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  • How would you patrol this site?



    Hello everyone, I've been working the past couple months as "Courtesy Patrol" at the apartment complex above. I'm in strictly a patrol and report position. My tools consist of a flashlight, and my feet. In case you can't see it the complex has no gates, nor security cameras. When it comes to security I'm the only thing they have.

    Recently we have had a string of auto thefts on the property. Something like 5 in 7 days and a more leading up to this 'crime spree'. I feel like I'm getting a lot of flak from my boss, and her boss due to the thefts. Most of these thefts have been on my days off, but a couple have been on a day I was working. However, my shift ends well before most people wake up in the morning to go to work, and there are several hours where anyone could drive by and see that I wasn't around and drive off with a car and nobody would be around to notice it. Also if I'm on one side of the complex they could break into and drive off with something on the other side before my patrol returns me to that parking lot.

    My boss(es) want to randomize my days off because it seems like the car thieves know when I'm not working, but it could just as easily be that they do a simple drive by and if they don't see me(and I can't hide, I must remain 'visible') they hop out and and take a car. Their only other suggestion is to "patrol faster", which means who knows what as my direct boss can't get a explanation of exactly how fast I should be patrolling from her boss. Lets be honest I'm already expected to patrol on foot a complex, on the side of a hill, with no stops for nine hours a night - I get tired and slow.

    Does anyone have some other suggestions as to what I can do to reduce these problems? I had zero training, and no other experience in security so any advice as how to help the situation would be more than welcome. Are my boss(es) feeling just as helpless as I am in stopping the situation and are just trying to do something even though admittedly the thefts mostly take place outside of when my shift happens?

  • #2
    Its not your job to prevent the car thefts, I'm sorry. Your job is to be a visible deterrence. That has failed, and the theives just wait till you leave for another section to steal the car.

    As far as "patrol faster," that means they think you're taking your time and want you to be everywhere at once. I.e. you're obviously too slow or not paying attention or not walking fast enough, because cars are getting stolen.

    I'm sorry, but the bad guys have noticed that your presence has no deterring effect, and just wait for you to go to one area while going to another.

    Your company probably promised actual protection from property crimes, and the client is bitching, "Why is this happening, we pay for a guard, why isn't he protecting us!"

    Now, figure this out: You, through visible patrol, encounter a car thief. He will be armed, with implements ranging from a screwdriver (a tool he can stab you with) to a knife (to pry doors open)... Now what?

    Do you have a means of summoning the police? The police will not come immediately. If you challenge the suspect, he may attack you. Or he may ignore you, tell you to f- off, and continue stealing the car. He may flee, only to come back when you're somewhere else.
    Some Kind of Commando Leader

    "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

    Comment


    • #3
      Crime in communities like these is rather a specialty of mine, and my initial reaction is that this is a problem that we see all the time and one that does respond to adequate security manpower, which by my analysis of this very fuzzy picture suggests both increased patrol and covert surveillance.

      Your manager should by now have explained to the complex manager that special crime situations call for special levels of security, usually over a fairly short term, such as a month. One officer is clearly inadequate coverage for this situation. A well-trained team of officers, on the other hand, can put the lid on problems like this very quickly. So, it should really be up to the complex manager - what is she prepared to expend on the problem other than a load of hot air berating you and your company?

      I certainly agree with Mr. Corbier above in wondering, as well, what specific actions your company expects (and has therefore also trained and equipped) you or other officers to do if they interrupt an auto theft (or any other serious crime) in progress? Even without this crime spree, you should have post orders covering contingencies such as serious crimes, fires, severe weather, medical emergencies, trespass, etc....well, you get the picture. The least acceptable capability would be having the ability to notify the police of the crime in progress, which really means radio or cell phone communication, not running 3 miles to a pay phone.

