Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What Do 2014 Dealership Vehicle Thefts Reveal About Key Control?

Woman dangling keys out of car window
In 2014, more than 180 unique vehicle theft incidents affected dealerships throughout the U.S. We track these types of incidents in the news, so we heard about several of them as they occurred.

Toward the end of the year, we wanted a comprehensive look at how dealerships were being affected by theft incidents and how much of an issue inadequate key control practices are. So we did some informal research into dealership thefts involving vehicles (we didn’t account for stolen tires, equipment, etc.). Our data is taken from published news stories and police blotters.

Here are some of our observations:
  • States with the most unique incidents: California and Florida
  • Most active months: September-December
  • Average cost of reported incidents: $80,846
  • Most expensive incident: Over $1 million
  • Most vehicles stolen at one time: 9
  • Average number of vehicles stolen: Two
  • Percent of incidents involving stolen keys or keys left in ignition (as opposed to vehicles stolen during test drives, etc.): 41 percent of incidents where the method of theft was reported
  • Percent that were inside jobs: Up to 4 percent

(NOTE: Monetary figures, vehicle counts and incidents involving stolen keys are based on the total number of incidents in which this information was available, so our calculations are modest. The actual numbers are likely higher.)

The Takeaways

As we move into 2015, there are a few key insights you can take away from last year’s bouts of vehicle theft: 
  • Do your research. If your area has a high vehicle theft rate, make sure your vehicles and keys are secured, particularly if you sell a commonly targeted make or model.
  • Be aware of when theft is most frequent in your area. You should always exercise sound security practices, but extra precautions might be necessary around times when crime activity is high.
  • Keep your employees accountable. Employees aren’t always responsible for theft. However, if they were the person who handed the keys over to the thief (as in cases of identity theft or identity fraud), they can provide vital information about the circumstances surrounding the theft. Having a verifiable audit trail showing who checked out a key will help you expedite this process.

To see if you’re putting your inventory at risk, read our post “Are You Adequately Securing Your Keys?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Multifamily Key Control Systems: Best Practices for Maintaining Residential Data

By Mark Briles, KeyTrak Sales Support

The last thing you want as a property manager is to find out that your key management system is being misused or improperly maintained. Managing residential data within the key control system is key to ensuring audit trails are up to date and accurate. To simplify the process of maintaining your key control database, use the guidelines below.

Determine the Events That Trigger Database Updates

Stack of boxes
The first step to keeping your key control database current is to determine what events typically trigger updates in your property management system (e.g., when a resident moves in or out, changes their name due to marriage or divorce, purchases a new vehicle or starts working for a new company).

It’s extremely important that the information in your key control database mirror the data in your property management system. If a key control system report is found to be inaccurate even 1 percent of the time, your business can be negatively impacted. Here are a few specific examples of scenarios in which having up-to-date data is important:

  • Your key control system sends email notifications to residents when keys to their apartments are accessed. Resident files must be updated in the key control system regularly in order to make sure you have current email addresses for each resident.
  • Your business periodically conducts audits of the key control database. For the audit to be effective, residential and key usage data must be accurate.
  • Your key control system uses package tracking software that sends residents email notifications when their packages are delivered. System data needs to be up to date to ensure emails are sent to the correct resident. Otherwise, packages might not get delivered correctly or on time.

Sync Database Updates

Visual representation of data systemNext you should assess whether or not you need to streamline the update process, especially if your property managers are spending too much time updating residential data and key control reports are becoming less accurate.

To sync data, see if your property is able to network your key control system to your management firm’s local area network (LAN). Some key control companies can facilitate this process through integration software that automates the residential database file update.

If networking isn’t possible or is too complicated, your key control provider should also offer the option to use external media such as thumb drives to mass import residential data from your primary database to the key control system.

Create a Written Policy for Updating Your Key Control System

Once you establish the types of events that trigger database updates and decide on a method for syncing data, create best practices documentation that addresses proper maintenance of the key control database.

When it comes to managing your residential databases, remember that simpler is better. Each of these steps exists to help you reduce the time spent and errors made while updating and maintaining key control data.

For more multifamily key control best practices, download our white paper "Six Common Key Control Mistakes Property Owners Make."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Electronic Key Control: What Property Owners Should Look For — Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed why it's important for you to make sure your multifamily key control system includes remote management capabilities and uses passive data collection methods. However, in order for you to have an optimal experience with electronic key control there are a few more things you need to look for.

