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Is video surveillance enough? British robberies prove that companies cannot be secure on surveillance alone

Published by Jennifer on June 28, 2007 8:18 AM

It's the biggest recorded heist in UK history - a staggering £53 million pounds, (about $105 million USD) taken from a sorting and holding depot for retail stores and groceries all across England, even serving the Bank of England. So how did this take place? Money handling and intense security go hand-in-hand, and this depot was no exception. This was an inside job - security guard Emir Hysenaj actually used video surveillance to counter the security of the depot.

Hysenaj, a former security guard at the Securitas depot, had fastened a tiny spy camera, less than an inch in diameter, to his belt. A month's worth of footage was taken and studied by Hysenaj and the other robbers before taking out the crime. Mr. Hysenaj's position as a security guard gave him the opportunity to access many areas of the building not available to many employees, and continued trips allowed him to get a good layout of the building and its security features (and flaws) through the footage ascertained by the spycam. The security camera seems crucial to the robbers' success, as it allowed them to surpass some of the depot's security features, including a comprehensive CCTV system, air locks, a double key system on the depot's internal vault, and a general bunker-like construction built to withhold nearly any type of attack.

It's obvious that these heavy duty security measures were ineffective at best at preventing this kind of robbery - the presence of the spycam nullified any preventative measures the locks and heavy-duty steel doors could have presented. The real irony in this situation, however, is that this loss could have been easily prevented with a couple of simple measures.

Video surveillance is a great security tool - but it can never be the only way a business protects itself. Many companies with sensitive security needs, especially factories and banks, have anti-camera policies prohibiting unauthorized camera use in certain areas of the office, and prohibiting the use of cell phones with cameras on company property. Employee screening - a popular measure taken by companies around the world - is one easy way to do this. Employees are screened as they enter and leave work for unpaid merchandise, weapons, and other prohibited items. Background checks and other pre-employment screening, as well as a rigorous review standard can also help reduce the chances of these types of inside jobs.

Police have so far only recovered £21 million of the estimated £53 million haul. Read more at the Guardian Unlimited...