Paul Davis On Crime & Security
The good people of the Logan section of Philadelphia are mourning Huam Mo, a beloved 53-year-old small businesswoman who operated a coin Laundromat with a coffee and donut counter.
Her son and husband found Mo dead in her Laundromat last week. She was brutally murdered in a robbery that netted the murderer less than $200.
According to the Philadelphia Police, the robber, armed with a knife or screwdriver, attacked Mo as she was closing her business for the night. It appears that Mo put up a fierce struggle with the armed robber before she died.
The Laundromat did not have surveillance cameras.
This terrible crime might have been prevented if the Laundromat had a security camera system. Cameras and security alarms prevent many crimes from occurring, and the cameras aid the police in catching the criminals when and if a crime does occur.
I’ve interviewed homicide detectives who told me that when they arrive at the scene of a crime, the first thing they do is look for security cameras.
Unfortunately, the detectives told me, often there are no cameras in the area, and when there are, they find that most of the cameras are of poor quality. Some cameras only monitor and don’t record, some offer only grainy images, and some re-record over the tapes too soon.
But in some cases the homicide detectives discover a good quality security camera system and the tapes aid them in solving the murder. The detectives watch the tapes intensely and often they find images of the murder and/or robbery.
Those images often lead to the arrest and conviction of the murderer and/or armed robber. District Attorneys like to present tapes at the trials. Often, once the accused has seen the tape of themselves in the criminal act, they pled guilty on the spot and skip a trial.
As one homicide detective told me, "A murderer can’t argue with the tape."
As a writer I’ve been out on the street with detectives and patrol officers many times over the years and I’ve observed them as they investigated murder, robberies and other crimes. All of the detectives and patrol officers I’ve talked to recommend that small businesses install a quality security camera system.
The ideal is an integrated security alarm system with closed circuit television cameras (CCTV). A business should ideally have multiple cameras with motion detectors and alarms, a multi-screen monitor for all cameras, and a digital recorder.
A good integrated system also should include a key card access system with magnetic locks on the doors, which allow an employee to buzz customers in.
In most cases, a camera should cover the exterior of the business and the parking lot. Interior cameras should cover the cash register and the front entrance. A camera should also cover the back door and other places of special interest to the business owner.
The security camera system aids in loss prevention programs as well as curtailing armed robbery. The cameras will help keep your customers and employees honest, or they will catch them in the act of stealing.
There are a wide variety of brands and quality of security camera systems and one size does not fit all. A small business owner should have a security survey performed on his or her business. The completed survey will recommend what the small business owner specifically needs for his or her business.
There are security consultants who will survey your business for a fee or you can ask for a security survey from a representative from the national security companies like Broadview Security and ADT. There are also many smaller, local companies that provide good security equipment and services.
There are also “do it yourself” security camera systems on the market, but I recommend you hire a reputable security company to install and provide security services.
I was still working for a Defense Department command on September 11, 2001. As the administrative officer for the command, I oversaw security and safety programs. After the horrendous 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we upgraded our security and I coordinated the installation of an integrated security system with cameras and key card access at all of our Defense Department command offices.
In addition to our main office on a naval base in Philadelphia, we also had satellite offices located on military bases and defense contractor plants across five states. It was a big job, but the vendor was competent, their equipment was excellent, and they were very helpful in training our employees.
The new security system required our people to adapt to a new culture of highly improved security, but despite the inconveniences and loss of public privacy, many were thankful for the added security and safety that the security camera systems provided.
For the small business owner, a quality security camera system will also make your employees and customers more safe and secure.