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Business Operations

No time for crime, Part II

October 11, 2010
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This is the follow-up article to last month’s “No time for crime.”

It goes without saying that purchasing, installing and operating surveillance equipment is just about as necessary to your carwash as the water and soap. These devices not only help catch criminals, they also deter them and scare them away.

Operating a surveillance system requires a basic understanding of software and computer technology, but don’t let that scare you. According to Melissa Foster, sales and marketing director for CCTV Imports, a provider of surveillance technology to the carwash industry, most DVR (digital video recorders) software is extremely user-friendly, as well as easy to navigate through.

“Many people find after playing around with the DVR and its various functions, they rarely have to even go to the manual for answers,” she said.

Setting your system up
Allen Spears, a carwash owner and chief engineer at (a division of Rugged CCTV), said most new DVRs are “stand-alone” boxes that provide all of the functions of the system, therefore, personal computers (PC) are no longer used as a recording device in most instances.

“However,” he said, “since you can totally control the DVR from any computer you already have, it is standard practice at many businesses to hide the DVR in a hidden or protected place, and use a PC to call up the camera views through a network, and leave that view up overnight.” That way the burglars think that the PC is the recording device and will attack it.

If you aren’t comfortable with that strategy, Spears recommended placing an old VCR or time-lapse recorder next to the security monitor to be used as bait. Then be sure to hide and secure the DVR in another place that is more secure.

Also, using the Internet to monitor and prevent crime is an option, but it can be a bit tricky.

According to Spears, “getting your system set up for viewing and controlling it over the Internet is probably the single toughest task you will undertake with your camera system.”

He said the process usually requires the cooperation of your Internet provider and requires professional knowledge and training. He said his past experiences indicated that assistance or technical support is mandatory when it comes time to set up a system on the Internet for remote access, or to get footage off of it to give to the police.

It can happen to you
One last and final mistake that can and should be avoided is thinking that a crime won’t happen at your carwash, even if you are located in a relatively safe neighborhood.

According to Mike Benmosche, carwash program manager for Mang Insurance Agency, the biggest mistake an operator can make is thinking “they don't have a lot of cash on hand so they aren't worried about it being stolen.”

Unfortunately, according to Benmosche, equipment can be damaged and that always costs a lot more than the amount of cash stolen. “We have paid in excess of $15,000 just to replace the machinery,” he said. “The cost of change machines, which are often pulled out of the wall, is very expensive not to mention the cost to fix the wall. The same goes for automated tellers and vending machines.”

Mike Domby, sales and operations manager at Techway Systems Inc., recommended getting an idea of the amount of crime that happens at your wash as well. “We often take our locations for granted and assume we'll be safe. I would recommend they talk with local law enforcement in the area to get an idea of the crimes and crime rates.”

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