Locks and cameras only keep honest people honest.
One of the biggest mistakes made in any industry trying to work in conjunction with any type of security element or company is not treating the contractor as a subject matter expert. This perception is born from a wide array of reasons: oversaturation of the market and the abundance of companies and resources made available to the consumer, a basic misunderstanding of what qualifies as a secure site, and a naivete about just how problematic things like vandalism and thievery are to a bottom line.
The criminal element that go after high-dollar items, which are abundant in the yachting industry, aren’t deterred by cameras or locks. Unmanned locations are actually ideal for them most of the time, as police investigations of those crimes are time consuming and very rarely yield any worthwhile results.
Preventive measures are great, but they aren’t enough and don’t really qualify as ‘reasonable security measures’, a phrase often hidden in insurance agreements that cover the types of happenings we’re discussing. In the marina and boat industry it’s more evident than in others. Despite the money invested into projects, high-end builds, and even housing vessels, there is minimal security everywhere. It’s why Florida is such a hot-spot for would-be thieves, joy-riders and everyone in between when it comes to the yachting industry. We’re preyed on at a higher rate than almost everyone else, including up to ten yachts a year outright stolen.
We rely on things like a locked gate or cameras as being effective deterrents for this kind of criminal activity when they’re anything but. While these two tactics are extremely helpful for maintaining a solid security posture, they aren’t all you should employ. In too many situations, unmonitored videos are of low quality, or even if they have an ideal vantage they will not help you glean anything about the perpetrator outside of a general profile of a masked person. Competent thieves case a location before robbing it, as do vandals, and more often than not a site with just an automated gate and unmanned cameras don’t do any better than any other location.
Now often the question comes up, wouldn’t this just lead to a confrontation between the security personnel and the potential criminal? In the interest of candor, yes, that can happen, and if you have a well-trained staff they can respond to the situation with the kind of professionalism you’d hope for. More often than not though, no, that isn’t the case. A physical presence in the form of a sentry and roving guard are still, by far, the best in the business when it comes to dissuading someone.
Most criminals are career criminals, and they understand the difference between a soft and hard target. There are too many easy-to-exploit sites they can move on to without running into the trouble of not only a secured and monitored site, but one inhabited by on-site security specialists. It’s also cost-effective in the long run: the cost of security is often less than the cost
of any theft or vandalism that occurs when security isn’t present. If I had a pocket knife and 15 minutes alone in a yacht, I could do more damage than the cost of security for a year.
Looting, vandalism, thievery and even contractor disputes and issues are all problematic and a common happenstance in our industry, but when we look at the perpetrators that have been caught, we get an insight into their minds. The deterrent of having security is what often keeps yards from running into any of these issues. One of my own clients learned that once they do not have an issue for a long period of time, they can fall into a kind of complacency—lessening protocols, downsizing the security itself, or opting for a lesser posture such as an automated gate and some cameras. As I said before, those aren’t strong enough deterrents to assure you won’t be a victim and the very people who are executing these crimes have said as much.
In short, when you have physical and moving bodies always present on the yard, it becomes exactly the kind of place these criminals avoid.
* A sentry is a stationary guard at an avenue of approach, point of ingress and egress, or just a good vantage point to monitor their designated area.