Actually, we were burglarized – give us a call if you would like a detailed explanation of the difference between the two crimes.
Someone broke into our Westlake Village office. It happened on October 6th at 2:04 am PST. The bad guy smashed our front, glass door and crawled through a small hole in the broken glass. Once inside, he used a flat-head screwdriver to pry open an interior office door lock. He wanted to get into my office where my brand-new Mac Pro was sitting on my desk. The suspect defeated the door lock in about 9 seconds, disconnected all of the cords from the computer, lifted the computer off of my desk, and exited through the same hole in the glass door that he used to gain entry. You can watch it happen here:
The Good News
Since Sachs Marketing Group is completely cloud-based, we did not lose or compromise any data. The computer had nothing on it but software. Also, since it was a Mac, I was able to place it into “Lost Mode” which basically turns that computer into a fancy looking paperweight. The next time the computer gets turned on, it will automatically wipe the hard drive clean and display a message:
“This computer was stolen in a commercial burglary in Westlake Village, CA on October 6th at 2:04 am PST. Please contact the Ventura County Sheriff’s department at 805-494-8208 and reference criminal report number: 21-******.”
The bad guys (or any innocent purchaser) won’t be able to do anything with the computer unless they can prove to Apple that they purchased it with a valid receipt, which they won’t be able to do obviously.
The Bad News
Even with my 10-year law enforcement background, I made it way too easy for this criminal to take my computer. I thought I had everything covered! I had an alarm system (more on that below), a lock on my interior office door, I even had several cameras and motion sensor lights set-up inside the office. None of that mattered. The suspect was out the door before the alarm siren started wailing and he was long gone way before the police were notified. So, what went wrong?
In evaluating what went wrong and what I could have done on my end to change the outcome of this incident, I realized that the alarm system I was using was the weak link. My alarm system (like almost all commercial and/or residential alarm systems) had zero chance of stopping this burglary from occurring. Why? Most alarm systems are reactive – not proactive.
Play By Play
The suspect smashed the glass door and gained entry. Since he didn’t need to open the door, the alarm door sensor wasn’t activated. It wasn’t until the suspect walked into my interior office (after defeating the inner door lock) that the motion sensors finally noticed him. That activation started a 60 second clock which was more than enough time for the suspect to unhook my computer and exit. But it gets worse…
After beeping for 60 seconds, the alarm siren started to sound – the “activation.” The alarm company monitoring station got the activation signal and immediately made a call – TO ME! You see, their process is to call the responsible party to see if everything is okay when they get an activation. They called me but because it was 2:04 am, I was asleep with my phone on Do Not Disturb. When they weren’t able to reach me, they called the 2nd person on my list – my wife. She was also asleep (next to me) and her phone was also on silent. When they weren’t able to reach my wife, they called the 3rd person on my list – my Admin Assistant. Guess what? She was sleeping too! Since the alarm monitoring service was unable to reach any of the three people listed on my emergency call list, they finally called my local law enforcement agency – the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.
Consider this – The alarm company called the Sheriff’s Department to report a commercial burglary alarm. The Sheriff’s department knows that 99% of commercial burglary alarms are false alarms. Do you think they responded to my burglar alarm with any sense of urgency? Probably not. Nothing against the Sheriff’s Department by the way – I get it. I responded to 100’s of false burglar alarms during my 10-year law enforcement career. Most of them are nothing.
Suffice to say – by the time the deputies arrived at my office, the suspect was in the wind.
After the incident, I called my alarm company and asked them to change their SOP for my account. I wanted them to call the police IMMEDIATELY upon any activation. I even told them that I would be willing to sign a document agreeing to pay for any false alarms and to hold the alarm company harmless for any and all false alarm fees imposed by law enforcement. I didn’t want to have to suffer any delays while they called everyone on my emergency list to determine if there was actually a crime in progress. Just call the police and get them rolling right? They said “no.” They would not – could not change their process.
By the way – what if I had picked up the phone at 2:04 am that morning? The alarm company would have asked me if everything was okay at the business. How would I have known if everything was okay? I would have been half asleep and would have had to have the presence of mind to bring up my camera app on my phone and check the cameras – while the alarm company was on hold – to try and determine if something was going on at the office. All that time wasted right?
The good news is that this incident woke me up. I did a TON of research. I called pretty much every traditional alarm platform I could find and found that they all followed the same protocols: Receive an activation, call emergency contact(s) first, then call police. None of the alarm companies I contacted were willing to alter their process and call police immediately upon receiving an activation.
I kept searching and finally found a solution that I believe will stop any and all future burglary attempts. I found a company called Deep Sentinel and ordered systems for my office and my home. Here’s how this new system is different:
Deep Sentinel is proactive as opposed to reactive. Cameras are mounted outside of our office now and they are monitored 24/7 by live guards. If the guards see anyone looking suspicious (hanging around the outside of the office after hours, peaking into the windows, etc.) they will verbally engage in real-time with the suspect(s) via a speaker mounted above each camera. They will say something like:
“This is Deep Sentinel Security; your image is being recorded and the police are being contacted now. Leave the property immediately!”
They also have the ability to initiate a 100db siren via that same camera speaker. If the suspect doesn’t leave or starts to actually try to break-in, the guards will immediately call the police and this time, they are reporting on an in-progress crime complete with a suspect description in real-time. Police agencies will respond at the highest priority (typically with lights and siren) to a verified in-progress crime, as opposed to a “normal” burglar alarm that’s probably a false alarm. About a week or so after installing this new system, this happened (speakers on for this video):
In addition to this awesome new security system with 24/7 monitoring, I also made some changes to the office internally – stuff I won’t go into detail about here but trust me, no one will be stealing anything else from inside our offices.
Finally, I installed the same Deep Sentinel Security system at my home, and I can’t tell you how nice it feels to have guards monitor the exterior of my home 24/7. That level of peace of mind is worth every penny (about $100/month after the initial purchase of the camera equipment).
I don’t work for Deep Sentinel, but I have been very impressed with their platform and wanted to share this experience with all of our clients – businesses who could probably use this level of security. If anyone decides to get a system, Deep Sentinel has a referral program that give you a 15% discount off your order. Use this link to get the 15% discount: CLICK HERE