Here’s How to Help Prevent Dealership Vandalism

Posted by Norm Charney on November 23, 2020

In Oakland, California, a Mercedes-Benz dealership was vandalized as trespassers wrecked and spray-painted vehicles. They set at least one vehicle on fire. A Twitter video showed protesters inside the dealership jumping on the cars and kicking the windows.

Another dealership in the area was looted. Approximately 70 cars were stolen from a Fiat Chrysler dealership in San Leandro. They stole almost $3 million worth of vehicles including most Dodge Hellcats according to Driving.

Employees at a car dealership in Plymouth, Massachusetts, discovered eight of its vehicles covered in gold spray paint. These vehicles lined up along the sidewalk by the street. Someone may have been walking past the dealership and simply painted all the cars with one long line.

KEZI News reported on an auto dealership in Eugene, Oregon, that caught the vandalism on camera. The president of the dealership said a man on a bike shot at seven of the vehicles. It chipped the paint and shattered some of the windows.

A Spokane, Washington, dealership discovered almost $60,000 worth of damage to its vehicles as reported in the Spokesman-Review. The dealership lot is surrounded by a fence that's almost 7-feet-tall. Yet, four intruders entered the property while the complainant was still on-site. The dealership hoped to find video surveillance footage from nearby businesses as it did not have its own.

Business owners in Bakersville, California, say they've seen an increase in vandalism and burglaries after California issued a stay-at-home order. One Ford dealership saw $70,000 worth of damage to its showroom windows and 15 vehicles. A representative from the police department told Bakersfield.com that the city has recorded 36 incidents of vandalism over a one-month period.

Stories like these show up in the news regularly. It's an expensive problem that can be avoided or minimized. Here are tips on what to do if your dealership is vandalized and how to help prevent it.

What to Do About Dealership Vandalism

Dealerships pay a higher price for vandalism than just the costs involved in repairing the damage and replacing items. If the dealership can stay open, it's possible cleanup will require blocking off areas from the public. When customers spot the damage and roped-off areas, they may head to another dealership where they feel safer.

In reading the news stories about vandalism at dealerships, one thing most have in common is that these happen when the dealership is closed. Let's hope your dealership doesn't need these steps. If you haven't been vandalized, skip to the next section to learn how to help prevent it from happening.

Before working through these steps, verify everyone is safe.

1. Call the police

As soon as you discover the vandalism, avoid touching or moving anything. You want to leave the evidence untouched, so it's not contaminated by things or people who weren't there when it happened. If you need to do something that cannot wait until the police arrive, wear gloves and do as little as possible. Call the police immediately to begin the process of filing a report.

Vandals sometimes strike more than once. The police may have information and their fingerprints on file. Besides, if you want to get reimbursed for the damage, a police report will help you process your claim with the insurance company. Write down the name and badge numbers of all the police officers who talk to you.

2. Check video surveillance footage

Do you have video surveillance? Let the police know about it. Do not go and search your video recordings for footage. Wait until the police arrive. You want to ensure that you follow the proper procedures. The more you follow police advice, the more likely they will capture the evidence they need to find and arrest the person or persons responsible. After you receive the go-ahead, you want to search for video footage that starts right before the vandalism occurred through the time the vandals have left the cameras' sight.

Hopefully, you have high-definition video cameras placed around the lot. If not, then once you are finished dealing with the vandalism, the next thing to do is to research your video surveillance options. You'll most likely need multiple copies of the footage for the police, insurance, and your own records.

3. Document everything

Vandalism costs more than the bill for repairing and replacing the items affected. It can lead to business interruption. You may have to close your dealership for cleanup. When you're closed, you can't make a sale. Even if you sell through your website, customers cannot come to your lot to test drive or fill out onsite paperwork. If your dealership offers onsite service and repair, it will lose money each day the dealership remains closed.

Therefore, keeping an updated inventory is critical. It helps you determine exactly what's missing if anything. Take photos, videos, and document everything that has been broken or stolen. The police will ask for a list of the damaged and stolen items for their investigation. Your insurance will also ask for the same. The documentation will come in handy for record-keeping. It'll prove more useful if you end up having to repair or replace equipment or items.

4. Contact your insurance company

Before calling your contact at the insurance company, review your policy to understand the deductibles and any exceptions. Write down your questions as you study the policy. This gives you time to think through all your possible questions.

