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Ellsworth names year

This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Col. Steven Ellsworth of the Butternut Company has announced his annual selection of “The Best Secured Coin Shows for 2010.” Ellsworth personally attended 48 coin shows during 2010, where he evaluated the kinds and types of security that were provided for both dealers and the public. In addition, he received numerous reports from across the nation from coin dealers and collectors as well as crime incident reports from the media and law enforcement sources.

“This last year we continue to have robberies and thefts as we have in the previous year; mostly due to dealer/collector lapses in their own security procedures,” said Ellsworth. “We had several armed robberies that resulted in a couple of shootings. I am sorry to say that while the number of incidents involving coins is about the same as last year, the level of violence and the brazen boldness of criminals have continued to escalate.

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“Looking forward to 2011 and with even more strains on the economy, we will most likely see increases in crimes of theft and robbery directed towards our hobby due to the availability of immediate liquid cash.”

Ellsworth’s list of the best secured coin shows of 2010 follows.

American Numismatic Association National Money Show Fort Worth, Texas. Security was continually provided by uniformed Fort Worth Police and plain clothes private security. Security was provided in and out of the facility during set-up and break-down, and dealers had access to convention unloading and loading with security vigilant during the process. Registration and name tags were required for all attendees.

Bay State Coin Show (C4) Boston, Mass. Security was continually provided by a private security firm and several off-duty deputy sheriffs. Security was provided in and out of the facility during set-up and break-down. Unloading and loading was under watchful eyes of security personnel. A registration fee and name tags were required for all attendees.

Blue Ridge Numismatic Association Dalton, Ga. Security was continually provided by off-duty, uniformed Walker County Sheriffs, off-duty GBI agents and private security. Security was provided in and out of the facility during set-up and break-down. Unloading and loading was under watchful eyes of security personnel. A registration fee and name tags were required for all attendees.

Coin Fest Stamford, Conn. Security was provided by a private security firm that specializes in personal protection of clients. Security personnel were both armed and unarmed, and wore distinctive company clothing. Security was provided in and out of the facility during set-up and break-down. A registration fee and name tags were required for all attendees. Unloading and loading was under watchful eyes of security personnel.

Florida United Numismatist Convention Orlando, Fla. Security was provided by a private security contractor and supplemented by numerous off-duty, uniformed Orange County Police officers. Security was vigilant in and out of the facility during set-up and break-down. Security was triple-layered with uniformed, plain clothes and video surveillance. Parking areas were patrolled before, during and following the show. Registration and name tags were required for all attendees.

Georgia State Numismatic Association Dalton, Ga. Security was continually provided by off-duty, uniformed Walker County Sheriffs, off-duty GBI agents and private security. Security was provided in and out of the facility during set-up and break-down. Unloading and loading was under watchful security personnel. A registration fee and name tags were required for all attendees.

Houston Money Show Houston, Texas. Security was provided by off-duty Houston Police officers. Loading and unloading was in a secure area with security personal present. The show’s promoter is particularly aware of the show’s security and continually strives to improve the safety and security of all dealers and attendees. An after-action report is done to continually improve the security plan. Registration and name tags were required for all attendees.

Long Beach Coin Expo Long Beach, Calif. Security was provided by off-duty Long Beach Police with identifiable “Security” jackets. Ample security was provided in and out of the facility during set-up and break-down with numerous plain clothes officers continually working the floor from the moment the show opened until it closed. All security officers were tied into a monitored communication net. In addition, the convention facility allowed for overhead “catwalk” patrols to deter shoplifting. A registration fee and name tags were required for all attendees.

Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists (PAN) Monroeville, Pa. Security was provided by a private security firm. The armed personnel wore distinctive company clothing. Security was provided in and out of the facility during set-up and break-down. Registration and name tags were required for all attendees. Unloading and loading was under watchful eyes of security personnel.

