A Modern Guide to Dealership Security

Dealerships have a well-established business model that relies on constantly moving inventory, pairing sales with Finance and Insurance (F&I) products, and reoccurring vehicle maintenance. With inventory exposed outside night and day, among other liabilities – security needs to be an integral part of dealership business operations and growth strategies.

With thieves becoming more brazen, the bar for adequate security is rising and effective measures are becoming more critical for protecting dealerships, their workers, guests, and inventory.

Dealer Assets & Risks Breakdown: theft, damage, and liability

Car, truck, and RV dealerships have a broad range of responsibilities when it comes to shielding themselves from liabilities. Identifying those liabilities is the first step in establishing a worthy approach.

There are physical, dealer-owned assets to protect, including vehicles and parts. Installed or not, these encompass popular items from catalytic converters and airbags to wheels and tires. When stolen or damaged, repair and replacement costs affect the bottom line. There are after-effects too, from paperwork and processing time to vehicle and F&I sales.

Service shop tools, equipment, and consumables that mysteriously disappear also hurt dealers in replacement costs and service down-time. Dealership property and infrastructure damage are also impactful – whether it is vandalism or broken lockboxes. Disrepairs taint curb appeal, impact operations, and at worst temporarily close a dealership.

People-related and external liabilities whether it be workers and customers, or customer vehicles in for service are some of the least predictable risks as incident costs, and time and effort to resolve them are typically more complex.

Factors that put dealer resources at risk can come in many forms including loitering trespassers, people spying for an easy opportunity, experienced criminals, unhappy employees, opportunistic or misguided customers, and general neglect.

Given the risks dealers face every day, it is critical that a thoughtful selection of effective and reliable solutions is implemented that protect the whole business: its assets, workers, and guests.

Elements of a Modern Dealership Security Plan

Here is our recommendation of risk-mitigating solutions for dealerships based on what our team has seen in the field.


Few criminals prefer working under the spotlight which makes lighting a great base-level security element. With the availability of powerful LED systems, lighting up large lots can be done at a reasonable price. Lighting solutions also boast other benefits such as complimenting video surveillance systems, improving curb appeal and the shopping experience, as well as reducing energy bills (if upgrading to LEDs).

Vehicle GPS

GPS trackers might be a no-brainer to some, but it is still worth highlighting. Suppliers report average vehicle recovery time in minutes whereas the National Crime Victimization Survey reported an average vehicle recovery time of 11 days. With many GPS tracking solutions on the market, this is an inexpensive solution with a big upside for vehicle recovery. Modern packages often include mobile apps with on-the-go inventory management plus additional features such as for franchise dealers.



Good Habits: Keep Keys & Fobs Safe

Leaving keys on wheels and under sun visors is asking for trouble. Too often, dealerships leave keys and fobs in easy, obvious locations to help the sales team forgetting they are also helping criminals. Keys and fobs should always be kept in a secure location, out of view, and only accessible by dealership staff. Implementing good habits across your team can be free aside from the lockbox itself. However, modern key control systems are available for dealerships needing a formal management system.

More Good Habits: Make Illegal Towing Difficult

Criminals will try to tow cars out of a dealership. Towing can be easier than bypassing alarms, forcing locks, or stealing keys. Once the car is towed off-site, the thief can work at their leisure. The easiest deterrent for this type of robbery is to ensure all vehicles have the e-brake on and the steering wheel locked to the left or right. This is another free practice your team can implement that can only help.

Track Test-Drives

A strict sign-out process helps to keep an accurate log of dealer-owned vehicles coming and going. This ensures vehicles cannot leave without being logged and will make it obvious early on when a vehicle is missing. Ensure someone is responsible for the log and will escalate the issue if a vehicle is out longer than expected. Starting the search for lost vehicles early significantly aids recovery, this process sets your dealership up for better chances of success in these situations.

Video Monitoring Systems

Video surveillance or video monitoring systems (VMS) can be helpful in identifying a burglar, but not in preventing a crime. As a broad category, there are many solutions on the market that offer little more than an unmonitored camera. Traditional live monitoring is a step up that offers the chance for an incident to be spotted – if the monitoring staff sees it. That is a big “if” since solution providers in this space range from outfits with untrained staff to organizations with UL ratings. Any solution that is solely human-powered will have its limitations such as monitoring staff attention span among other crucial factors. The better solution is proactive video monitoring.

Often referred to as PVM for short, PVM is proactive – meaning that action is taken in advance of an incident, not during or after it occurs. This is possible through the combination of cameras, intelligent software, and trained staff working together to survey sites, detect anomalies, identify risks, and take immediate action – whether on-site or with key holders and authorities. Read on to learn how it works and why it is a proven method to prevent incidents.


