IREM Parking Area Security Article
Parking Area Security
Security professionals and police have long known that locations where people and their valuables are together - such as in parking lots and garages - are often favorite targets of criminals.
Reasons for Parking Area Problems
Parking lots provide a focal point of potential victims carrying valuables.
Large populations of females drive alone, especially those working or shopping late at night. They are frequently the only users of parking areas during the evening hours.
Most parking facilities are open to the public.
Parking facilities comprise a large volume of space with relatively low levels of activity.
Parked cars provide hiding places and impede the distribution of lighting.
An attacker's car is not likely to be noted as strange or memorable in a public parking facility.
Parking facilities often lack security features because many property owners and architects are not familiar with the basic principles of design concepts for crime prevention.
If security measures are not incorporated in design and construction stages, then it is often difficult and expensive to upgrade security at a later date.
Zoning ordinances and building codes sometimes hinder effective use of security principles.
So, can owners provide "reasonable" parking lot and garage security for their customers and employees against these type crimes? In a word, Yes! (but it takes planning and work).
Some cities and counties mandate specific security measures to be used at parking lots and garages. Where such laws or regulations are not in effect, the general national standard of care for owners / operators of such facilities is “reasonable care” for the facility, its employees and invitees (customers) at that time and place, as in" reasonable to a judge or jury." That means first identifying the likely security threats and crime risks to that specific facility, then implementing reasonable and appropriate security measures to counter those risks - and, maintaining those measures as appropriate.
Garages and Covered Parking Facilities
Because garages and parking lots contain valuable vehicles and their contents, plus the car occupants who also represent potential victims - both are frequent favored "hunting grounds" for robbers and thieves.
In some garages, access to the garage can be controlled or closely monitored. A parking attendant can view the occupants of cars entering and leaving, and a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera may be used to record license numbers and drivers' faces … both major deterrents to many criminals.
The threat to persons and property in covered/enclosed parking garages can be even higher than the threat in open lots, because isolated floors and locations often make effective surveillance or monitoring difficult. However, adequate lighting and the use of CCTV monitoring can reduce (but not eliminate) the crime risk. Adequate lighting not only helps people recognize and avoid dangers, but also in many cases deters criminals by creating in them the fear of detection, identification and apprehension. Note: If the CCTV cameras are only recorded for later review and prosecution, but not continuously monitored live, prominent signage should state this so that customers do not rely, to their detriment, on cameras that they think are being monitored and will produce immediate help.
When CCTV is used, good-quality digital color cameras that can, in enclosed garages operate in low light, plus high-resolution color monitoring/recording systems are essential. Digital recording is preferred. Black-and-white cameras usually offer poor detail and color definition, critical issues when attempting to identify suspects or potential problems. A penny saved here may equal many thousands or even millions of dollars lost later.
Uniformed security officers on continuous patrol of all the levels of a garage, can also be a significant deterrent to criminals, and provide reassurance to customers and employees. A patrol tour tracking system should be used to ensure that all patrolling officers are, in fact, patrolling as required. Security officers can also be used for customer escorts to their cars, but sufficient officers and other employees should be available so that no customer must wait more than 15-minutes for an escort. Generally, patrolling security officers should not be away from their patrol rounds for more than 15-minutes escorting employees or patrons, or performing other duties.
Many of the measures recommended here for garages might, depending on their specific configuration and needs, be used on surface parking lots. When making changes in garages, owners and operators should ensure that they are in compliance with ADA requirements and any local fire, safety and security codes.
Surface Parking Lots and Areas
Similar approaches can be used with surface parking lots, including those adjacent to retail or entertainment facilities. If the lot can be surrounded by a "see-through" fence, that is ideal. If not, lesser demarcation of the lot boundaries with partial fencing, low hedges, planters or shrubs ,etc. can provide a psychological barrier to criminals, and a clear indication of where the "private" property begins. Patrolling security personnel can also provide a significant deterrent to criminals.
Where appropriate, the use of a parking lot attendant can also serve as a deterrent if the attendant is able to view the lot. With no CCTV for remote viewing on most large lots, and with the attendant's booth usually at the entrance/exit facing out toward the street, plus the attendant's head often stuck in a book or portable TV, many attendants can’t and don't see much of anything. As a result, they don’t provide much, if any, security or deterrence. This factor needs to be considered in planning, and in how the attendants will themselves be monitored or checked.
