Security Solution for York Region Schools in Canada

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Jul 15, 2010 1:03:00 PM

The Regional Municipality of York is a large geographic area located just north of Toronto. It is recognized as the fastest growing census division in Canada. The region covers more than 1,761 square kilometers and is currently home to over 950,000 people. At the current growth rate, the population in the region is projected to exceed 1.5 million within the next 20 years.

Securitas Canada provides patrol and alarm response services to the York Catholic District School Board facilities, consisting of approximately 100 Catholic elementary schools, secondary schools and school board offices spread across the entire region.  Like most schools, those in York Region are regularly used outside of school hours for their sporting fields and park-like settings. Area teenagers often choose school grounds as a place to congregate in the evening. As a result of the after-hours use, schools face constant and repeated vandalism. Broken windows are by far the most common ‘abnormal' finding when conducting a school patrol or responding to an alarm condition. To help combat this situation, Securitas mobile patrol units in York Region all carry laminate window repair kits so that cracks and small breaks can be quickly and temporarily repaired to restore the integrity of the perimeter.

In addition to alarm response services, Securitas also provides holiday and anti-vandalism patrols when requested. On a summer holiday weekend, Securitas may be responsible for providing full perimeter and interior patrols at over 100 locations across the region. When a particular location is subject to a rash of undesirable activity and/or occurrences, Securitas is often requested to increase the frequency of patrols outside of normal school hours in order to detect and deter unwanted activity.

Securitas received one particularly challenging request during the Christmas and New Year holiday period in 2007. Securitas was asked to provide 2 separate patrols for each of the 225 schools in the York Region District School Board. One patrol at each of the locations was to be completed between December 22nd and December 24th and a second patrol was to be completed at each location between the 29th and the 31st. Securitas was able to manage an amazing 98% completion rate, compared with previous security provider's 40% completion rate, an accomplishment that astounded our client.

Providing timely alarm response and patrols to over 325 locations spread across such a large area presents some unique challenges. Long distances between locations and adverse weather and traffic conditions combine to challenge the Securitas officers. Securitas has risen to the challenge and has provided a consistently reliable service to meet every requirement the client sets.

"Securitas has consistently performed well in carrying out its various duties and responsibilities. The firm has proven to be accommodating and responsive to the school board's changing requirements. A particular strength of the firm is the excellent on-line reporting tools. I would have no hesitation in recommending Securitas to any other interested customer."

Walter Olenych, Manager, Facilities Services Unit
York Catholic District School Board

via Securitas Canada website

Tags: Security Patrols, Community, Alarm Response

Crimes rates may influence where renters choose to live

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Feb 16, 2010 10:33:00 AM

According to a national survey, 96% of respondents said neighborhood crime rate influences where they choose to live.  In fact, most renters are willing to pay more for additional safety features and to live in an area where they feel safe.

Top 5 Safety Features Renters Would Pay More For:

  1. In-unit security alarm system
  2. 24/7 building security patrol guards and a doorman
  3. Security cameras on the community property
  4. Mandatory background screening for all residents
  5. Cylinder deadbolt locks on windows and doors


Unfortunately, there's not a magic formula to guarantee your personal safety or ensure that your home won't be burglarized at some point.  However, there are some things you can do to decrease your chances of becoming a victim of crime.

1. Stay Informed

A number of online resources are available to help you stay informed about what's going on in your community.  Some of my favorites include SpotCrime and EveryBlock

One advantage of SpotCrime is that it provides crime maps for cities around the world.  Not only do these maps tell you the location of the crime and what type of crime occurred, but when available, it also uses Google maps with Street View to provide you with a photograph of the exact location. 

Although limited to select US cities, EveryBlock provides a great deal more information than SpotCrime.  Not only do they have crime maps, but you can also find information on filmings, foreclosures, street closures, restaurant inspections, building permits, and property transfers. 

Visit the US Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Public Website to search for sex offenders by zip code.  From there, you will be provided with the name, home address, picture, date and location of the individual's conviction and a description of the crime.   

2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Get to know your neighbors and be aware of what's going on around you. 

3. Don't Buzz People In, Hold the Door Open for Strangers, or Prop Open Common Doors

Locked doors and security systems are there for a reason and that's to keep you safe.  Every time you hold the door for someone you don't know or prop a door open, you may be putting yourself as well as other residents in danger.

4. Look for Safety Features When Choosing an Apartment

Upper-level apartments are less likely to experience break ins than ground level units.  Make sure all doors and windows have functional locks.  Main entrances should have peep holes.  If you have a sliding glass door, be sure to put a guard at the bottom to help prevent break ins.  Make sure you know who else has master keys to the apartment.  Security cameras, background checks of tenants, security officers that patrol the property and doormen or security gates are all added security measures.

