This is a common question that we are typically asked when engaged as independent experts by insurance companies when a claim is being assessed and by insurance lawyers for cases involving alleged duty of care failure relating to security.

Over the past fifty or so years as physical security has evolved as a science, and electronic systems have become far more sophisticated than the basic burglar alarm, the emphasis has shifted toward access control systems, internet-enabled video surveillance, integrated systems and all manner of electronic wizardry designed to thwart criminals.


The Unseen Interloper – Smart or Lucky?


What is often overlooked is the fact that property crime is still frequently successful, indicating that the “low level criminal” has found ways and means of defeating security systems through remarkably simple mechanical techniques, aided and abetted by skills that are easily learned from seasoned criminals and knowledge available from the source-rich internet. Information about physical construction and performance characteristics of detection devices has become freely available from thousands of sources on the world wide web. Security products are easy to obtain for criminals to practice their craft. These factors are all enablers for criminals.

Some of the basic elements of intruder detection have remained essentially unchanged in design and as such have become de facto standard devices. The majority of these devices have changed only cosmetically in over half a century! Commonly deployed detection devices today are easy to compromise.


Systems and therefore the properties they supposedly protect are compromised, typically during busy or ‘after-hour’ periods. As evidenced from the many technical investigations that we have conducted on behalf of insurance companies after criminal incidents, perpetrators are often criminals that know and exploit the vulnerabilities of security systems. Trusted insiders are sometimes suspected.

Sloppy installation and poor maintenance practices also contribute to the vulnerability of security systems. For a variety of reasons, security vulnerabilities are often seeded during the procurement process waiting for germination. The knowledge to competently identify system vulnerabilities by consultants or others who design, or audit systems is often missing in action and the system ‘owner’ is usually none the wiser until a successful criminal attack.


Organisations seeking genuine and robust protection from physical crime and independent quality assurance assessment of their security systems, and insurance underwriters wanting to minimise their risks should seriously consider commissioning an independent and expert technical vulnerability assessment. Resilience requires knowledge. Harris Security Management can advise you on your current vulnerabilities and how to overcome them.

See our related Blog “Do you really know the condition of your security system?”


Further information contact: Geoff Harris 0419 462 798,

Note: The above discussion is of general nature only and intended to stimulate and focus conversation on security and related risk management. It lacks context. We do not provide endorsement or assessment on information or research provided by others that may be referenced in this article or their included references. The above discussion is not comprehensive and does not provide expert legal comment or advice. The discussion does not provide professional advice from us. Seek expert analysis and advice relevant to your specific context from trusted advisers.

© Harris Security Management, Sydney 2020