Honeywell’s video alarm verification help end users comply with law enforcement policies

Honeywell’s video alarm verification help end users comply with law enforcement policies
 One night in January 2015, two unidentified men broke in to the Smok’n Hot Vapors electronic-cigarette shop in Henderson, Nevada around 2 a.m. After the intruders smashed the outdoor window in the alleyway, one stood guard outside while the second looted the store. “I don’t think they were after anything in particular,” said Ann Tevelde, owner of Smok’n Hot Vapors. “They just tried to take everything they could find.”

In less than four minutes, the intruders emptied the cash drawer and smashed display cases. They took valuable merchandise, but they didn’t know they had been caught by a Honeywell VAV security system, which instantly pushed the burglary signal—as well as video of the break-in—to the central station and the store’s owner.

The situation 

Smok’n Hot Vapors opened in August of 2014 with no existing security system. The owner needed something that would protect the business and address a city policy which requires local officers to respond only to verified alarm reports. Tevelde was concerned that the store’s high-value merchandise – most of it small enough to quickly grab and transport – put the family business at high risk for a break-in, so she contacted American Video and Security, a security systems integrator based in Las Vegas, who worked to identify structural weak points and installed a cost-effective solution in the store that would quickly alert police in an emergency. 

“We design our systems based on how a break-in might actually occur,” said Nicola Oakie, general manager of AVS. “Henderson’s police force is small, so we needed a system that could summon them to a threatening situation quickly. The only way to do that efficiently was to provide actual proof that a threat was taking place.” 

Jennifer Tagle, a video verification specialist with AVS, recommended Honeywell Security’s Performance Series HRGX DVR with I-View Now™’s Video Verification Service. A patented, cloud-based central station interface that ties live video to alarm events, I-View Now provides operators with clips, images and critical pre-alarm event footage—letting monitoring personnel provide crucial details to first responders when seconds count. The Performance Series cameras continuously record footage, so it can be reviewed by store management and the central monitoring station in real time. Instant video alarm verification also allows central station operators to virtually go back in time to see action captured before the alarm. Most importantly, information can be relayed immediately to the Henderson Police Department – ensuring officers would respond quickly. 

At the time of the installation, two of the store’s neighboring suites were vacant – leaving the business even more vulnerable to break-ins. As an additional precaution, AVS installed Honeywell motion detectors and glassbreak detectors on two glass walls running along the front and side of the store. 

The solution

That night in January, when the burglars first set off the glassbreak detectors, the system sent a real-time alert to the central monitoring station and Tevelde. And as soon as one burglar entered the store, the cameras began recording the entire incident, capturing various scenes as he moved throughout the area. Because the central station was able to visually verify there were intruders in the building, they dispatched police instantly, which led to the successful capture of one of the burglars. There were no guessing games. 

Oakie says that in this instance, a traditional security system would have allowed the burglars to escape. “Our police jurisdiction has a non-response policy for unverified alarms, so with a regular ‘blind burglar system’ we would have had to go through multiple steps to confirm it was an actual intruder threat,” she said. “Per standard operating procedure, the central monitoring system would have had to contact the owner first to see if it was a false alarm, followed by dispatching a guard to confirm the burglary—before contacting the police department. That extra time would have allowed the burglars to get away.” 

The benefits

Burglaries happen so quickly that intruders often disappear in the 20-30 minutes it typically takes for police to arrive. By then, money, merchandise and other store inventory is often long gone. ‘Verified response’ policies stipulate that law enforcement agencies – many of which are strapped for resources – cannot respond to an alarm unless eyewitness accounts and/or video cameras can verify that an incident has occurred. With these policies increasingly becoming the norm, dealers need to be aware of which markets enforce verified response, and proactively work with end users to find the best solution. 

Fortunately, advancements in VAV technology offer one way for security dealers to make peace of mind less of a marketing term and more of a reality. Oakie says as more police departments in her markets require verification before they respond, end users are becoming more aware of the fact that they need instant verification to secure their businesses. VAV can alleviate their concerns by giving police a sense of urgency when a crime in action is instantly verified. 

“Peace of mind is one of the most highly-touted benefits promoted in security systems, yet it’s also the most difficult to prove,” she said. Fortunately, the growing prevalence of video alarm verification technology may be making that benefit a little more tangible and less of a sales pitch.

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