Monday, October 27, 2014

Tricks to Look out for This Halloween

Man holding gorilla maskIt's long been rumored that crime rates increase on Halloween. Some cities have stats to prove it, while others claim the link between Halloween and crime is a myth.

Either way, it's important to remember that crime does still happen on Halloween, so it’s important to take measures to protect your business. Here are a couple of "tricks" to look out for on October 31.

Crimes in Costume


Kids aren't the only ones who like to dress up for Halloween. For some criminals, the holiday provides the perfect opportunity to disguise their identity by donning a costume without looking too conspicuous.

Several years ago in Cocoa, FL, masked burglars targeted more than 30 businesses during October and the surrounding months. The robbers' costume choices included gorillas, a skull and a ghost.

In Madison, WI, robbers donned "Scream" masks on four separate occasions for robberies committed over Halloween weekend in 2011.

And last Halloween, one crook brought the slasher series "Halloween" to life at a Seattle business when he put on a Michael Myers mask and violently forced an employee to empty the contents of a cash safe into a bag.

What to Do: To protect your business this Halloween, employ adequate physical security measures, such as securing the premises by locking every entryway that isn't used regularly, restricting access to nonpublic points of entry and storing keys in an electronic key control system. Also make sure you educate your employees on how to prepare for and respond to armed threats.

Vanishing Vehicles


Halloween is one of car thieves' favorite holidays, with more than 2,000 cars stolen on Halloween alone in 2012 (data for 2013 is not yet available). Between trick-or-treating and costume parties, Halloween presents plenty of distractions, which criminals use to their advantage.

At one house party in Pennsylvania, for example, a thief tracked down a partygoer's unattended car keys, located the vehicle in the home's driveway and drove off. In Athens, OH, a thief simply hopped into an idling car and drove off in it.

What to Do: Make sure your company's fleet vehicles are locked and, if possible, stored out of sight from the street. Store the keys securely in an electronic key control system that can alert you in case of a security breach.

If you have employees that are using company cars on a long-term basis, remind them of important vehicle safety tips, such as not leaving the car unattended while idling, keeping track of the keys and storing valuables in the glove box or trunk.

What tricks are you looking out for this Halloween? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

University Chemistry Laboratories: Is Your Key Control Strong Enough?

Scientist working with chemicalsChemistry laboratories have good reason to keep stock chemicals under lock and key — especially when working with dual-use chemicals. These chemical compounds have legitimate scientific applications, but they can also be used for criminal purposes, such as illicit drug creation and chemical warfare.

With these liability risks, it’s imperative for labs to employ adequate key control measures to prevent dual-use chemicals from falling into the wrong hands.

Unfortunately, they don’t always secure the chemicals as tightly as they should. In recent years, several chemical thefts have made headlines:
A handbook on lab safety precautions even suggests that criminals have posed as university students convincingly enough to gain access to lab stock rooms.

These stories reveal the need for better access controls for chemicals. So what can you do to improve security in your lab?

Address Key Control Problems


There is a manageable solution for addressing key control problems. For one, you should keep all keys in a single area, which reduces the chance of them being lost or stolen. Also make sure keys are secured properly. Instead of hanging keys on a pegboard, secure them in an electronic drawer or locker panel that physically locks down key tags.

To keep track of who is using keys, you can implement biometric authentication protocol, making it nearly impossible for a criminal to pose as authorized personnel. For instance, KeyTrak Guardian electronic key control systems utilize biometric fingerprint readers to ensure the integrity of the audit trail, so you know exactly which person signed into the system and which keys they accessed.

Some key control systems — including KeyTrak Guardian — even give you the option to be immediately notified by text or email if an employee doesn’t return a key by a certain time or if an unauthorized person attempts to break in to the system.

By taking adequate measures to protect the areas in which dual-use chemicals are stored, you can protect your lab from theft and maybe even save some lives as well.

To read more about how electronic key control can help keep your chemistry lab secure, check out our post “The Art of Asset Management for Higher Education Institutions.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thief Uses Stolen Key for Dramatic Joyride

Shattered glass and dollar signA Seattle-area resident’s urge for a joyride in a luxury vehicle ended in a dramatic theft fit for the big screen.

On the morning of Tuesday, October 7, a security guard arrived at a Lake City Chevrolet dealership to find the showroom doors shattered on the floor, the tile floor covered with tire tracks and the keys to a $75,000 Camaro Z28 gone — the aftermath of the thief crashing the luxury vehicle through the building’s locked doors.

The badly damaged vehicle was discovered in the driveway of a private residence only half a mile away.

To keep joyriders from gaining access to your dealership’s keys, it’s vital to store keys out of sight in an electronic key control system. The system should have the ability to sound an alarm and notify managers via a text or email alert when an unauthorized person tries to gain access to keys. By implementing these security precautions, you can help prevent rogue joyrides before they happen.

To learn more about the liability risks of poor key control, read how this dealership had four cars stolen in one week.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What an Unconventional Bank Robber Can Teach Us About Fleet Management

Fleet car keyFor most people, the term “bank robber” evokes images of a masked bandit with a firearm in one hand and a cash sack in the other.

But Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) employee-turned-thief Aron Johnson preferred a different approach.

After helping himself to a disabled coworker’s bank credit card, Johnson used a state vehicle to stop by multiple ATMs, where he withdrew a total of $500 in cash from the victim’s account. Johnson had just been hired by DelDOT days before and did not have authorization to be driving the vehicle.

Johnson’s story shows why it’s necessary for organizations with fleet departments to closely control and monitor who has access to vehicles. Here are three essential components of a fleet management key control policy.