Software Flexibility 

As your property management needs evolve, you want to have the freedom to use the software of your choice with your key management system. 

Abstract techno background
Some systems come with proprietary residential portal software, which can be convenient — as long as you’re satisfied with the software. In case you decide to switch to another type of software, however, you'll want to make sure the key control system is compatible with third-party programs.

Also be aware of any additional charges associated with the software you use (e.g., a per-door fee per month, which can become costly for large buildings).

Integration Capabilities

If you need to use your key control system along with a property management system, be familiar with what integration capabilities are available to you. For example, is the integration limited to simple functions such as emailing a resident when a key to their apartment has been checked out, or does it fully sync key data with the property management system's data? A full system integration is crucial for cutting down on manual data entry requirements and discrepancies between databases.

Support and Installation Options

Wrenches and hardware on metal surfaceMake sure you know what support options are available to you beginning with installation. Some key control providers offer complete on-site installation, while others only offer installation in major metro areas or require self-installation.

To make sure your keys are continuously protected after the system is installed, make sure you have support resources at your disposal to keep the system up and running properly. Find out the answers to the following questions:
  • Does the provider require a maintenance agreement? 
  • How much is it? 
  • What does it cover? 
  • Does the vendor provide support directly or outsource to a third party? 
  • What are the support hours?

Knowing up front what type of support you'll receive will help you avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.

Electronic key control is a must-have for your property, but evaluate your options carefully. It's vital to select a system that meets your needs, but it’s equally important to make sure you’re working with a vendor that can help you get the most out of your investment. For more tips on selecting a key control vendor, check out this post.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Smart Key Control Can Give Your Airport a Lift

business woman in airportIn recent years, technological advances in airports such as security identification display area (SIDA) badges, biometric identification and Advanced Imaging Technology have made it clear that increasing security is a major priority.

While these security measures make it possible for management to place controls on customers and employees, the standard key still plays a role in the aviation industry and must be secured to avoid unauthorized use. Here are a couple things you can do with an electronic key control system to tighten your airport's internal security.

Secure Equipment and Tools 

From frost removal to repairing runways, there are several important tasks maintenance employees are responsible for completing. These routine job duties require expensive equipment, which should be locked when not in use.

Locking down equipment should be supplemented by securing the corresponding keys. To ensure your assets are secure, use an electronic key control system that will safely store keys and only allow access to authorized staff. By doing so, you can be sure that your airport's equipment is tightly secured.

Require Authentication to Access Keys

Securing keys is only one of the necessary steps in creating a safer and more organized environment. The next step is making sure only authorized users can access keys. To do so, set up an authentication process. An electronic key control system will allow you to implement a method of authorization before it unlocks and provides access to the keys.

There are several methods of authorization you can use: a fingerprint, a passcode or even an employee's SIDA badge. Since no two fingerpints are alike, this is perhaps the strongest form of security. But to strengthen it even further, require multiple forms of identification for the system to unlock. For example, an employee may have to scan a fingerprint and SIDA badge before the system allows access to the keys. This will help ensure facility keys don't fall into unauthorized hands.

Although airports are constantly tightening security measures for travelers, they still need to implement strict security practices for employees. Check out this post to learn more about the layers of security key control offers.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Electronic Key Control’s Role in School Security

Key drawn on chalkboard
Electronic key control is an essential component of a school district’s security program. When keys fall into the wrong hands, schools risk not only loss of assets but lives as well. This is clear from several missing-key incidents reported this year.

In Massachusetts, police were investigating a bomb threat at Newburyport High School when they discovered a 16-year-old (who was not connected to the threat) was carrying a school master key and butterfly knife. During a separate incident, a missing set of master keys forced an entire school district in Oregon to re-key 16 schools, costing approximately $50,000.

School key control mishaps are not always confined to campus premises, however. When a school bus driver in Maryland left her position, she left the key to a year-old $106,000 bus inside the glove box — a decision that enabled a man and woman, both intoxicated, to take the vehicle on a dangerous excursion. Thankfully, no one was harmed, but the bus struck an electrical tower and eventually crashed into the woods, causing extensive body and engine damage to the vehicle.

