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Brazen Thieves: Why You Need to Be Worried

Posted by Brandon Koepnick on Aug 24, 2022

Two words keep popping up in the many articles and news reports about crimes: brazen thieves. No business or industry is safe. Brazen thieves are breaking into businesses from every industry. Construction sites? Check. Businesses with many vehicles like automotive dealerships and school districts? Check. Retail stores? Check.

What does “brazen thieves” mean? They’re more dangerous and don’t have a problem with resorting to violence. Some of them are committing these crimes in broad daylight. What’s scary is that some employees are fighting back against thieves and shoplifters as a Yahoo! News article reveals. This puts their lives at risk.

The article opens with “Thieves have become more brazen, against the advice of experts, some store employees are fighting back.” It states that security experts fear people could be seriously injured or lose their lives. As an example, the story references another where two employees were struck by a hammer. Thankfully, the employees turned out OK.

Brazen Thieves in the News

Do a search for “brazen thieves” and you’ll get a lot more results. It’s incredible how often stories refer to them as “brazen” and back that up with the things they’re doing during the process of committing the theft.

Vehicle-related thefts

A WFSB story quotes the police saying to be a witness, not a hero because thieves are becoming bolder and more violent. Catalytic converter thieves pointed a gun at a man who attempted to confront them. Another set of thieves had a grinder they used to slash a victim’s face. The victim was fortunate to survive despite needing 300 stitches. The victim reinforced the police’s recommendation to call the police rather than confront the brazen thieves.

“Your life is not worth stopping someone from stealing that catalytic converter, like I said, its $1000 to $3000, but your life is worth a lot more, so you want to be a good witness, you want to observe who is stealing the part, get a license plate number, get a description of the person,” said Ken Gray, a Senior Lecturer with the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven.

A SILive.com headline from Staten Island, NY, pronounces “catalytic-converter thieves on Staten Island getting more brazen: Yellow buses, a taxi hit in recent days, cops say.”

At Lubbock’s KFMX, Luke Matsik talks about car break-ins have always been common. He shares that he writes a lot about crime and that car break-ins happen all the time. Yet, he’s noticed a trend that people’s cars are being broken into in the daytime.

One example tells of a resident talking to someone in their front yard. A van pulled up next to their truck and took things out of the truck’s bed. Yes, right there in front of the owner. That’s brazen behavior at its finest.

Construction sites

One thing that hasn’t changed since the pandemic for construction sites is theft. In a LevelSet article, a construction project manager said the construction site had $10,000 worth of materials stolen by masked thieves. Jason Robichaud of United Contractors reports construction site theft has turned into a major problem in recent years. Theft isn’t prejudiced and no geographical location is safe. The story indicates brazen thieves are a problem all over the U.S.

“We saw a big shift in 2019 when it got progressively worse and more brazen,” Robichaud continued. “It’s gotten to the point where [thieves] are cutting water lines to completely take out an entire commercial building plumbing system for the copper.”

These thefts are highly likely to be a problem that is worse than it looks. That’s because thefts cause insurance claims to rise followed by an increase in insurance premiums. Some companies would rather take the loss and avoid reporting the theft than risk higher premiums.

Construction site thefts need to be prevented in the first place. People quoted in the LevelSet story explain the effects of brazen theft are causing project delays and cash flow problems. The construction site still needs the materials to complete the project. Procurement costs skyrocket as the price of materials has been climbing in the last few years.

Retail stores

Retail has seen some unbelievable crimes in recent times per a New York Times story. Here are some of those stories:

  • Flash mobs ran through several retail stores and got away with armloads of merchandise.
  • Five thieves took $20,000 in products from a beauty store in 40 seconds.
  • A security guard was killed while a TV news crew was reporting on a recent robbery at a retail store.

Like all the other stories, the article states theft “has become more visible, brazen and violent in recent months.” It quotes the president of the California Retailers Association who says the level of violence is unlike anything the industry has seen.

The situation is dire to the point that some stores are boarding up their windows. Store managers state that theft was hurting their profit margins and they’ve hardened their stores by locking up valuables. One surprising recommendation is that store managers are telling their employees not to film thefts with their phones because it could make things worse.

