Lock America is protecting operators from a new wave of vending criminals

July 27, 2023
Criminals are well-organized and have access to plenty of information, but 40-year-old Lock America is working hard to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

The internet is an excellent resource for criminals. There are plenty of online videos available on how to break into vending machines. For Lock America, one of the industry’s most respected vending machine lock and security product suppliers, it’s just another challenge to overcome as they strive to protect the equipment and assets of vending operators.

More organized, more brazen

Robert Chen, national sales manager at Lock America, said that vending thieves are better informed than ever and are more organized, often working in teams on a regional basis. “We will get phone calls about break-ins, let's just say from a town in Colorado,” said Chen. “Next thing you know, for the next three days, we will get more calls from that specific area. Criminals are coordinating their attacks. They'll pick an area, they'll hit that area, and they'll move on to somewhere else.”

In addition to YouTube videos that can show criminals how to cut and pick locks, Chen said vending machine thieves are more brazen than in the past, not deterred by the legal consequences of arrest. “They get a slap on their wrist and can be back on the street in two hours,” he said. “I have seen customer videos, showing a thief using an industrial propane torch to cut the door off their gates at a car wash. Power tools are getting more powerful and more compact, so it's easier to conceal them.”

Be on the offensive

Despite these challenges, Lock America has great success protecting the machines of thousands of vending operators. “I always tell the operators to put some effort into security. Operators tell me, ‘I’m getting broken into, this is what keeps happening to me.’ I will ask them what they are doing to solve their theft problem and they say that there is nothing they can do. I tell them they can be on the offensive. Don't play defense all the time,” Chen said. “Get the right lock and hasp for the right location.”

Keeping machines in well-lit, high-traffic locations can also mitigate theft. “I often advise operators to put in a light if the machine cannot be moved to a well-lit area. The locks are an important part of the security solution, but you don’t want to allow a thief to work in a dark area with low foot traffic,” Chen explained.

“We have a wide variety of locks, hasps and other products available to operators, and we always use materials that are above standard grade,” he said. “Not every operator needs the highest quality lock that is available, but we can help operators make the right security choices to meet their needs. We have been in this business for over four decades, and we are always improving our products, listening to our customers, staying one step ahead of the people who want to break into an operator’s vending machines and steal their hard-earned revenue.”

Key management

Chen said that key management is another important aspect of security. “There are operators out there who tell me that every driver has a copy of every key,” Chen said. “I ask them, would you give everyone a key to your house and expect it to be secure? It’s no different with your vending keys. We can provide support to operators who need to get their key situation under control.”

For operators, the real goal when it comes to security, should lean toward making a strong effort to deter thieves from trying to break into their machines. “Most attacks on vending machines are not well-organized, planned attacks – they are simply random attacks,” he said. “By having a quality lock that is visible, you are sending a message to the thief that there is no easy opportunity here. Move along. Go somewhere else.”

“Locks should be a priority item when you buy a route from somebody or when you get a new machine. The first thing you should do, and it's probably the most cost-effective thing you can do, is change all the locks,” Chen said. He pointed out that a vending machine can cost $3,000 to $5,000 or more. A quality lock is about $100, but by having a good lock on the machine, you know it's secure, it acts as a good deterrent, and it helps you sleep better at night.

“When you buy a machine with a lock on it, you don't know who has a copy of the key. The person who sold you the machine might have 10 other copies, so it is very risky to use the lock that came with the machine, but I see it happen on a regular basis,” he said. “Manage your locks and manage your keys. That is one way to be sure that you have control over your vending machine security.”

For more information on vending machine security solutions from Lock America, fill out their contact form, send an email to Robert Chen at [email protected], or call Lock America at 800-422-2866.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Tullio is a content specialist, speaker, sales trainer, consultant and contributing editor of Automatic Merchandiser/VendingMarketWatch.com. He advises entrepreneurs on how to build a successful business from the ground up and specializes in helping suppliers connect with operators in the convenience services industry – coffee service, vending, micro markets and pantry service specifically. 

Subscribe to Automatic Merchandiser's new podcast, Vending & OCS Nation, hosted by Tullio and designed to make your business more profitable.

Also check out Tullio’s b2b Perspective Channel, which has developed a loyal YouTube following.

Tullio delivers this promise to any company that hires him for a 30-minute or 1-hour Zoom call: "One short session with me will elevate the performance of your sales team.”

About the Author

Bob Tullio

Bob Tullio is a content specialist, speaker, sales trainer, consultant and contributing editor of Automatic Merchandiser and VendingMarketWatch.com. He advises entrepreneurs on how to build a successful business from the ground up. He specializes in helping suppliers connect with operators in the convenience services industry — coffee service, vending, micro markets and pantry service specifically. He can be reached at 818 261-1758 and [email protected]. Tullio welcomes your feedback.

Subscribe to Automatic Merchandiser’s new podcast, Vending & OCS Nation, which Tullio hosts. Each episode is designed to make your business more profitable.

 

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