Security no longer a luxury

KAPA‘A — Got alarm? A local business owner discovered the hard way her insurance company did not cover robbery or theft losses because her business did not have an approved alarm system.

Kathy Cowan, owner of Alley Kat Art in Kapa‘a, had only been in business a year and a half when someone broken into her store sometime after she closed shop on June 1 and before she reopened June 2.

The thief, she said, pried open a dead-bolt lock and made off with approximately $10,000 worth of jewelry, gold and original artwork, including her own.

“Unfortunately my insurance didn’t cover it because I didn’t have a central alarm system,” Cowan said.

After visiting nearby businesses with a warning that her robbery might mean thieves are targeting other businesses, Cowan said she learned many of them had already been robbed. She learned that two friends also had their homes broken into and robbed.

“We used to be able to leave our doors open,” she said. “People need to be aware they need to lock their doors.”

There are three home security companies on Kaua‘i. Cowan said she selected one that offered a central alarm system with operators on duty to monitor and respond to police immediately if there is an alarm. It was the plan that her insurance required and as an unavoidable business expense the cost of the service is tax deductible.

The loud alarm alerts a security officer, who can speak over a speaker inside the store. If it was the owner who accidentally triggered the alarm, he or she can provide a password.

Cowan said that in addition to video surveillance, there are motion detectors that catch any movement inside the studio and alert the alarm company’s main office to call Kaua‘i Police Department. The same will occur if a door or window is tampered with or opened.

She said the initial set up fee and the relatively low monthly maintenance cost was lower than what she lost in the robbery.

The security company will also upgrade equipment and monitoring as part of the plan.

“If I had done that before I would still be better off with the expense from burglary,” she said. “It is pretty reasonable. I spend more in advertising.”

The KPD 2009 Annual Report states there were 922 burglaries with only 120, or 13.2 percent that were solved or prosecuted.

As for her robbery, Cowan said a person was arrested for possession of some of the stolen items and is currently going through the system. She does not know where the rest of the items went but fears the jewelry may have been melted down or sold off-island.

“When something is stolen the Hawaiian Jewelers Association has images that they send out to 150 places that buy gold and silver so they can watch for your things,” she said. “That is another good thing with jewelry.”

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or by emailing tlaventure@


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