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Phuket Opinion: Proactive CCTV use necessary to protect resorts

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Phuket Tourism Association (PTA) Vice President Bhuritt Maswongssa, 51, is also the Vice Chairman of the Patong Resort hotel. He received law degrees from both Ngee Ann College in Singapore and Ramkhamhaeng University in Thailand. In the wake of a recent spate of hotel robberies across the island, he discusses how to boost hotel and resort security.

PHUKET: More than ten hotel and resort robberies were carried out in the last three months (story here, and here); this is a serious problem that needs solutions. Owners of resorts and hotels can’t just sit back and expect the police to take care of the issue.

The number of tourists visiting Phuket is growing every year, but the number of police officers is not changing, which makes it more difficult for them to guarantee the safety of all of our guests and their belongings.

Officers are doing their best, but people in the hospitality industry need to make efforts to boost their security as well.

For example, when they experience recurring crimes, they need to figure out how to close the loopholes in their security systems.

The best way for hotels to close these loopholes and protect their guests is to proactively and effectively use CCTV. Usually CCTV cameras are checked after a robbery takes place, when really the focus should be on crime prevention. Using CCTV footage to track down a thief is hard work, especially because the thieves know they need to obscure their faces by wearing masks, glasses or helmets. I have actually seen CCTV footage where a brazen thief waved to the camera.

Instead of checking the CCTV footage after a robbery, hotels should have security guards constantly monitoring the cameras. This way, they would be able to spot suspicious people who have gotten into a hotel and could notify other guards to keep an eye on the person, possibly stopping a crime before it happens.

You can never be sure when a crime will happen, so even when everything seems normal, constant and diligent monitoring of the CCTV is essential.

After a successful robbery, thieves know more about a hotel’s security system. They know the weak points in the system, and they know that the CCTV cameras aren’t being monitored.

We need to be smart and careful when designing hotel and resort security systems. We need to think of the situation from a thief’s perspective. It’s important for us to try to imagine how he will conduct a robbery so we can take steps ahead of time to prevent his intended crime.

In addition to using technology like CCTV, hotel staff should keep an eye on suspicious guests or situations.

Guards especially should be careful and observant. But really, all hotel staff should take note of all guests who act strangely, even those who visit the hotel often or seem wealthy – a person that does not look like a thief might be the most dangerous person in the lobby.

Sometimes criminals will pretend to be tourists or officers, so hotel staff must be alert at all times.

Staff should not just keep an eye on guests; they should also keep watch over their colleagues.

If they know other staff members well, they will be able to spot a co-worker acting suspiciously.

By simply keeping an eye on each other they can help prevent inside jobs.

The last security concern that hotels should look at is infrastructure.

Hotels should not have any dark areas or CCTV blind spots that would allow thieves to easily commit crimes. By having the proper infrastructure, CCTV coverage and diligent staff, hotels can boost the level of safety they provide to guests. The key is to be proactive in crime prevention.

— Orawin Narabal

 

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