A key element of security in most surface parking lots is visibility — for employees, customers, and passers-by. Within the lot, any trees and shrubs should not obstruct viewing, either by direct viewing or through use of CCTV. Tree branches and leaves should be not lower than 10 feet above the lot surface, and interior shrubs and bushes should not be higher than 18 inches above ground or curb so as not to obstruct vision, or provide concealment for a robber or rapist. Perimeter shrubs used as a barrier, with or without an adjacent fence, should not exceed 36" in height.
A significant part of visibility is lighting. Artificial lighting should enable parkers and employees to note individuals or movement at night at a distance of 75 feet or more, and to identify a human face at approximately 30 feet, a distance that will allow them, if necessary, to take defensive action or avoidance while still at a safe distance. The lighting should be controlled on and off - by a timer, or preferably, by a photo-electric sensor so that, whatever time it gets dark, the lights go on.
This brief article cannot hope to answer all security-related questions on parking lots and garages with thousands of different configurations and operating requirements. It does, however, provide an introduction to those security measures and approaches that will help owners and operators provide a reasonable level of security at their property.
15 Parking Area Safety Tips
Always lock your vehicle, both when you’re driving and once you’ve parked. Make this a habit.
When you get ready to park your car, scan the area for anyone or anything suspicious.
Park as close to your destination as possible.
Don’t leave your keys in the ignition. (you’d be surprised)
Don’t leave valuables (GPS, Cell Phone, Ipads, Wallets, cash, etc) in the vehicle in plain sight, unless they are secured in the trunk. If you secure your belongings in the trunk, make sure no one is watching you store them there. Many trunks can be accessed by pushing a release button inside the car, and a thief will break into your car in order to access the trunk area if it is worth his/her effort.
If escort help is available, make sure you take advantage of it. A few grocery stores still offer this service.
Try making your shopping trips during the day. Most crooks operate under cover of darkness.
Always be aware of your surroundings, and don’t be distracted by talking on your cell phone. Is the parking lot well-lit? Are there areas where a predator could hide? Can they be under your car? Is a big van parked beside your car?
Upon approaching your car look around, in, underneath and next to your car Beware of a van that has a sliding door. There could be persons who can quickly open that sliding door to snatch you.
Listen to that inner voice. It is better and wiser to be safe than raped, robbed or dead.
Once inside the car, quickly lock all doors. Most people let their guard down once inside their car.
If you are alone wait until others walk by and join them from a distance.
Keep your cell phone in a pocket, or somewhere easily accessible.
Carry some non-lethal personal protection product like a stun gun or pepper spray.
If you see someone tamper or damage someone else’s vehicle, call the police immediately.
Article provided by Clark Graham, Locke Protective
Member, IREM Houston Legislative and Public Policy Committee
IREM Houston 2013 Award Winners
There are many dedicated volunteers within IREM Houston and several were so outstanding in 2013, they received special awards! On November 15, IREM Houston held a special awards luncheon at Relient Center to honor the recipients. The winners are listed below and photos of the award ceremony can be viewed by clicking here.
Shooting Star Award Recipient:
Robert Tyler with Brookfield Properties
President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement, Recipient:
John Anderson with Weingarten Realty
IREM Chair of the Year Award Recipient:
Kim Peck, CPM® with BMS Management, Inc.
Friend of the Year Award Recipient:
Professional Janitorial Services – PJS of Houston
IREM CPM Candidate of the Year Award Recipient:
Lauren Crenshaw with PM Realty Group
IREM Accredited Residential Manager® of the Year Award Recipient:
Matthew Townley, ARM®, CPM® with Townley Realty Company, AMO®
Certified Property Manager® of the Year Award Winner Recipient:
Janie Snider, CPM® with Griffin Partners
Jeff Williford Award of Excellence Recipient:
Victor Vacek, CPM® with Central Management, Inc., AMO®
Put Your Marketing Dollars to Work!
Planning for our 2014 Calendar is underway, and we hope you'll consider supporting IREM members and our mission by supporting upcoming activities. 2014 Sponsorship Opportunities include the following:
Luncheon Sponsorships (6 Available at $1,500 each)
Anything-On-A-Stick Food Fest ($400 for a cooking team)
Anything-On-A-Stick Food Fest (misc. sponsorships ranging from $500 - $2,500)
Social Event Sponsorships ($1,500+)
Course Breakfasts (15 Available at $300 each)
Bowl-A-Thon Lane & Team Sponsorship ($375)
Seminar Sponsorship ($1,000+)
Committee Meeting Lunches ($150)
Door prizes throughout the year to incentivize attendance
To commit early, please contact Jo D. Miller by clicking here or by calling 713-783-9225.
