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Media Equipment Security [Hardfacts]


The word 'media' may conjure up a variety of meanings;  but in the context of this Hardfacts it relates to organisations that use high specification electronic audio/visual equipment, whether it is owned or hired/leased, such as cameras/camcorders and related editing/mixing desks etc. all as typically used in connection with commercial film/TV and recording industry work.

The trend towards Hi-Definition (HD) and 3D capability of media equipment increases its value such that,  coupled with its relative portability and general anonymity, it has become highly  attractive to some thieves - who may be prepared to use considerable planning and/or force (robbery) to obtain it.

This guidance outlines some potential security measures that may be adopted to minimise the risk of loss.

Risk Assessment

The necessity for media equipment security measures should always be determined after considering the impact on your organisation of possible loss e.g.

  • Cost of replacing equipment
  • Ongoing hire (lease) charges pending replacement
  • Expected equipment replacement times
  • The effect on any existing schedules/contract commitments, or availability for future work.

Armed with this information you will be in a better position to consider the relative importance of having good security measures. These can be categorised into several broad headings:

  • Procedural
  • Physical
  • Electronic
  • Item specific
  • Manned guarding

When reviewing security bear in mind that the best security is usually achieved by adopting a range of complementary measures.

The relevance of the advice that follows needs to be considered according to the type of equipment, its likely location (storage and use), method of use and whether or not the equipment is owned and used by you, owned and hired/leased out or hired/leased in.

Providers of Hired/leased out equipment

Away from their own premises, those who hire/lease out equipment clearly have a limited ability to seek a specific level of security for equipment on hire. However, they can encourage their customers to consider the additional risk they are taking on by hiring/leasing such equipment and encourage them to take suitable measures - perhaps by providing an advice sheet (such as this one!).

Hiring/leasing in equipment

Those hiring/leasing in equipment need to be mindful that, as well as the possible effects of a crime related loss on their own operations, their financial interest in preventing equipment loss may need to extend (depending on hire/lease terms) to consider equipment replacement costs plus on-going hire/lease charges, e.g. pending equipment replacement.

When reviewing security measures don't forget to check your insurance arrangements and in particular whether your insurer has any specific requirements.

Procedural Security Measures

Good procedures are an important part of your security measures. Options to consider include:

  • Ensure personnel procedures limit potential customer access to your premises and in particular, equipment storage areas
  • Avoid positioning attractive equipment next to externally accessible glazing
  • Maintain an 'asset register', to include a list of all serial numbers. This can be useful in helping to establish values in the event of loss and aiding return of any items recovered by the police.
  • Avoid advertising the arrival of new equipment by not leaving packaging in yards etc
  • By way of deterrent, advertise any security measures that may not otherwise be readily apparent to potential intruders; e.g. posting notices to the effect that the premises have a remote signalling alarm, or that equipment marking systems are in use
  • Ensuring that users are aware of the theft risks of leaving equipment unattended in public or semi public areas of the workplace or when working away from the premises
  • Ensuring that  users don't leave equipment away from your premises in unattended vehicles or locations
  • Ensuring that robust measures are in place to verify the identity of persons to whom you may wish to hire equipment e.g. requiring two forms of ID, one photographic, coupled with proof of address, then ideally, seek to corroborate these rather than simply visually accepting them
  • Producing a 'Business Continuity Plan' (BCP) to assist in getting your operations quickly back to normal after any security breach or loss

Physical Security Measures - Premises

A well secured perimeter, either of a building or an area within it, but ideally both, will usually provide significant benefits. Perimeter protection should take account of the nature of the buildings and the location, ease of access, hours of occupancy and the type (theft attraction) of the media equipment present within.

Further information on general Perimeter Security, Door and Window Security and Locks & Lock Standards can be found in various Hardfacts information sheets available in our 'Knowledge Store'.

However, probably the most effective physical protection for concentrations of expensive or critical equipment is to store them in a secure inner store. For example, within a robustly built internal room, sited away from outside walls (ideally on upper floors) and having good quality doors and locks fitted or within a proprietary steel security (or shipping) container, again having good quality locks. In doing so, it should be noted that enhanced physical security may only add significant security value if the area concerned has suitable manned or electronic security covering it and, in particular, its approaches. 