Tags: safety tips, Community

L.A.'s business improvement districts help reduce crime with private security

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Feb 9, 2010 10:17:00 AM

In August 2009, I posted a story titled Security Patrols Help Reduce Panhandling describing how Securitas Mobile helped reduce panhandling in a Special Service Area (SSA), Six Corners, on Chicago's Northwest side. SSA's are designated areas of Chicago that fund expanded services and programs, not currently provided through the city, through a localized property tax levy.  Projects may include security services, area marketing and advertising assistance, promotional activities such as parades and festivals, or any variety of small scale capital improvements. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, a similar program referred to as Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) exists in L.A. where business and property owners in common areas have joined forces to keep their neighborhoods safe and clean.  Over the past twenty years, local law enforcement in L.A. has lacked the resources to keep up with increases in crime and dilapidated streets.  As a result, more than two dozen of these BIDS now employ private security in their area.  Rand Corporation conducted a study on Los Angeles BIDS, focusing on a 12-year period from 1994 to 2005.  According to an article titled L.A.'s business improvement districts help reduce crime, study finds, results from the study include:

  • No evidence exists suggesting that private security in the BIDS simply displaced crime to other neighboring areas.
  • In their examination of the city's 30 improvement districts, researchers found that violent crime dropped on average an extra 8% compared to the drop throughout the city during that period. For example, the study found that improvement districts saw an average drop in crime of 7% compared to 5.7% in areas without them.
  • Areas that spent the most on security were generally the most successful. The Hollywood Entertainment and Fashion District improvement districts each spent more than $1 million a year on public safety and security, while at least three others spent more than $300,000.

The article states, "The rise of the districts dovetails with Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton's push for community-based policing, based in part on the "broken-windows" theory that pushes for prosecution of small-scale crimes as a way of cutting down on blight in troubled areas...LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith, who oversaw the department's Central Division downtown for several years, said the improvement districts act as a 'force multiplier for our officers. There is no doubt in my mind that our success in reducing crime downtown was due in large part to our partnership with the [improvement districts]. Those folks are terrific to work with.'"

Click here for the full article.

Tags: Security Trend Alert, Community

Milwaukee Officers Challenge Each Other to a Healthier Lifestyle

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Feb 3, 2010 11:50:00 AM

Officer Sedric said, "I know I look better, feel better and that my confidence has never been higher."

milwaukee security officers










Pictured left to right: David Atias, James Shoemaker and Sedric Smith

James Shoemaker, Mobile Officer in Milwaukee, WI has always made fitness a priority in his life.  Now, he's leading two of his colleagues on the journey to a healthier lifestyle.  "I have always liked to work out.  I always hoped that I could motivate others by doing it myself."  Officer Shoemaker has been serious about weight training and running for years.  With some encouragement from Shoemaker, Officer Sedric Smith decided to join a local gym in January 2009.  Shoemaker guided him through a regular weight training and jogging regimen, and Smith quickly dropped 25lbs.  They were a force to be reckoned with.

Officer David Atias was fully aware that two of his fellow officers had begun transforming their lifestyle and as a result, their physical stature.  He decided it was time for him to step up to the plate.  He began biking on a daily basis.  His skill level improved and the 3 officers started riding and informally competing with one another.  In less than 6 months, Officer Atias lost 70lbs.  Today, you can find Atias at the gym running, biking and weight training.

When asked what their goal weights are, these gentlemen simply explain that it's not about the number on the scale, but rather the way they feel.  "Our ultimate goal is to get ripped and to get in the best shape of our lives," said Shoemaker.  But what happens when someone slips up?  They've figured out a way to address that too.  Each participant has their own set of goals which include nutrition.  If someone violates their plan, they must document it on a list that is visible to the entire group.  They understand that the more they cheat, the longer it will take to achieve their goals.  Sedric said that his confidence level has improved and in some ways, he "feels invincible."  He feels as though his job performance has improved too.  The physical demand of the job is no longer so demanding.  Completing tasks is easier and done much quicker.  He feels more energized and alert than before.  Sedric said, "I know I look better, feel better and that my confidence has never been higher."

Tags: Health, Community

Kansas City Patrol Officers Prevent Robbery

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Jan 26, 2010 12:38:00 PM

On January 7, 2010, Securitas received an alarm call just after midnight from Kaw Valley Banks in Kansas City, KS.  Mobile Patrol Officer Jeffrey Hilty and Officer Earle Beason were quick to respond.

Upon arriving at the scene, the security officers completed a routine exterior property inspection before entering the facility to conduct an interior inspection. Once inside, Beason caught sight of a suspect fleeing the scene and immediately contacted local law enforcement before continuing his search.

While searching a boiler room, the security officers encountered a second suspect who carried a weapon and threatened them as he backed away and ran from the scene with a third suspect.

