Screening & Access
The raid of the Berry Bros. & Rudd warehouse in the UK last spring netted a bold group of thieves some $2.3 million worth of the world’s finest champagne. In part I of this 3-part series, security expert Keith Lewis, Vice President of Operations at CargoNet and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent, discussed the flaws in the security products chosen by the wine merchants: cameras and beams, over perimeter security and a guard on the premises.
But the still-open Scotland Yard case had another key component: insider knowledge of the facility. Was it an employee? Or someone who was working for a supplier? What might the wine merchant have done to better shield the facility from being compromised?
The first clue that the champagne thieves had inside help was the hole that was cut to obtain access. The cuts were mere inches between the laser beams monitoring the space.
This type of invasion is common. Left shows a similar warehouse theft here in the U.S.
Keith is confident that was not pure luck. “Somebody walked by and drew a line where the beams are, and wiped it away later. It was someone who worked there.” A grease pencil and some Windex was all it took to compromise the beams.
As a law enforcement official, Keith can’t resist grumbling, “I would have shut that warehouse down for a week and I would have brought in a team of interviewers and put everyone that has worked there in the last couple of years through an interview process. This could have been solved.”
But a security director’s goal is to never hire an employee that will jeopardize the facility. Employee screening is essential in Keith’s eyes. “When you hire people, you want to look at what kind of house they live in. If you are getting ready to hire them for a $10-per-hour job and find out they are living in a $700,000 house, you have a problem. It all starts with the hiring and vetting on the front.” Moreover, screening is an ongoing part of employment. He explains, “The inside jobs I have worked, usually there is a hook. One of the bigger jobs I worked, a warehouse theft in Georgia, they hooked a loading dock guy — got him on a gambling debt. They traded intelligence for the money he owed them. It can also be that an employee has a relative with a problem.”
What about the blueprints for the security design for the warehouse? Where should those be, if you have to worry about your own employees? Keith shrugs. “I’ve usually found the camera blueprints and security protocols are in a closet, usually with the central station for the cameras. And that closet is not locked up. If the blueprints are offsite, the security officer, the safety managers and operations manager have access to them on the computer. Anyone can usually pull them up, simply by logging in. In the Berry Bros. & Rudd raid, they probably had that information going in.”
And if it wasn’t employee Professor Plum, in the wine cellar, with the LaTour…who was it? Keith’s advice: Look at suppliers first.
Screening Suppliers & Staging Access
The theft may have been assisted by the employee of a vendor. This is common practice with organized crime: taking a $9-$10-an-hour job with vendors, simply to gain access. Security installation is an obvious first choice. “You have the supplier of cameras and then you have someone that installs them,” Keith explains. “Are you vetting the people you’re buying the cameras from? Are you vetting the people that come on your property to put them in? I always ask my friends with companies if they screen their suppliers. I know Electric Guard Dog does.”
Another good safety measure is compartmentalizing access: have a staging area where deliveries are placed. “I never recommend allowing vendors into a warehouse. I always recommend having a separate building or staging area where they can deliver, and then having employees carry the product inside.”
Keith emphasizes routine assessments of the yard, making sure employees are putting materials away. “When I meet with a client, I frequently walk around the building and say, ‘Why are you leaving the bad guys tools to break into your warehouse? They look at me, confused and I point to a picnic table. When they argue that employees need a break, I tell them fine, put it 500 feet from the building. Why do you have a shovel? Why are there pallets stacked behind the building?’” Keith has seen all of these seemingly innocuous items used by thieves.
That advice applies to materials inside the warehouse as well: the thieves at Berry Bros. used wine crates left by employees to build a climbing wall all the way to the high-value champagnes.
Additionally, to Keith’s way of thinking, those high-value goods should have been stored separately. “Your most valuable items belong in the middle of the building, and inside the middle of the building, there is a locked cage, with a limited number of employees that have access. And on top of the cage, there is a fence, so if they get through the roof, they have to get through the fence. If you can have an electric security fence inside, get one. If not, use razor wire, so if thieves are dropping through the roof, guess where they are going to land?”
Stay tuned for Part III of Lifting LaTour.
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About Keith Lewis
Keith Lewis is Vice President of Operations at CargoNet, responsible for managing operational efforts that include the supervision of operations center staff, investigative support and system training for CargoNet members.
With 20 years’ experience as an operations manager in the transportation division of one of the country’s largest 3PLs, in 2000, Keith left the logistics industry to pursue a career in law enforcement, where he worked as a Task Force Agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Keith has a BS in Criminal Justice and continues to be an active agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; assisting them with undercover and sting operations.
CargoNet is dedicated to preventing cargo theft and increasing recovery rates through secure and controlled information sharing among theft victims, their business partners, law enforcement and NICB. The organization features a national database and an information-sharing system managed by crime analysts and subject-matter experts. CargoNet applies an integrated, layered approach that includes: integrated databases, a theft alert system, a task force and investigations support, a tractor-trailer theft deterrence program, driver education, crime trend analyses and loss control services, as well as training, education and outreach.
About Electric Guard Dog
Electric Guard Dog, LLC, the #1 Theft Deterrent Service™, is the nationwide market leader in electric security fencing. In a 2010 independent survey, 95% of their customers stated they've had NO external theft since installing Electric Guard Dog electric security fence system.
A security partner for 3,000+ commercial and industrial locations across the nation, they provide a safe and effective solution to protect businesses from cargo theft and copper theft, and a safer work environment for employees, all while reducing total security costs.