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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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  • by Electricity Likes Me (1098643) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:25AM (#42926141)

    Bars on the doors and windows suggests someone was pretty aggressive about getting in there - or your physical security upgrades are just insufficient. If people can still get in, and if what they take is relatively lightweight, a sophisticated alarm isn't really going to help you all that much compared to just something which makes a lot of noise.

  • REVO DVR (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vinn (4370) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:38AM (#42926185) Homepage Journal

    I put in a small Revo DVR unit with webcams last year for a small business. It was $800 and I think it was a lot of bang for the buck. It had alarm inputs, whick are simple enough that if you're on a budget you could set up on entryways. The cameras were motion detecters, IR, etc. I definitely recommend it.

  • by wonkavader (605434) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @03:01AM (#42926239)

    This does nothing. But it completely stops break-ins and it's cheap.

    https://spygear4u.com/ds_proddetail.asp?prod=GS-LS-131 [spygear4u.com]

    Watch the videos you can find of it around. It's very scary. Does nothing, of course, but it's VERY scary. And that will keep your family's store safe.

  • My alarm system (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @03:36AM (#42926319)
    At my repair shop, I have a $1 contact-break alarm system on my back door. As soon as it goes off, 100 dB alarm in your face and it's rather difficult to disable without knowing how it works. Not many people would say "well, that alarm is blasting but let's keep robbing it." They just run.

    I can't believe modern people are still stupider than medieval people. This is pure castle theory. You don't build tons and tons and tons of defense like walls and locks and moats and then just leave it. Persistent threats will find a way in. What did rich people and kings do? Set traps. Make it look somewhat secure but then oops, you stepped on the wrong rock. Now there's spikes in your face. Or you pick a lock on the treasure chest and it released poison gas because the treasure chest is actually backwards and the real lock is on the back.

    Bars on the windows are nothing. They'll just bring a crow bar. The "low hanging fruit" theory about which stores get robbed do not apply here. But add traps aka window break alarms and make sure the "Protected by alarms" and red blinking lights are showing and a thief would have no idea what trap they're about to fall into and would stay away.
  • by Barsteward (969998) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @03:49AM (#42926353)
    And also set up a camera on the building opposite so it records everything as teh camera on the violated property will probably get trashed if seen
  • Re:Almost free? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by davester666 (731373) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @04:00AM (#42926383) Journal

    Um, this is 100% a waste of money. A monitored security alarm gets rid of nobody but the dumbest B&E'ers. Even if the alarm company is listening, and verifies that a person is physically inside the premises, and phones the cops, the response time is still ridiculous [in downtown Vancouver BC, it was like 20-30 minutes]. And the thieves know it.

    $5 for stickers saying you have a monitored alarm works just as good.

    DVR's need to be fairly good to be able to positively identify somebody, nevermind at night in the dark. And that assumes the police put much effort into looking at it [it usually amounts to the detective on the case looks at the video, and either recognizes the guy or doesn't...end of video]. And does catching the guy make a difference to your business [as in, how fast does the guy have to be caught for him to still have the stuff so you get it back, as once he has passed it along, the likelyhood of ever seeing it again goes WAY down].

    And your insurance rates go up the same amount whether or not the guy gets caught [unless of course, you recover enough stuff to not bother making a claim, which is very rare].

    In general, your best bang for your buck is loss prevention. As in, preventing the stuff from exiting the store prematurely.

    For ground-level shops, try roll-shutters over the windows and doors. As a bonus, they also prevent vandalism like window-smashing.

  • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @04:21AM (#42926433)

    Right, could be insider threat.

    Good point. There's so much here that isn't made clear. Some questions to answer before deciding what to do:

    • is this one shop in a big area that gets picked on?
    • what are other surrounding shops doing different?
    • does this look like a personal vendetta or just two random coincidental crimes? Is there anything to link the two incidents?
    • are there surrounding shops that might work together?
    • did the guys get something of value?
    • did they likely come in masks?
    • if you alert the police are they likely to react quickly?
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @05:19AM (#42926565) Journal

    Often your insurance will demand certain CERTIFIED minimum requirements with your insurance premium going down the more you meet their requirements.

    And those requirements don't have to make sense or be best practice but they are the difference between your insurance company paying out and not paying out.

    If requirements made sense, we would LONG since have had HD camera's recording to HD's rather then very very very poor camera's recording to low quality tape. But your own 4k mug shot and tricorder scan of the perps DNA and entire social history will see your insurance claim thrown out with a scornful laugh while a certified wobbly 320x200 etcha sketch will get you fully re-imbursed.

    So: First check with your insurance company.

    Next: Crime prevention is about denying criminals what they want:

    1 Fast

    2 Easy

    3 Cheap

    4 Low risk

    5 Money

    So do stop criminals make their crime be

    1 Slow

    2 Hard

    3 Expensive

    4 High risk

    5 Non paying.

    Your shop needs a door and to be inviting it needs to be airy and this is done by making it out of glass. But a glass door is easily shattered. A wooden door with two large glass panes separated by a wood bar in the middle is ALMOST as inviting but now the burglar either needs to remove the door, open it or climb in through ONE of the smashed panels. This is slower. He will still get in but be able to steal less in the same amount of time. This makes it less profitable.

    Shutter I mean one of those rollup "fences" that drop out ofthe celing, no idea what their english name is.

