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 nine 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


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.


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.


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.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Buying a Key Control System? Evaluate the Vendor’s Support Options First

Women with headsetAre you thinking about investing in an electronic key control system? If so, you’re taking an important step toward protecting your business from security breaches.

But before you sign on the dotted line, take some time to consider the support options the vendor offers. As with any hardware and software, electronic key control systems can at times require support, so you’ll want to know what your options are ahead of time.

Even if a vendor appears to provide comprehensive support, take a close look at these four areas to determine how support issues will be addressed after the sale.

Who Handles Service Issues?

Vendors might be able to troubleshoot their proprietary software, but many outsource support for third-party hardware components such as:
  • Monitors
  • Servers
  • Fingerprint readers
  • License scanners
  • Third-party software integrations
  • Printers
  • Magnetic stripe readers
  • Proximity card readers
  • Digital signature pads
Make sure you know which system components the vendor supports in-house. If the company isn’t able to provide direct support for any ancillary hardware used with the system, you’ll need to obtain contact information for all the companies who support the peripherals you plan on using.

Does the Company Cover Third-Party Support Costs?

If a vendor outsources support to third-party manufacturers, find out if the company covers any of the support costs or if you’re responsible for paying them in full. Even if the vendor contacts the manufacturer on your behalf, you could be responsible for any replacement or repair costs.

Note that many manufacturers don’t publish service charges, making it difficult for you to control costs. In addition, if the item isn’t fully covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, you could be forced to absorb the entire cost of any necessary repairs or replacements.

What Are the Manufacturer Warranty Terms?

If you’re required to purchase manufacturer warranties for any hardware used with the key control system, familiarize yourself with the terms of the warranty before investing in that system. When third-party hardware is used with software or hardware not authorized by the manufacturer, including key control systems, warranty coverage can be rendered void if problems arise.

In addition, warranties only provide repair or replacement coverage for a specified period. If no coverage is available after the warranty period, any hardware failures can make repairs difficult, if not impossible, and replacement hardware might not be compatible with the key control system.

What Are the Company’s Support Hours?

Clock on top of calendarWhen evaluating key control vendors, it’s important to determine not only what type of support they offer but also when support is available. If the key control company provides support directly, do they have an around-the-clock hotline, or are help desk representatives only available during business hours?

If the company outsources support to a reseller or hardware manufacturer, you should also find out what their support hours are. Keep in mind that time differences can cut down on the amount of time you’ll have access to support.

Hopefully, after examining the support options available to you, you can confidently move forward with your purchase. If you find you need more support coverage, however, check out our post “What to Look for in a Key Management Vendor” to find a company that’s willing to work with you to meet your needs.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Theft of Unattended Master Keys Disrupts Hotels

The last thing a hotel wants to experience is a robbery. It can lead to a loss of both reputation and revenue. Unfortunately without proper key control practices, hotels put themselves at risk and make theft much more likely.

Keys at reception deskThe Bright Inn in Loganville, GA discovered their guests were robbed as a result of substandard key security measures. A guest had taken the hotel's master key and used it to steal items from several rooms before fleeing.

This comes on the heels of two previous incidents where sets of master keys were stolen from a Motel 6 laundry room and a Red Roof Inn's front desk.

These events reflect a troubling trend at lodging establishments this year: Employees are leaving keys out in the open. Fortunately key and asset theft can be deterred by installing a secure key control system.

Electronic key control systems hold employees more accountable for their key use. Each time someone wants to check out a master key, they must log in with a password, proximity card or fingerprint. This creates an electronic paper trail detailing exactly who had a key and when they took it. When employees know that lost keys can be traced back to them, they'll be more careful not to leave keys where an unauthorized person could take them.

With keys returned to the security of a tamper-resistant key control system, crimes of opportunity are discouraged. The likelihood of having to deal with thefts such as the above are greatly reduced and key use becomes much more efficient. In this way, key control can help you keep a good reputation while saving time and money.

For more information about how electronic key control can secure your keys and assets, check out the four different layers of physical security.