Cambridge businesses are becoming more vigilant as the town’s population continues to grow and security can be in the palm of their hands.
In the wake of burglaries, ramraids and vandalism shop owners are now having to look at new ways to protect their businesses.
The Waikato District Health Board is reviewing the security of its Leamington site after vandals slashed tyres on six cars used by nurses and a thief returned on April 23 to steal a tyre off another vehicle.
On the same night a shot was fired through the window at BP Leamington.
Stirling Sports suffered its fifth ramraid burglary in less than three years in late March, leaving the owner questioning the future of the business.
The spate in crime has left several business owners wondering, what can be done to counter the problem.
“You’ve got to stop them before they get to you,” said Justin Fisher, director of Watchu Security in Cambridge.
Fisher says technology which sends video images to the devices of business and home owners is simple to install and effective.
He said the quality of video has also improved in recent years – making identifying thieves easier.
And the cost of installing the equipment can be less than the value of goods taken in a burglary. Most security companies can install a simple two-camera system starting at around $2000.
Asked how shop keepers could protect their building from ramraids, Fisher said measures like roller-bars could only do so much. “Nothing is going to stop a vehicle coming at you, unless you do something on the kerb side.”
Beyond street barriers, Fisher said the next-best step for business owners was to have an alarm system and cameras operating. “Cameras won’t stop them from doing it, but at least you’re much more likely to get a conviction.
“It’s about looking after yourself,” he explained. “You’re out there on your own, the police aren’t going to park outside and wait for burglars to come, you’ve got to do your best to defer and deter.”
The company has its own 10-camera system operating at its Gillies Street premises which helps demonstrate what the technology can do. The system captures the plate of every car which drives by, and can be accessed remotely through a smartphone.
He has a similar system set up outside his Cambridge home, and even managed captured an image of a car associated with an attempted abduction near Cambridge East School in 2017.
He is unimpressed by the calibre of CCTV cameras the Waipā District Council is installing in the district over May and April, believing they should be better.
Fisher grew up in Cambridge.
“We’re not the Cambridge of old, we’ve got highly desirable shops now, and if we want to keep them here, if we want to keep developing, we need to be practical about what we’re putting in place and think long term.”
The security industry veteran of over 20 years said camera security was definitely on the rise in Cambridge and the rest of the region.
“Most businesses are either looking at it or have got it,” he said.
Fisher recommended in the case of the DHB cars being vandalised, to put the cars together in a well-lit yard with locked security fencing and CCTV. For the BP case, it was a bit trickier, he said. “They could upgrade their cameras if need be, maybe even upgrade to plasma glass, but that’s extremely expensive. Unfortunately we live in a world of crazies and sometimes you just can’t stop them. All you can do is put yourself in the best possible protective place.”
He recommended homeowners install an alarm, deadbolts, and get to know their neighbours at the very least. “That one’s free, and you might even get some free baking out of it.”
Items on the market even allow homeowners to have their lounge lights turned on for a few hours in the evening while they’re away. And camera systems can be checked, and even turned on, from smartphones or laptops. “All the technology is out there and a lot of it is for the residential market.
“You’ve got to look after yourself, forget about what the Police are doing, because by the time you’re calling the cops you’ve already been burgled.”
Watchu Security recommended homeowners consider the following security tips.
- Secure sliding glass doors, add a bolt lock or use a “rod” to block the door closed.
- Use bars to secure basement or garage doors and add bars to basement windows.
- According to statistics, the most common time for burglary is between 8am and noon, so get in the habit of locking all doors and windows whenever you go out.
- Invest in high-quality, name-brand deadbolt locks for all exterior doors.
- If you have a double-cylinder deadbolt that is operated by a key both inside and out, keep the key near the door so every family member can find it and exit quickly in case of fire.
- Alarm systems are an effective deterrent. Nine out of 10 convicted burglars agree they would avoid a house protected by an alarm system. Security system decals and signs are also an effective deterrent.
- Never leave an answering machine message indicating you’re not at home.
- Use timers to turn lights, televisions and sound systems on and off at different times to give your home a “lived-in look” when you are out.
- Install motion-detecting outdoor floodlights around your home. Remember to mount them high enough to prevent intruders from disabling them.
- Don’t let mail, newspapers or flyers accumulate while you’re away, tipping off criminals.
- Use a UV pen to mark an ID number, like your driver’s license number, on valuables.
- Make an inventory of valuables in your household and store it somewhere other than your home, such as in a safe deposit box.
- When on holiday, leave a car in your driveway or arrange for a neighbour to keep a car there and move it around from time to time.
- Prune overgrown trees and shrubs to eliminate hiding places for intruders.
- Many garage door openers respond to common codes, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions to program yours with a unique code no burglar’s opener will match.
- Thieves always look in mailboxes, under doormats and above doorways for keys. Don’t make it easy for them to get into your home.
- Don’t put your name or address on your key ring, because it might lead a thief right to your door with key in hand.
- Keep ladders locked away or out of sight.
- Don’t put your rubbish out early if you are going away, ask a neighbour to do it on the usual day.
- Keep valuables like laptop, cameras, MP3 players out of sight.
- Ensure empty boxes placed outside for recycling don’t advertise the fact you have just bought something of value i.e. TV, stereo, or electrical items. Cut these boxes down so you aren’t giving away details of anything that may be worth stealing.
- Beware of anyone loitering in the area and any unfamiliar vehicles – record any details if you are suspicious and/or call the police.