      This in closing: When you say you've received no training and yet you're responsible for the safety of this community of people who go to bed at night relying on you...frankly, it tells me that you're working for a very badly managed company. If you're interested in security as a career, you should look at other opportunities...post haste. There are usually any number of companies in almost any part of the country that will at least provide you with a basic level of training.
      Last edited by SecTrainer; 12-13-2006, 11:49 PM.
      "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

      "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

      "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

      "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

      Comment


      • #4
        Nathan, remember the rash of robberies in the housing area at McDill AFB a many years ago, circa 1972? Security Police instituted time phased patrols in the areas hit after they plotted them on a spot map. Drive through an area, stop down the street from the "hot area" and count to 20, or 30 and head back with another patrol meeting you half-way. Caught two thieves flat footed.
        They were civilians who made it over and in one case under a washed out area of 7-foot perimeter fence. They were charged under Florida law under 18USC13 and tried by a US Magistrate from Tampa at the base's courtroom. The US Marshals transported them to and from County Jail just like other federal prisoners. Convicted, they served their time in County jail paid by the US Government.
        Our friend could not do that as he is by himself. The 64-dollar question is what happens should he encounter a pernicious thief? My sense, one seriously injured or dead security guard.
        In his posting, he did not explain who or how he was to contact authorities.
        It will be interesting to see how it shakes out.
        Enjoy the day,
        Bill

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by SecTrainer
          Crime in communities like these is rather a specialty of mine, and my initial reaction is that this is a problem that we see all the time and one that does respond to adequate security manpower, which by my analysis of this very fuzzy picture suggests both increased patrol and covert surveillance.

          Your manager should by now have explained to the complex manager that special crime situations call for special levels of security, usually over a fairly short term, such as a month. One officer is clearly inadequate coverage for this situation. A well-trained team of officers, on the other hand, can put the lid on problems like this very quickly. So, it should really be up to the complex manager - what is she prepared to expend on the problem other than a load of hot air berating you and your company?

          I certainly agree with Mr. Corbier above in wondering, as well, what specific actions your company expects (and has therefore also trained and equipped) you or other officers to do if they interrupt an auto theft (or any other serious crime) in progress? Even without this crime spree, you should have post orders covering contingencies such as serious crimes, fires, severe weather, medical emergencies, trespass, etc....well, you get the picture. The least acceptable capability would be having the ability to notify the police of the crime in progress, which really means radio or cell phone communication, not running 3 miles to a pay phone.

          This in closing: When you say you've received no training and yet you're responsible for the safety of this community of people who go to bed at night relying on you...frankly, it tells me that you're working for a very badly managed company. If you're interested in security as a career, you should look at other opportunities...post haste. There are usually any number of companies in almost any part of the country that will at least provide you with a basic level of training.
          I have a feeling this man works for a very large company (who will not provide communications unless the client requires it, and pays for it), or a very small company (who will not provide communications unless the client demands and pays for it, or will tell the guard to use the phone in the clubhouse.)

          Deploying additional personnel is most likely beyond the scope of the company, since this gentleman's training consists of "have a uniform, here's the post via mapquest, you start at 6 PM, good luck," it sounds like. Additional personnel would only be present to observe and report as well.

          As far as post orders reflecting what to do, I remember seeing Securitas Post Orders, which basically state:

          The security guard is for deterrence only. If your deterrence has failed, and a person commits a criminal act, contact your supervisor for assistance. Do not become involved in the event, that is the job of the police.

          That's your post order, right there. 1 page, "call your supervisor for assistance."
          Some Kind of Commando Leader

          "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

          Comment


          • #6
            Ahh sorry I didn't mention it, but they do supply a cell phone for me to call the police, and I have done so many times. The general area is fairly high end, but this complex isn't. Luckily for me the police are generally bored at night, are situated nearby, and love nothing more than to come "play" with the drunk who is stumbling around the property at 3am. For example the last call I had to make was about a drunk who was passed out in his car with it running and 911 rolled 2 firetrucks, 1 ambulance, and 2 patrol cars in less than 5 mins. That is about average.