Moments later, the police arrived. Both security officers briefed the police before accompanying them into the building. Just before entering the building for a second time, Officer Beason spotted another perpetrator on the roof of the building. The security officers and police promptly entered the building, confiscated a bag containing what police described as "burglary tools," and headed to the roof to apprehend the fourth suspect.

After police took the fourth suspect into custody, Beason suggested that the police sergeant find one of the suspects who fled by following a trail of footprints in the snow. The officers followed the footprints for nearly a mile and were led directly to a house that belonged to the suspect who was apprehended on the roof. The police have since filed for a search warrant and hope to arrest any remaining suspects who may reside there.  

Thanks to the prompt response and careful actions performed by Officer Beason and Officer Hilty, one suspect was arrested, and no damage was done to the property.  We thank these brave patrol officers for a job well done and are proud to have them as part of the Securitas Mobile team.  


Left to right: Officer Jeff Hilty and Officer Earle Beason holding the Branch Manager's Award for Excellence coins and a certificate for outstanding service.

kansas city security officers

Tags: Community, Alarm Response

Guns in the Workplace Seminar- Kansas City, MO

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Jan 20, 2010 10:38:00 AM

Guns in the Workplace: Planning for an Active Shooter & Workplace Violence 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

11:00 a.m.

Kauffman Stadium

I-70 and Blue Ridge Cutoff

Herk Robinson Conference Room

Kansas City, MO

New laws granting employees the right to keep guns in their vehicles at work raises the risk of every company's worst nightmare - an active shooter at work.

Find out what you need to know-and what you need to do.

Please join Securitas Security Services USA on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. for a practical look at new gun laws, and how to adapt employee and security policies to comply while maintaining your security and investigative and enforcement authority.

Featured Speaker: Eben Hall, Sergeant, Kansas City, Missouri Police Department

Eben is a Sergeant for a major metropolitan city in the Kansas City area.  He has served his agency for 17 years, with most of that time focused on service as a SWAT team sniper and entry specialist, and teaching firearms and defensive tactics at one of the nation's leading police academies.  He works closely with area businesses and police departments in the prevention and management of workplace violence. He is a nationally certified instructor in all categories of firearms and defensive tactics training, and a veteran of the United States Marine Corp.

Space is limited, so we ask that you please respond with your acceptance as soon as possible to Renee Wakefield-Campbell at (816)564-5706 or via e-mail to

We look forward to seeing you!

Click here for DIRECTIONS to Kauffman Stadium.

Tags: Workplace Violence, Announcements, Community

Security Trend: Construction for a Cause

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Dec 15, 2009 1:40:00 PM

Habitat for Humanity is a non profit organization working to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness throughout the world.  With the combined efforts of volunteer labor and donated funds and building supplies, Habitat for Humanity constructs homes for those in need. Unfortunately, these projects are not immune to theft and vandalism.  In fact, like any other construction site, theft and vandalism is common concern.  These sites often fall victim to theft of equipment, tools, supplies and vandalism.

In May 2009, $50,000 worth of copper disappeared from a Habitat for Humanity project in Omaha, NEHabitat for Humanity partnered with Securitas after one of their partners utilized mobile services during a corporate build and didn't incur any losses.  Securitas Mobile began arming homes that were in the process of being built and completed homes that were awaiting a family with alarm systems, with alarm response services and occasional patrol inspections.  In the past four months, Securitas Mobile has documented three incidents that have proved successful in deterring crime.  The first day service began for one property, the Tattletale alarm system was triggered.  A Securitas Mobile patrol officer immediately responded to the alarm and saw three people running from the house.  Luckily, nothing was stolen and there wasn't any damage to the property.  Daniel Brewer, Construction Manager, Habitat for Humanity said, "Impressed with the performance of the system and good customer service, we installed similar systems on a number of our projects throughout the summer and this fall.  We know it works because of several "near misses," where would-be thieves have forced open doors and been frightened away before they could steal materials or damage the homes, saving us thousands of dollars and valuable construction time."

To find out how to secure your construction projects or vacant homes, contact

mobile patrol car

Tags: Security Trend Alert, Product Information, Security Patrols, Community, Alarm Response

Chicago Ranks #1 for Vacant Warehouse and Factory Space

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Nov 6, 2009 12:30:00 PM

Chicago is not only a transportation hub with numerous logistics and distribution companies, it's also the home of over 12,000 manufacturing companies directly and indirectly responsible for over 1.8 million jobs.  As the global economy changes, many manufacturing facilities are shifting their production overseas or going out of business as they continue to conduct business the way they always have.  The continuous decline of this industry has left Chicago the #1 city in the country for vacant warehouse and factory space.  According to Chicago Business Today, the Chicago area has 140 million square feet of vacant property, roughly the equivalent of all the office space in the downtown area!

With vacant properties come a plethora of issues.

