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DIY business security monitoring

With the holiday season once again almost upon us, many small businesses face security challenges as they wind down and/or shut-up shop for a well-deserved rest over Christmas and New Year.

Some businesses face threats from an influx of partygoers into their area while others find that their environment is deserted as they and everyone else around them close down for a break. In either scenario, personal safety can be compromised and the risk of break-in, theft and malicious damage is heightened.

This is supported by NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research data which shows that break and enter dwelling crimes rise noticeably over the Christmas/New Year period including a 51 percent increase on New Year’s Eve.

Meanwhile, the occurrence of malicious damage to property increases dramatically from mid-December to mid-January with peaks in the days leading up to Christmas and a large spike on New Year’s Eve (up by 30 percent) and New Year’s Day (up by 39 percent).

What this all means is that every small business that scales down operations or closes up for any extended period of time should take a few precautions to reduce the additional risk to people and/or premises. In addition, businesses that are in a party precinct will need to ensure they are protected while revellers inundate the area.

Why are some businesses targeted?

There are varying reasons why certain premises are targeted for burglaries. Recent Victorian crimes analysis (September 2011) from the RACV provided some insight to some of the most common contributing factors to which premises are targeted by criminals. Their list included:

  • A lack of visible security measures, for example, no monitored alarm or inadequate window/door locks
  • An adjoining laneway which might offer burglars easy access or a ready-made escape route
  • An obvious display of wealth
  • A physical environment where thieves might feel they were less at risk of being caught because the street was either too quiet or too busy or the property was very secluded.

With a combination of common sense steps in place and a monitored security system, the RACV believes you can significantly decrease your risk of burglary.

Basic security
There are some fundamental housekeeping rules to follow if you are winding down or closing up for the holiday season. Let other businesses in your vicinity know your plans, leave a light or two on, cancel newspapers and/or mail (or make arrangements for them to be collected) and secure any valuables that are on the premises.

By taking these simple measures, you are already reducing the likelihood of a break-in or other crime against your premises. Most theft, vandalism and malicious damage offences are opportunistic so even the little things you can do to deter offenders will make a difference to the overall risk profile.


Consider installing a DIY video surveillance system. Security monitoring solutions represent one of the fastest growing consumer electronics categories at present as they have evolved to being much more affordable and feature rich as well as being easy to install and use.

Today you can walk into just about any major electronics or computer retail outlet and buy DIY video surveillance kits that include all of the cameras, cables, recording devices, software and fixtures that you need to get started in self-supported security monitoring.

Video surveillance systems are easier to use than ever with many now having the ability to see what’s happening from anywhere in the world, live over the internet or on your smartphone.

The deterrent effect and assisting police
Having an effective security monitoring solution has a dual purpose when it comes to protecting your business. A highly visible security monitoring system sends a clear message to potential criminals that they are being watched and if they try anything they will be caught on camera. Criminals will often move onto an alternative target rather than risk being captured on camera.

In the event that you are the victim of acts of unlawful entry or malicious damage, capturing the incident on camera and presenting it to the police makes the likelihood of a successful arrest and prosecution significantly greater. Video surveillance systems are critical policing tools in a large array of crimes against persons and property.

Most large electronics stores sell a range of DIY surveillance solutions tailored to suit a variety of small-to-medium-size business needs. When it comes to selecting the right solution for your business, most store staff can help you narrow the choices down to what you need and can afford. There are indoor and outdoor cameras, day and night vision capabilities, low to high resolution, multiple camera solutions and even dummy cameras that can be combined to suit your specific needs.

Motion detection is a fairly standard feature of systems these days and is highly recommended, so the DVR only captures and records video when there is movement within view of the camera. This has the advantage of making set-and-go surveillance viable for even extended absences from the premises.

In addition, you can be sent an email notification when there is motion detected, PCs and smartphones can also be used to log in and view camera images in real-time and the more sophisticated systems will facilitate remote pan and tilt functions to allow flexibility in the viewing range if you have a pan and tilt camera installed.

Recording devices are also core to an effective surveillance solution. Today they have large storage capacity easy editing software and the ability to back up incident footage to other media or PC via USB port. Meanwhile, you can use an array of ‘dummy’ cameras to simulate security monitoring equipment which serves to reduce the costs yet still retain the powerful deterrent effect of a highly visible security monitoring system.

Selecting the right solution
In considering a purchase, it is important to have a logical process to hone in on the cameras, monitors and recording solutions that best suit the unique environment and needs of each individual business.

If you are going to the trouble of installing a security monitoring solution then you need to understand just what it is that you are hoping to achieve and then select products that best suit those desired outcomes.

Irrespective of the buying motive, purchasing the best video security for your business starts with selecting the right cameras and recording device. Decisions need to be made about whether you need all-weather cameras, and/or day/night functionality.

Be clear about what you want to capture with your cameras. Surveillance cameras can be used to monitor everything from car parks to entrances, work stations, customers, cash registers and warehouse facilities.

Each is a unique environment and there are different cameras that are best suited to the task at hand so working out what it is that you want to monitor and where you want to mount a camera is important to narrowing down the choice and finding the cameras that are suited to your specific needs.

There are many levels of quality in video surveillance cameras and it is generally a case of you get what you pay for. The good news is that you can purchase very good quality cameras with exceptionally high resolution at an affordable price these days.

The resolution of cameras is generally measured by the number of TV lines. If you want good quality, high resolution images, then you need more TV lines. Anything above 480 TV-line resolution will provide excellent detail.

The other decisions you will have to make relate to whether you want wired or wireless cameras and whether you want the deterrent effect of highly visible system or something that is partially or completely covert.

Recording solutions
Once you have considered the camera options, you need to consider what sort of recording solution you want to use.

Recording and retaining the video captured by cameras is essential to using video surveillance to its maximum effect. Kit solutions are available that offer integrated recording devices as part of the package. You should also ensure that they have the capability to extract data through a USB port so that data can be easily transferred to external drives for storage and back-up purposes which are now pretty much a standard feature.

With the help of motion detection-enabled cameras, DVRs can be set to record on movement, at pre-determined times or set for permanent recording. They should include features that allow many different levels of recording quality and overwrite configurations and, if required, be able to capture images from multiple cameras simultaneously.

Investing in peace of mind
One of the primary motivations behind installing a DIY security monitoring solution is the enormous peace of mind it brings to business owners who are worried about their assets while they are away on a holidays.

It is now easier and less expensive than ever to take the protection of your business in your own hands and ensure that your premises and personnel are safe from personal harm, theft or malicious damage.

With Christmas and New Year just around the corner, it is a great time to take a look at the latest offerings at your preferred electronics superstore. It will help you to protect your premises and enjoy your break.

Jeremy Stewart, vice president for Global Marketing at Swann (www.swann.com.au)

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