Dealers’ Domain

Question: What measures are you taking to prevent thieves from breaking into your dealership and stealing merchandise?

We have various systems in place, which vary by location. Some have a fenced-in lot, which have been cut through on occasion. All have internal security systems, but inside the buildings is usually not the issue. We have most units disabled outside, so they will not start. This year, we have started putting tracking devices in the units that are stolen the most. We have cameras at some stores that may be a deterrent, but they are not very successful in convicting anyone. We also have the electrical-wire-through-the-wheels trick at some places. I am very interested to see what others may do. A dog would be great, but they bring with them their own legal issues.
— Dennis Jones
Atlantic Tractor
Clayton, Del.

Everything indoors, locked and alarmed.
— Dennis Little
Scott’s Power Equipment
O’Fallon, Ill.

We installed a security system two years ago. We also installed large lights on the lot. This helps, but does not prevent theft.
— Scott Kells, parts manager
American Implement Inc.
Garden City, Kan.

We have an alarm system that is monitored by an alarm company. This system senses motion. We also have a five-camera surveillance system that covers both inside and out. All cameras are infrared and can see in very low light. We have them set up so we can watch them in real time from our home computers.
— Matt Borden, owner
Ed & Matt Equipment
Greenville, R.I.

When we built our new building, we had security cameras put in every area of the building and motion detectors inside the building. We have an alarm on every outside entry door and an armored cable through the equipment that is sitting outside under the covered porch; if any of these are tampered with, it sets off an audible alarm, and the security monitoring company alerts the police. We have had one or two attempts in the last 16 months, but we have been fortunate not to have lost anything so far.
— Terry Coffin, president
Beard’s Outdoor Power Equipment
Crestwood, Ky.

Once a thief were to get inside, we rely on our alarm’s motion detectors, and keep small equipment cabled together. To stop them before they gain entrance, we have taken extra measures: We move our trash dumpsters by fork-truck to block gates; we park trucks and trailers against large doorways; and have welded additional braces to our chain-link fences to prevent cut-through.
— Merna Rikard, manager
Art’s Lawn Mower Shop, Inc.
Florissant, Mo.

Currently, we have high-resolution cameras with excellent night vision, exterior motion/heat sensors, interior motion/heat sensors, infrared beams and glass-break detectors. We can monitor all of this remotely via the Internet for both stores. We also have the physical barriers, using high fences and double-locked gates.
Unfortunately, none of this stopped a thief from coming into our store and cutting the locked cable securing a chain saw and running out of the store with it.
Locks just keep honest people honest.
— Paul Lasiter, general manager
Mason’s Saw and Lawnmower Service, Inc.
El Cajon, Calif.

Our retail operation is out of a 100-plus-year-old farm. I need to secure a barn and several out buildings with a dozen doors. Having an alarm system is financially out of the question. I have dealt with dozens of thefts and burglaries over the years, and what I have learned is that thieves are looking for easy money and easy in and out. Daily outdoor displays are moved behind locked doors each night. Our displays of boxed handheld equipment are mostly empty boxes. I have a very secure area for handheld equipment that only trusted employees have access to. Chain saws that are always a target are locked with a cable to the display wall. We have visible security cameras and an invisible recording device. Your operation will be cased before a burglary; make it look too difficult to rob. Block, lock, or disable expensive inventory. Limit cash on hand; don’t rely on a safe. Many of our thefts were inside jobs. Let your employees see you make regular deposits, and they will be less likely to recommend your place to a friend or try it themselves.
— Rob Leiser
Leiser’s Sales and Rental
Easton, Pa.

