Posted: October 14, 2009
A resourceful burglar who seemed to disappear after breaking into a drugstore proved no match for teamwork and technology in a recent apprehension in Florida involving Sonitrol, the Hollywood Police Department, Hollywood Fire Department and the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Early on a dark Sunday morning, the Sonitrol audio intrusion detection security system at Post Haste Pharmacy in Hollywood picked up the sound of someone banging on the front door. Sonitrol operators immediately contacted Hollywood Police. Since the audio technology verified that a break-in was underway — with no chance of a false alarm — police responded immediately.
Hearing the police arrive outside, the intruder found a place in the building to hide.
“The police dispatcher stayed on the line with our operator and told us they could not find anyone inside,” said John Ray III, president of Sonitrol of Fort Lauderdale. “Using the full audio capability that’s exclusive to Sonitrol alarm systems, we had heard the intruder climb up into the ceiling — and told the dispatcher the incident was still underway.”
When the burglar did not show himself, using tear gas was the likely next step — but Hollywood Police saw the opportunity for a creative approach that would have less impact on the drugstore. They remembered the infrared body-searching equipment Hollywood Fire Department would normally use to find unconscious individuals in heavy smoke conditions.
Four Fire Department personnel responded with the infrared equipment, aiming the sensor at the ceiling tiles. The intruder’s heat signature popped onto the screen, but he still thought he was undetected.
Meanwhile, a Broward Sheriff’s Office helicopter hovered over the building, lighting the store’s exterior to reduce potential danger to police officers and ensure there would be no easy getaway.
When the burglar made no response to further requests to emerge from hiding, police officers turned to another gadget — their beanbag shot gun. Officers fired through the drop-ceiling, striking the intruder, and he finally gave up.
“Being able to verify that an intruder was actually in the building gave law enforcement the certainty they needed to quickly mobilize their team,” said Ray. “I’d have to say that’s the first time we’ve seen infrared fire technology used to catch a thief.”
In a recent ceremony, Sonitrol of Fort Lauderdale honored the incident’s cross-departmental law enforcement team for its rapid response and innovative approach.