources and our readers very, very happy holidays. Thank you for a great year. We have enjoyed speaking with you about trends, successes and challenges. We’ve appreciated your comments on SDN articles and look forward to more of your feedback.

Here’s hoping that 2014, along with the improving economy, will bring more security—along with more funding—to schools from K-12 to the university level, a decrease in organized retail crime due to all the great efforts out there, fewer risks at hospitals for both patients and staff and more technology to banks to protect customers and employees.

We believe the future of the physical security industry is in the greatest of hands, as evidenced by our new batch of “20 under 40” winners. They are dedicated and passionate about their roles.

The new year is looking bright.


Are armed school guards the answer?

Monday, December 16, 2013

It took 80 seconds for 18-year-old student Karl Halverson Pierson to enter Arapahoe High School on Dec. 13 in Centennial, Colo., and critically injure a fellow student.

At that one minute and 20 second mark, the heavily armed gunman knew that an armed guard was coming after him, and he fatally shot himself.

School officials and local law enforcement authorities say the fact that there was an armed guard at the 2,229-student school with 70 classrooms potentially saved many more lives.

Arapahoe is not far from Columbine, where in 1999, two students killed 12 fellow students and one teacher and injured 24 others.

What do you think? Are armed guards the answer?




Newton anniversary, where are we?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tomorrow, Dec. 14, marks the one-year anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Twenty young children and six adults were killed by a heavily armed gunman, who reportedly was mentally ill.

The mainstream media has been all over the story these days, following up on the devastated families’ lives a year later, the mood of the town, the remembrances planned and so forth.

But an important fact I think needs to be pointed out is that since that tragic day, there have been 26 more school shootings in the United States. That’s according to the organizations Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Even as I write this, I've been monitoring news reports about a gunman inside a high school in Centennial, Colo. Injuries were reported.

Over the past year, I have written numerous stories about what schools are doing to protect students and staff in the wake of Newtown. Many upgraded their security systems, some trained staff and children to “Run, Hide, Fight,” a controversial approach. After Newtown, more than 450 state bills were introduced, ranging from measures to allow teachers to arm themselves or put armed guards in schools.

What hits home with me are the sentiments I heard from a number of my school security sources. Knee-jerk reactions don’t work. Security at schools everywhere should have been in place long before Newtown and should continuously be revisited and upgraded when necessary. You don’t have to be Fort Knox.  Build relationships with local enforcement. And, above all, train, train, train.

We here at Security Director News send again our condolences to those whose lives were affected by the shootings a year ago tomorrow, hoping we won’t have to hear about another similar event.



Fire system can do much more

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

NORTHFORD, Conn.—I spent an enjoyable and very educational day here, Dec. 10, at Honeywell Life Safety HQ. The purpose for the visit was a briefing on Honeywell’s efforts to expand its fire systems to include emergency communications, digital signage and outdoor audio.

Gamewell-FCI by Honeywell’s new touch-screen fire alarm panel, which is designed to simplify operations for security directors and first responders, can make that happen, Honeywell leaders said.

Todd Reif, Honeywell Fire Systems president for the Americas, started the day off by outlining the evolution of the company’s fire alarm systems. He started with the master box—those red and white pull-lever boxes you see on street corners and on the exterior of buildings, and which Honeywell still manufactures— I watched that in action during a tour of the massive factory—to its new, small, addressable system S3 Series Fire Alarm system that features an intuitive touch screen with icons resembling those on smartphones.

It is the first of its kind in the industry, Reif said.

Fire technology should also be able to deal with emergency notifications, bad weather warnings and “bad guys,” he said. Once the technology is “harnessed and shaped,” there are multiple opportunities for end users, including those in the retail, hospitality, small medical facilities and schools.

The company is trying to take the “Fear of the Fire Alarm” factor away from end users. Too often, with big, multi-button fire panels, people are scared to touch anything. “They say, ‘What is going on? Who do I need to call? I don’t want the fire trucks to roll if I press the wrong button or I just want to shut this up,’ ” said Brian Carlson, manager of strategic marketing for Gamewell-FCI. Those concerns come despite the fact the user had been trained in the system, but maybe that was a year or so ago.

It’s the “floating finger syndrome,” Carlson says. It usually takes someone two minutes from the time they get to the panel before they even push a button. He knows because he’s visited hundreds of end users and studied them as they responded to an incident.

The S3 series features only eight buttons.

We heard two other great talks about mass notification and situational awareness that I will write about soon in more detail. So stay tuned….



Y-12 nun, two other protesters await sentencing; construction issues, too

Friday, December 6, 2013

The now 83-year-old nun, 64-year-old gardener and 58-year-old housepainter who were found guilty of breaching security at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in July 2012 remain behind bars, awaiting sentencing.

