Thanks to COVID-19 and the lockdown that followed, we are seeing a rise in crime. Businesses have asked staff to work from home and the result is buildings that are left empty and vulnerable. It’s scary to see my local Walmart deploy mobile security camera units like Lot Cop, and malls like Toronto Eaton Centre boarded up.

Eaton Centre-boarded up

According to Globalnews.ca, York Region saw a 44% increase in car thefts and 45% increase in commercial break-and-enters.  Our live video monitoring service is already seeing an uptick in trespassing and illegal dumping.

Even a security system distributor was burglarized. On April 3rd, thieves drove through the front entrance of a branch in the US.  Unfortunately, as the lockdown continues and people become more desperate, I don’t foresee this trend going down. Even a security system distributor was burglarized On April 3.

York Region saw a 44% increase in car thefts and 45% increase in commercial break-and-enters

Shortage of Security Guards & Rise in Crime

As the lockdown continues, the demand for security guards is increasing. This is resulting in a huge shortage. I found out firsthand when I called a 5-6 security guard company in the Toronto area to help one of our customers. He wanted an in-person security guard to enhance our construction site video monitoring service, and I was shocked to hear that no guards were available.

What is a Lot Cop?

Last week, I received a text message from a friend with a picture of mobile security camera unit called Lot Cop.

Do a Google search of Lot Cop or Lot Cop Walmart and you will get a glimpse of the weird contraption I am talking about. They are popping up in Walmart and Home Depot parking lots across the US and Canada.

But, what is a Lot Cop and how does it work? Basically, it’s a mobile security camera solution. It includes solar panels and large batteries to provide power for the security equipment. Inside, there is a high-speed cellular modem that lets you monitor the security cameras remotely.

Walmart and Home Depot use the Lot Cop to monitor their parking lots, and in most cases, this replaces onsite physical security guards.

Solar Powered Security Camera

Does a solar-powered security camera work when you don’t live in a sunny part of the world? We get asked all the time if we carry solar-powered CCTV security cameras.

The issue with solar panels is that they require extended periods of sunlight in order to properly charge the battery. The result of a test we performed a few years ago in Toronto where mediocre. Our test included two (2) 60 cell panels, with two large batteries, and two high definition cameras.

Best Solar Powered Security Camera

The unit was installed in the summer months and in an area that had direct sunlight for 6-8 hours a day.

On a clear day, the cameras worked well, but overcast or scattered clouds would cause them to go offline quickly. We deemed the solution to be unstable and not suitable for our Northern climate.

I’m sure technology has come a long way in the past few years. I still regularly speak with solar panel manufacturers and the consensus is that a few cameras require a lot of panels and batteries. In order to house all the equipment, you end up with a gigantic frankenstein looking contraption that is way too expensive.

To get good results, you need enough of a budget to design a proper solar-powered CCTV solution, and you need to be ok with periods of downtime.

Lot Cop Alternative – Mobile Security Camera Unit

So, what’s the best alternative to solar-powered CCTV security cameras when you are looking for a rapid-deployment solution?

You can look at a mobile security camera unit that comes assembled and configured in an outdoor box. They can easily be mounted to a pole, wall, roof, or any structure that is secured to the ground.

Hard wired power is required, but that is not difficult to find at a commercial property. Power can be wired from many sources such as a light on the wall or parking lot pole. It can get challenging on construction sites and outdoor yards, but typically power can be found one way or another.

Components of a Mobile Security Camera Unit:

  • DVR or NVR to record the security cameras
  • High-speed cellular modem
  • Network switch
  • Battery backup
  • Outdoor NEMA enclosure
  • High Definition security cameras
  • Loudspeaker
  • Siren & Strobe

Can Security Cameras Replace a Security Guard?

A mobile security camera unit combined with live remote video monitoring is a great replacement for a security guard. In fact, for a fraction of the cost, you can have more areas covered at once and get cameras recording 24 hours a day. Security cameras don’t get distracted or intimidated, and they can’t fall asleep.

Security Cameras can’t be intimidated and won’t fall asleep.

However, it’s not as simple as installing security cameras and then monitoring them on your phone. Nobody can sit there and watch video 24 hours a day waiting for a crime to occur.

You’ll need a security camera solution that has video analytics in order to receive accurate alerts when people enter your property. This is called a proactive video surveillance system because it alerts you to activity in real-time.

A reactive security camera system is one that records and is used to review video only after an incident occurs. There are many video analytic security cameras on the market, but the leader for the past 10 years has been Avigilon. Although Avigilon cameras are a bit more expensive, they have the best all-around combination of high definition cameras, accurate and easy video analytics, and great video management software.

A crime is spotted on camera. Now what?

One of the most important components of a mobile security camera unit is the siren/strobe and loudspeaker. This gives the live monitoring station the ability to intervene and let intruders know that the site is actively being watched.

95% of the time, this scares people off and they go running off the property.

The other 5% of the time, police need to be dispatched to the site. The issue with police intervention is that they are busy and their response time varies depending on the severity of the crime. In our experience, it can take police anywhere from 8-20 minutes to arrive.

If any security provider tells you that they can get the police to your site faster, it’s false. Nobody has a direct line to the police, all stations are equal when calling in a crime in progress.

Can I watch my Own Security Cameras instead of paying a Monitoring Station?

Yes. With our mobile security camera units, you can choose to monitor the cameras yourself or have our monitoring station watch them for you. Of course, it is less expensive to watch them yourself, but it can be time-consuming and quite annoying.

Customers that self-monitor their security cameras end up frustrated and end up ignoring the alerts. There is a difference between security cameras used for live monitoring and regular security cameras used in most businesses. Cameras that are monitored live require built-in video analytics to reduce the number of false alerts being sent to the video monitoring station.

Motion detection cameras will pick up debris, moving tree branches, animals, and bad weather. This results in 100’s of false events detected on any given night. I can’t imagine anyone being happy receiving 300 false text alerts.

Video analytics will reduce false alarms by at least 90%, which is not so bad for most commercial properties. You can also ignore certain areas, like neighbouring buildings and roads, to further reduce the number of alerts you are receiving.

The COVID-19 pandemic will eventually slow down and disappear, but the devastation to the economy and job market will stay for a while. It’s inevitable that crime will rise and the demand for security will increase. Hopefully, it doesn’t last too long and the damage is minimal.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy How to Close Your Office and Successfully Setup Your Employees to Work from Home, and How Video Analytics Automates Business Security. You can also read more about some of the topics I covered in this article like Mobile Security Camera Units and Construction Site Security.