Thursday, 30 August 2012

Employee theft...

Ok so I'm not talking about the employee dipping their hand in the cash drawer or the manager taking product out the back door after hours, I'm talking about rival companies stealing employees to gain their inside knowledge and customer base.

How can a business protect itself from it's competitors stealing their secrets or their talent?

1 - Show employees you value their contributions.  Studies show that employees and managers alike like to be recognized for their hard work and efforts, and if they are feeling undervalued or unappreciated they may be more likely to go elsewhere.

2 - Create an open and trusting relationship with your employees.  Get to know them, take an interest in their life.  Find out what motivates them and be straightforward and honest when it comes time to have difficult conversations.

3 - Protect yourself with a non-compete.  Have an agreement in place with both employees and managers alike that prohibits them from using your companies information or customer base for any use other then to benefit your business.

4 - Be fair and reasonable with salaries.  No one likes feeling like they are owed more for the work they are doing and nothing is more likely to push an employee out the door then underpaying them for their talent.

4 - Avoid the "hear no evil" mentality.  Employees and managers want to work for a business that takes issues seriously.  Having a "hear no evil" mentality towards work place issues and not addressing issues that are being brought forward will create resentment amongst employees.

5 - Always have an exit interview.  Eventually even the best and brightest employees may move on.  An exit interview will help uncover any issues you may not be aware of, will lay out your companies expectations of the departing employee, and in most cases may allow the employee to leave on good terms. 


Sunday, 19 August 2012

The new era of CCTV technology

CCTV technology has been around for many years.  Traditional CCTV systems produced black and white pictures, the cameras were the size of a large toaster, the monitors the size of a small car, and the video quality something you'd expect to see on your TV with the rabbit ears in bad weather.

As with most things, CCTV technology has evolved rapidly over the past few years and CCTV cameras are being used more and more in non conventional roles.  Traditionally CCTV systems were designed to observe and record only, capturing the evidence for review later.  This week we are going to explore some of the non conventional roles of CCTV equipment...

Intrusion Alarm Activation and Verification:
Everyone is familiar with the traditional intrusion alarm.  Someone breaks a window or forces open a door and a motion detector or glass break sensor triggers an alarm signal back to the monitoring station where the appropriate call outs are made.

More and more police departments these days will not respond to intrusion alarms until they know that the alarm has been verified by either phoning the location or ensuring that an emergency contact is going to attend the location.  These outdated alarm verification methods simply do not offer any protection and render the alarm system no different then not even having the alarm monitored at all.

With advances in DVR networking CCTV systems can be designed to either act as the intrusion alarm itself (i.e. the camera triggers the alarm based on motion detection) or the CCTV system can be used to immediately verify the cause of the alarm (monitoring station remote connects into video feed and verifies whether alarm is real or false).

By having the monitoring station verify the alarm via CCTV this alarm gets treated differently from a police stand point.  Since this alarm is verified within minutes of being triggered the monitoring station can either reset the false alarm or report a crime in progress based on what they observe via the camera feed.

Security Patrol:
Ask anyone that has had to write the cheque to pay for security guards on site and they will tell you it's expensive.  With billing rates averaging around $16 - $19 / hour per guard and mobile patrol stops around $30 - $40 per visit the cost really adds up.

Now there are some situations where you will want a traditional guard on site however in a lot of situations the traditional guard can be replaced by remote video monitoring.

As the monitoring station is capable of viewing multiple sites at once and each operator can cover multiple sites each the costs associated with having the needed coverage is far less.  

For example, going back to to the mobile patrol example, at a rate of $35 per stop a mobile patrol vehicle will typically allow for a maximum of 15 minutes on site per visit and very often they will not get out of the car.  Having the mobile patrol officer attend a site twice a night every night on average will cost around $2170 per month.  Having a monitoring station check in via camera they will achieve the same results as the mobile patrol officer that doesn't get out of his car and it will cost you under $300 for the same frequency of visits.  The same can be said for having a static guard on site monitoring a property.  With an average billing rate of $16 per hour to watch a construction site for example, a traditional 8 hour shift will cost $128.  Multiply that over a month and you get a cost of roughly $3968.  To have a monitoring station observe multiple sites and have cameras trigger on alarms produced when they capture motion would cost you under $500 per month for the same results.  Both examples have the same "observe and report" mandate and both examples will call the proper authorities upon seeing crime in progress, however the remote video monitoring and remote security patrol will save money in the long term.

