After decades without incident, in early 2010 Henne Jewlers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, became the victim of an armed robbery. Eight days later, an SUV crashed through the business’ front doors. Even though the store had nearly a dozen surveillance cameras installed at the time, when the video was handed over to the Pittsburgh police, the image quality was deemed inadequate. To date, those suspects have never been apprehended.
To determine how to best upgrade its overall security, Henne Jewlers turned to a systems integrator and Milestone Partner who specializes in municipal deployments and high-end retail stores. For its ability to incorporate a wide variety of cameras and other products, a system built on the Milestone XProtect open video management software (VMS) was installed.
The system initially used nearly 30 cameras from a mix of vendors: Arecont Vision, Axis Communications, IQinVision and Sony. While most of the cameras cover the showroom, other areas of the building are under constant surveillance including offices, work spaces, storage areas and building exteriors. More cameras will be added over time as the system is easily upgraded with ongoing new software versions, features and device support.
What I liked about Milestone the first time I saw it are the same things I like about Milestone today. It’s very user friendly. I’m not a tech guy but I learned it in less than an hour. – John Henne, Owner, Henne Jewelers
John Henne serves as president of the business that has been in his family since his great grandfather founded it in 1897. Henne Jewelers is currently located in Pittsburgh’s upscale Shadyside neighborhood, where it employs 25 people and occupies about 3,500 square feet of selling space and an equal amount for back office functions such as jewelry making, storage, accounting, operations and inventory management. Henne Jewelers, whose tagline is “Your Jeweler for Life,” specializes in high-end jewelry and watches including those made by Rolex, which is one of its main brands.
Milestone Open Platform Delivers ‘for Life’
Henne looked at three VMS offerings, but Milestone XProtect quickly emerged as the best choice, both for the store’s current and future needs.
Milestone gives you the best of both worlds. It’s a solution that can be easily tailored to the specifications of just about every client. It’s perfect for add-ons and third-party applications that bring even more value to the security, such as analytics and access control integration. – Systems Integrator, Pittsburgh, PA
He says that the Milestone ease of use is a key differentiator, but it was the XProtect open platform that is particularly well suited for the ongoing business needs of Henne Jewelers.
Rather than inventing new technology every time something changes in the industry, Milestone introduces new alliance partner products every month whose offerings are integrated with XProtect. That’s good for our customers, whose use of the open platform enables them to leverage innovations as they come onto the market.
Another advantage is that the Milestone platform can be easily customized to meet even a small customer’s unique specifications. In the case of Henne Jewelers, the ability to record in different lighting conditions and to vary retention times was critical to the success of the deployment. There are large windows in the showroom that let in natural light, for example, but the cameras trained on specific cases have to be set differently in order to cut through reflections and glare. With an open platform that accommodates different cameras on different settings, the same degree of clarity is captured whether the subject is a diamond or the face of a person strolling through the showroom.
The main benefit of the Milestone system, according to Henne, is that it makes the store less vulnerable to crime. Cameras positioned throughout the sales area – including spots without a clear line of manual sight due to the layout of the old building – send images to the Milestone server. The video data is then viewable live or recorded to the offices of Henne and three others, who are see it on large, wall-mounted monitors that rotate to display many different camera views at a time. When they see suspicious individuals or activities in the retail area or are summoned by salespeople via alarm buttons built into display cases, Henne and others can immediately go to the sales floor.
If someone is getting ready to rob us, he’ll notice that there are suddenly a lot of people around and change his mind. People who are in our store shopping legitimately don’t usually notice a sudden increase in the number of people, but someone who is getting ready to commit a crime does. – John Henne
Clear Images Help Stop Crime Locally and Elsewhere
There is a certain precision to robbing jewelry stores. They are usually cased beforehand, according to Henne. He says that people who are planning a heist, whether in the form of credit card fraud, armed robbery or a smash-and-grab, almost always display very specific signs or characteristics, which he sees in his store at least once a month. When Henne believes the store is being cased, he shares the video footage from the Milestone system with a network of other jewelers committed to collaborating against crime.
In October 2014, a young man grabbed a Rolex and ran for the front door. Henne’s security guard, a former Pittsburgh police officer, immediately hit a button that locked the exit, and he held the suspect until the police arrived and placed the perpetrator under arrest.
I shared the video with our network. Then I got a call that the video had been used to press charges against him for doing a similar thing in New Jersey. The fact that he was facing charges in other states prevented him from being let out on bail. – John Henne
Mobile Capabilities, Remote Service, Fast Response
The ability to access the Milestone system remotely has been beneficial to Henne in two ways. First, it allows him to check in on the store when he isn’t there. Second, it enables the systems integrator to service the system without having to travel to the store.
If an alarm goes off at night I can check the cameras using the Milestone Mobile from home on my phone or iPad to determine if I need to call the police and get to the store. Or, if it’s a false alarm, I don’t have to even get out of bed. – John Henne
He also relies on Milestone Mobile to stay connected when he travels on business trips or personal vacations.
If I’m out of town I can check in and just get a feel for things. Was it a busy Saturday? Was a long-time customer in the store while I was away? If so I can drop her an email and tell her I hope she’s doing well and let her know I’m sorry I missed her. It’s a great way to maintain solid relationships with our best customers. – John Henne
While not without its charms, the old building the company occupies sometimes makes seamless customer service a challenge. There’s a large chimney, for example, in the middle of the sales area that often blocks the associates’ line of sight. Also, the office from which Henne steers the business is nowhere near the showroom that generates its revenue.
I’m constantly watching the video monitor in my office. I can see if someone isn’t being waited on and go out to help them if they’re not. The technology has proven itself a valuable tool for managing employees and inventory, too. For staffing matters, the system makes it easy to always know whether there are too few or too many associates working the sales floor. – John Henne
Henne credits the system with dramatically reducing the losses incurred as a result of misplaced items.
www.hennejewelers.com : Best Jeweler in Pittsburgh, 2009-2016 — Pittsburgh Magazine; Best Places to Work, 2004-2016 — Pittsburgh Business Times