            I imagine that if I actually saw someone who was breaking into a car the police would probably haul ass. However, I don't take chances. I don't do anything but what my job description says, observe and report. I do not confront or stop anyone from doing anything, and if I felt that I was in any danger I would leave the area post haste. For example I stepped out of the way so that one female resident could attack another in a drunken cat fight.

            For the record I work directly for the apartment complex not a company contracted to them. My direct manager is the property manager and the manager above her is the district manager for the company that owns the complex. I just wanted to ask for any useful advice for patrolling only in case there was something I missed, but it doesn't look like I have. If I were going to make a career out of security I would be applying to the better companies around here, and I actually have a couple security guards(real ones) who work for them willing to help me get my foot in the door, but honestly I only want this(90% rent discount) job for maybe 6-8 more months. Then move out of state. Not that security type work hasn't been rewarding. It's better than stocking dog food I'll tell you that!

            Comment


            • #7
              Aside from the fact that my complex is laid out in a simple rectangular lot instead of a mess of jumbled buildings & parking spaces, it sounds like you're in a similar boat to me, currently. In our case, however, our presence was a HUGE deterrent, and in the (almost) 2 years we've been operating the crime level in the complex (and surrounding neighborhood for that matter) has dropped drastically. I think a big reason for that, is that we are NOT strictly an 'observe and report' crew. Our manager is good friends with the local PD Chief, and we've become friends with many of the local Officers. Not only does our manager allow us to act when something happens, she encourages it! Additionally, the complex has done a few things to assist in stopping crime, such as closing off the secondary entrance so there's only one way in/out of the property.

              It's hard to tell from that overhead photo, but it appears that you have 2 driveways into the property? Is there any fencing around the complex at all? If the complex isn't willing to spend big money for a full-fledged camera system throughout the lots, perhaps they'd be willing to purchase a couple cheap cameras to post at those 2 driveways? It won't stop the cars from being taken, but if they can at least capture images of the suspects then you'll have evidence when they finally do get caught.

              PM me if you have any specific concerns, and I'll try to give specific advice to help you out.
              Corbier's Commandos - "Stickin it to the ninjas!"
              Originally posted by ValleyOne
              BANG, next thing you know Bob's your Uncle and this Sgt is seemingly out on his a$$.
              Shoulda called in sick.
              Be safe!

              Comment


              • #8
                Can your higher up's
                - walk around at different times too
                - put up some signs at entry points announcing Security
                - enlist a contract company for your days off
                - send mail to home owners enlisting thier help to observe & report & secure property and cars
                - start a community watch
                - make sure lighting is on and bright
                - check with the Fire Department if barriers can be put up during off hours to some entrances/exits

                Security in layers, no one barrier alone will be overly effective

                The pool in the satelite photo looks inviting, I would hold community watch meetings there
                Last edited by Eric; 12-14-2006, 07:02 AM.
                Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.
                Groucho Marx

                Comment


                • #9
                  The additional information you've provided is very helpful, and somewhat changes the picture - specifically that you don't work for a security company - which changes everything because there are no additional resources available - and that you have a cell phone and that you've had a pretty fast response from the police (at least when the situation is "interesting" to them). These last two factors suggest that there might well be real value to surveillance (see below).

                  I was struck by one thing you said initially, which was that your property manager insists that you always be patrolling "visibly". (Almost sounds like she might have caught someone doing this job before you sleeping or loafing at one time.) As desirable as "visibility" can be at times, there is also enormous value in being less visible at other times (insistence on visibility can be diametrically opposed to the "observation" aspect of your job at times), and perhaps you can suggest to your manager that your time be divided between periods of highly-visible patrol and periods of surveillance, on an unpredictable schedule, of course.

                  "Unpredictable" doesn't mean "unplanned" or "random", however. Surveillance would obviously be most effective if there has been any pattern at all to the auto thefts (days of the week, time of day, location on the complex, etc.) so that surveillance can be set up intelligently.

                  Surveillance doesn't have to be anything fancy - it's nothing more than observing an area from a position where you can't be observed. It can be greatly enhanced by vision aids such as a pair of binoculars or night vision (even the less expensive older generation equipment is very useful in urban environments), so that you can stand off from a distance.

