‘No Response’ to UBC Alarms during Bill Reid Thefts

CBC has just reported that the burglary at the Museum was detected by the alarm, but that no response occurred. This, despite the fact that multiple alarm zones were received and that several cameras ‘went offline’ four hours before the incident.

Apparently, alarms were received at Campus Security and nothing was done.

The guard who was supposed to be on-duty at the time of the burglary was on a smoke break and never noticed/reported the burglary… which, as a result (they didn’t say what he was doing for the balance of his shift) was not discovered until shift change.

Some of the first questions that come to mind:

  1. Why would UBC Security have not followed up on the alarm? Given the CBC report, it sounds like several alarm zones tripped… indicating a likely burglary. Apparently, no one responded… the central dispatch must have known that they had one guard onsite… wouldn’t they have at least checked in on him to ensure his safety? What if he had been attacked by the burglars? Sounds like he would have also not been discovered until shift change if that had happened.
  2. If there were “audible alarms”, how far away was the guard taking his smoke break?
  3. I’m assuming that because the CBC reported that “four hours before the theft occurred several key cameras went offline” , and that the thieves used bear spray and were wearing gas masks (a tactic that was used in at least one Westside residential burglary last year), that other cameras must have been working. Why wouldn’t those working cameras have been checked after the alarms were received?
  4. With respect to the cameras that went offline… if the digital video recorder (DVR) that was connected to those cameras was programmed correctly, that in itself should have created an alarm that required response and inspection. Was the DVR being monitored for camera failure or hard-drive failure?

From this new information, it sounds as though the break-down in the Museum’s security system was both technical as well as procedural.

Leaving the security of some of Canada’s most important, and valuable artwork, in the hands of one guy on a smoke break seems like a broken system to me.

Even the greatest security guard in the world (it’s pretty clear the particular guard in this scenario does not fit into that category) will need a break during any shift… not having systems and procedures in place to provide redundancy in this regard is a fundamental flaw in the any security system.

Depending on what you are protecting, that might be considered a reasonable risk… but if you are guarding irreplaceable national treasures… not so much.

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