Investigations, People Counting, and License Plate Capture:
With advances in video analytics CCTV and DVR systems can be used used for a multitude of investigations such a cashier theft and fraud, ATM fraud, public safety and liability investigations, as well as store closing and opening audits.

In addition, CCTV and DVR systems can also very accurately produce a person count for retail locations and email statistics daily, hourly, or weekly to those that need to know.

CCTV systems can also very accurately capture vehicle license plates either for informational purposes such as road tolls or vehicle counting, or for enforcement activities such as ticketing or stolen vehicle verification. 

Automated Process Monitoring:
With advances in thermal imaging CCTV systems can be designed to monitor automated processes and either send off alarms or stop a process immediately should the process slip outside of normal parameters.  CCTV systems can monitor the temperature of a process, can monitor movement on a belt line and can even monitor if the process stops working.

As you can see, there are numerous different uses for a CCTV system and as technology advances even further we will start to see more and more roles that were once being done manually being handled remotely and automatically.

If you would like more information on these uses or any other type of CCTV technology please contact us below:

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Employee theft, the real cost center...

For those in the industry the facts on employee theft aren't all that alarming, for those not in the industry you will be shocked...

On average, employee theft and fraud account for almost 50% of losses in business today.  No matter what the industry and no matter where the location these numbers are enough to bankrupt a business very quickly.

Employee theft and fraud doesn't always take the form of what we all see on the news where the company exec is walked out in handcuffs after making off with millions.  More often then not the theft and fraud is small at first, can be spread out over a long period of time or be a one time event, and can be conducted by anyone given the opportunity.

The reasons why employees commit theft and fraud are numerous and can lead down to some very basic causes such as drug or alcohol dependency issues, resentment over any number of workplace situations, financial problems at home or school or with friends or family, or simply plain old greed.  There are a few things that employers can do to protect themselves.

1 - In any business where financial transactions are handled implement even the most basic CCTV surveillance system and as a rule of thumb cover any area where cash is handled / counted including the front desk or back office.

2 - Implement a policy where clear garbage bags are used to avoid the temptation of removing merchandise in the garbage for pickup later and if possible ensure that the garbage is inspected prior to removal from building.

3 - If law permits, implement a bag check policy and inform your staff in advance of this policy.  The policy should be fair yet thorough to ensure you don't violate anyone's privacy yet you still take reasonable steps to protect your product.

4 - If possible, have employees work from their own cash drawers as opposed to taking over the cash drawer of another employee.  If not possible, at the minimum if possible have the cash drawer verified at the end of shift and before another employee starts working from the drawer.

5 - Develop an open and sharing workplace mentality where employees are comfortable sharing information with management.  If possible implement a simple reward program where Loss Prevention tips are rewarded.  If doing this put the emphasis on employee theft and fraud affecting everyone and everyone working together to stop the problem, not employees tattling on each other.

6 - Trust your instincts.  If you think something may be wrong look into it.  This may be a change in employee or management behavior, rumors, or activities out of the ordinary.

7 - Pay attention to non employees coming to visit.  Keep an eye on how often your employees friends and family stop by to visit either for breaks or at the end of the work day as this could be an opportunity for collusion.

8 - Pay attention to customer activities.  Are certain customers only looking to deal with one employee, and do they make odd excuses why or simply refuse to deal with anyone else?  This could also be an indicator of collusion.

9 - Keep an accurate product inventory and immediately investigate losses that can't be readily accounted for.

10 - Don't be scared to act.  A lot of business owners or managers will shy away from their suspicions or won't act on information as they don't want to rock the boat.  If handled correctly in a non accusatory manner there is nothing wrong with taking steps to protect your investment.  Most importantly don't be scared to call in professional help.  You wouldn't try and mend your own broken leg would you?  Much like the Dr in the emergency room a true Loss Prevention professional is trained and experienced to handle situations like this.

Having been in operation for over 25 years ILPS has the experience to work with any type of business and help them find a solution to their employee theft or fraud problem whether it be integrity / mystery shoppers, undercover employees, covert cameras and surveillance, or forensic auditing of accounts.

