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A Tragic Tail

This past summer I was lucky enough to be involved in a few of the events at the Pam Am games. My favorite was the equestrian competitions that took place in Caledon. To witness how big and beautiful the horses were from different countries and how each one had their own personality was remarkable. Each equestrian event showcased each horse’s unique talents and strengths.

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January 2016: ASAP Secured security guard on duty.

So naturally, it was hard to hear about all the recent barn fires that have taken place across Ontario. Late at night on January 4, a large barn fire started at Classy Lane Stables Training Centre in Puslinch where 40 horses and three ponies perished in the fire. 10 days later, ASAP Secured was called to secure another large barn fire in Mount Forest that claimed the lives of 13 Arabian horses.

Unfortunately, barn fires have been on the rise in Ontario over the last three years. According to the Fire Marshal’s Office, between 2012 and 2014 there were 443 barn fires in the province; 192 of those barns were housing animals at the time. Although these fires and ones similar to them have caused tremendous damage and even sometimes the loss of lives, it never surprises me to see how communities, no matter how big or small, all come together to help those that have been affected by these tragic events.

Similar to the recent changes in fire code regulations for retire homes, I’m hoping that new fire prevention laws are applied to all barns that house animals to reduce tragic barn fires that claim more lives.

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January 2016: Barn fire site.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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The Holiday Season!

The holiday season is great for retailers. It is the time to increase sales and make those numbers. As a security professional servicing retailers, protecting our customers’ assets is constantly on my mind. Even on Christmas Day, security personnel dedicated their holidays to make sure that the buildings were protected in preparation for when businesses opened. While I enjoyed time with my family, in back of my mind I was thinking about Boxing Day and how we needed to be prepared to mitigate all risks. For ASAP, we had to formulate back up plans to ensure our services for our retail clients during one of Canada’s busiest retail days. Malls were going to be swamped with customers getting great deals. Security needed to be in full deployment. Traffic control, crowd control, and loss prevention are all required key elements. In additional to these security concerns, is the possibility of an active shooter. The reality is, Canadians are now exposed to terrorism as well, and security needs to be ready to identify vulnerabilities and mitigate risk.

At ASAP, every manager across the country, including our president Han Koren, is provided a zone on Boxing Day to support the security personnel on the field. We are up at 4:00am to get to the malls to ensure that all is going smooth.

Prior to Boxing Day, we connect with our clients to ensure that we are there to support and provide the security program our customers expect. Mall security needs to focus on all common spaces, manage traffic control, crowd control as well as criminal groups of any kind as a possible threat to the retailers. Security personnel at the stores need to watch for theft, credit card fraud, and counterfeit cash.

Watch this interesting video on organized retail crime coming into Canada targeting specifically the high-end jewellery retailers.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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Ocean View

A good friend of mine just spent a week with his family at a sunny place in the Caribbean. Although he had a good time it did not start very well. He told me that he had been to this country many times, but wanted to visit another part of the island. He went on the Internet and reviewed several potential hotel options. He wanted a peaceful and quite place and finally decided on a property that advertised beautiful pictures of the beach and their hotel rooms. The hotel was midsize, close to the beach, not too expensive and all rooms had ‘ocean view’. After a long car ride, flight and bus shuttle they arrived at the hotel. The disappointment was huge; the hotel was not as close to the beach as portrayed in the pictures. The beach was quite dirty and the view did not exist unless you were brave enough to lean far out over the balcony. They checked in for the night, as they were all tired. The next day they decided to move to another hotel that was more to their liking and enjoyed the rest of their vacation.

Sometimes what is shown in brochures and on websites can be deceiving. For example, a security company recently released a marketing package focusing on the mining industry. It contained a glossy brochure, several articles with expert opinions, and sell sheets with an overview of their corporate values. It was well laid out and formulated and gave the impression of a professional company that will offer the best service possible, but in reality, the results can be very different. We must be careful to not be drawn in by the nice website and abundance of marketing material to later find out that there is no ‘ocean view’.

I suggested that my friend utilize review websites to check the validity of a hotel’s claims in the future and speak with others that have visited the region they are traveling to, etc. I always like to encourage clients to do the same thing when selecting a professional security provider. Check references and know what you’re getting before getting it.

 

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Quarterback

Social media has been proven to be a great source of intelligence. Often the people posting content seem to underestimate the relevance and potential consequences. On November 25th, the following story was reported by ESPN:

Johnny Manziel has been replaced by Josh McCown as the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, the team announced Tuesday. One week after being named the team’s starter, Manziel has been demoted to third-string quarterback for Monday night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens after social media posts surfaced this week showing Manziel allegedly partying last weekend in Texas during the team’s bye week.”