When it comes to school security, electronic key control provides two key benefits: restricting access to keys and automatically documenting an audit trail of key usage.

By keeping keys in an electronic key control system that controls user access, schools can cut down on incidents in which keys are either lost or end up in the hands of unauthorized people. If an incident does occur, the audit trail created by an electronic key control system can help police and school officials quickly identify who last checked out a specific key or set of keys.

For more information on using electronic key control to cut down on missing keys, read our post “Do You Know Where Your Keys Are?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Electronic Key Control: What Property Owners Should Look For — Part 1

Multifamily vacancy rates are starting to rise for the first time since 2009. To maintain a competitive edge, you as a property owner or manager need to meet tenants’ priorities to keep your occupancy rates up.

Keys laying on top of blueprintAccording to a survey by Apartments.com, safety is one of renters' top considerations when making a rental decision. That’s where electronic key control comes in. Regulating the use of unit keys can help make tenants feel safe on your property — especially when you implement other security precautions, such as good lighting in parking lots and stairwells, locks on windows and deadbolts on doors.

To get the most value from your key control system investment, there are a few things you need to look for, which we'll discuss in this two-part series. We'll start with two features that can make or break the effectiveness of a key control system.

Data Collection Practices

Green key icon
In addition to protecting keys and assets by physically securing keys, electronic key control systems help keep employees accountable and reduce your property's liability risks by creating a verifiable audit trail of key activity. 

To maintain the integrity of system records, it’s important to make sure a potential key control system uses passive data collection methods versus active ones. Passive data collection methods capture transaction information as soon as a key is removed, but active data collection methods require users to manually record transaction details or initiate the data capture by a specific action such as scanning a key tag.
You should also find out whether data is stored locally on the system, on the vendor’s server or with another third party. If the data is stored off-site, ask if there are any data storage fees, and if so, how the fees are determined. If data is not stored directly on the system, know how you will access your data in the event that you lose Internet access.

Remote Management

Hand entering information on login screen 
If you need to centralize key management practices among multiple properties, one of the first things you should look for in a key control system is a remote management feature that allows you to access multiple systems by logging into an online portal. 

From there, you should be able to run reports for each property and perform actions such as setting up users or entering asset data.

To find out what else you should look for in a multifamily key control system, be on the lookout for the next post in our series.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Top Four Most Outrageous Key Control Security Breaches

Money, time, resources and reputations are all at stake when a business falls victim to theft. Employee theft alone costs businesses about $40 billion each year. These security breaches impact companies by making employees feel unsafe and disrupting usual business activity. Let’s take a look back at some of  the craziest security breaches that could have been prevented with a dose of proper key control.

Public Works Official Steals $460,000 in Quarters

A public works inspector stole 1.8 million individual quarters from a parking meter coin room (that he should not have had access to) over the course of two years by using his city-issued master key. Electronic key management systems offer access levels, so you can set specific permissions for employees. By limiting the number of employees who can access certain keys, you’ll greatly reduce the risk of internal theft, preventing mis-issue of the wrong key type.

Keys on key ringsPhoenix Fire Department Can’t Account for 850 keys

The Phoenix Fire Department reported the loss of hundreds of keys that provided firefighters access to buildings all over the city. Not only did the fire department slack on its own security, but it also put many businesses and apartment complexes at risk of theft. With electronic key management, this fire department could have tightly secured these important keys to keep the city safe.

Former Tiffany and Co. Executive Steals Over $1.3 million in Jewelry

As part of her job the vice president of product development at Tiffany and Co. was able to check out pieces of jewelry to show to potential manufacturers. After she left her job, the world-renowned jewelry store found that over 100 pieces of the jewelry she checked out were never checked back in. When it comes to securing highly expensive inventory, keeping a verifiable record is crucial to accurately track key activity.

Coca-Cola Supervisor Loots Vending Machines

Even a huge corporation such as Coca-Cola is vulnerable to internal theft. A former supervisor took a set of master keys and stole over $8,000 from company vending machines. If this bottling company had employed an electronic key control system, the ex-supervisor wouldn’t have access to the keys after leaving the job. In addition, if any unauthorized access was attempted, a manager would immediately be notified by email or text message with information about the incident.

These are a few of the most extreme examples of why key control is necessary for all businesses. Learn more benefits of electronic key control here.