Electronic Security Measures - Premises

Given sufficient attraction, thieves will often go to the trouble of overcoming physical security measures. In such circumstances electronic security devices, by potentially limiting the time available for attack, are a vital supplement. Depending upon whether you wish to install such systems to alert local personnel/guards or a remote monitoring centre, options include the installation of:

  • An access control system to assist in vetting/controlling persons seeking access to, or within key areas of, the premises
  • A locally or remotely monitored intruder and hold up alarm system. Intruder Alarms - Guidelines for Purchasers, and other intruder alarm ‘Hardfacts' information sheets, are available in our 'Knowledge Store'
  • A locally monitored CCTV system to allow staff to manage, monitor and record visitors during working hours
  • An external remotely monitored detector activated CCTV system. These can be particularly effective outside business hours in detecting potential intruders whilst they are still outside a building, but the nature of such systems requires very careful attention to system design and operating procedures if they are to be effective. See CCTV - Guidelines for Purchasers, and other CCTV 'Hardfacts' information sheets, available in our 'Knowledge Store'.
  • A security fog (aka 'smoke') generating system linked to an intruder alarm. When activated these rapidly fill a designated area with a dense non-harmful chemical fog which obscures vision, and prevents intruders from seeing what they have come to steal.
  • A forensic intruder marking system. When activated these fill an area with a near invisible non-harmful uniquely formulated chemical mist, which adheres to the clothes and body of intruders. The police can detect this marking on suspects and trace it back to the registered premises.

Security Measures - Equipment

Good procedural, physical and electronic security measures at premises may often provide a suitably robust line of defence, but security measures applied to particular pieces of equipment can provide effective additional security both whilst onsite and elsewhere. Options include:

  • Permanent visible marking (etching) of equipment with details of your name and postcode, or covert forensic marking advertised by an overt warning sticker. By removing anonymity in this way, attraction to thieves is reduced.
  • Securing equipment, either permanently or temporarily, to walls or furniture with steel cable ties (as sometimes sold to secure computers) to hinder removal.

Security Measures - Manned Guarding

At some premises the values at risk, or the critical effects of a loss, may suggest that in addition to some or all of the foregoing, a manned guarding presence is appropriate either during or outside business hours, or both.

When choosing a guarding company, National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB) listing is one of the best indicators of full compliance (supported by external auditing) with UK manned guarding (Security Industry Authority - SIA) licensing rules and good security practice, e.g. adherence to recognised British Standards. In the absence of NSI/SSAIB listing, membership of the Security Industry Authority (SIA) Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) is likely to indicate a fairly high degree of compliance with such standards.

Although it may sometimes be felt to conflict with cost effectiveness/operational convenience, at high risk sites care should be taken to ensure that guards are suitably protected against 'out of hours' duress, i.e. they are there in sufficient numbers to deter such attacks or otherwise that the premises have a suitable remotely monitored intruder/personal attack alarm or CCTV system. Furthermore, where guarded buildings have such electronic protection, the guards should be stationed outside the building(s) they are guarding and not hold keys &/or codes/unsetting devices that could enable them, under duress, to unset the electronic security systems. An alternative, or sometimes supplementary, safeguard in such situations is for the alarm/CCTV monitoring centre to be asked to monitor expected alarm setting/unsetting times and report deviations to suitable off-site response personnel.

Key Action Steps

Effective security is usually achieved only after considering the various risks faced and then implementing an appropriate set of complementary security measures so:

  • Undertake a security risk assessment
  • Aim for a complementary set of security measures rather than relying on just one or two
  • Review security as circumstances change e.g. as new equipment is obtained or relocated
  • Ensuring that all relevant staff are aware of and understand the reasons for your security measures, will help ensure that they are observed/maintained
  • Review security after any loss. If you do not do so, you are at very high risk of a repeat incident
  • If unsure how to proceed seek impartial advice from others, e.g. police crime prevention teams and/or your insurers
  • Ensure that you comply with any terms/conditions imposed by interested third parties e.g. your insurers or any hire/lease company

Sources of further information

Other 'Hardfacts' in the Property Protection Security series, which are available in our 'Knowledge Store' at

For access control, CCTV, intruder alarms and manned guarding:
- National Security Inspectorate (NSI). Tel 01628 637512 or see
- Security Systems & Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB). Tel 0191 296 3242 or see
- The Security Industry Authority -

For forensic and other marking systems:
- Selectamark Ltd. Tel 01689 860757 or
- Smartwater Ltd. Tel 0800 328 6268 or

British Security Industry Association (BSIA). Tel 0845 389 3889 or see

MLA (Master Locksmiths Association). Tel 01327 262255 or see

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Please Note
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.

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