                  If this idea doesn't gain the manager's approval and she says "No - just keep patrolling", you might be able to make yourself less visible while continuing your usual rounds simply by sticking to areas of shadow, moving behind/between vehicles or taking advantage of other cover - all while not really seeming to alter your "visible" patrol pattern otherwise as far as your manager would be able to discern.

                  Other ways to enhance your patrol effectiveness are:

                  1. Vary your patrol pattern. Deliberately plot out a number of patrol routes (to make sure they do cover the complex completely), "A", "B", "C", etc., and then select them randomly. Repeat a pattern sometimes, back-to-back so that your "randomness" doesn't become "predictable".

                  2. Vary your speed as well.

                  3. Double back on your patrol route from time to time.

                  4. Don't shine your flashlight around unless you absolutely need to use it to see something, look into dark areas, assist a resident, etc.

                  5. Patrol quietly, being conscious of how far noises like jangling keys, coins, creaking leather belt, etc. can carry - especially at night.

                  6. Before you enter an area, stop, look and listen for a bit.

                  7. To keep patrol more interesting, give each patrol an "objective" - i.e., looking for fire hazards, looking for safety hazards, etc. This doesn't mean you don't notice other things, of course...just that it gives each patrol a "purpose" other than "just walking around".

                  I mentioned night vision for surveillance, but it can also enhance your patrol mission in a variety of ways (I located a lost child using night vision, for instance). If you have to buy your own, there are night vision monocular units that are very reasonably priced. The smaller units easily fit in your pocket and can be used very discreetly, incidentally. Assuming typical ambient nighttime lighting around your complex, "Gen-1" - which is the least expensive form of night vision equipment - should be perfectly adequate as opposed to later generations, thermal imaging, etc. Here's what these look like: ELF-1 Monocular (Gen 1) (Hint: Ask Santa Clause for one!)

                  One final idea: It seems unlikely that this complex is the only target for these thieves in your area. You might suggest that your property manager contact other complexes and see if there's justification to band together to pay for a contract patrol service for awhile on a time-sharing basis.

                  ...and remember that even if your ideas are rejected, there's value to you merely in presenting them because it shows your manager that you care about the problem and that you're trying to come up with solutions, not just "shrugging it off". That certainly can't hurt her impression of you as an employee who cares about his job, as you obviously do.
                  Last edited by SecTrainer; 12-14-2006, 09:35 AM.
                  "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                  "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                  "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                  "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    All of the above is good advice. I would like to add that a professionally written letter, about your concerns and offering possible solutions, may go along way towards fixing the problem. Or at least letting mangemnt know that they expect the impossible. In my early days of security work, I was in a similar situation. I will not let that happen again.
                    On a side note, you mention that you get rent as partial payment. I hope that you do not work at the same complex where you live. That could be a dangerous situation for you and your family. I have on occasion turned down job sites because they were "to close to home." Even if you are strickly "O&R" someone could be P.O.ed because of what you reported.
                    Also a nine hour shift with no breaks allowed may be against labor laws, depending on where you are located.
                    "Gun control, the theory that 110lb. women have the "right" to fistfight with 210lb. rapists. " Author Unknown

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If you can talk your boss into bringing in a contract company to help on your days off, or perhaps contracting with a "mobile patrol" company to at least drive through the complex occasionally...that might help.

                      As for being hidden but visible... what is your uniform? Can you wear a dark jacket over your uniform? My issued uniform coat is a black coat with a badge and shoulder patches. I notice that I am MUCH less visible in it - which can be dangerous when I'm walking along roads. I second the sticking to the shadows.

                      As for a flashlight. Use it sparringly, if at all. If you stay "in the dark" your eyes adapt and you can see better with minimal light. It also means that you are more of a suprise when you approach someone.

