Forbes estimates the cannabis industry’s economic impact will top $160 billion by the year 2025, which certainly draws the attention of those looking for their piece of the pie – by any means necessary. As the industry continues to grow, so does the incentive for pilferage and theft. This might occur by way of employees, customers, the general public, or even acquaintances who happen to know about your business (or hobby).
According to Marijuana Business Daily, about 90% of products and financial losses in the cannabis industry are the result of employee theft. The theft might be the outward stealing of money, product, or growing equipment. More sophisticated crimes involve skimming small amounts of cash from the register. Unscrupulous employees might provide unauthorized discounts on sales to friends or give them free product in exchange for larger tips. Creative theft at the scale could include employees overweighing your product and keeping the overage for themselves.
Surveillance as a Deterrant
Regardless of the source of the crime, there is a clear and growing need for businesses to implement measures designed to mitigate losses. One of the strongest crime deterrents is the conspicuous presence of surveillance cameras and a strong cannabis security plan.
A rogue employee will think twice about pilfering money or product if he/she feels that someone is always watching. Customers or opportunistic burglars may likewise reconsider targeting a grow room or dispensary where cameras are present. In addition to the fear factor of being caught on camera, video surveillance provides a secondary benefit: evidence.
Strategically positioned cameras will reveal who was accessing specific areas at any given time and can even show someone being caught in the act of theft. When video cameras are present, those who might otherwise commit a crime of opportunity suddenly feel a little less opportunistic.
The Scarecrow Effect
The one and only downside to video surveillance is the cost. The price of video surveillance systems has come down over the years, but the investment can still be significant. Factors such as hardware, integration, remote access, installation, and data storage can add significantly to the investment needed for this level of security. You can’t afford it, but you can’t afford not to have it.
But if you’re willing to forgo the benefit of video evidence, you can still take advantage of video surveillance as a deterrent by installing fake video cameras. These cleverly designed devices are conspicuously placed in areas to give the appearance of ongoing video surveillance. In reality, no surveillance is actually taking place because fake video cameras are non-functional. To the average person, however, they look real. Call it “the scarecrow effect.”
Because the cameras are non-functional, they are also relatively inexpensive. A realistic looking camera sells for about $6 a piece on Amazon. Many include a battery-powered LED indicator light to enhance the ruse. Pair these cameras with video surveillance warning signs and your grow room or dispensary appears to have state-of-the-art video surveillance.
Fake video camera can also be used in tandem with real video cameras to give the appearance of a greater degree of video coverage than actually exists. You might only have 1-2 working video cameras at your facility even though there appear to be 8-10 cameras throughout your building. The mere presence of dummy video cameras transforms your building from “easy target” to “secure facility.”
Parking Lot Security
An oft-overlooked location for security cameras is the parking lot. Given the increased risk for more serious crimes such as assault, armed robbery, and grand theft auto, it would be wise to include your parking lot in your security strategy. Would-be criminals realize a good camera can capture the make, model, color, and license plate of a vehicle, providing strong evidence to the law enforcement community.
The conspicuous existence of security cameras and bright lights can significantly impact criminal activity. According to a report published by Cornell University, video surveillance systems installed in parking lots resulted in a 51% decrease in crime. The fear of being caught is not absolute, but it certainly exists. And a fake camera is better than no camera at all.
Video Surveillance Regulations
If you operate a company within the legalized marijuana industry it is critical to understand and adhere to state laws regarding cannabis video surveillance. California, for example, requires these businesses to have working security cameras that record every day of the year, around the clock. Additionally, the state mandates that surveillance video has a minimum resolution of 1280×720 pixels and 15 frames per second.
Furthermore, surveillance systems must include a notification system that alerts the owner/manager in the event of system failure. The Department of Cannabis Regulation is tasked with approving every business’s security plan. The state of Colorado has additional laws regarding the archiving of surveillance footage. The archived footage must be retained for 40 days and stored in a format that is easily accessible. Obviously, no amount of fake video cameras will satisfy the surveillance requirements.
On the flip side of the discussion regarding video monitoring, some states have laws preventing the placement of video cameras in areas where a person has a reasonable expectation of complete privacy, including bathrooms. Trying to navigate the straits between video requirements and video limitations requires some research that’s not only necessary, but vital.
Fake Camera Options
The WALI Dummy Camera with battery powered LED light as a 4-pack for $22.99 on Amazon. This top-rated product comes in black or white and includes mounting hardware and security decals.
The BNT Solar Powered Fake Security Camera is a realistic looking system with a flashing red solar-powered light. These waterproof cameras run on rechargeable AAA batteries, greatly reducing the need to install fresh batteries. A pair of cameras sells for $29.99 on Amazon (batteries not included).
The Power Gear Decoy Security Camera mimics popular doorbell camera systems and emits a pulsing blue light every five seconds. Mounts easily with screws or double-sided tape (both included) and operates wirelessly using two AAA batteries (not included). Available on Amazon as a 1-pack ($9.98) or 3-pack ($25.78).
The Vpazg Solar Powered Fake Camera includes a bright motion-sensor floodlight for an extra layer of security and deterrence. The device is waterproof and solar powered, providing motion sensor activation up from 26 feet away, with a 120 degree radius. It can be adjusted to three light modes, and sells as a 2-pack on Amazon for $19.99.
The EXCERCUS Fake Security Camera is a half-dome style “eye in the sky” device with red LED light that flashes every two seconds. Unlike directional cameras whose coverage can be circumvented by savvy thieves, the hemispherical design of the EXCERCUS gives the appearance of 360 degree video surveillance. Runs on AA batteries (not included), and sells as a 4-pack for $13.99 on Amazon.
The Tehebeyan Bullet Dummy Camera has a high-end look, plus an activation light and motor that pans the camera around the room when the motion sensor is activated. Mounts easily to the wall or ceiling with the included mounting kit. $16.39 on Amazon.
The Dummy Camera MR-2000 is a realistic looking camera with an easy-mounting bracket that features adjustable camera angles for expanded tilt and rotation. The LED indicator light flashes every three seconds, providing long standby time between battery changings. This device includes an adjustable waterproof cover to help guard against rainfall. $16.99 on Amazon.
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