PVM: the Next Generation Video Surveillance

Netwatch PVM identifies suspicious activity or unwanted behavior the moment it’s detected and deters the intruders with live, personalized audio warnings and immediate calls to law enforcement. The solution has proven effective in preventing over 80,000 crimes to date.

If a threat is detected by the intelligent surveillance software an alert is immediately sent to an Intervention Specialist for verification. Within seconds they will assess the correct level of intervention. A typical intervention protocol follows this sequence:

  1. Threat detected
  2. A live personalized voice warning
  3. Police alerted
  4. Designated keyholder alerted
  5. Situation live monitored until resolved

How Monitored Video Surveillance Protects

Maintaining vigilant wide-area live surveillance of dealership properties is critical to their protection – any solution that provides less will leave gaps.

Netwatch PVM provides live situational awareness through virtual on-premises video to detect and prevent incidents from happening and/or escalating. This focused approach to risk mitigation is ideal for dealerships because it provides coverage of expansive physical properties and operations requiring specialized support to reduce liabilities and losses.

Deter Theft and Vandalism

Detection analytics employed by high-definition cameras immediately notify an Intervention Specialist at the remote monitoring center of any human activity. At this point, trained specialists will immediately connect to view a live camera feed of the activity and challenge the intruder based on custom site protocol. In many cases, this is all that is needed to deter the intruder. If not, the intruders will be further challenged with a stern audio warning and the police notified. Intervention Specialists stay engaged with the live scene until the event concludes and assist authorities as needed. This approach has a proven record of preventing crime before it happens.

Mitigate against false claims and liability

Dealerships are particularly vulnerable for liability insurance claims since they attract high volumes of foot and vehicle traffic as members of the public browse the inventory showroom and lot. Whether a patron has accidentally slipped and fallen, or a vehicle collision in the parking lot has occurred, you will have quick and easy access to historical footage.

Proactive video monitoring systems provide you with software to access your camera feed and recorded video from your desktop or on a mobile app. Claims can be quickly investigated and closed.

Improve Business Operations

The integration of ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras can provide you with a comprehensive history of license plate data for all vehicle details entering and exiting your dealership. This adds a further layer of recourse in a wide range of scenarios on your property, not to mention accidental damage to dealership inventory.

Health and Safety

Keeping staff and customers safe is a priority. Rest assured knowing showroom, service bay and lot footage can be quickly and easily recalled upon to investigate employee or customer issues.

Reliable, Effective and Always-On

As with any system relying on hardware, there are potential points of failure. A unique feature of Netwatch Proactive Video Monitoring is the constant health check – the entire system is programmed to continually perform self-health checks. This feature enables confidence that your system is fully operational and comfort that if there is an issue, an alert will be issued as soon as a failure is detected.

Proactive Video Monitoring ROI

Save on Security Costs

Of the many solutions available, proactive video monitoring provides the greatest impact per dollar. This type of system results in fewer false alarms because of the teamwork between our detection software and human verification – not because cameras are turned off to stifle the alarms.

Faster Response Times

Not only is our intelligent software fast at identifying human activity, in many cases authorities are faster to respond to our Intervention Specialists than for non-verified alarms. This is because many cities, like Dallas, TX have formal triaging in place and prioritize verified alarms over non-verified alarms.


More Cost-Effective Than On-Site Guards

Security officers cannot be everywhere at once and can be affected by fatigue or distractions. Cameras and software never become tired – they are always on and if there is an issue the health check will send a notification right away. Fatigue and distractions are not issues experienced by our Intervention Specialists as they are event-focused, have healthy schedules and a combination of rigorous training and an optimal work environment for maintaining focus.

A Scalable Solution

We are here for you when you are ready to grow. Adding or expanding sites is easy with our experienced team and managed services. Get support with installation, upgrades, and maintenance you need, when you need them.

Remote Access

When you install video surveillance across multiple dealership locations, you will have access to live and recorded video from your laptop, tablet and/or phone from all sites. The unique propriety software gives access to remote site management features for your dealership locations, while you are on the go or at the office.

Proactive Video Monitoring for Car Dealerships

At Netwatch, we know the challenges faced by car dealerships and have been providing proactive video monitoring services to dealerships for almost 20 years with our purpose-built solution tailored for dealers. Let us help you improve the efficiency of your business while giving you confidence that your assets, workers, and guests are protected to the highest possible standard.

Reach out to us today, www.netwatchusa.com/contact.