Out of site, out of mind, at risk

By Pamela Singleton, Sonitrol Pacific Director of Communications
Posted August 10, 2009

I’ve written a couple posts previously mentioning the weak link garages form in the security chain and offering a couple tips to address the problem. However, a news article I read over the weekend about a rash of burglaries targeting garages and storage buildings causes me to think this issue needs more focused attention.

For homeowners, garages and unattached storage facilities offer tempting treats like mountain bikes, camping equipment, freezers full of food, power tools and off-season sports equipment. For business owners, warehouses store inventory and all the equipment needed in the day-to-day running of a business. Even if nothing of value to the owner is stored inside, burglars view garage and warehouse doors as an easy point of entry to get access to the store, office or home. More and more, burglars are targeting offices, taking computers to scavenge information for identity theft.

Despite the risk, garages, warehouses and unattached storage buildings fail to get the security attention they need and many people install security in the house, but not the garage.

So what to do?
For the homeowner:
1. If you have a home security system, request a redesign to include your garage in the overall design. If you don’t have a home security system, consider getting one. Make certain the system offers 100% coverage and not just motion sensors and door contacts that only offer 20-30% coverage. A system needs to be custom designed to address garages and unattached storage buildings. When getting quotes, a representative from the security companies need to meet with you and walk the property. You’ll want to plan on them spending at least an hour on site.
2. Make certain the door leading from your garage into your home has a strong, non-bumpable lock and USE IT. Similarly, install solid, non-bumpable locks on unattached buildings.
3. Give attention to the hinges on doors of unattached storage buildings. Burglars can remove doors from the hinges and circumvent locks.
4. Install security lighting around the facility and remove hiding places.
5. Design landscaping around the garage or unattached storage building to deter burglars looking for an easy target. Plant shrubs with thorns or “pokey” foliage around the building and keep them pruned so they don’t obscure views of the building. Place 12 to 18 inches of gravel around the perimeter to create noise whenever someone walks on it.
6. For an extra layer of security when you are out of town, unplug your automatic garage door opener. These devices are vulnerable to tampering and some can be opened by other people’s remotes.

For the business owner:
1. If you have a security system in place, request a redesign to include your warehouse in the overall design. If you don’t have a security system, consider getting one. Like with security for the home, you need a company that offers 100% coverage. Warehouses are particularly complex to secure. Variables like the number of bays, when are the doors opened, for how long are they open, what kind of warehouse equipment is used, etc. come into play. You’ll need a security system design by an expert. You’ll want to plan on them spending an hour or two with the consultant walking the site and discussing how the facility is used.
2. Make certain everyone with access to the warehouse follows the security standards and protocols. If you’re relying on a system with just motion sensors and door contacts, it can be rendered ineffective by someone inadvertently leaving a crate in the wrong place blocking the sensor and creating blind spots. Also, if a warehouse door is shut, but not locked, the sensors will engage, but someone can easily lift open the door reach in and grab something and be gone within seconds.
3. Consider adding an access control system to the warehouse to give you a record of who enters when.
4. Just like at home, you can increase security through lighting and landscaping. Also, address graffiti immediately. Not only does it deter crime, it communicates you give ongoing attention to details.
5. Warehouses and unattached storage facilities are often an ideal application for monitored video. Discuss this with your security consultant. Sonitrol Pacific provided integrated security and we can give you a security system, access control system and monitored security video system all interconnected.