In this instance, Manziel’s actions were posted online and cost him not being able to play with the A team. Many times the consequences are more serious as social media investigations become mainstream. Quite often HR professionals conduct a high-level social media check as part of the recruitment process. Speaking to a recruitment manager at a fortune 500 company I learned that their process includes a criminal background check, credit history, reference checks and a social media investigation. This can be an automated investigation resulting in a clear report (footprint) delivered within 24 hours. If there is a desire for additional information, a footprint can be extended to social media surveillance. For a specified amount of time, the person of interest is followed on a defined number of social media sites. This search can also include past posts and an analysis of the information found. This can result in a comprehensive report potentially giving away a large amount of information.

Unfortunately Johnny Manziel did not read this blog or other related articles about the topic. The fact that people are warned does not seem to make a difference. The social media world continues to give away many clues about someone’s character and behaviours.

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The Apple Doesn’t Fall Too Far From the Tree!

AppleWorking in the security industry, the conversations in my home typically entail security and loss prevention. I recently went shopping with my kids and as we walked into the store, my 10 year old son says, “Mommy, where are the cameras?” I explained to him where the CCTV cameras were positioned and the many reasons why they are used. I continued telling him that some stores invest in them to identify theft and ensure the safety of their customers and employees.

Last week I was in Calgary for a business trip. When I told my kids that I would be away, my daughter says, “We don’t want you to go, but be safe and come home fast.” My son on the other hand, starts giving me a travel security plan. Given that we know a few people in the province – he started naming off a list of homes to go to if I needed any help in Alberta.

Children are astute and listen to the world around them more then we realize.

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Security Measures in a Retail Setting

There are many security measures that contribute to deterring fraud in a retail setting. In a perfect world, the only goal for retailers is to focus on selling their product. But in reality, understanding the product and selling is now only one element to the role of a sales associate.

Sales associates need to have an understanding of loss prevention in order to support their security program. Fraud attacks the retail industry through many channels. A security program is part of doing business for most retailers. A program can encompass many different elements such as:
Loss Risk Profit

  • Product Delivery
  • Brand Protection
  • Data Analysis and Trending
  • Inventory and Shrink
  • Internal Theft
  • External Theft with Countless Shoplifting Techniques
  • Merchandise Type and Market Demand
  • Store Location
  • Organized Retail Crime
  • Credit Card Fraud
  • Gift Card Fraud
  • Counterfeit
  • Internal Theft
  • Social Media
  • Travel Risk

There are distinct roles that are required in a retail setting when it comes to a sucessful security program. Loss prevention investigators can focus on areas of internal theft as well as support the retailer to apprehend shoplifters. Security guards can support inventory control measures and work diligently towards deterrence.

The right security expert will support your budget and help create a program that works for your company.

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Blind Eye

Last week was a busy travel week where I took four different flights. I was more concerned than I usually am. The terrible fate of Metrojet flight 9268 kept playing through my head. The plane left with tourists from Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt and crashed in the desert on its way to Russia. The investigations are still ongoing, but the incident seems likely to be caused by a bomb that was smuggled onto the plane inside a piece of luggage. French media reported on Friday that the sound of explosion could be heard on the airplane’s flight recorder, the evidence that a bomb was onboard. The investigation will now center on how this could have happened with security measures being in place at the Egyptian airport.

In all airports around the world, security was ramped up after 9/11 with the main change being the introduction of extensive cargo and luggage screening entering a plane. Since that time the requirements have become stricter and processes have been further improved. The devices being used to check our luggage have become more accurate and advanced. However there are some aspects that have made me realize that there are vulnerabilities that still exist such as international rules still being interpreted locally. The screening processes are different from country to country and sometimes from city to city. In some parts of the world, regulations are taken more seriously then in other countries. Another aspect is the dependency on the people performing the screening. As technology isn’t providing a 100% solution, we have to rely on the combination of an employee interacting with this technology. The cargo going through x-ray is being reviewed by a person watching a screen and the explosion detection is not consistent. The swipe they do on hands and laptop is used on a random basis, not covering all of the passengers. We have to rely on these security officers (paid a modest hourly rate), to follow the directions and regulations. Risk can be partially mitigated by making sure that the security officer is screened thoroughly prior to them hired. Background checks (criminal, credit and references) should be extensive. In addition, a psychological assessment and a social media search should be included.

In conclusion, investing in hiring processes will help reduce risk, along with assuring employees are treated and compensated well. Why not lessen the chance of someone turning a blind eye during an essential part of his or her job?

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Is It Fake?

Today it is easier than ever to order luxury products online as cyber marketplaces gain more and more popularity. One rapidly growing website is Alibaba Group, which started in China 16 years ago and now competes with eBay and Amazon. Alibaba’s consumer-to-consumer Taobao, similar to eBay.com, features nearly a billion products and is one of the 20 most visited websites globally. This multi-billion dollar company has plans to further expand throughout the globe. The slowdown in China’s economy has led to only a 27% growth in revenue in the last quarter compared to 60% in the previous seven. This increase was primarily caused by the rise in sales of luxury products. As consumers in China get more disposable income, they are prepared to pay as much as 4,200 Yuan ($661) for a single item and they want to know that the product is real. Unfortunately, Alibaba has gained the reputation of being a counterfeit haven.

