Edmonton

From watching property to safeguarding health, pandemic has kept Alberta security services busy

Alberta security companies say they're busier than ever largely due to COVID-19 protocols and a rise in crime.

Companies busier than ever, due to COVID-19 protocols and a rise in crime

With many shops closed and businesses empty, the demand for security patrols is up. (Dave Bajer/CBC)

Alberta security companies say they're busier than ever, largely due to COVID-19 protocols and a rise in crime.

"When COVID hit, there's been an increase in crime, an increase in vandalism, property damage," said Moe Hadayat, operations manager at Optimum Security.

"Property owners reached out to us and they said, 'Look, we have never seen this kind of increase ... so we need to have security monitor these properties to make sure that nothing is escalated.'"

Hadayat said crime is largely rooted in unemployment and a lack of things to do, thanks to business and social restrictions that are in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Damian Radcliffe, operations manager with Paladin Security, says a compassionate approach is essential for the best possible outcome. (Supplied by Damian Radcliffe)

Paladin Security has seen an increase in patrols going out as a result of so many Albertans working from home, said operations manager Damian Radcliffe.

"That opens up more opportunities for criminal activity," Radcliffe said.

Radcliffe emphasized that an empathetic approach is proving valuable in dealing with people who are under pressure as a result of the pandemic.

"If we lead with that sort of compassion-first type mentality, I think that we can have most of those interactions go well and still do the job that we need to do," Radcliffe said.

Paladin has also worked with clients who have seen their revenues drop — hotel operators, for example — to come up with cost-effective security plans.

Optimum Security operations manager Moe Hedayat says a rise in vandalism and trespassing have increased demand for services. (Supplied by Moe Hedayat)

Backwoods Security Services traditionally serves the oil and gas industry but since the pandemic has expanded its work to include homeless shelters and health-care facilities. 

"In some of our northern facilities and camps that we're in, the guards are mainly there just to ensure that COVID protocols are being followed, people aren't congregating together — just those gentle reminders to keep their distancing and sanitize and wear their masks," said Kyle Applejohn, the director of security at Backwoods.

Backwoods, which is owned by Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and Enoch Cree Nation, also does mass temperature screenings in high-density workplaces using thermal imaging technology launched in May.

The company provided security for the NHL playoff bubble and the 2021 world junior men's hockey championship.

Security director Kyle Applejohn says operations at Backwoods Security Services have expanded during the pandemic. (Supplied by Kyle Applejohn)

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