                      Finially - keys and other noise. If you are issued keys, or carry personal keys - think about getting a "silent key keeper" for your belt. Keep the cell phone on vibrate, and just try to be quiet - it is amazing how easy it is to suprise someone when you don't jingle.
                      The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Courtesy Patrol:
                        Take the advice offered by some really sharp security professionals and write it in a proposal to your leadership. Watch your spelling, grammer and punctuation. Make several rough cuts and then when you are satisfied with the product, prepare an executive summary of a single page.
                        Keep your proposal to a minimum of two to three pages.
                        I hope this helps you to better provide security. 90% cut in monthly rent, neat!
                        To the other contributors, congratulations these are really sound recommendations and I plan to use your thoughts in upgrading and updating my security guide with proper credit given in every instance.
                        You folks really blow me away!
                        Enjoy the day,
                        Bill

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I know of one apt complex that does the same thing they have a person that gets cheap rent to be "security" at the site. He is required to do 40 hours a week with a few specific times he has to be on. The rest of it he can split up during the week and make him less predictable.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Great suggestions from everyone above. The only things I can think to add/expound on:

                            1) Signs posted at entrances that state something along the lines of "Security Patrol On Duty."

                            2) Look to see if your complex needs any improvements to its exterior lighting.

                            3) Are there specific areas where the majority of your car thefts are occuring? You might want to see why (poor lighting, obscured areas, etc.), see if you can change these conditions, and do more patrols in those areas.

                            4) I assume that you're reporting all car thefts to the police, so that they are aware of the problem as well.

                            5) You may want to see if your employer will purchase you a security bicycle which can be used for patrol.

                            6) You state that you have had "no training." I'd look into learning some basic defensive tactics, such as escort holds, counter joints, pain compliance, etc. In addition, be sure that you understand your rights as far as citizen's arrest powers in your state and legal uses of force. Also, it's not a bad idea to ask your employer for some additional basic tools such as O.C. spray. It's not hard to be certified with O.C., and make sure your employer knows that O.C. is a defensive weapon, not an offensive weapon--it sure isn't unreasonable to expect to have the tools necessary to defend yourself, especially if you're experiencing a rash of felonies in your complex.

                            7) Finally, be aware of behaviors, actions, and types of dress used by car prowlers and car thieves. Anyone walking around at night wearing backpacks (used to carry stolen merchandise) or carrying tools and/or toolbags or other suspicious bags should be challenged if you don't recognize them, or at the very least, covertly watched. Other behaviors such as people looking in car windows and trying car door handles would also warrant suspicion. Keep an eye on your perimeter areas because car prowlers and car thieves will park a distance away and walk onto your property at night.

                            Good luck!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              In as much as it is "your" problem, it is also a problem for the police. Your residents are paying taxes. I'd shift most of the "blame" onto the police. They have the man-power, vehicles etc to be taking care of the situation. I have a similar problem with car thefts from the open parking lots of my 2 hotels by the airport. We don't have 24 hour a day coverage & inthe past victims have tried to blame us. We shifted the blame onto the police. In general police do enforcement, we do prevention. It seems to me that it is probably an organized group doing the thefts. As in my hotels, private security can not investigate organized groups organizing off of my properties. What I can do is make sure I help the guests (in your case residents) make their vehicles as safe as possible. I'd be talking to residents when I see cars unsecure, giving them tips on how to make them more secure. I'd get them more involved. This is prevention & this is what we are there to do.

                              I'd also try to help the police by carefully reporting all you can about the thefts. Time of day. Make & models of vehicles etc. The police in my hotels were putting all their efforts on doing extra patrols in the parking lots during the night time. Our careful recording of the details of the thefts showed that they were actually happening more in the late afternoons.


                              As for patrols. Your presence probably does prevent them from stealing when you are around, The only problem is that most people end up patrolling in patterns, In my downtown 25 story hotel we have in the past had problems with breakins into the soft drink machines. We've chased off the people (Again prevention, not apprehension) by doing things like patrolling down the hallway, going down to the next floor then taking the elevator back up to the first floor & do a second patrol minutes. People don't expect us to come back right away after we've done a patrol.

                              Good luck!
                              I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
                              Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

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