This is an image that will be hard to shake off, as China is known to produce ‘close to real’ Rolex watches and other luxury goods for as low as 1% of the original price. Many ordinary sailors could be spotted wearing these expensive watches when they came back from long trips oversees. At least it was understood that they were not getting the real deal when buying from a sales guy that had 25 watches on display in downtown Hong Kong.

In order to become a trusted online marketplace for luxury goods, Alibaba needs to put in a solid effort to prevent selling fake products. Their measures should be transparent and verifiable in order to convince not only local consumers, but also those in western countries where Alibaba wants to expand.

There are many ways to have fake products enter the supply chain, starting at the source, the production facility. After that, the final product makes its way through many warehouses and modes of transportation. In order to assess the vulnerability of the supply chain, there needs to be a detailed mapping of all these steps along with a review of the risks involved by site, transition phase and the transportation legs. Luxury brands will have to put pressure on companies like Alibaba to allow for thorough assessments performed by reputable management or security companies. The vulnerability assessment will result in recommendations to mitigate the risk of fake products entering the supply chain and in the end protecting the customer from buying a real fake Rolex.

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Are You Part of a Team or a Group?

While all teams are groups of individuals, not all groups are teams. Team members work together toward a common goal and share responsibility for their team’s success. A group is comprised of two or more individuals that share common interests or characteristics, and its members identify with each other due to similar traits.Baseball

Groups differ from teams in several ways:

  • Teams require coordination of tasks and activities to achieve a shared aim. Groups do not need to focus on specific outcomes or a common purpose.
  • Team members are interdependent and bring together a set of resources to produce a common outcome. Individuals in a group can be entirely disconnected from one another and do not rely on fellow members at all.

When you go to work every morning, are you going to meet your team?

Creating teamwork is a challenging process, and not all groups work as a team. Merely referring to a collection of employees as a team doesn’t make them one. The first question is this a team or a group? Each has a purpose. Typically, a team shares leadership and is interdependent, meaning they depend on each other for information, services or products to achieve a team goal.

Can a group of companies operate as groups and teams depending on the client? Yes, we are proof.

ASAP Secured/AFIMAC/ISB Services

ASAPSecured AFIMAC ISB

Our services are uniquely defined and we support our clients separately as a group and as a team. When our clients require services that impact all companies, we work as a team to ensure our clients’ needs are met.

We collectively come together to form and develop a foundation to deliver a service required by our client. For example, some of ASAP Secured’s clients require travel risk and executive protection that is provided through AFIMAC and others require background checks that are completed by ISB. With this comes a collaborative team effort to ensure our client is receiving optimal service for all security requests. Our group of companies will progress and digress depending on multiple variables mandated by our clients’ needs. We acknowledge unique subject matter expertise and contributions brought forth by the defined team.

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“It’s 10pm. Do You Know Where Your Children Are?”

 

During the summer of 1967, New York TV station WNEW coined the phrase following urban unrest and rioting in Newark, NY. If you remember the phrase you can appreciate why it was important to know where your valuables were at all times.

This is equally true today in the trucking industry, where it is important for trucking companies to know where the cargo they are transporting is at all times. Sadly, despite efforts to combat cargo crime, thieves are becoming ever more creative in coming up with ways to steal cargo. One of the most recent approaches is for thieves to set up fake trucking companies, present themselves as legitimate third party carriers on Load Boards, pick up the cargo at a midpoint in the journey and never deliver it to its intended destination.

In a recent article I read in Fleet Owner Newsline, the author suggested that more due diligence needs to be done by shippers, brokers and even carriers. Background checks, social media searches and investigations should be conducted on third party carriers and their principals. According to Scott Cornell, Director of Specialty Investigations for Travelers Group, “If you are dealing with a brand new company with no track record or referenceable pool of information to draw from, or a carrier whose authority has lain dormant for several years and is now suddenly active, they need to be checked out.”

You could do that due diligence yourself, but who has the time to dedicate resources to investigate third party entities amongst all the other day-to-day tasks you need to complete to move cargo from point A to B to make money? Or, you could enlist the services of a professional organization that has expertise in all types of investigation – social media and physical.

It is my opinion that the investment of dollars to get the job done right and in a timely manner is far less than the cost of a lost shipment and the damage done to your company’s brand and reputation. It is important for companies to look for security partners who can assist in areas that are not core to their business.

If you would like to learn more about how my company can help you ensure you know where your cargo is and with whom #justASKMEE.

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