Understanding communication trouble signals from an armed burglar alarm system

October 23, 2019

By David Sexton

[1]As a jeweller, you already know the importance of sound security; you don’t need to be sold on the fact that working in this industry marks you as a potential target of certain criminal activity, even before you get started on conducting your own security risk assessment of your business.

When it comes to risk management, you know you need to identify key exposures to loss in order to determine the priorities you should follow to cost-effectively manage your identified criminal risks.

Further, as a responsible business person who deals with jewellery, you must appreciate the fact there are exposures to loss you cannot avoid, transfer, or eliminate while still working in this industry. You must develop effective loss prevention and security strategies to help you manage and/or mitigate these exposures to loss, such as the installation of a reliable and effective commercial burglar alarm system to protect your property when you are closed for business.

What’s covered?

The primary objective of all monitored burglar alarm systems is to detect unauthorized entry into a protected property when the system is ‘armed.’ This detection should occur as early as possible to dispatch the appropriate agency (i.e. system subscriber, law enforcement officer, certificated guard) to respond and thoroughly investigate the source of the notification and/or disrupt a burglary in progress.

Underwriters Laboratories of Canada’s (ULC’s) burglar alarm monitoring certificate program covers commercial, financial, and residential properties. ULC classifies the following monitoring services:

Guard response service is covered in the National Standard of Canada (NSC) CAN/ULC-S301-09 Signal Receiving Centre (SRC) burglar alarm systems and operations.

During a guard response, the extent of the inspection of a protected property is determined by response level 1, 2, 3, or 4.

Level 1 – 2

Recent attacks on jewellery stores have seen burglars gain unauthorized access by way of unprotected adjacent properties or through rooftops.[2]
Recent attacks on jewellery stores have seen burglars gain unauthorized access by way of unprotected adjacent properties or through rooftops.

Burglar alarm notifications arising at a protected property when the system is ‘armed’ with a level 1 – 2 guard response service require a complete investigation of a protected property’s exterior to assure all readily-accessible points of entry are secure and intact.

This sounds reasonable; however, recent attacks on jewellery stores have seen burglars gain unauthorized access by way of unprotected adjacent properties or through rooftops. In these cases, the burglars anticipate they have triggered an agency response and wait for the guards to arrive.

These attacks go undetected when these guards report to the scene and inspect only the exterior of the protected property. They look for signs of forced entry and, when they don’t find anything suspicious, they depart, thinking it was a false dispatch incident and not an active burglary attack. The intruders then get to work confident they will not be bothered the rest of the night.

Level 3 – 4

Burglar alarm notifications arising at a protected property when the system is ‘armed’ with a level 3 – 4 guard response service require a complete investigation of the exterior of the protected property to assure all readily-accessible points of entry are secure and intact. A thorough investigation of the interior of the protected property is also conducted.

In light of what has been observed of recent burglary attacks at jewellery operations, guards should investigate the plenum (the area between a hung ceiling and the roof of the property), as well as any common walls the protected premises shares with adjacent properties.

The ULC-certified burglar alarm system owner will need to provide the SRC access to their protected property to allow a thorough investigation to be conducted by a responding guard in compliance with guard response levels 3 and 4. Accessible devices can include a key, keypad access code, access control card, or key fob.

Taking action

The ULC-listed alarm service company providing certificated guard service is required to maintain control of devices to a subscriber’s protected premises in a manner that assures:

Specific requirements regarding access control devices are provided in Subsection 10.2 of the aforementioned NSC CAN/ULC-S301-09 SRC Burglar Alarm Systems and Operations.

If and when a monitored burglar alarm system detects unauthorized entry to a protected property, a system notification should occur as early as possible to dispatch the appropriate agency.[3]
If and when a monitored burglar alarm system detects unauthorized entry to a protected property, a system notification should occur as early as possible to dispatch the appropriate agency.

Whenever a ULC (alarm) SRC receives a system notification indicating any alarm signal communication trouble during a subscriber’s ‘armed’ period, the SRC will treat the system notification as an alarm event. The responder will proceed as directed under the ULC standard and immediately initiate appropriate response agency protocol(s) (unless the protected property has an alternate alarm communication system that continues to provide sound signal transmission capability). Likewise, the subscriber (i.e. the jeweller) should also treat any alarm system communication trouble as an alarm event.

Unless a timely and thorough investigation of the protected property is conducted, there is no way of knowing if a burglary is imminent or actively taking place at a protected property.

No jeweller should respond to an alarm notification unless a law enforcement officer or certificated guard is already on the premises. Further, the jeweller should not conduct a search of the property unless a law enforcement officer and/or certificated guard has already done so.

The true value of any burglar alarm system lies in how quickly a responder (i.e. law enforcement officer, certified guard) is dispatched to thoroughly investigate the property and identify the source of an alarm notification and/or disrupt a burglary already in process.

As a jeweller, be prepared for how you and your team will respond to your burglar alarm communication trouble signals received when your burglar alarm system is ‘armed.’ Consult with your alarm service company to better understand what alarm response protocols your SRC operator is required to follow in the event of an alarm notification received during your system’s ‘armed’ period. Further, it is important to keep your subscriber call list up-to-date and filed with your alarm service company. 

[4]

David J. Sexton, CPCU, is vice-president of loss prevention consulting at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group in the United States. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Sexton serves on the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Security Systems Council, where he is a corporate member of the insurance category. He also sits on the board of directors for Jewellers Vigilance Canada (JVC) and worked on the Central Station Alarm Association’s (CSAA’s) Insurance Liaison Committee, which assisted in the development of the UL burglar alarm modular certificate program and revised UL standard. Comments and questions can be sent to lossprevention@jminsure.com[5].

For resources regarding safety and security when carrying or working with jewellery, visit JewelersMutual.com[6]. Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group is the only company specializing exclusively in jewellery insurance in Canada and the United States. It is licensed in Canada and all 50 states.

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://www.jewellerybusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/opener-2.jpg
  2. [Image]: https://www.jewellerybusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/bigstock-141057566.jpg
  3. [Image]: https://www.jewellerybusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/bigstock-Dialing-telephone-keypad-conce-168083717.jpg
  4. [Image]: https://www.jewellerybusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/SA_DavidSexton.jpg
  5. lossprevention@jminsure.com: mailto:lossprevention@jminsure.com
  6. JewelersMutual.com: https://www.jewelersmutual.com

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