In 2010, the efforts of Kimberlite Corporation’s, Fresno, Calif., central station resulted in 740 apprehensions. This marked a record for the company, which has approximately 6,300 Sonitrol systems in service in the Bay Area and the San Fernando and San Joaquin Valleys in California. The company’s previous high was 578 apprehensions in 2005. As of early June, 2011, the company has posted 370 apprehensions in 2001. Since the summertime is typically the busy season for criminal apprehensions, Kimberlite anticipates apprehending more than 800 criminals before the year is out.
According to Kimberlite’s chief executive officer, Tom Patterson, “apprehensions are highly valued by our stakeholders: our customers and the police. Our customers really value the fact that our verified alarms actually protect them against loss.
“There is nothing more personally violating than being burglarized,” Patterson commented. “Our customers want the crooks taken off the streets, because if they get away with it, they will come back. When a burglar gets arrested, you get to keep your stuff, it satisfies your desire that law breakers be brought to justice; you avoid a loss and you feel more confident they won’t come back.Bells don’t scare anyone away; they just warn the criminal that they’ve been detected and they’d better hurry up to get what they came for and leave.”
One of the 370apprehensions made so far in 2011 took place at a fast food restaurant after hours and illustrates a typical situation satisfying for both law enforcement and the customer. A Sonitrol central station dispatcher received a door activation coming from the kitchen area and heard sounds of movement. Police were immediately dispatched and arrived within two minutes of the initial alarm. The burglar was immediately apprehended, before he could complete the crime. The police said the suspect had several things stacked up by the door. The customer did not sustain a loss. The suspect was transported to the county jail on the charge of burglary. Meanwhile, the key holder for the store was contacted and met the police at the scene.
“One reason police are police is because they want to enforce the laws and apprehend the bad guy. They place a high premium on that,” Patterson said.
“Any time you can provide a police officer with real-time information, they will respond more quickly and more confidently,” Patterson added. Kimberlite also has a general manager of central station operations that knows the law enforcement M.O. only too well: Marcos Reyes is a former police officer and understands the value of accurate information from a different perspective. Not only can this information affect the safety of law enforcement, but it can also aid them in arresting and prosecuting criminals.
Reyes attributes record numbers of apprehensions on rising crime rates affected by a crippled economy. The economy factor, however, is also what is causing law enforcement agencies to pay more attention than ever to the efficient use of their resources — so they can cut down on expenses while managing increasing crime rates. In some parts of the country, that is translating into non-response ordinances.
According to Patterson, the way to the heart of any law enforcement officer or organization is simple: reducing false alarm rates through verification. But establishing a good and lasting relationship with law enforcement depends largely on a security company’s reputation. It takes some time to build and carefully maintained consistency to thrive. Kimberlite has been doing business this way for 35 years, Patterson said, and that’s plenty of time to establish a reputation of both success and consistency. “Our alarms have been described by police as ‘righteous.’ They know when we call that we have verified an event in progress,” he noted. “A good track record makes a difference..”
Though Sonitrol’s bread and butter is audio verified alarms, some of the 740 apprehensions were completed with the help of video verification as well. Patterson said the utility of various verification options in the marketplace is all about careful assessment and realizing the advantages and limitations of each technology. In external locations where sounds may be more difficult to pick up, video is useful. “However, if you have a dark building in the middle of the night or you’re not looking at that area, audio gets your attention,” he said. “The limitation of video is line of sight. A camera and associated motion detector have to be aimed at the spot where the person is trying to gain entry.”
“We make it our policy to only install systems that cover 100 percent of a client’s space,” Patterson continued. “Even though it costs more and we don’t make as many sales as we could otherwise.”