We Need Your Support!
We are holding our Annual IREM "Support the Troops" Drive through October. Items will be assembled into care packages and shipped overseas to arrive in time for the holidays. If you would like to donate store-bought items click here for the Donation Flyer and a list of needed supplies. If you want to have a collection or drive at your building, click here for the Donation Letter and drive details. We're also in need of a generous $1,200 Shipping Sponsor to help with the costs of sending our packages to 200 Troops. Call 713-783-9225 if you have questions or can donate. Want to contribute cash to the cause? Click here and enter the word Troops in the invoice number field. We greatly appreciate any amount of support!
By Clark Graham, Locke Protective (Friend of IREM)
Member, IREM Houston Legislative and Public Policy Committee
Scrap-metal theft is an increasing issue for commercial real estate owners. However, rather than just viewing metal theft as a petty nuisance or cost of doing business, it should be treated also as a public-safety issue. In a country facing staggering criminal activities such as ours, it is easy to ignore a non-violent crime such as metal theft and call it a misdemeanor. But, often the activities of scrap-metal thieves endanger the lives of the public. Removing manhole covers and dismantling guard rails are among the actions that can place members of the public at risk.
These thefts also mean that overburdened taxpayers must pay a hefty price for replacing these items. Thieves primarily target the copper tubing inside of commercial air conditioning units. A typical commercial air conditioning unit has nearly 40 pounds of copper inside, which is worth roughly $100 at the scrap metal yards. However, when copper thieves rip out entire air conditioning units or damage the air conditioning system or even a roof, it can result in thousands of dollars in damages. This can be a devastating loss, even to companies with insurance.
Another popular sources of scrap metal is the valuable copper that comes from communication lines. Thieves will throw a rope over the lines and drive away in a car with the other end of the rope in order to pull down miles of wire at a time, thus enabling them to access the valuable copper inside.
Some other sources of scrap metal, many of them common objects, are much easier to obtain. “It may seem kind of strange, but people steal air conditioning units, grocery carts, metal markers in cemeteries, and other historical markers. People try to turn them into scrap,” said Tom Davies with Rose Metal Processing in Houston. State Representative Bill Callegari, R-Katy, who also represents a portion of Cypress, said the rash of metal thefts have become a real problem for the industry. “In many cases when thefts happen they’ll do as much as $10,000–$90,000 worth of damage,” he said. “We needed this resolution to pass so law enforcement can get a better handle on those people who are doing the thefts and causing the damage.” He added, “In 2011, it was reported more than $2 million in metal loss, and that’s a snapshot of how severe this problem is. That doesn’t include the money lost due to damages from metal theft.”
With the passing of HB555 that takes effect September 1, 2013 the State of Texas is making progress toward reducing the incentive for scrap yards to purchase stolen metal and ultimately we will begin to see a reduction in metal thefts in the state. HB 555 will increase the penalty for violating registration requirements of a recycling entity from a general misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor. This bill will make violation of the metal recycling entities chapter of the Occupations Code (1956) a Class C misdemeanor. It is one step to improving legislation that will make it less attractive to steal metal and sell it at scrap yards. For further information about HB555, click here.
September is Ethics Awareness Month!
Being a part of the IREM community means commitment to ethics – and specifically the IREM Code of Professional Ethics. Ethics is part of our rich legacy and has been a cornerstone since the very beginning. As we celebrate our 80th anniversary this year, we are “kicking it up” a bit and making sure that our members, our residents and tenants, our clients, and our employers know that IREM Members don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk! That’s what makes us unique!
Support Our Troops Drive 2013
Help us send the U.S. Troops needed items for the Holidays.
IREM’s Community Involvement Committee is holding the Annual Support the Troops Drive starting on September 11th. Items are collected for the troops and shipped overseas to arrive in time for the holidays. If you would like your building or office to be part of this wonderful program, click here for the Donation Flyer and click here for the Donation Letter and drive details.
