Vet Your Vendors and Safeguard Your Community

Vet Your Vendors and Safeguard Your Community

By Mark Hall / Published August 2018

Photo by iStockphoto.com/TheCrimsonRibbon

Gated communities and condominiums exist all across Florida, though these communities are concentrated more in some areas. The level of security existing on these properties varies, typically based on the location of the association and/or median income of those who live there. However, regardless of where they are located or the socioeconomic status of their residents, all communities require some level of security. Otherwise, any time a crime occurs on the property, the property owner and/or management company would be liable for the loss, damage, or harm to its residents.

     Living in gated and condominium communities provides what Jeffrey Biebuyck, an estate agent with Ewing and Associates, calls the three P’s: privacy, protection, and prestige. The protection “P” is the focus of this article. The very perimeter of communities is typically protected by large walls, fences, or imposing landscaping like berms and hedge rows or a number of these barriers combined. In addition to the physical barriers, there are devices designed to detect if a criminal breaches a barrier. These devices include PIR (passive infrared) sensors, microwave sensors, fence vibration sensors, pressure sensors, thermal cameras, and video analytics; and the list goes on as technology evolves.

     In many communities, anyone not trying to criminally breach the established perimeter enters a community at one or more locations where there are gates with security professionals. At many prominent communities, there are at least two entry points, one for residents and guests and the other for vendors, staff, construction and maintenance workers, deliveries, equipment, etc. In order to enter the main gate for residents and guests, you must either have an access control device on your vehicle that automatically opens a gate for entry, or you are checked in by the security staff by being on a resident’s guest list. Either way, there is no other way to get in the main gate. At the vendor/construction gate, you must be on the resident’s list as a vendor. Now, if you’ve made it past one of these entry points, the community is open for you to explore. However, there are still roving security patrols that monitor activity within the community, especially activities conducted by those who work in the community.

     However, this is where the problem exists! Communities build walls, fences and gates. They employ security staff and use access control software to make sure only those who are authorized enter the community. They have cameras and sensors, and they patrol by land and by sea. They spend thousands of dollars a year to insure the safety of their community, and then, every day, they invite multiple vendors onto the property, having no idea who they really are or what they are capable of! Why spend thousands of dollars on barriers, cameras, sensors, and security staff to then just open the floodgates to strangers every day? It makes absolutely no sense at all! Some will say they used Angie’s List or Home Advisor to acquire their tradesmen, and those organizations conduct background checks. They do conduct background checks, but not on the technicians and tradesmen coming to your home, just the owner of the company. It’s great that the owner of the company has a clean record, but what about the registered sex offenders, burglars, thieves, and violent felons he employs to work in the field? This is not to say that every company hires criminals, but it only takes one. It only takes one person who has access to your home and family to ruin your life. Whether it is a property crime that leaves you feeling vulnerable and scared to sleep in your own home or a crime of violence that leaves you, your wife, or your child scarred for life or worse, it’s worth taking steps to protect your community and your loved ones.

     This is the story of a woman and her children living in a gated community in South Florida in July of 2016 who were attacked by a service repairman. The Palm Beach Post headline reads,

     PBSO: Repairman called pastor during attack on Boynton-area woman

     “[Dario Hernan] Dotto was making a scheduled service call at the woman’s home in a gated community west of the city when the attack took place. . . The report states that Dotto, 34, was at the woman’s home to check an air conditioner on the residence’s second floor.” The report notes that he hit the woman in the head with a steel wrench and bound up her children with tape. The full report can be accessed at www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime-law/pbso-repair man-called-pastor-during-attack-boynton-area-woman/uB3PG9SxvNwWZOPi0uZKKP/

     This is just one of hundreds of stories across the U.S. of vendors either stealing from or harming their employer. In order to dramatically reduce the opportunity for crimes such as this to occur, it is absolutely essential that any vendor, caretaker, handyman, domestic help, technician, tradesman, etc., be vetted prior to allowing them access to your community and your home. The Safe Communities Vendor ID Program is currently the most effective and efficient way to accomplish this task and safeguard your family and belongings. The program is free to any community or organization that implements it, as it is paid for by the vendors. Having an independent third-party company check the criminal history of someone you are allowing into your home is the least you can do for your loved ones. 

Mark Hall

Safe Communities Vendor ID Program

Mark Hall is board certified in Security Management (CPP), as designated by ASIS. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Safety Administration and is a licensed community association manager. Mr. Hall retired as Chief of Police after having served 22 years as a law enforcement professional. He received his certification from the Attorney General of the State of Florida as a Crime Prevention Practitioner. He currently serves as the Director of Security of Frenchman’s Creek in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, one of the most secure gated communities in the nation. For more information on the Safe Communities Vendor ID Program, go to www.SafeVendor.net, call (561) 386-0044, or email email hidden; JavaScript is required.