    One thing you could do for instance is leave your display window open but install a shutter inside the store itself as an additional barrier to overcome. Barely visible during the day, at night an extra barrier. Many people place them infront of doors but this just requires you to lift the shutter, then bust in the doors that tend to open inwards.

    Place an electrically lowered shutter BEHIND inwards opening doors, how do you open that one without a key? You can't push the doors in because the shutter is blocking that and you can't lift the shutter because the doors are in the way. Remember, theft prevention is like preventing being eaten by a lion, you don't need to be able to outrun the lion, you just need to outrun your neighbor.

    Hard is similar to slow of course in that you make the burglars work just that little bit harder. Just one more lock, just one more barrier to overcome. One thing we as consumers hate is those plastic wraps around products but they have a simple reason. They are very large meaning it is hard to conceal for shop lifters or at least conceal as many. And they are hard to open to make it hard to open them and take their contents. We know this works because well, we all bitch about how hard they are to open. Most of the large plastic containers are pure theft prevention and contain a fully serviciable selling/display package inside for shops that don't need to fear shoplifters.

    Do you NEED to store all your most valuable products in handy to carry containers right near the entrance to the warehouse? Or could you place your most expensive products on the highest shelf in the furthest corners? And lock up the ladder? And add some barbed wire to the shelves for those trying to climb it?

    Think of shoe stores, if they are smart, they one have either the left or right shoe on display. Putting both the right and left shoe in the same size outside is asking for it but how many shoe thieves are interested in only left side shoes? I don't know if this was purely accidental but I did once notice that all the shoe shops in one area all had only the left shoes on display.

    Expensive might be a little less clear but while you might think that a prepared thief can cut through any chain in any case you might as well get the cheapest available, the simple fact is that not all locks/chains etc are the same. And the better ones require mo

  • Re:My alarm system (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 17, 2013 @06:40AM (#42926755)

    A friend had a remote shop (sop easy to break in without detection and difficult to respond to quickly) which he wired with a simple intrusion alarm system, but also included a fog machine like the kind you buy at Halloween. When the alam is tripped the sirens beging and the lights are switched off and the fog macine starts and the thief assumes he started a fire and leaves. It's worked twice so far with no loss of property, just replacing the busted door.

  • Re:Simplicity... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crutchy (1949900) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @06:50AM (#42926783)

    i bought a really nice bike years ago when i started university and it was stolen (locked up in an open public place within the university grounds)... talking to campus security revealed that it was commonplace and that the solution was to use a cheap shitty looking bike because they aren't targeted

    in other words... make your store appear less of a target; if you have massive steel bars on the windows and security cameras everywhere, crims will think you are protecting something of value. i dunno what the store sells, but you may want to look at what measures are used by other similar stores in the area.

    there are a bunch of possible reasons why your store could have been targeted:
    - what sort of neighborhood is it in? (maybe shift to somewhere with lower crime)
    - do you have any enemies? (think outside the box here a bit, such as does your wife have nasty spats on facebook? women can be as vindictive as men)
    - how do you get on with your competitors? (you're not competing with the mafia are you?)
    - are the police offering any advice? if so, maybe consider following it

    at the end of the day, you need to analyze how it is affecting your business overall. i'm guessing you're not in the security business so having bars on the windows and alarms and cameras probably is costing a lot and not contributing to increased sales. the decisions you make should be sound business decisions, as well as consideration of your personal or family situation if you think there is any risk (what happens if someone comes in while you are in the store?). for the business, add it to your threats column and see how it all stacks up. if you are spending more on security to the point where you're not making enough to pay your bills then the viability of your business in on the line. continuing an unviable business out of spite for the criminals is stupid obviously (that's how government's think, not small busininesses).

    trying to shape the problem to suit a solution that an IT specialist can help with is putting the cart before the horse; more security may not be the right solution.

    there isn't really enough info provided to give much more of a story but its a fairly common problem with shop fronts so there should be a lot of folks out there with ideas.

  • Re:Live there (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flyneye (84093) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @08:41AM (#42927137) Homepage

    "An initial period of several months of intense training in marksmanship and urban combat followed up with weekly practice and regular refresher training will be needed."

    What a load of shit. A good gun safety course takes a few afternoons on the weekend. The urge to return to the range and practice is natural.
    Most gunplay with handguns occurs at less than 50 feet and the majority of that at less than 25 feet. Train intensely if you are shooting for the Olympics, train realistically if you want to hit a human size target effectively. Choose an adequate weapon for the task at hand. A .45 cal is just about perfect for personal protection.
      a .40 will go through walls, cars easily, a .38 couldn't bring down an aged Pope with a whole clip, a 9mm is just a Euro .38. .357,.44 and .50 are fine for disabling freight trains and semi-trucks .22 and .32 will protect you from rabbits.

    Mostly, get gun advise from someone involved with weapons and training. Getting a bunch of anti-gun-nut propaganda from some pacifist hippie on the internet is useless as the one giving it.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday February 17, 2013 @02:15PM (#42929287)
    I worked in a movie theater and we got robbed. It was less than two weeks after we had new cameras installed. Turns out they were all aimed to catch employee theft, and there was no camera that got a decent view of someone robbing the place. But there was a great view of my hands taking the money from the till and handing it over. Or of me on the phone with 911. I could tell it was me.

    The police and manager were in the office reviewing the tapes, and they had to call me in to point out the robery, as from the tapes, they couldn't find the one wide-angle that caught it all (put in to see how long the ticket lines were).

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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