What’s exacerbating the situation that the industry sees so many brazen thieves? One reason is due to the ease of reselling goods. Many blatant thieves have no fear of punishment because the laws related to punishment for thefts have become more relaxed. Some experts say it’s not the laws that are a problem. Rather, prosecutors and law enforcement haven’t been enforcing them. Thus, criminals feel fearless.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the organized crime rings and outside theft that companies need to worry about. Internal theft is also a problem. Companies need to prequalify contractors and have proper site security in place.

How Can You Safely Stop Brazen Thieves?

Security guards may not be able to stop these brazen thieves. They can’t all carry weapons, and they don’t typically get the kind of training to prepare them for such situations. Moreover, every state has different requirements for what it takes to be a security guard. A lot of state governments have little or no requirements related to security guards because they are overwhelmed. They don’t have the resources to manage licenses.

A better way to deter crime and capture these brazen thieves in action is with remote video surveillance that integrates video analytics and human intelligence. Any time the technology catches suspicious activity, the video analytics will alert the on-call trained monitoring operator who looks into it and acts as needed.

One possible action is to activate an on-site speaker to warn the intruders they are being watched. The operator is located in a safe place away from the property. The technology makes it possible for them to communicate with criminals on the property without harm. Unlike phone cameras, these won’t always escalate the situation because the security cameras are already in place and record everything.

Considering some of these criminals are part of crime rings or flash mobs, they may not be easily deterred by an audio warning. If the thieves ignore the warning, the monitoring operator can call the police.

While tracking the brazen thieves’ movements, the monitoring operator can keep the police informed of the crooks’ location. It’s possible that law enforcement will arrive at the property fast enough to arrest the suspects before they depart the property. If they don’t get there in time, video surveillance with high-quality cameras could collect enough information to help identify the suspects and lead to an arrest.

Remote video surveillance can do more than avert crime. It can help improve operational efficiencies. The video can help identify bottlenecks and customer service problems. Additionally, security cameras can help with liability claims. It’s very hard for a business to prove it was not liable and the recordings will help. The operators watching the cameras could also report any safety hazards to the business to be taken care of to maintain safety and avoid liability.

Another bonus of using video surveillance is that it shows insurance providers that you’ve taken steps to reduce risk. In doing so, they may lower insurance premiums. You could maximize security while yielding a quick return on investment. You may be able to avoid passing on costs to customers or seeing your profit margins shrink. This is critical because prices have skyrocketed due to the brittle supply chain’s role in affecting supply and demand.

How Remote Video Surveillance Catches Brazen Thieves

One morning, a security operator watching the cameras noticed someone walk inside an active construction site during the daytime. A few minutes later, a pickup truck pulled up next to the fence and parked. The video showed two intruders pulling down wires from an upper part of the jobsite and loading the wires in the back of their truck.

Following protocols, the trained monitoring operator issued a warning over the onsite speaker. After snubbing the warning, the next call went to 911. Since the call came from Stealth, the dispatcher knew this was a real situation and sent the police to the construction site. They arrived within minutes. The officers caught the suspects and arrested one of them as this video shows the entire scene.

In another scenario, a monitoring operator watching the security cameras caught a brazen thief approaching a car dealership. He walked around between cars with a cell phone up to his ear. He entered a red sports car and drove off. This happened during non-monitoring hours when the business was open. Though cameras were not watched in real-time, they recorded the entire criminal activity. The business manager called the monitoring company to obtain the footage.

Not all video surveillance technologies have the ability to track and identify suspects or have their security professionals use the audio speaker to warn intruders. That’s why it’s important to ask about these features and capabilities. Here’s a checklist of questions to ask to help you choose the right video surveillance service.

Beware there are no one-size-fits-all solutions in video surveillance with remote monitoring. Every industry has unique requirements. Even companies within the same industry won’t have the same requirements as it depends on the property location, size, and layout. Look for a company that has experience with your industry and location.

If you have questions about video surveillance technology and what your requirements need to include, please contact us. We’d be happy to help explain the requirements and answer any questions.