The control of cash in our equipment has been one of our daily tasks since we began our vending business. Virtually every week, VendingMarketWatch.com reports an occurrence of someone breaking into a vending machine. We have also taken steps to control our cash from internal theft since the day we hired our first employee.
Many large operators and managers, myself included, remember the days when product that went into the machines and cash that came out of them was tracked manually on "machine cards." At best, we were attempting to minimize internal theft and we were never sure how good of a job we were doing to guarantee all of the money came back to the money room.
Technology advances for theft prevention
Fortunately, technology has helped us to control our product and cash on an everyday basis. The refinement of the DEX standards for machines by NAMA, the equipment manufacturers and other technology suppliers is now enabling us to utilize this technology in any manufactured machine of any age.
Technological advances have and will continue to help us get a better handle on where our cash and product are at any time of the day or night.
But now that dollar bills make up the majority of cash versus the coins of years past, the thieves are now able to obtain a large amount of cash and discreetly walk out the door. Unfortunately, the Internet has given the thieves valuable information of the equipment and locking systems, enabling them to determine the quickest method to break into a machine.
What does a thief have in mind when attempting to burglarize a machine? He is thinking: "Which machine will allow me to gain access quickly (within two minutes) and quietly without drawing attention, enabling me to get away with the most amount of money?"
As much as technology has helped us with internal theft, technology companies are also helping us with external theft. As was reported in this magazine in November of 2004, electronic locks are becoming more and more popular as a method of curbing both external and internal theft.
Electronic locks' advantages
Many advantages exist for the various electronic locks versus the standard barrel locks:
- Thieves are virtually unable to pick the locks.
- The new locks are very difficult to drill to break into a machine.
- The ability for a thief to create duplicate keys is virtually eliminated.
- The combinations can be quickly and easily changed on a machine that you want to move from one route to another route.
- The operator can control the specific times a key is active and is able to gain access to the machine.
Many benefits are available for both external and internal theft as well as labor efficiency.
If you have a cash shortage, you are able to determine immediately who has had access to the machine since the last collection. This was a very time-consuming and inaccurate process of years past.
You eliminate the possibility of a route or service person on call to go to a machine on another route at off hours and remove cash from the machine.
If a set of keys is lost, you no longer need to change the locks on all machines. The electronic keys are normally "refreshed" on a daily basis when the route and service people report back to the office at the end of the day. The keys become inactive once they reach the expiration time you have set for them. In most cases this would be the end of the day. When a set of keys is lost, they become virtually useless to the person who finds the keys.
On a daily basis, you have an audit trail of exactly where a route person was at any time of the day. This allows you to determine the amount of time the route person is taking to fill each individual machine as well as nonproductive driving time throughout the day.
Different systems are available
Several manufacturers currently produce electronic locks, including TriTeq Lock and Security, Videx Inc. and Medeco High Security Locks. Each lock has its own distinct advantages. All three of these lock companies have software that enables you to program the time periods each key is active and can be used to open a machine.