1 Nov 2010

The challenge

East Rand Retail Park (ERP) is an open mall with all retail outlets facing a central car lot. Many prominent South African retail chains have outlets at ERP: Teljoy, Hi-Fi Corporation, Mr. Price, Dischem, Corricraft and Tekkie Town. Whilst the open mall concept makes for convenient shopping and store selection, it is also an easy target for criminals. ERP were experiencing numerous armed robberies after hours. The criminals would arrive on site, armed with AK47s. They would hold up the guards and, with the use of their vehicles, they smashed through shop windows and load their vehicles with stock from the shops.

ERP had only onsite security guards. When an in-store alarm system was activated by the robbery, armed response units were dispatched. When they arrived at ERP, they were typically shot at by the criminals. Retailers at the mall were understandably upset by the robberies and the threat to life and assets. ERP management needed a solution to the crime problem, to ensure the ongoing success of the mall.

The solution

ERP management approached their security provider, Video Alarm Monitoring SA and RentSec, for a solution. Together with CMT Trading, they designed a remotely monitored, detector-activated video security system for the mall. The system is comprised of CCTV cameras and Passive-Infrared (PIR) detectors that feed data into an ADPRO FastTrace Multi-site Video Security System from Xtralis. After hours, when the retail shops are closed, motion-activated video is sent to the Video Alarm Monitoring SA central monitoring station.

An operator at the CMS can monitor any suspicious events or late night window shoppers by connecting to live video generated by the detectors on the site. If criminal activity is suspected an audio warning is issued over the public address system at the mall. If the audio warning is ignored, pepper gas dispensers can be remotely activated. This first response is managed completely from the remote central station, where the operator sits in safety. If these actions are ignored by the criminals, then relevant armed support can be dispatched, with the operator able to direct them to the exact location on site.

 Eastrand shopping centre
 Since the system's inception, there has been a drastic drop in after-hours crime 

The results

Installing the remotely monitored video security system has had dramatic results. Before the installation the mall was experiencing numerous armed robberies after hours. Since the system's inception in December 2005 there have been no armed robberies and a drastic reduction in crime after hours.

Operators at the Central Monitoring Station have been successful in deterring a handful of suspicious drug dealing activities during the same period. Word has got around criminal circles that the mall is no longer an easy target. "We are delighted with the huge drop in crime at East Rand Retail Park," said the CEO of Retail International (operators of the mall), Mr. Vic Hiemstra. "The video security system has made the mall a low-risk option for retailers."

The ADPRO system has also proven to be an invaluable management tool to both site managers and owners of the mall. The system keeps a full audit trail, so each detector activation is time-stamped and the response is logged. Managers are also able to view live video from their laptops or home computers, so they are able to keep an eye on what's going on at the mall at any time.

The success of the system has led to more cameras, detectors and audio component being installed at the mall. This allows more of the site to be covered. ERP was the first off-site monitored mall in South Africa. The success of this project has seen Video Alarm Monitoring SA being awarded the security contract of additional high profile shopping malls.