Archive for April, 2015

Cargo Crime: Is it an Epidemic?


On my way into work last week I drove by a road sign displaying three messages. Those messages were “High Crime Area”, “Police are on Patrol”, and “Report Cargo Crime”. I found it troubling that local authorities felt they had to resort to using road signs to publically communicate the state of cargo crime in the area. I’m well aware that cargo crime is a $5 billion problem in Canada, and that the GTA, especially along the Kitchener-Waterloo, Milton, Brampton and Durham Region corridor, is known as the ‘shopping triangle’. I can just imagine how attractive this corridor is to thieves, given the number of distribution centres, abundance of CN/CP intermodal yards and volume of trucks and drivers on the road carrying cargo.

With the number of industry seminars and webinars focused on cargo crime, along with the fact that authorities feel it necessary to use road signs to make the public aware, I believe that it is an epidemic. And to combat the epidemic there are a number of actions companies can take to minimize their risk of being victim to this crime.

First and foremost companies who deal with the distribution and transportation of products and goods should work with a reputable security organization who is focused on the transportation vertical, is well versed on the measures that can be implemented to deal with the problem, and offers an array of products and services, such as ASK, that can be subscribed to. Such a security organization can identify areas of concern and vulnerabilities at the office, in the yard and on the road through Threat Risk Assessments and Security Breach Tests. They can define and deliver security solutions, physical and/or systems, that protect people, property and brand, and they offer Knowledge through education, seminars and webinars.

Over the next few weeks there are a number of free education events being hosted that focus on cargo crime and what can be done to combat it. On May 12th, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Canada’s largest trade and industry association, is hosting a free webinar entitled “Mitigating Loss at Your Facilities and On Route for Cargo Shipments”, and on May 14th, the OPP in Caledon, ON are hosting a free seminar entitled “Truck Safety-Security”.

I will be attending these events, as I am very interested in helping others to combat this epidemic. If you want to learn more about how to combat cargo crime, or the ASK program, drop me an email at

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A DEFINING MOMENT IN THE SECURITY INDUSTRY – The 2003 Blackout, August 14, 2003

Toronto and most of the northeast experienced the largest blackout in North American history. It took only 90 seconds for it to implode. It led to chaos. No one knew what was happening – some even opined about another terrorist attack. Mayor Bloomberg of New York went on the airwaves within minutes, suggesting that Canada was the cause of all this.

Traffic lights were completely out. Subways were shut down. People were walking down the stairs from their office buildings all across the city and emptying into the streets.

Working in security was crazy – calls were coming in requesting extra service. Guards were not able to make it to work via subway or by vehicle. Communications systems soon overloaded. What followed was a decision to ‘man’ the control room and use cell phones. Many staff elected not go to work and stay home (as the Premier suggested). Both my bosses were out of the province on vacation. It was time to lead, follow or get out of the way. I chose to lead and be the calm voice in midst of chaos. We got through it. No major impact on our clients – other than the loss of business during the outage. I was exhausted but proud of the effort made by some and puzzled by the lack of effort by others.

These moments stay strong in my memory, as it has defined my career realizing the importance in developing safety and security solutions for our customers. To this day, there are still companies that need support in developing an emergency response and a business continuity program. As a corporation we are obligated to have measures in place to safeguard our employees, visitors and customers.

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Many discussions are being held lately regarding the possibility of using Remote Video Monitoring (RVM) to replace guards when providing asset protection. The question one needs to ask is, could RVM as a security system be good enough to replace guards, and will the overall risk profile improve by making this transition? There is no clear answer as to what is the best security solution. It must be determined after a careful assessment of the situation.

The technology used in a RVM security system has come a long way over the last 10 years and there are many examples of where a RVM system has improved a security situation. This does not mean all manpower is replaced. Sometimes it is a reduction in man-hours, compensated by the watchful eyes of good PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) cameras.

For example, recently a client had an issue with metal theft from several of their storage facilities. One of the facilities did not have much traffic and the security guards on-site did not have much to do. The service provider had established good post orders including regular patrols of the site, but it seemed difficult to keep the team alert. Despite having a security presence, the storage facility was robbed 3 times over the course of the year. The client decided to use a RVM system on a trial basis, replacing the security guards to protect the fence and the property. The solution that was implemented included high definition cameras, voice over IP speakers, video analytics and a solid backup from control room officers. Strict protocols were put in place with the control room defining the frequency of the virtual patrols, the interaction with potential intruders and when to call local law enforcement. An important key to the solution was the arrangement the client was able to make with local law enforcement regarding their response time to an incident. The result? After the transition to a RVM security system, the site has not experienced any more losses. There are many other successful examples of using RVM in industrial sites, commercial and residential properties, retail malls, and storage yards.

As stated earlier, RVM can work in certain situations and it is always a matter of designing the right security solution for each client’s particular situation. RVM systems and the technology involved have come a long way; it is now a matter of smartly combining technology and manpower.

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