The three peace demonstrators were found guilty last May on felony charges for cutting through a fence and defacing property at the maximum security uranium processing facility. Reportedly, they were undetected by the majority of the perimeter surveillance equipment, ground sensors, security guards and canine patrols.

A sabotage charge against each of them carries a maximum prison term of up to 20 years; the damaged property charge has a penalty of up to 10 years. Sentencing was initially scheduled for this fall but has since been rescheduled for Jan. 24.

Security experts have called the break-in the biggest security breach in the nation’s atomic history. The Department of Energy investigated and released a special report on the facility’s security failings, including inoperable security equipment, an inadequate security force, no timetables for the maintenance of security equipment, and lack of physical barriers. Previous studies said the problems had been present for 10 years, according to an article from Robert Lee Maril, sociology professor at East Carolina University.

And there’s more about some other seemingly major Y-12 problems, regarding the construction of a new new facility to be built at Y-12.

Maril writes:

In summary, the same two business entities, Bechtel Corporation and Babcock and Wilcox Company, tasked with security at Y-12, a security system breached by an octogenarian nun and two other senior citizens, are also the same two business enterprises in charge of the planning and design of the new facility, UPF, to be built at Y-12 (estimated total security costs at Y-12 at the time of the breach in 2012 were $150 million). To date, costs for the planning and design of UPF have risen in 2012 to $6.5 billion from approximately $1.1 billion in 2004. Several months after the security breach at Y-12, these same two corporations, Bechtel Corporation and Babcock and Wilcox Company, were named as the primary construction contractors for UPF at Y-12. At this time the NNSA refuses to provide taxpayers with the construction costs of the UPF until 2015.”

Food for thought?

You can read more about how the break-in and its impact played out on



Like mall security doesn’t have enough to do this time of year …

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Rockport, Mass., woman was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct this week after called 911 to request that officers push her around a local mall.

The 35-year-old, complaining of a leg injury, asked mall security for a wheelchair. A guard pushed her to a store and then back to her car, according to a report in The Salem News. Once back her car, though, she apparently decided she wanted to do some more shopping and asked to be pushed back inside. Security declined, saying they were too busy to do so.

So what did she do? She called 911 “requesting that [police units] push her around the mall so she can shop,” according the newspaper.

When police arrived and told her she can’t call 911 for such “frivolous issues.” She then called to request EMS transport.

Next she went “out of control.” The police officer requested back-up, and the woman was taken into custody.



Black Friday revisited ...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Really, really?

A police officer trying to stop a Black Friday shoplifter suspect was dragged—with his arm slammed in a car door—through a parking lot in Chicago? A store manager maced a customer? People were trampled at a Walmart over a $50 tablet?

I like to consider myself a savvy shopper. But you won’t find me waiting in line on Thanksgiving night for supposed bargains. I didn’t go near a store on the Friday or weekend after Thanksgiving. My son might disown me for that, but I’m just looking out for my own wellbeing.

Experts, such as Gene Smith of the Loss Prevention Foundation and Rich Mellor, VP for loss prevention at the National Retail Federation, tell me that all in all, the extended Black Friday events last week went well.

Retailers were prepared, they said. I believe them. But what can you do, as they noted, when customers are out of control? How can you prepare for feisty consumers fighting over a single piece of merchandise? A driver stabbing someone over a parking place?

And this was a good Black Friday experience, my experts say.

Most retailers do everything they can to protect their employees and customers, but they still need these Black Friday events in order to make money.

Store employees have been trained, fortunately. But maybe it’s time for customers to be trained? Ha! Can we have screenings for customers to make sure they won’t punch someone out over a Furby or Zoomer Dog or Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow Blaster?

If this was a relatively calm Black Friday, I wouldn’t want to see a fierce one.






Newtown prepares for much-anticipated report with extra security

Monday, November 25, 2013

Schools in Newtown, Conn., deployed extra security Nov. 25 in preparation for the scheduled release of the report on last year’s shooting that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

That deployment included increased police presence at schools with help from neighboring towns’ police forces, Interim Superintendent John Reed told parents in an email, according to a report from Reuters.
“By supporting one another, we will work our way through these challenging circumstances,” Reed said in the Reuters report.
On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown home, and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he once attended, and killed 26 people before killing himself.

The official investigative report on the massacre had been expected much earlier, but was delayed a number of times. A Connecticut law passed earlier this year says that some evidence from the state's investigation will never be made available to the public, Reuters said.
The law, passed in response to the shooting, prohibits the release of photographs, film, video and other visual images showing a homicide victim if they can “reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy of the victim or the victim's surviving family members,” Reuters reported.

In the aftermath of the shooting, a number of school security measures have been proposed and put in place, while many have gone by the wayside, experts say. You can read about that here.