Get advice from security expert Paul Davis on how you can protect your business from rooftop intruders.
Jay Robert Nash’s Dictionary of Crime defines “cat burglar” as a thief who is adept at scaling walls and using ropes for burglary.
Although films and TV often glamorize cat burglars as cool and courageous rogues, they are in fact merely low-life thieves with a bit more skill and physical ability than your common sneak thief. Of course, the small business owner doesn’t see much glamour in having his or her store or office broken into, and there is certainly nothing glamorous about having your valuables stolen and your place of business left in shambles.
A couple of thieves who might be categorized as cat burglars, and might very well become the subject of a movie in the future, were arrested in Philadelphia on February 19th. Philadelphia police say they arrested two brothers who are suspects in as many as 45 rooftop burglaries across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
Keyontili Goffney and his twin brother, Taleon, both 25, were charged with burglary, theft, conspiracy and a host of other crimes. Adding to the sense of drama in this case, Internet bloggers discovered that the twins have appeared in hardcore gay-porn videos.
The rash of daring rooftop burglaries across the tri-state area pushed law enforcement from the bordering states into forming a task force of 30 police officers dedicated to catching the thieves.
Task force detectives were staking out shops near the historical Italian Market in South Philadelphia at 2:30 a.m. on February 19th when they observed the brothers going to work. According to one task force member, Taleon Goffney, who is skilled and trained in gymnastics and the martial arts, was on the roofs of two neighborhood shops while his brother sat in a car on the street. According to the police, the twin’s mother, Tawana Goffney, was also there serving as a lookout.
Police say the twins were equipped with walkie-talkie cell phones and Taleon Goffney used a handsaw and an ax to break into the roofs of a beauty shop and a fast-food restaurant located next door.
The police also report that two years ago Taleon Goffney was arrested for drugs and gun possession, but he managed to escape from the back of a moving police car. He then swam across a pond, despite wearing the arresting officer’s handcuffs. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the twins have a long criminal record, which includes rooftop burglaries in Alabama and Florida, as well as their home state, New Jersey.
If convicted, the family burglary ring is looking at a good, long stretch in prison. But – unfortunately – there are more rooftop burglars out there, although they may lack the twins’ athletic ability and their dramatic backstory.
Small business people who generally guard against burglars by locking and placing alarms on doors and windows, ought to take heed of this story and look upward. Is your business vulnerable to a rooftop burglary? All rooftop hatchways, air ducts and air vents should be covered by security bars that are securely fastened. Glass skylights should have burglary-resistant glass and security bars or a steel grill.
Don’t make it easy for the burglars to get up on your roof by having exterior ladders or a trash container against your exterior wall. Ladders to your roof can be relocated indoors and you can move and secure your trash container away from your exterior wall.
You can also make it difficult for burglars to saw or ax their way into your business by fortifying the roof with a layer of zinc. Most importantly, I believe, you should have good motion detectors in your place of business, which will alert the police if someone breaks in from the roof. Of course, you should also prominently place alarm company protection signs on your business. The signs do in fact discourage most burglars.
There are also a number of other solutions to meet the individual needs of your business, and you should ask your alarm company to perform a security survey of your business. They can then make suggestions for added security in accordance to the value of your business’ property and your budget.
Cat burglars may be cool crooks in the movies, but in reality they are creeps who, if given the opportunity, will steal from you and damage your place of business. You should take appropriate steps to prevent them from entering your shop or office via the roof or anywhere else.