Employee Access Controls


To prevent employees from accessing keys they shouldn’t have, like Johnson did, you need to store them in a secure key control system with access levels. The system should require employees to verify their identities before logging on, such as by scanning a fingerprint. For employees who have access to a finite number of keys, make sure the system allows for customizable permissions levels.

Alerts and Alarms


If an employee attempts to access the system or a specific key without the proper permissions, make sure the key control system is equipped to notify management immediately either through an audible alarm or an alert by text or email.

In a situation like Johnson’s, for instance, a manager could have been immediately notified that Johnson had removed an unauthorized key. Even if Johnson hadn’t been able to get to the key due to not having system access, a manager would have been alerted that he’d tried to log on to the system.

Audit Trail


The key to protecting your organization from liability is to have an audit trail. By keeping detailed records of vehicle key activity, including when they were checked out, who’s using the vehicles and how many miles the vehicle has upon checkout and check-in, you can quickly identify and address any unusual or illegal activity. To avoid inaccurate or incomplete data, opt for a 100 percent automatic audit trail rather than a manual key log.

For a real-life example of how an electronic key control system can be used for fleet management, read our post “Public Safety Department Opts for Updated Key Control.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Access to Valet Keys Makes Your Dealership Less Secure

Even with car security systems becoming more advanced, thieves are still using one low-tech theft method with considerable success. They are taking advantage of valet keys, which are often unknowingly or unwisely left inside the glove compartments of cars.

Thief reaching to open car door
While many of these thefts occur in car owners' personal driveways, the same trick can be used at dealerships. Under the cover of night, thieves could sneak on to the lot and drive off using valet keys they find sitting in the car.

Now more than ever, it's important to treat valet keys like fully functional keys, because there is essentially no difference for would-be criminals. All of the protections surrounding the main keys at your dealership must similarly be put in place for valet keys.

Foremost, each car on your lot should be checked to ensure that no valet keys remain in the glove compartment or owner's manual. If any are found, they should be removed and given to a manager.

Next, valet keys should be placed in a secure key control system to deter thieves from simply picking them up from a pegboard or countertop inside the dealership. When keys are out of sight and can't be accessed easily, criminals are less likely to attempt theft.

Finally, valet key usage should be tracked using customizable reports created by the key control system. Reports can reveal a trend in the frequency and length of key usage. If valet keys are being used at strange hours or for abnormal lengths of time, employees may be misusing the vehicles.

What methods are you taking to make sure your valet keys stay safe? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Maintenance Man Stole From Over 100 Tenants


In Toms River, NJ, police have recently charged a maintenance man, Nicholas Bradley, with two counts of theft and one count of theft by deception.


Man unlocking apartment doorDuring a routine pawn shop database check, police discovered Bradley had made over 100 pawn sales in the last two years. After investigating the questionable behavior, they found that Bradley was the maintenance man at a local apartment complex and used the master key — which he was given to perform maintenance duties — to steal small amounts of jewelry and money from tenants. He would then sell the jewelry at pawn shops, making quite a profit on the stolen items.

The apartment complex’s current system of simply giving maintenance workers a master key is unsafe for tenants and provides workers easy access to apartments with no form of accountability. A method that could have prevented these thefts is an electronic key control system. 

With electronic key control, apartments can keep all of their keys in locked metal drawers or cabinets. The only way to unlock the system is with an authorized proximity card, fingerprint and/or password.

Then the user will request a key and provide a reason for checking it out, creating an automatic record of the transaction. The system keeps these transactions on file along with the time the key is returned. If thefts occur, you’ll be able to check your transaction records to see the employee who last accessed a specific key.

If you manage apartments want to protect your tenants and reputation, try using an electronic key control system to monitor and manage your keys and your staff.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Everyday Advantages of Apartment Key Control

By now, apartment complex managers and owners should know about the safety that electronic key control systems can provide. However, many may not be aware of the additional aid they can deliver for day-to-day business operations.

We've listed a few benefits below to demonstrate how electronic key control can help your property on a daily basis.

Man holding apartment master key

Accountability


Installing an electronic key control system will make employees more accountable for their actions. Each person must log in to the system with a password, proximity card or fingerprint in order to access a key. The name of the person accessing the key is then stored electronically along with the date and time the key was taken. If a key is lost, you will quickly discover the person responsible.

You can also hold employees accountable for the length of time they possess a key. An electronic key control system would allow you to set up email and text alerts to let you know when a key has been checked out for longer than its time limit. This will allow you to make sure that employees only use the key for a specific duty and don't have time to use the key maliciously.

Accuracy


Accurate record keeping is often an overlooked benefit of electronic key control. When employees check out a key, the time and date as well as the purpose for using the key are recorded. This creates a verifiable audit trail for you to reference in case of a mishap.

For example, a report can be generated showing the number of times a specific key was needed for maintenance. If items go missing when a particular worker handles jobs, there may be a problem. A Toms River, NJ property experienced this firsthand when they discovered their maintenance man stole more than 100 items from tenants' apartments over the course of several years. If reports had been automatically generated and regularly checked, this might have been discovered sooner.

Simplicity


One of the greatest advantages of having a key control system is the increased simplicity. When the complexity of finding the right key is removed, workers will be able to save time and move on to their next job more quickly.

Key control systems can also help with complex maintenance problems. Built-in work order tracking features will list the maintenance task, the parts needed, the parts available and the employee responsible for completing the job. When each duty is laid out clearly, maintenance workers' jobs are much simpler.

By implementing an electronic key control system, you can improve your business in these ways and many more. If you've experienced key control successes at your property, let us know in the comments below.