Nominations for 2014 Leadership Team Announced
The Institute of Real Estate Management, Houston Chapter would like to announce their nominated members for the 2014 Officer and Executive Council Member positions:
President - Janie Snider, CPM, Griffin Partners
President Elect- Kristine Fox, CPM, Stream Realty Partners, AMO
Treasurer- Laura Krupowicz, CPM, Brookfield
Vice President of Education - Kris Powell, CPM, Stream Realty Partners, AMO
Vice President of Legislative - Bill Goeke, CPM, Weingarten Realty
VP of Membership - Matthew Townley, CPM, ARM, Townley Realty Co., AMO
Vice President of Services - Susan Mazewski, CPM, BMS Management, Inc.
Vice President of Communications - Chase Crawford, CPM, Stream Realty Partners, AMO
Vice President of Multifamily - Debbie DeRoche, CPM, Milestone Management, Inc.
Immediate Past President - Shawn Harvey, CPM, Griffin Partners
All nominated leaders have served in numerous volunteer capacities over the years, including chapter committee chair positions. They are dedicated to the advancement of the Property Management industry and bring a wealth of professional experience and expertise to those nominated governance positions. Each nominated leader must now be confirmed by a majority vote of IREM Houston Members via an electronic vote taking place in September. Once elected, their new positions will take effect immediately following the November IREM Awards and Installation Luncheon.
Houston Triad Best Practices
The Houston High-Rise Triad is a partnership between Building Management, Fire Department and the Building Department created to develop and recommend a model High-Rise Life Safety Action Plan committed to the protection of life and property. This partnership utilizes talented people and resources in the private sectors enhancing communication and cooperation within the Fire Department, the Building Department and High-Rise Building Community. The Triad has worked with industry and stakeholders to resolve a common problem relating to the installation or modification of Sprinkler Systems in high rise Buildings. Click here for this helpful Best Practice Advisory.
Budget for IREM in 2014
Maximize your member benefits by taking advantage of events and resources. Members tell us that the IREM network, education and industry updates give them a competitive edge in their real estate career. Make sure you plan to remain a member and budget for informational activities and annual dues. Click here for a potential list of 2014 expenses. Not sure what the benefit to IREM Membership is? Click here for list. Need to convince an oner or boss of the value. Click here for important links and video testimonials.
Mark the Date - December 12
What’s your flavor? Blackjack? Roulette? Craps? No matter how you play, you’ll find plenty of intrigue and fun at this party. Our networking committee has a wonderful final event planned for this year. On Thursday, December 12, join us for "A Night in Monte Carlo" at the IREM Holiday Party. The evening starts at 6:30 pm and features networking, open bar, tasty delights, a casino night and dancing. RSVP now by clicking here.
IREM "Beyond the Building" LEED Celebration: July 25
Our IREM Celebration of Sustainable Buildings has expanded to cover the urban revolution of lifestyle trends. Come hear exciting innovations and changes happening “Beyond the Building” in Houston and the world. Speakers include: Mason Arnold, Co-Founder and CEO of Greenling, Lauri Goodman Lampson, Principal at PDR, and Jeff Taebel, Director, Community and Environmental Planning, for the Houston-Galveston Area Council. Join us as we honor the following management teams on the LEED Certifications: CBRE, Crescent Real Eststate Equities, Greystar, Griffin Partners, Lincoln Property Co., Means Knaus, and Transwestern. Register for our July 25th Luncheon Celebration here.
While this event is hosted by our IYP (IREM Young Professionals), it is a learning event for everyone of all ages. If you use an iphone or ipad, join us for this fun "appy" hour where you will learn tricks and tips to make your technology life faster and more productive. The Seminar fee includes materials, appetizers and two drinks. Click here to register for this August 8 (from 4 - 6 pm) program today.
IREM Young Professionals
We have a strong and mighty IREM Young Professionals Committee who are holding monthly meetings an successful happy hours. They have focused on mentoring, learning, networking and have a summer “seminar with a twist” (iPad for Business & Appy Hour) coming up. If you have a young professional on your team or are new to the industry and want to participate, please email Stephanie Michalk.
IREM Bowl-A-Thon set for June 21
Mark the Date! This year’s Bowl-a-Thon might be the most outrageous one yet. The theme: Leather & Lace (Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter), lends itself to lots of fun times and memorable costumes. This year’s event will have a new twist that encourages more networking. Brides and Bikers will run rampant on Friday, June 21. Reserve your lane today.