Bill Heiman is the Chief Operating Officer at Securatex and is one of the leading experts in the community association security industry. Bill’s contact information is: E: BHeiman@Securatex.com P: 630-335-3157 W: securatex.com
Salvatore J. Sciacca aka “Condoboss” is the President and Founder of Chicago Property Services. Salvatore’s contact information is: E: ssciacca@chicagopropertyservices P: 312-455-0107 x102
Condoboss(CB): How did you get into the security business? Why are you so passionate about it?
Bill Heiman(BH): My family has a long history of military service and as a matter of course I began my career in service to my country as United States Marine. During that time I served first as an Infantry Rifleman and became a Reconnaissance Man with 4th Force Recon Co. My work in the private sector has allowed me to better prepare our clients for active threats efficiently and effectively by reducing noise while aligning the security program to the most critical and probable areas of concern.
CB: What are the biggest challenges that condos and townhomes face? With those that have an onsite presence such as a property manager, door staff, or maintenance staff?
BH: Noise complaints, unauthorized access or use of common areas, parking violations and parties with guests that cause other tenants harm, damage to property and disputes. Other considerations such as the likelihood of burglary, fire, flooding and the potential for criminal acts would have to be determined by a threat assessment which is based upon specific knowledge, prior history and activity in the surrounding area.
CB: How about those that don’t have an onsite presence?
BH: The fundamentals remain the same regardless of the resources at hand. This is touched upon more fully in the following answers.
CB: What is the cheapest and best deterrent that community associations should invest into to minimize theft and crime within their communities?
BH: Security needs to be viewed as a system with a goal of deterring, detecting, denying, delaying or responding to events. The first step is a well-documented security and safety plan that addresses a multitude of likely scenarios, clearly outlines the response and the expectation of the individuals involved. BH: This needs to be rehearsed periodically. A good well known example of this is the in-flight safety brief. Though simple in nature and never in any appreciable way changing, the in-flight safety brief clearly outlines an individual’s responsibility, the actions that are taken and demonstrates the location of tools and their use. Emergency Action Cards in common areas are the best and least expensive way to set the posture of a community. These should be simple, have up to date contact information and be highly visible.
Example of an Emergency Action Card
CB: What are the pros and cons of investing in security cameras? Are there specific types of cameras that are better than others?
BH: CCTV systems have three purposes in a security plan. The first and most important purpose of a CCTV system is to enhance the ability of a person to detect activity. This can only be achieved when the system is monitored by trained, observant people and serves to expand the viewable area as they search for events in real-time. BH: The second benefit is evidence gathering which is followed by deterrence. It is the threat of monitoring above all else that makes a camera an effective deterrent; the threat of gathering evidence does enhance this aspect but is easily defeated by clothing, resolution issues, data storage policies and poor lighting.
1. Cameras range in price from $50 – $250,000 per unit (not including DVRs installation and wiring) and have a multitude of specifications. It is very important that a well vetted integrator is chosen to install your CCTV system. There are a multitude of people selling “security” cameras that are inadequate (to put it lightly). Securatex works with many integrators depending on the implementation and manages them to achieve the best results for our clients. I would not work with a company for a commercial installation unless they have already designed and delivered on a project of roughly $200,000 or regularly install systems between $15,000 and $35,000. If the integrators base of business is built upon $1,500 – $6,000 installations I would consider someone else as these are more for home use and not suitable for a commercial property.
2. Planning is crucial. An integrator should perform a detailed walk through of the property, provide a diagram of the cameras demonstrating viewing angles, distance and resolution, network diagrams and have an implementation plan.
3. Specifications to consider are analog or IP based systems, camera resolution, lens construction, camera housing, fixed, zoom or Pan Tilt Zoom, ability to capture light (lens aperture or sensor size), IR illuminated or other light gathering enhancement (night vision, FLIR) , viewing angle/distance, management software and interface, wired or wireless and storage capacity to name a few.
4. CCTV can have a very high initial cost as such it is important to not get distracted by the technology but to determine how it will be used to enhance the security posture of your property.
CB: For larger high rise type buildings, what are the benefits of working with you and your firm versus other companies that provided door staff and security staff?
BH: We value the voice of the customer and take the time to determine what issues they face today, learn their expectations and develop Post Orders and a staffing profile to meet their needs. Finding the “Right Fit” has been paramount to our success coupled with a responsive, forward thinking management team.
