How many crimes have been averted as a direct result of the systems and services provided by the professional security industry? There is no way we will ever know the answer to how many, although we know through both scientific and anecdotal research that security systems absolutely do deter criminal activity.
Looked at another way, how many people have been apprehended by law enforcement either during or immediately following a verified crime? Thousands — and probably tens of thousands — each year. Not every security company keeps apprehension records, but the Sonitrol companies do. Kimberlite Corp., which operates 14 Sonitrol-verified electronic security franchises in California, recently reported that its central station in Fresno, Calif., assisted law enforcement with 1,081 apprehensions in 2014. (See story on page 48.) The company says it has assisted police with 8,576 apprehensions since 2000, which it believes is more than any other alarm monitoring station in the U.S.
Kudos to Kimberlite and other Sonitrol franchises for maintaining such records. They demonstrate the value of security systems clearly and powerfully. There was a time when the security industry was much more diligent about records-keeping of apprehensions. But as the industry matured and the focus shifted to deterrence and then lifestyle, much of that effort dropped off, which is unfortunate.
But don’t worry — if the industry as a whole isn’t tracking apprehensions, the mainstream media is at least reporting on them one by one. Just google “crimes solved by video surveillance” or “crimes solved by security systems” and the list of results goes on and on. From petty crimes to horrific ones, the stories detail how the use of a video camera or video-equipped alarm system identified a suspect which then gave law enforcement a running start in solving the crime — from stolen bikes on up to murders.
A January 28 article by Cathryn Creno in The Republic | azcentral.com, reported that although the Sandy Hook shooting prompted many school districts to spend millions of dollars on security systems to prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again, the systems have since become strategic in their everyday crime-fighting efforts.
“Mesa [Ariz.] Public Schools, the state’s largest district, now has 606 cameras in 82 schools,” Creno reported. “Al Moore, a former Mesa police sergeant who heads Mesa schools’ security, recently reported to the district governing board that school burglaries decreased from 51 in the 2008-2009 school year to eight last year. Graffiti cases dropped from 887 in 2013-2014 to 123 last year, he said.” These schools are no longer an “easy target,” the author quoted Moore as saying. (Visit http://bit.ly/19LdTM3 for the full story.)
One of the most compelling reads recently is the article, “7 Chilling Crimes That Were Solved Thanks To Surveillance Cameras,” posted on February 10, 2015 at http://huff.to/1Fv2M76. Summarizing that “Crime dips as the cameras roll, research appears to show,” the article goes on to describe cases profiled by “See No Evil,” a docu-drama produced by Investigation Discovery, now in its second season. “…We dug through the footage and found the baffling, blood-curdling, and just plain bizarre cases where being caught on camera led to being caught,” the article states.
I wonder, why isn’t our industry doing a better job of tracking how many criminals are apprehended because of the security systems that detected and identified them? How many central stations like Kimberlite/Sonitrol are doing this? What would the effect on our industry be? Or is the value of security systems so well understood by now that this would be a needless effort? We’d like your feedback on this question. Go to www.facebook.com/SDMmagazine and tell us what you think.
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