For more information please contact ILPS.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

You truely can afford the system you want...

Did you know that you can actually afford the system you want?

An alternative title to this blog post could also be "Systems Financing, why it's a smart decision".

The security of your home or business shouldn't be one based on finances.  Unfortunately this isn't always the case.  In a lot of cases the reality is that Security and Loss Prevention are viewed as a cost center.  They don't generate revenue and it costs money to purchase.  This is the wrong mind set to have and with financing available now you can afford the system you truly need.

ILPS has been offering financing for systems for over 25 years.  We are backed by some of the largest lenders in the industry and are set up to offer extremely competitive rates.

So why is financing such a good idea?  Simple, you may not have the capital to invest in a security system but either government regulations, industry regulations, or just general market conditions dictate that you need a system in place.  For almost no initial outlay of capital and extremely low and reasonable monthly payments you can own the system you need.

Let the team at ILPS work with you to build the system you need in order to comply with Worksafe BC regulations, PCI compliance, Government privacy regulations, Government security regulations, or any number of other industry regulations.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

New services from ILPS...

International Loss Prevention Systems is always looking for new and innovative methods of loss prevention, whether it be in the retail, commercial, or residential sectors.  

As technology in the industry is changing so is the method in which businesses and homes protect their assets.  Below are some of the latest tools that ILPS is involved with to help our customers protect their property and staff:

Remote Video Monitoring
ILPS now offers the "Check Video Intelligent Video Surveillance System" as well as the "Videofied Revolutionary Security System".  Both systems use either an existing internet connection or a cellular connection to send video alarms back to our central monitoring station where they are treated as verified intrusion alarm signals and emergency services are dispatched upon seeing a crime in progress.   These systems offer an advantage over the traditional intrusion alarm system as they provide a verified alarm signal which results in less time for the monitoring station having to contact the location first.

In addition to the Check Video and Videofied systems all of the DVR systems ILPS installs have the capability of being connected to an existing internet connection to be viewed remotely either with a built in web server on the DVR or through various smart phone platforms such as the iPhone or Andriod.  Our customers find this convienient method of remote video monitoring a good way of keeping an eye on their business or home while they are away. 

Remote Security Patrol
Traditional security guards are costly, they always has been and always will be.  With advances in technology allowing CCTV systems to be viewed remotely and PTZ cameras controlled remotely the security guard no longer needs to be on site.  From a secure remote security control room off site the surveillance operator is able either to view a live video feed 24/7 or simply view a video feed when an alarm is triggered.  If a problem is found, either live or as a result of an alarm trigger both the Police are dispatched as well as a mobile security responder.

This method of security patrol is far more effective then your traditional security guard as it provides a more cost effective solution (large cost of surveillance staff and equipment spread out over multiple clients), is as discreet or overt as needed, and will see more things more often then a traditional mobile security guard stopping by at random intervals.

In a lot of cases ILPS can use your existing CCTV equipment on site, or if their is no CCTV equipment on site or the equipment on site needs to be upgraded ILPS can work with you to build a system that suits your budget and meets your needs.

For more information on these or any of the methods that ILPS can work with you to safeguard your property please contact us using the information below:

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Welcome to the first of many blog posts from the security management team at International Loss Prevention Systems.  Join us weekly for the latest news and trends in the security and loss prevention world as well as tips on things that you the end user can do to better protect yourself and your property.  At ILPS we live and breath Loss Prevention and it seems only fitting that we share our wealth of knowledge with the outside world.

Let's begin...

Choosing the right system for your needs and your budget...

Megapixel, IP cameras, HD SDI,  video analyitics what does it all mean?  Very often people get sucked in by what we like to call the wow factor, that is, the system with the most flash and bang, but are all the fancy bells and whistles really needed?

Before picking up the phone book and calling your local CCTV integrator ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish with your new camera system,and be realistic.  For example, are you looking to stop retail theft?  Are you looking to capture license plates of vehicles coming and going?  Are you wanting to be able to read the serial number off of a piece of paper from 100 feet away?  Or, do you just simply want to be able to see what's going on when you're not at home or at work

Do a simple Google search of CCTV technology and you will see the majority of products leaning towards IP video surveillance.  While IP video surveillance definitely has it's place there is still something to be said for a traditional analogue CCTV system and despite what some sales people may claim, analogue CCTV is far from obsolete.