Our quality control program is very robust and is designed to create dialogue between us and our client partners, empower our officers and highlight deficiencies so that they may be addressed before becoming systemic. Securatex has an experienced, analytical staff that looks for solutions to our client partner’s issues and does not sell a prospect on ineffective solutions. If a door lock doesn’t function properly we will not ask a client to consider installing an alarm before addressing the real problem i.e. let’s replace the lock first and consider other more costly measures if it is appropriate to the situation.
CB: What is the least effective way to deter crime and theft in and around an association? What is the most expensive way to combat theft/crime in an association?
BH: Deterrence is only one of the five key principles of physical security and it cannot stand on its own. Deterrents only function due to the threat of action. Once a solution that is meant to deter is determined by a perpetrator to be such, it is no longer suitable and it has lost its value. The key principles that a program should address are to Detect, Deter, Deny, Delay and Respond/Destroy. A system that does not address all of these principles is ineffective.
The most expensive way to combat theft/crime is to take action without properly assessing the threat. If crime is being perpetrated by an internal threat and a system is put in place to combat external threats then the crime can continue to persist even though resources where expended. CB: What about key fobs and controlled access systems? Does this seem to deter crime and/or theft? Access control systems and (enforced) policies serve to help detect unauthorized access, deny or delay entry and deter perpetrators from committing a crime through reduced or restricted access. These systems by enhancing the security program though 4 out of 5 of the key principles are a great asset.
CB: How will the concealed and carry gun law affect crime and/or theft in and around associations in your opinion?
BH: The two are unrelated and yet not mutually exclusive. Activity in the surrounding area, specific knowledge and prior history is a better predictor of crime. Concealed carry provides an individual with the means to use lethal force in the defense of oneself or others which is a function of the fifth key principle of physical security, Respond/Destroy.
CB: Why do association switch to your firm and leave other firms?
BH: Customer service. We tailor our service to meet our client partner’s expectations and provide creative solutions to often times complex problems. It’s difficult to answer a question like this without sounding like everyone else but our clients say it best:
“Thank you for your professionalism and for treating us like we are your most important client. I’ve always felt that Securatex treated us like we are bigger than we are. That’s so refreshing.” –Thomas Lynch
“I wanted to formally thank you for the excellent service your organization has provided Group Fox Property Management since December of 2006. In our Buena Building we utilize your officers to control access to the facility and provide parking lot patrols to ensure the safety and security of our physical and proprietary assets. Securatex has been a vital part of our team for the past seven years. Throughout this time I have found your staff to be competent and able to mitigate situations in a practical and level-headed manner.” – Adnan Darr
CB: What are at least 5 low cost actions that associations can take to discourage crime and theft from potential thieves and criminals?
1. Develop a plan, rehearse the plan and execute the plan. Make it visible to anyone who enters the property (Emergency Action Cards).
2. Control access to common areas. Key control!
3. Be aware of what is happening and interview people for information. Specific knowledge is a great predictor.
4. Maintain a good relationship with the local emergency response teams. Stop in, bring them cookies and let them know who you are. They appreciate it.
5. Hardened targets are less likely to be chosen for a criminal act. Evaluate your posture and make visible changes. www.chicagopropertyservices.com MORE LIVING. LESS WORRYING.
About the Authors:
Salvatore J. Sciacca aka “Condoboss” is one of the nation’s leading experts in the community property management industry. He is also the President and Founder of Chicago Property Services, Chicago’s #1 community property management company specializing in management and operations of condos/townhomes/HOA’s of 100units and under. Salvatore is also the founder of managemycommunity.com (MMC), which is a state-of-the-art online support portal for community associations. With over 20 years of industry experience, Salvatore is recognized for his extensive knowledge of capital planning, preventative maintenance, cost-saving measures and community building techniques. He holds industry stature as a Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA), the designation of Association Management Specialist (AMS) and is fully licensed as a manager (License #: 261.001386) through the State of IL. Salvatore can be reached at: 312.455.0107 x102 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Heiman is the Chief Operating Officer at Securatex and is one of the leading experts in the community association security industry. Bill’s contact information is: E: BHeiman@Securatex.com P: 630-335-3157 www.securatex.com