BEIRUT: The customary tap of a handheld metal detector on bags being carried into malls isn’t making you more secure, an official from a private security firm told The Daily Star Thursday.
Security guards outside malls have long used metal detectors to screen bags for weapons. A swipe of the wand past a bag clears people to enter malls. That practice, repeated thousands of times every day, does almost nothing to help secure the mall, said Elie Zod from Zod Security.
Zod said the practice was about feeling safe, rather than being safe.
“Most of the commercial centers don’t really care about security; they care about the commercial value of the security system,” Zod said.
Zod Security has published a report drawing attention to the practice on its website. The security firm said that since many purses and handbags already contain large amounts of metal, swiping a detector by them would tell you very little. The company added that selectively screening bags just encouraged people to carry weapons somewhere else.
Hand metal detectors are meant to be used to pinpoint where a metal item is on a body after passing it several times around a person.
“It is rather ridiculous when you walk with a lady into a mall, and you see the security personnel barely scanning her purse, while none of you actually get screened,” the report said. “You can carry anything on you or in your pockets, but please, not in a lady’s purse.”
Numerous mall officials did not return calls for comment on their security practices.
Zod said much of the problem was rooted in lack of government regulation or insurance policy standards. There are few enforced guidelines, meaning that malls and stores can have their own interpretation of the best security practices.
“The government is absent,” Zod said. “The insurance companies are not providing solid ground to work on.”
Security is a looming concern for businesses around the country. Robberies have been on the rise over the past two years and responses have varied. Some businesses have added armed guards and sophisticated security equipment, but the cost can be prohibitive.
According to Zod, proper security checks require more equipment and attention. Walk-through detectors and individual screenings are what are needed to actually keep a large facility such as a mall secure.
“It won’t cost them less than $1 million, which is a big investment.”