Whether your insurance policy covers the damage and stolen items depend on the policy and coverage. Some policies can cover business interruption or closure. Document the name of the claims adjuster and any information provided. Be prepared to answer detailed questions, such as:

  • When was the date and time of the vandalism?
  • Where did the damage occur?
  • What items were stolen? Where were they located?
  • What is the police report number?
  • Do you know who caused the damage?

If you don't have an answer to a question, write it down and get the answer as soon as you can. The more thorough you are in your replies, the more efficient the claims process will be. Ask your insurance agent if there are discounts for implementing security measures such as remote video surveillance.

5. Do clean up and repair

You may need to do temporary repairs such as putting up boards where there are broken windows. Contact multiple companies to get quotes on big or complex repairs. You want at least two bids per job. Keep a copy of all receipts of the repairs. You may need them for insurance or a potential lawsuit.

What Can Dealerships Do to Help Prevent Vandalism? Vandalism and looting can hit at any moment. The simplest things an automotive dealership can do are as follows:

  • Add heavy-duty locks on doors and windows.
  • Install proper lighting in strategic places.
  • Erect a tall fence around the lot.
  • Secure all vehicles as best as possible.
  • Trim shrubs and trees that create hiding places.
  • Remove any unneeded structures or trees that obscure vision.

If you suspect an event could lead to looting and vandalism, board up windows to prevent damage. For instance, there were rumblings of potential looting based on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. As such, businesses boarded up their windows right before the election. The most effective thing you can do is add visible security cameras around the perimeter. Video surveillance puts eyes across the entire property and delivers a fast ROI. If an intruder breaks through the perimeter, high-definition cameras and recorders can capture everything.

Benefits of Video Surveillance for Dealerships When you implement remote video surveillance, you gain many advantages. Here are five benefits.

1. Helps deter crime

Video analytics and a trained operator watch the cameras installed around the dealership. As soon as they spot something, the operator takes action. It could be using the audio speaker to warn the suspect on the property or calling the police and staying on the line to provide updates.

This dealership video shows how video surveillance stopped a car thief. In this instance, the car did not leave the property and no damage occurred. This video shows how a speaker can deter a trespasser.

Unfortunately, the guilty party could be employees. They know how the security system works and its weaknesses. Here's a video of a dealership employee stealing car parts. Let the employees know about video surveillance. It'll decrease the chances of their committing a crime while reassuring their safety.

2. Helps lower insurance premiums

Video surveillance decreases liability and there are court cases that support this claim. Because of this, it saves on insurance premiums. When an insurance company sees you've taken steps to lower your risk of becoming a victim of crime, they could lower the premiums. If you partner with a security company, ask if they can help work with your insurance provider to lower premiums. Stealth has helped many clients with the insurance process.

In addition to cutting insurance premiums, you save on costs. Video surveillance costs up to 60 percent less than security guards do. You only pay for the technology and then a monthly monitoring fee. Typically, you'll see an ROI within four months. If a lawsuit ever comes up, you'll have recorded evidence to support your claims and increase your chance of winning. It'll also support your claims that you followed safety protocols.

3. Helps everyone feel safe

Just like video cameras can scare off intruders, they reassure customers and employees. When they see the cameras, they feel safer on your lot. That's why the monitoring piece is important.

If people see cameras that aren't monitored, then they'll have a false sense of security. This could turn into a problem if something happens to the customer. You may not need 24/7 monitoring. Talk to your security consultant about your requirements and business to get the right solution.

4. Free video reviews

Stealth has a video review department that is available to provide clients, insurance companies and police with footage of all incidents. Additionally, our analysts will go back and find forensic audit video to see if the alleged responsible party was on the property hours or even days before the crime occurred, potentially to scope out the vehicles or swap keys.

5. Tailored Solutions

As a full-service advisor, Stealth’s team of engineers will work with you to understand your business needs, property and security concerns. This not only includes security cameras, but other issues like traffic flow, location of key storage, fencing and much more. You can increase your chances of a speedy ROI and effectiveness when you work with an experienced remote video surveillance company. When you partner with a company like Stealth, you will have multiple layers of protection in place. This includes remote monitoring, artificial intelligence, analytics, thermal imaging, system health checks, and more.

Stealth will create a customized dealership security plan to provide yours with the most effective coverage for the budget. Learn more about security by getting your free complete guide to dealership security. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

Posted in: Crime Prevention, Video Security Systems, Security Guards & Savings, Video Monitoring