Shooting boost business at security companies

5_Min_Alarm_ResponseVancouver’s rash of shootings may be poisoning the city’s pristine image, but it’s not hurting the bottom line of the city’s private security companies.

Vancouver-based Provident Security & Event Management Corp., for example, reports that there’s an upsurge of business following incidents such as last weekend’s shooting of a man outside his Shaughnessy home.

“It definitely has an impact,” company president Michael Jagger said in an interview Monday.

Hong Chao “Raymond” Huang was fatally shot shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday in front of his house in the 3800-block of Cartier Street.

“This incident on the weekend — we got more than a dozen calls from people inquiring,” said Jagger. “Most of the calls were [from existing customers] about upgrading their residential security systems. But we [also] had a surge in interest from new clients. We got quite a few new customers.”

Jagger said his company also garnered publicity because there was a Provident sign in front of the home where Huang was shot, although Huang was not a Provident client.

“We try to take it as a bit of a compliment,” added Jagger about the practice of illegally placing security company signs on lawns to make potential thieves think the house is well protected.

Jagger said that, whether true or not, there’s a perception crime is increasing in Vancouver. Because of that, more Vancouver residents are installing security systems that can cost from $2,000 to “six figures.”

“We have 6,000 [customers] west of Oak Street. Typically, residents pay us $75 a month on top of the one-time fee.”

Jagger, whose company employs 160 people, said that Provident has seen significant growth every year since it was created 11 years ago. “Our first year of revenues is now about a day’s worth of the payroll. We’re looking at 50-per-cent more revenues this year [over 2006].”

He said Provident’s main business is in residential security, although they also provide security systems to restaurants and offices.

Meanwhile, Camil Dubuc, Genesis Security’s president and CEO, said in an interview that his company also sees increased business after incidents such as Huang’s killing.

“We get a few, but it’s not a great increase,” he said. “Some clients, especially people around the area [of the shooting], call for upgrades.

“But it’s incredible how business has gone up in the last 10 years,” added Dubuc, whose company has 490 employees. “Last year, we tripled [the number of clients] for our alarm division. There’s a lot of growth.”

In September, Genesis announced a 200-per-cent expansion of its free community security patrols, to cover an area with more than 63,000 homes in Vancouver’s west side.

According to a release, the service involves licensed security guards patrolling around the clock on foot, by bike and using cars equipped with global positioning systems, Internet hookups, and direct connections to Genesis’ security centre.

Dubuc rejected concerns that security firms are doing the work of public police forces and that many security guards are unlicensed.

“We’re not doing police work. We’re just assisting them, being their eyes and ears. And if there’s an assault, it’s a citizen’s right to defend that person.”

He also said their guards are all licensed.

A provincial government investigation in 2004 alleged that three-quarters of all the new security guards hired by large B.C. security firms started working without a licence.

Published November 6, 2007 · The Vancouver Sun · Written by Brian Morton

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