  1. Theft and Vandalism - Can you think of a better place to break into than a building with no one occupying or watching it?  Neither can the burglars looking to steal any scrap metal, piping, or appliances you may have left behind.
  2. Wintertime Disasters - Freezing temperatures can lead to bursting pipes and water damage, something no one wants to deal with.
  3. Vagrants - Drug use, prostitution and squatting are all common issues for vacant property owners.  Plus, it's a great place for teenagers to throw parties!
  4. Critters and Creatures - Raccoons, bats, squirrels, cockroaches and mice need homes too, but you don't want to be their landlord.  With nobody there to kick them out, your property is the perfect place to set up shop.

Hmmm, what tipped you off that this was a vacant building?  Was it the trash all over the premises, the overgrown landscaping, real estate signs, "no trespassing" signs or the constantly empty parking lot?  While there are some things beyond your control as a property owner, there are steps you can take to decrease the likelihood that your building becomes a target.


  1. Hire a security firm like Securitas to conduct random Security Patrols of your property.  These periodic Interior and Exterior Property Inspections of the premises can be used to identify if regular maintenance such as trash removal is being taken care of and if there are any intruders on the property. 
  2. Install an alarm system.  There are a variety of products available to meet your needs including wireless systems for properties without access to electricity.
  3. Install steel window screens and doors

Tags: Foreclosure, safety tips, Security Patrols, Community

Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Oct 28, 2009 3:34:00 PM

There seems to be an endless supply of stories about illicit drug use, alcohol abuse and misuse of prescription drugs by Hollywood stars, on-air TV and radio personalities and music icons. But it's not just celebrities who struggle with alcohol and other drug problems.

Substance abuse is widespread in the United States. And people with substance abuse problems are not likely to leave those problems behind when they come to work.

Possible Substance-Abuse Indicators

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the following performance and behavior problems may (but do not necessarily) indicate possible substance abuse:


  • Inconsistent work quality
  • Poor concentration
  • Lowered productivity
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Unexplained disappearances from the worksite
  • Carelessness, mistakes
  • Errors in judgment
  • Needless risk taking
  • Disregard for safety
  • Tardiness, extended lunch periods, early departures


  • Frequent financial problems
  • Avoidance of friends and colleagues
  • Blaming others for own problems and shortcomings
  • Complaints about problems at home
  • Deterioration in personal appearance
  • Complaints and excuses of vaguely defined illnesses

If you observe signs or behaviors that indicate someone at your workplace may have a substance abuse problem, report it. Don't worry about jeopardizing a person's job. If someone is abusing drugs, he or she is in far greater danger if you do not report your concern. Identifying a problem can be the first step in helping an individual overcome it.

This is an excerpt from the November 2009 Security Spotlight, an informational guide for Securitas USA Clients and Employees.  Click here to read the full article.

Tags: Workplace Violence, Community

National Crime Prevention Month

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Oct 6, 2009 12:24:00 PM

October is here and with it comes colorful trees and cooler temperatures.  It signifies the time when sundresses and sandals are pulled out of the closet to make room for sweaters and boots, something I look forward to each year.  October means Halloween is here, a holiday where it is acceptable for children to overindulge in sweets and an excuse for many adults to revert back to children by dressing up as their favorite super hero.  And less noted, but more importantly, October is National Crime Prevention month. 

In 1984, the National Crime Prevention Council, the nation's center of excellence for preventing crime, designated October as Crime Prevention Month. The month-long commemoration reflects the adage that prevention pays off. NCPC strongly believes that citizen involvement in crime prevention can and has played a vital role in helping many communities stay safe.  During Crime Prevention Month, government agencies, law enforcement, civic groups, schools, businesses, and youth organizations conduct a robust set of activities to highlight prevention information, showcase their accomplishments, reach out to educate and empower the public through educational campaigns, and explore new partnerships that build stronger communities in which crime cannot survive.  Contact your local law enforcement agency for a schedule of activities happening in your community.

This is the perfect time to reacquaint yourself, your coworkers and your loved ones with steps they can take to keep themselves and their properties safe.  For example, simply being aware of your surroundings and walking purposefully can decrease your likelihood of being the target of a physical attack.  Here area a few other things to keep in mind.

  • Walk and park your car in well lit areas.
  • Have your keys in your hand and ready before getting to your car or home.
  • Avoid talking on your cell phone when you are walking alone. This can serve as a distraction and make you less aware of your surroundings.
  • Avoid wearing headphones.  This can make you look less aware of your surroundings.
  • Travel in groups whenever possible.
  • Don't overload yourself with bags that restrict your movement.
  • If someone is dropping you off at your home, ask them to wait until you are safely inside before leaving.
  • Trust your instincts. If someone appears suspicious, don't be afraid to look them in the eye and walk to the other side of the street.

For more safety tips and information on what you can do in your community to promote crime prevention, visit

Tags: Announcements, Community