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Ask Slashdot: Inexpensive SOHO Crime Deterrence and Monitoring? 272

Posted by timothy
from the smile-for-the-camera dept.
First time accepted submitter trellz writes "My sister and brother-in-law are self employed, and run a small business with a storefront. It was broken into about a year ago, and since then they have reinforced physical security; bars on the doors and windows, better locks, etc. Unfortunately, their store was broken into and vandalized again last week, in spite of the added security measures. Being technically savvy, I'm trying to come up with inexpensive ways to add deterrence, monitoring, and alerting to their business. They run an extremely lean lifestyle and profit margin, so the solution needs to be almost free. They do have an internet connection at the store, so motion detection, web cameras, Arduino devices, and the like are certainly an option. Ideally I would like a rock-solid alerting method. Something like an email or text to a laptop at home, or a dedicated prepaid phone, but without the pitfalls of such a solution (i.e. random wrong numbers, solicitors, email spam, etc). I'd also prefer not to poke holes in their firewall at the shop if at all possible. I was considering an email with some sort of long code or hash in the body, and then could white list that on the receiving end to key off of. The goal is to never have a false alarm based on the transmission/reception method." What advice, beyond ZoneMinder?
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Ask Slashdot: Inexpensive SOHO Crime Deterrence and Monitoring?

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  • Dog (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MobyDobie (2426436) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:30AM (#42926157)
    What about getting a dog? It's both a deterrent and an alarm.
  • Almost free? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mysidia (191772) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:45AM (#42926201)

    They run an extremely lean lifestyle and profit margin, so the solution needs to be almost free.

    Doing nothing has a cost too... possibly more break-ins = more lost profit. There is a potentially high risk cost of doing nothing; depending on what it is, they might be able to budget a lot of money, and the net cost could be zero: assuming the break ins are actually causing damage and hurting their business revenue.

    The idea that you run a business, and you are not willing to spend any money on security is absolutely ridiculous. You should be willing to spend an appropriate amount of money to manage the risk.

    The most important mitigation is probably to have insurance, but again... the premium may increase, the more breakins.

    This may be a matter that a security consulting firm should be hired to look at.

    Hidden cameras with a DVR may be useful to help catch the perps.... however, there is a problem: this is only useful, if responders become aware of the breakin and get there, before the thief can locate the DVR associated with the cameras and destroy it.

    Visible cameras, may be used as a deterrent; however, they are subject to vandalism.

    One of the best deterrents which should not be overlooked is a professionally Monitored security alarm system with External sounders, Internal motion detectors, Door sensors, Glass break detectors, perimeter coverage, and an alarm loop and cellular backup to a central monitoring station, that will dispatch authorities in the event of an alarm.

  • Don't bother. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FireballX301 (766274) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:46AM (#42926203) Journal
    Buy business insurance, do what the insurance adjuster wants you to do, and don't do anything more.

    If you don't have or can't afford business insurance, then you should question whether your business is viable or not, especially if a poorly timed robbery can put you under.
  • Re:Don't bother. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @03:11AM (#42926257)

    Buy business insurance, do what the insurance adjuster wants you to do, and don't do anything more.

    This. Hacking together some "security system" won't do shit for you. Even if you manage to get some clear video, even if you manage to get the police to look at it, even if you avoid having some half-asleep public defender obliterate you in court because you can't actually prove the timestamp on the video is accurate, even if you manage to get a conviction...how the fuck does help your friends? They still need to take that conviction and use it as leverage in a civil case against the perp, and even if they get a judgement....there is no cash register at the court house! Your friends aren't going to see a dime from some broke-ass criminal deadbeat.

    This is what insurance is for...to insure assets against risk and let you move on with life.

  • by rusty0101 (565565) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @04:09AM (#42926409) Homepage Journal

    I'm seeing a lot of partial solutions here. Both in what has been done, and in what is being proposed. The first thing you should be doing though has been mentioned, and that's talk with your insurance adjuster. At the very least you can find out what your liabilities are for various security measures, and possibly what measures will reduce your insurance rates.

    Start by looking at what a thief is going to see as they look at how to enter the property. You may find the TV series from a few years back "it takes a thief" (or something like that) helpful in looking at the entire place for security problems. The doors and windows may be barred, but is it possible to gain access through the floor, or ceiling? Even a good barred door may be a problem if it's sheltered in such a way that you can't see if someone is working on the lock.

    Part of that should also be looking at what you can do to improve deterrence. Signs, visible (if non-functional) alarm panels, even a steadily blinking light next to a sign labeled 'Alarm System' can be a deterrent.

    And finally look for ways to monitor the approaches to the property both front and back, and if the building is stand alone, all around the building. You may want to use PIR along with IR Lighting to capture movement around the building.

    If you are presuming that someone will break in after you've identified (and hopefully fixed) the issues from outside, then you're to the detect and defend internal options. High resolution cameras, covering the access points. Motion detection, door and window open sensors, glass break detectors, etc. These are intended to generate alerts and set up a means to capture what information you can about the thief. Tip, mark the door frame on either side of likely entrances with contrasting tape to form a crude (half foot or 20 cm increment) tape measure to give you a quick estimate of how tall someone passing by the entrance is.

    Obviously you will need to decide for yourself how critical it is to secure different parts of your store. High value gem dealers usually place their entire stock in a vault of some sort overnight. If you know what the reason is behind the break-ins in the area (paying for drugs being common) you may be able to protect high value items by making it easier to steel a few low value items that you are less concerned about loosing.

    Understand what the thief is working with. Unless you've been cased for a professional theft, in which case you're insurance carrier may have other suggestions for you, Most thefts are a snatch and grab variety, the thief is looking to get in, get something and get out. Be gone before the cops show up. If you know the cops will be there within 20 min, (talk with other businesses in the area that have experienced break-ins to find out if that estimate is even in the balpark) then you know how hard you have to make it for a thief to get at the valuables.

    Also set policies (and follow them) for how to deal with elements of the store that are critical for operating. Assume that a thief can get the cash register, all cash within the store, and possibly your computers in the store. Does someone have a spare cash register, and operating cash for the day that they can bring in at the start of the day if you need to get going while making repairs? Is there sufficient spare stock in an off-site storage to get up and running the next business day, or are you going to be waiting a week for your suppliers to restock? Is the customer information on your systems at work in a secure system? Do you have off site backups of your inventory and books? Have you a policy of depositing all cash over and above what you absolutely have to have for daily operations on a nightly basis? Do you have multiple known locations where you can make those deposits so that if construction makes your usual after hours depository unavailable you can still make your deposit. Have you tested your off site backup solution to confirm that if your systems up and left, or a vandal cam in and drove a pick-ax

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday February 17, 2013 @07:22AM (#42926871) Homepage Journal

    Myth... busted!

    Say it with me, Mythbusters is not science. You're busted. Stop citing mythbusters, especially when hilariously trying to prove a negative.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @08:03AM (#42926977)

    In what way? Mythbusters use the scientific method to test claims. They measure, experiment, collect data on a variety of scenarios - controlling and testing different variables on each pass - and report on their findings.

    Some of their findings have been challenged by members of the public, and repeat experiments have been conducted - some confirming the initial assessment and some forcing a revision. Their experiments and their results are available to anyone and are testable, repeatable, and refutable all the same, with further experiments refining the hypotheses under test.

    That's called "science".

    I'm afraid you've been poorly educated on the subject if you don't think so.

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