How to Secure Your Car Rental Lot with Today’s Technology

Four companies give insight into technology that’s effectively securing their vehicle lots. From computer-based camera systems and energy-saving lighting systems to a new form of night watchman, prevented thefts and better employee monitoring have increased their ROI.

Dave Capps, owner of Capps Van and Truck Rental in Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona, monitors all 15 locations 24/7 in this control room. He was able to tap into his own workforce to install and maintain the systems.
Dave Capps, owner of Capps Van and Truck Rental in Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona, monitors all 15 locations 24/7 in this control room. He was able to tap into his own workforce to install and maintain the systems.

Catalytic converter thefts, stolen airbags, tires and extra parts can run a car rental company a pretty penny every year in swallowed costs.

But through security measures such as installing better lighting to hiring a not-so-traditional night watchmen, four companies say that preventing thefts is possible. While initial investments into a good security system must be made to achieve these security goals, the amount saved in stolen parts and other — sometimes unexpected — benefits can make for a quick return.

The First Upgrades

For Midway, the major difference in camera visibility came after installing Kandu Lighting, an inductive and eco-friendly lighting system.
For Midway, the major difference in camera visibility came after installing Kandu Lighting, an inductive and eco-friendly lighting system.

Security cameras can be a hit or miss, with several car rental companies reporting that many times the footage can be useless. The first step, they contend, is making sure the cameras are digital. “Analog is pretty much dead,” says Caroline Kim, director of loss control and claims recovery for Midway Automotive Group in Los Angeles.

Midway Automotive Group in Los Angeles has noticed a significant difference since switching out analog cameras for ADT’s digital security cameras. Caroline Kim, director of loss control and claims recovery for Midway, says that digital, as well as a computer-based system, is a must. 
Midway Automotive Group in Los Angeles has noticed a significant difference since switching out analog cameras for ADT’s digital security cameras. Caroline Kim, director of loss control and claims recovery for Midway, says that digital, as well as a computer-based system, is a must.

Switching to digital can mean all new wiring. But as Kim points out, digital camera technology will continue to expand, so by rewiring now, a system can easily grow with any changes to the technology.

Midway has had digital cameras on all its lots for almost two years. After the upgrades, though, Midway experienced several break-ins, which included the theft of third row seats out of large SUVs. “It got ugly,” Kim says, “and the cameras couldn’t capture anything because it was way too dark, so we had to come up with a different solution.”

ADT handles Midway’s camera system and its burglary alarm. While the switch to digital was a definite improvement in image resolution, Kim says the real solution came after a system from Kandu Lighting was installed less than a year ago. “You’re able to actually see the car and the person — not just the form of the person — so the lighting has really helped us out a lot,” she says.

Kandu Lighting is an inductive lighting system that uses less wattage than a regular bulb. Kim reports several positives to the reduction in energy use: The bulbs don’t have to be changed as often and customers are responding well to the energy savings. She expects to see a noticeable difference in the electricity bill and ROI at the full-year mark. Midway has also been able to expand its hours.

Camera 101

According to Dave Capps, owner of Capps Van and Truck Rental in Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona, getting the camera system up and running isn’t as difficult as one would think. He uses GeoVision, a digital surveillance security system, and had staff members, who expressed an interest, install the equipment. He says that it’s worth checking for an internal appetite on installation, since professional installation can make the system twice as expensive.

According to Capps, a 16-camera system can cost $8,000 to $15,000 if you do your own installation, or $10,000 to $20,000 for professional installation. Low-resolution camera systems, on the other hand, can cost as low as $100 to $1,000.

Capps says he “made the mistake” of first purchasing eight-camera systems for his locations, but the systems didn’t cover the space as well as he thought. Now he’s going back and retrofitting most of his locations to 16-camera systems. “My recommendation is to go ahead and pay for the 16-camera system and get the highest resolution that you can,” he says. “Don’t get cheap on that.”

Capps says he has easily spent $100,000 on his security system for all 15 of his locations, which are monitored 24/7, but through preventing thefts — namely catalytic converters — his system has paid for itself at least once. For each location he has also invested in at least one automatic tracking camera that detects motion and will follow a vehicle as it moves across the lot.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.
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