Orangeburg, N.Y. car dealership Bill Kolb Jr. Subaru is the largest Subaru dealership on the East Coast. At any given time, the dealership has 400 to 500 cars on its lot. Over the last 16 years, Bill Kolb Jr. Subaru has experienced exponential growth. Business has gone from selling two cars per month to more than 250. There was just one challenge that plagued their bottom line: auto theft. “From 2010-2011, I personally saw three or four cars being stolen off the lot,” said James McVoy, IT manager at Bill Kolb Jr. Subaru. The dealership did have an analog video surveillance system inside their facility. However, the system was expensive and the images that the cameras captured were of low quality. “I would give the video footage to the police and they wouldn’t be able to use it to help them identify suspects,” McVoy explained.
The Bill Kolb Jr. Subaru team decided they needed an improved, cost-effective security system. McVoy did a lot of research on the best security integrator companies and eventually found Alex Torres, president and owner of S.O.G. Security Inc., Valley Cottage, N.Y. Torres has been in the security and law enforcement industry for more than 40 years and has deep expertise in deploying video, alarm and intercom security systems in the commercial and residential industries.
Torres suggested that Bill Kolb Jr. Subaru install IP cameras from VideoIQ (now known as Avigilon, Vancouver, Canada), which offered HD imaging, mobile accessibility, real-time monitoring, video analytics and network connectivity to a video central station. He also advocated using audio with the cameras to create a complete surveillance solution. With the audio, a central station guard would be able to see, listen and speak to anyone who walked onto the car lot.
When it came to choosing an audio solution, Torres relied on a recommendation from his distributor eDIST — a provider in business solutions, security solutions and speech recognition. eDIST suggested Van Nuys, Calif.-based Louroe Electronics’ listen-talkback speakerphones, which are known for their microphone quality and durability. Once Torres did a demo of the audio and video surveillance technology, the Bill Kolb Jr. Subaru team was sold and wanted to move forward with the system.
Torres installed seven VideoIQ ICVR HD cameras and three Louroe Electronics AOP-SP-PB speakerphones in the car dealership’s parking lots. Placement of the IP cameras was throughout the main and back lots. Each two-way audio speakerphone was placed below a camera — two were in the primary lot near the front and rear entrances. The other speakerphone was placed in the back lot near the entrance. The strategic location of the cameras and speakerphones allowed security staff to see everyone who entered and left the premises.
The surveillance system activates after dark when someone walks into one of the pre-designated areas of interest; a silent alarm is triggered and the video central station and dealership staff are notified. The central station staff will either call the police or use the audio to talk to the person and let them know the dealership is closed.
“Some of the dealership staff, in particular James McVoy, also have the ability to log onto the remote video management software and talk down, listen to and respond to someone on the property,” Torres explained.
Since its installation, the technology has functioned well and has proven to be effective, as it has prevented theft on multiple occasions.
“There were times when people were walking around the car lot and it was obvious they were up to no good,” Torres said. “The cameras picked up on the individuals and alerted the central station. The guard was able to talk down to them and they pretty much left the property immediately. When the cameras are good, in conjunction with the audio, they provide information and real-time response that can prevent an incident.”
But there came a time when the audio-video system was almost too good. The technology was so sensitive that it would send many alerts to the central station — who would in turn call the police — that would turn out to be false alarms. McVoy said that it got to the point where the police said they had to stop calling so much.
What helped remedy the situation was training and helping their team at Acadian Monitoring Services to get familiar with the system and use the audio to identify the purpose of someone’s visit.
“The luxury of having the Louroe speakers is that we can actually talk down to customers to find out if the person is trespassing, browsing the lot, or dropping off their car for service,” McVoy said.
As the Bill Kolb Jr. Subaru project demonstrates, video surveillance plays a key role in protecting property, discouraging trespassers and identifying security threats. The audio component is critical in verifying alarms and communicating to suspects that they are being monitored and deterring them from committing any further offenses. It’s only when audio and video are used together that an end user can have a fully effective security system.
“For certain companies, having audio and video are important to ensure security,” said McVoy. “But for our type of business, it’s mandatory.”