So, how do you actually chose the right system for what you want to do?  The answers are endless but here are a few things to remember when considering a CCTV system:

1 - Be realistic with your budget.  Depending on your environment and what you are trying to accomplish plan for a minimum of 2 - 4 cameras and a minimum of a 4 channel DVR.  Consider where you will be housing the "head end", that is the DVR itself and do a rough walk through of the distance from the head end to each camera.  Plan for between 50 cents to a dollar per foot for cable for each camera.  Consider what type of cameras you are looking to install and think of any mounting hardware that may be needed.  While most companies may not list the pricing of the mounting hardware it will definitely be reflected in the price of the camera.  Consider the labor involved with the camera install (everyone likes to get paid) and plan for a minimum of between 2 - 4 hours of labor per camera or more depending on how and where the camera will be located.  Consider how the cameras will be powered.  Although most companies won't list the power supply in their parts list on the quote the power supply isn't cheap and will most certainly be buried somewhere in the quote.  At the end of the day the price for the DVR and cameras is never going to be the biggest part of the end cost and often it's the sticker shock of all the other things involved with the job that drive the customer to shy away from putting in a system.

2 - Be realistic with your equipment and what you are trying to accomplish.  There is a term in the security industry called "the CSI effect", that is people watch TV shows like CSI and expect their 20 year old black and white CCTV camera  with the 2.8 mm lensmounted at the back of their store to pick up a decent suspect face shot from the front door 400 feet away.  Think carefully about what you are trying to accomplish with your cameras and ask questions if you don't know if it can be done.  The basic rule of thumb is that you want two types of camera shots, the identification shot and the story shot.  The identification shot can be accomplished by either using a high resolution camera at the entrance, a height strip camera at the exit, or setting up a camera on what would be considered pinch points, that is areas where people would be forced to pass through during the course of their travels.  The story shot is just like the name says, it's a camera shot that is a wide angle shot placed in such an area that tells the story of what's occurring.  For the story shot ideally you want to be using high resolution cameras with a wide angle lens to capture as much detail as possible.  The idea is that using a multi-camera system you can use the cameras that get the story shot to see the big picture and get a description of the person or object you are looking for, then you go back to the identification shot to get the face shot or license plate and you piece them both together.

3 - Be realistic about your DVR.  A good rule of thumb, a 4 channel system with a 500GB hard drive set up in an office or store with heavy traffic will generally record between 10-15 days worth of footage before overwriting itself.  As your camera numbers increase and the resolution of your cameras increase your DVR hard drive should also increase.  Put careful thought into how long it will realistically take you to find out about an incident after the incident has occurred and how soon you are able to access your DVR to retrieve footage.  For example, in a retail setting you could find out 30 days after a credit card transaction that the customer is disputing the charge and you may have to go back 30 days in history to see CCTV footage of who was using the credit card, while in a small office you may only need to go back a few days or a few hours to see incidents.

4 - Ask questions and avoid the "jobbers".  With the potential to cost you upwards of $2000 for a basic entry level system do you really want to risk your money on having your system installed by someone you found on Craigslist?  Not to say that Craigslist, Kijiji, or a host of other local websites aren't great places for reputable companies to advertise but do your homework before committing to a job.  Ask for references and get a few quotes.  When getting multiple quotes make sure you are doing a true apples to apples comparison with regards to your specifications and needs.  Don't take one quote and shop it around, that will just cause frustration but give each company a fighting chance to win your business by offering the same type of system.  For example, don't meet with one company and get a quote for a 4 channel analogue CCTV system with low resolution cameras then get wowed by the next company offering a larger fancier DVR and HD cameras and try to compare the two side by side.  Remember, at the end of the day you are the end user that has to live with your purchase so don't be afraid to ask questions, the more the merrier.  Advise should always be free no matter who you deal with.

Thank you for taking the time to read our first blog post.  We look forward to many more to move and hope this is one avenue to provide the latest news and information from the security industry.

Should you have any comments, concerns, or questions about anything security related please feel free to either email or visit our company website.

Thanks again for reading...