We have a chain-link fence around our property and also have an ADT Security System. It has been working quite well for us, except we do have people still jump the fence and steal things in the yard.
— Kay Annear
Annear Equipment
Adel, Iowa

1) We installed steel bars (welded 1/2-inch reinforcing bar in 12-inch squares) on all windows solidly anchored to the building walls…
2) All side/back doors are fitted with steel-reinforced wood 2x4s that cross the full width and sit in anchored, heavy steel brackets attached to the walls.
3) Full motion/door detectors (including back yard) wired to an alarm company.
4) Building is concrete block with steel reinforcing bar inside.
5) Back yard has a solid-steel fence (made from enameled steel roofing topped with razor wire), which keeps our storage area out of view from the public.
6) We are currently installing four cameras to monitor all areas (recorded on an old computer dedicated to this job — don’t throw them out).
7) Some local business dealers and I met with our city council and complained about lack of police response times and crime in general. As a result, the police were instructed to pay closer attention to our particular business alarms and do more drive-bys at night. Amazing what a little noise at city hall does.
8) Most of these precautions were done over a period of years (too late!). My advice: Spend the money BEFORE you get robbed (insurance deductibles hurt), and budget each year to keep improving security.
We really need extra expenses in these economic times, don’t we?
— John Montie
John Montie Lawn & Garden Ltd.
Chilliwack, British Columbia

We have found that a “pro” thief can defeat the best electronic security. Most break-ins now are a quick “smash & grab.” We have made things so that a thief would need a bazooka or a cutting torch to get in!
— Dean Davis
Dogwood Inc.
Carbondale, Ill.

I have a person down on his luck living in my warehouse, in an RV. This helps him, and he becomes a night watchman. No break-ins in 20 years.
— Bob Chiesa, owner
Power at Hand
Denver, Colo.

What we did to help control the loss is we took a 1/4-inch coated cable and made a loop about every 6 feet with cable clamps, then used padlocks to hook it to the units. We used high-strength thread locked on all the clamps and are adding more lights to area.
— Galen Bailey, parts manager
Beatty Implement Co.
Auburn, Ill.

We have large 3/8-inch-thick cables running through the handheld equipment. This is more for daytime when we are open rather than at night. We used to have smaller cables, but they would bring in small cutters and cut through the cable and take a unit (Stihl MS 192, etc.) when nobody was looking. For nighttime, we have bars on windows bolted from the inside. That way, the alarm will go off before they get to the bars as the window has to be broken first, with an alarm glass-breaking sensor. Extra jail-type door on the front door is locked before the regular door with chain and padlock.
The alarm that we have is a “dvacs” line that the phone company uses. Normal alarms use a line to dial out if there is a problem. A dvacs line is a line that the monitoring station sends a signal to your alarm panel and waits for a signal back, saying everything is OK about every minute or so. So, if a line gets cut or goes down, then the monitoring station will know right away as it does not get a response back. They even notify us even if we have a weak back-up battery. This is as opposed to a cut line and no signal being sent out with other systems if an alarm did go off. Some are starting to use gsm cell phones for that also, as they can still call out if a line is down (if the box is well hidden so it cannot be hit by an axe quickly). Living close to work sometimes can be good; if an alarm goes off, I can be there within minutes to beat the police, as sometimes alarm response is not their top priority these days. We also have two big 12-inch-diameter concrete tubes with steel rods inside. These are outside in front of our main door and are spaced smaller than the width of a car. In our shop, you have to go up three steps for the main floor, so the pad of the main floor is 2 feet above ground level. Therefore, the design limits the smash drive-in with a car through the front or side. Cameras also are installed. The other measure is to watch guys who come in with a trench coat folded over their arm. It might be a little fuller when they leave!
— Ron Robinson, manager
Chain Saw Clinic Ltd.
Toronto, Ontario

We have had a monitoring security system installed for about 29 years called Sonitrol Security. There are listening devices installed in various locations (i.e. one in the office, one in the showroom, one in the downstairs shop, and one upstairs in our warehouse). When we leave at night, we punch in the code, and it is activated here and at the main board of Sonitrol, where someone listens until such time as we come in morning or any other time and put in the proper code to turn it off. Some people tried to break in many years ago by breaking our front windows and another time by cutting our phone lines, and the security service sent police out right away (a silent call — no sirens). We’re completely confident whenever away from the store.
— Jim’s Lawn Equipment

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