Be aware: Syndicates targeting Durban business premises after-hours

Providing our services across multiple locations, Guarding South Africa is well-placed to monitor crime patterns and has the added advantage of tapping into the expertise of the Justicia Investigations team to evaluate risk and provide preventative solutions. This helps us bring our clients’ attention to new and increased security risks, meaning that they can take steps to prevent avoidable loss.

We’ve recently observed what appears to be a string of carefully-planned and well-organised syndicate theft operations, targeting electronic equipment in business premises.

The actual theft takes place after-hours and, despite the presence of on-site security, armed response and generally good procedures and systems that have stood the test of time – until now, that is.

Few security systems are without their weaker points and, wherever yours are, these syndicates are identifying them. The extent of their pre-planning, which must include gaining intelligence from regular or ad-hoc day-time visitors to your site, is evident in the latest breaches. Their reconnaissance mission is likely to involve weeks of effort, but the ready market for stolen computers and related technology makes it worthwhile.

Through this careful assessment of your security capacity and procedures, syndicate members are able to target the vulnerable times and places in your system, circumventing the measures that may have successfully protected your assets in the past.

As an example, many businesses have comprehensive alarm systems that prevent unauthorised access from the ground floor, but are more vulnerable if access is gained on a higher floor or through the roof of a building. We’ve seen drainpipes used for access to second floors, at just the moment when a guard has patrolled past the location, and easy access points on roof-tops used to break through ceilings.

In some cases, a perimeter alarm has been activated, but an external patrol finds no evidence of a break-in – despite the fact that the thieves are already in position inside the building and simply wait for the patrol to leave. The syndicate team then takes their time, carefully but swiftly removing quantities of valuable computer equipment. Given the volume of stolen items, removal must involve the use of vehicles strategically positioned in the vicinity of your building.

In many cases, clients find it difficult to work out how someone not employed in the company could possibly have planned the theft and can erroneously assume that the loss must be the result of an inside job. Justicia Investigations reports that, in cases they have been called in to investigate, on-site security guards and potential employee suspects have been, through polygraphs, cleared of involvement, showing that these break-ins are a distinctly external threat.

Here are just a few measures you can take to minimise your risk if your company is targeted by this type of syndicate:

  • Revisit your security risk assessment with a view to identifying any weaknesses that would expose you in light of this particular crime pattern. Even if we are not your current security service provider, you can use our expert security risk assessment service to look with a fresh set of eyes at your unique situation.
  • Ensure that you are aware of the latest, cost-effective technology that can be used to increase your security without increasing the number of guards. It’s frustrating when that weak point is one that could have been secure but for an investment of a few hundred rand. We will advise you on these options as part of a risk assessment.
  • Ask your IT department to re-emphasize to staff the importance of all information on PCs and laptops being saved to network drives. Your back-up processes depend on your employees’ compliance with your data security policies.
  • In the event of this kind of security incident and loss, seek professional investigative support immediately. The first few hours are crucial.
  • Check your alarm system to make sure the siren can be heard should the alarm be activated.
  • When being notified about an alarm activation by your alarm company, ask the controller to notify you as a matter of urgency should a second or multiple beam activation be noticed. In a recent case the alarm had been activated, the armed response team visited the premises and after doing an external walk about, reported that all was in order only to find out later that the perpetrators were in the office block and numerous beams had been activated.
  • Immediately notify your staff on the site that a breach has occurred and encourage them to come forward with any information about their suspicions, using your whistleblowing hotline for anonymity if they prefer. It’s a good idea for everyone to know that they share responsibility for maintaining a safe work environment.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss how we can help you better secure your premises, your people and your products in the face of ever-changing crime patterns.