Retail Theft at $42 Billion Last Year in U.S.

When you hear a dollar figure like $42 billion in retail theft last year in the U.S., it makes you stop. It’s one of those numbers that hits home and tells you: This is one of the major reasons the security industry provides a powerful function to not just homeowners, but to many small businesses across the country.

Outside the U.S., shrink was tagged at $128 billion globally in 2013, according to the latest Global Retail Theft Barometer (conducted by the research firm The Smart Cube and Ernie Deyle, a retail loss prevention analyst). The annual cost of shrink to U.S. shoppers (when these costs are passed on from the retailer to each of us as consumers) averaged $403 per household. Those are astounding numbers. Take a moment to think about them.

These figures buttress the importance of what the security industry does for our customers: By preventing retail theft, we protect the bottom line of businesses, and the consumers they serve.

We encourage you to talk about the value in operating alarm systems effectively when selling security products and services to retailers. Beyond proper installation and high standard equipment, make sure employees understand how to arm and disarm a system. That helps keep down the number of nuisance alarms.

Retail theft is a reality. Let’s make nuisance alarms less of a reality by taking the extra steps to implement the highest quality alarm management programs in retail businesses.

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Many Arrows in the Quiver

By: Stan Martin, SIAC Executive Director

Last week we discussed in our SIAC blog how one size does not fit all when it comes to solving inadvertent alarm activations. Each community is unique, so solutions must be unique.

We like to look at the solutions SIAC advocates as different arrows in the quiver. The different arrows help improve alarm management in different ways. Our goal is to build confidence in what the security industry can accomplish when we are asked to help out. We measure the needs locally from all parties before we apply solutions. And we customize, as necessary.

There are a lot of opinions voiced in our industry on alarm management issues. Some argue for a single source solution, from a single point-of-view, without considering the consequences of all parties involved. In my experience as an alarm dealer, association leader, distributor and liaison to the law enforcement community, I’ve come to see all sides and how important it is to recognize there is not “just one solution.”

Alarm management solutions that yield long-term harmony and satisfaction must benefit all stakeholders — law enforcement, our customers and our businesses. Otherwise you’ll find yourself back at the negotiating table with less credibility, making it even more difficult to achieve the desired results.

We have many practices that are well-proven in multiple locations: The more of them applied, the better results you’ll see with dispatch reductions.

Let’s be reasonable and practical in our approaches, and involve all the key parties. That’s a great starting point to decide which arrows to pull from the quiver.

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Solutions Must Provide Tangible Benefits

Old thinking used to say that because tax dollars pay for the manpower to respond to alarms in a community, that numerous “free” responses from law enforcement was okay, or that citizens expect and deserve continued service. Up to a point that may be true, but only up to a point. There is a level when those responses by police prove to be a drag on their resources, and the security industry has to be ready with solutions that work to drive down those unwanted activations.

Our solutions must deliver tangible and long-term benefits. Otherwise we risk returning to the way things were, which often meant reduced credibility for the electronic security industry and likely hostile attitudes on both sides of the issue of alarm responsibilities.

We (SIAC) help explain the facts to local officials based on real data and experience. That’s an advantage we provide our industry as a non-profit entity set up to improve alarm management practices across North America.

Based on that experience, four or five free responses for unnecessary alarm activation is not recommended and kills the effectiveness of a proposed ordinance. We consistently recommend one or two free responses and will even support no free responses. Fewer works better to effectively bring users into compliance. Since 90% of the users will not have even one dispatch per year, we are now targeting the 2-3% users that are chronic abusers. That’s the tangible benefit.

Even if only one free dispatch response is included in the ordinance, that means 97% of alarm holders will not be fined. A good ordinance is about weeding out the bad apples, fixing the problem and maintaining a firm response to alarms.

Giving three, four or five free responses is like letting the speeding car driver have 3, 4, or 5 warning tickets before penalizing him. If we want action, the penalties need to be more stringent and enforced, otherwise the corrective action is negated.

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SAMMY Award Submissions Due by December 19

One of the institutions within the electronic security industry is the SAMMY awards. They have been around for 20+ years. SIAC believes strongly in the SAMMY’s because they recognize the breadth of companies represented within our industry. In many ways, the installing and monitoring companies are great examples of the continued growth of entrepreneurship in North America.

Most companies are not national. It’s the smaller guys with their combined reach who have the biggest percentage impact in terms of customers served. The SAMMY’s recognize this and make sure companies with less than 200 employees are rewarded (along with larger companies).

