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This is the first in a two-part series. The second article will appear in the November 2009 issue of Professional Carwashing & Detailing.
Unfortunately, carwashes can be easy crime targets because they can be unattended; there are change machines on site; and sometimes a car washer can turn the corner looking to make change with the door wide open and the key in the ignition. Fortunately, carwash owners and operators are arming themselves with crime prevention know-how and security equipment is becoming so high-tech, criminals will soon start to look elsewhere.
Show them what they’re looking for?
One good method for deterring criminals is to figure out what it is they are looking for; it’s more than just weak locks and distracted attendees.
Melissa Foster, sales and marketing dictor for CCTV Imports, said thieves usually look for easy, vulnerable targets, such as:
Allen Spears, chief engineer of CarWashCameras.com, said crooks are also taking note of your location’s goods. “They may have been in your business and something got their attention, such as seeing a low security safe, or a small safe that looked like it might be easy to remove,” Spears cautioned.
According to Foster, security cameras are also on the criminal’s list for spot checks. They know police will rely on these images to make an arrest, and are looking for evidence of a high-tech recording system.
Spears agreed saying that security cameras worry criminals even more than the alarm system. “They know all too well that the recording system can provide all the information the police will need to find, arrest and convict them. So they treat it like leaving a witness behind,” he said.
A manager or employee’s routine will also be monitored by a criminal, according to Spears. He said they’ll be looking to see when a manager is handling a bank bag or when the cash is transferred to a locked drawers.
Deter, detect and delay
When it comes down to it, the best way to combat crime is to stop it from ever happening. Employees shouldn’t have to fight off criminals and customers shouldn’t have to worry about hold ups.
Mike Domby, sales and operations manager at Techway Systems Inc., said visual deterrents like day/night vandal dome cameras that are easily viewed when entering the facility make great deterrents.
Foster said this is part of another key strategy in crime prevention: Letting the offenders know you’re watching. “You will want to hide some of the cameras to prevent vandalism and such,” Foster explained, “but make at least a couple of the cameras are .visible so they know they are being watched.”
Spears offered three steps to properly waylaying a criminal:
2. Detect; and
"Deter" "Detect" "Delay"
Deter: Deterring criminals always starts with good locks and solid entry points and also includes posting alarm signs and stickers at access and cash points, according to Spears.
“Having an alarm system may not stop criminals from breaking in, but it does make them change their plans to a hurried ‘smash-and-grab’ type of operation because a blaring alarm means that they have a very limited time at the site,” he pointed out.
Spears said operators should place two or more cameras at vulnerable areas. “If criminals know that they will be recorded on one camera while attempting to disable or vandalize another camera, they will move on to an easier target. Hiding some cameras is okay, but make sure that criminals notice the cameras you want them to see.”
Detect: Do what you can to see them before the crime is committed. To detect criminals, a good idea is to use motion lighting, alarms and motion-based camera systems, Spears suggested.
Delay: Make them take as much time as possible, which ups the chances of getting caught or even having the police arrive on the scene while the crime is occurring. Spears advised “hardening entry points” and using high-security locks. “The longer they think it will take to breach your security, the more they will be inclined to move on to another business that looks like it might be an easier target,” he said.