In light of the serious problems with crime faced by convenience stores, video and now audio represent only part of an effective convenience store security package
Audio systems can enhance liability protection.

Recently, a large regional convenience store chain with units across the Midwest and South supplemented its video surveillance security system with an audio monitoring system.

Retail stores with Louroe audio system:

The technology has been installed in more than 700 of the convenience retailer’s locations. The Louroe Electronics systems feature omni-directional capability and sensitivity and pick up sound within a 15-foot radius.

Tulsa, Okla.-based SageNet, the retailer’s security integrator, handled the installation. The integrator mounted three to five microphones in each store. Typically, the microphones mount on the ceiling above point-of-sale terminals and other areas in which criminals might take an interest.

The microphones are primarily used for live monitoring, remote responses to situations and conflict resolution among employees and between employees and customers — if an argument breaks out, the manager in the back or at a remote location will hear it.

The microphones interface with a Louroe base station that usually sits in the office or control room. The desktop unit receives and plays back the audio through its three-inch speaker. In addition, the base station has four audio outputs that can connect to a DVR, enabling end-users to review video footage synced with audio.

Preventing theft and break-ins:

"There is also a two-way communications configuration that makes it possible to speak to people in the store."

Monitoring personnel can follow the audio and video locally from a back office and remotely from a central security station.

If there is a robbery attempt in a store being monitored remotely, the security officer at the remote location can call the police.

Easier communication:

There is also a two-way communications configuration that makes it possible to speak to people in the store. “Suppose a crime is being committed after hours, and there is no danger to employees or bystanders, an oral intervention makes sense,” says Cameron Javdani, director of sales and marketing with Louroe.

In such a case, an officer at a remote monitoring station can intervene by speaking to the perpetrators: “You are on-camera. The police have been notified and are on the way.”

 “Audio gives four key benefits, especially when paired with video,” adds Javdani. “Audio provides additional evidence, alarm verification, deterrence and prevention, and quality assurance.”

 Audio as a security tool:

The quality assurance piece involves the ability of the store manager to monitor transactions at the cash register to make sure employees are providing the level of customer service the store promises.

Finally, audio systems can enhance liability protection. In court, depositions or discussions with opposing counsel, audio synced up with the video of an event can provide much more compelling presentations.

"Audio provides additional evidence, alarm verification, deterrence and prevention, and quality assurance.”

 Javdani expects audio as a security tool to begin to catch on. “Audio paired with video is becoming ubiquitous, and the industry is coming to understand how audio can enhance security,” he says. “DVRs and NVRs all support audio today, and more and more users want to take advantage of it.”

In light of the serious problems with crime faced by convenience stores, video and now audio represent only part of an effective convenience store security package.

Precautionary measures:

The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing reports “certain precautions can help deter crime, particularly armed robbery. These precautions include forging a cooperative relationship with the police, posting “No Loitering” and “No Trespassing” signs, maintaining lines of sight through windows and doors unobstructed by signs, silent hold-up alarms with a panic button, signs telling the public about the alarm system, a secured drop safe for cash and a high-resolution digital camera system.

 Such measures worked. In 2008, for instance, the City of Houston mandated these measures for its convenience stores and convenience store crime plummeted by 17 percent. Other cities followed suit.

 Perhaps audio security can help to reduce crime by even larger margins.

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Michael Fickes End User Correspondent, SecurityInformed.com

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