With that diversity of companies come challenges. At SIAC, one of the big challenges is educating and informing all these different-sized businesses about the importance of progressive alarm management technologies, programs and tools. Some of the awards within the SAMMY’s can be used to explain and educate on better alarm management practices – your newsletter and sales and marketing brochures, for example.

Go to this link to find out more about the SAMMY awards: There are many categories for submissions. We hope you find some that fit programs you have in place with your company that are top tier. Striving for that excellence is always a worthy goal. Good luck with your entries.

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SIA Seeking Education Experts

If you have strong experience in the security field, the Security Industry Association (SIA) can use your expertise. In a recent announcement, SIA issued a call for online education content assistance.

SIA is strongly involved is setting some of the highest standards for our industry in terms of technology and field installation. Our industry is stronger because of their programs.

One of the advantages of joining this SIA initiative is being able to ensure high standards for all companies. But it’s also an opportunity on a personal level to meet with other experts and learn from them. That’s a benefit to your business, and to you personally.

They are looking for project management experience, with field operations experience being a plus. If you’d like to contribute, contact SIA’s Kimberly Roberts, who is their Manager of Education, 301.804.3708.

You’ll be developing course content for SIA’s online education initiative. The courses will be designed for Project Managers (PMs) and those who aspire to that position. It’s a great opportunity. If you have the background, SIAC encourages you to participate.

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CSAA Extending the Benefits of ASAP

The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) provides many benefits to the electronic security industry. In one of their recent efforts, CSAA is going beyond its membership to help improve alarm response efficiency and quality. SIAC salutes them for the steps they are taking to extend the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP), which was developed jointly by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and CSAA over the course of several years

Approximately 100 CSAA members have helped fund the program, allowing them to contract and connect to the system. In short, they are able to send electronic responses from their monitoring stations to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). This eliminates some of the human errors that could occur in placing calls to local law enforcement to let them know of an alarm activation at a customer’s home or business. Sending the notification electronically also speeds the process of informing the local agency.

There are a number of issues that still must play out. Cities must enroll in the program. Monitoring companies must also take advantage of the system. Recent numbers indicate that over 40 companies are on board with ASAP, though the system is not active for every jurisdiction.

The two largest cities deploying ASAP are Washington, D.C. and Houston. Over the next year, according to CSAA, Boston and Seattle expect to add the protocol, along with the entire state of Delaware. That’s good news for all of us in the electronic security industry.

If you’d like to find out more about ASAP, contact CSAA at:

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The PDQ and Why You Should Apply

The Police Dispatch Quality Award (PDQ) has, in just a few short years, become one of the most sought after honorariums in the alarm industry.

The PDQ award is sponsored jointly by SIAC, Security Sales & Integration, FARA, IQ and Honeywell. It was initiated to recognize the one company each year that exemplifies the most significant impact in the alarm dispatch arena. Think about that. The ONE company that rises above very other company. In fact Honeywell presents a $1,000 check to the winner to offset the cost of traveling to ESX to accept the award. Additionally, your company will receive special coverage in Security Sales & Integration magazine which includes color photos and a nice write-up!

In the inaugural years, applicants pretty much had to be an installing company with their own monitoring facility. However, today the grading has been altered so that whether you provide your own monitoring, use a third party or even if you are a third party monitoring provider you can apply and have an equal opportunity to win.

As with anything worthwhile applying for, the award takes a time commitment and full documentation. In fact one of the more common mistakes is not giving yourself enough time to fully complete the application.

We’ve learned that some dealers have not applied because they believe they must be 100% compliant in every scoring area. Now it’s true, if you don’t answer a question you get no credit and stand little chance of winning. Example: Use of CP-01 panels in all installations. Rarely can anyone claim that to be 100% true, so give us the percentage of panels you do install and you’ll receive a proportional number of points. Send your submittal in the form specified on the application. While a professionally bound submittal looks nice, it will not improve your score. In fact, we now discourage hard copies and prefer a well-organized PDF file.

The judging panel wants to fully consider every application, but those that don’t follow the instructions run the risk of not even being considered.
Make certain that you DETAIL your involvement in industry trade associations, civic groups and especially your involvement with law enforcement in at least one jurisdiction. List positions held and committees served on even if they are in the past.

You need to have marketing materials even if it just a section of your Web site assessable to end users. You must show how you promote alarm reduction both within your company and to your customers.

Finally we want you to win, so start early and get that application submitted. The deadline for the 2014 entries is March 31st, 2015. More details here:

With the new grading criteria, any company has the opportunity to win this prestigious award, but only if you apply.

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