Upstate South Carolina Coin Show Spartanburg, S.C. Security was provided by South Carolina Constables and off-duty South Carolina State Troopers. Security was vigilant in and out of the facility during set-up and break-down and was continuous during the show. Officers were equipped with additional assault weapons and equipment at night. Registration and name tags were required for all attendees.
Virginia Beach Coin Show Virginia Beach, Va. Security was continually provided by uniformed Virginia Beach Police. Unloading and loading of the convention center was observed by a police presence and provided better-than-average security for dealers unloading and loading. Registration and name tags were required for all attendees.

Wasatch Winter Coin Club Salt Lake City, Utah. Security was provided by off-duty, uniformed Salt Lake County Sheriff SWAT team deputies. Law enforcement personnel continually walked the show floor to discourage shoplifting. In addition, they monitored the entrances and provided surveillance of the unloading and loading of dealers’ vehicles. Needless to say, the SWAT team members had additional fire power available if it were needed during closing hours.

Weyers Cave Weyers Cave, Va. Security is provided by off-duty, plain clothes Augusta County Sheriff deputies and court security personnel. Even though it is a small show with just 40 tables, two officers were present during the show and during set-up and break-down. Law enforcement personnel continually monitored the entrances and loading and parking areas.

Whitman Baltimore Coin & Currency Convention Baltimore, Md. Security was continually provided by private security and uniformed Baltimore City Police. Unloading and loading was in a gated section of the convention center and provided better-than-average security for dealers unloading and loading. Registration and name tags were required for all attendees.

Ellsworth says that, as in previous years, the single greatest risk to a dealer or collector is being followed after a coin show or event and leaving coins in an unintended vehicle. “I have continually advised against this action for over 19 years, yet it still seems to be the single largest incident for numismatic losses,” he said. “The loss through theft is mentally traumatic and usually an enormous financial drain on its victims. Some dealers are virtually wiped out, and a collector who has his entire collection stolen usually quits the hobby.”

According to Ellsworth, most dealers simply ignore the risks and pretend they will not be a victim, giving only minimal effort to security by asking someone who also has no security training to “watch my coins.” He said it is important to realize that security is an individual’s own responsibility. It is up to every dealer to have a written plan on how they will handle the array of security threats.
Ellsworth says professional numismatists need to continually train for the worst and hope for the best.

“There are only a few dealers I know who take the time and spend money for serious security training,” he said. “This to me verifies the problem in that there are really only a handful of dealers who have made the decision that they will ‘refuse to be a victim.’”

When asked what security measures he would like to see improved, Ellsworth said, “A written security plan by a professional dealers would be a terrific improvement to each and every dealer whether they attend shows or not. A SOP (standard operating procedure) would really help most.”

He gives this example: “When driving to shows I would like to see a person behind the wheel at all times with the passenger(s) doing the fueling and obtaining food if necessary. If a threat is imminent, the driver should simply drive away, and return to pick up his passenger(s) when and if the threat has passed. Positioning of the vehicle should always be considered when a stop must be made to offer the most observation as possible for all.”

Dealers aren’t the only ones who need to change their approach to security.

“Again, show promoters continue to waste security personnel at the front door checking badges of dealers when they are most needed at the important parking and loading areas of the show,” Ellsworth said. “It still seems like most show administrators forget that dealers are extremely vulnerable during set-up and break-down, moving into and out of the facility and while loading their vehicles. It would be highly advisable to have a dedicated set of eyes watching your back and observing the area for threats.”

Ellsworth is a retired army colonel with more than 32 years of service. He served in the army’s elite Special Forces (Green Berets) and has had assignments as a Physical, Intelligence and Communication Security Inspector. He has received highly specialized training in anti-terrorist, physical, intelligence and personal protective security. He currently is a full-time coin dealer and collector and serves on a number of numismatic boards. He also teaches courses at the American Numismatic Association’s Summer Seminar.

This is the 14th year he has assembled a “Best Secured” list.

For more information and security tips, visit www.butternut.org, e-mail butternut@butternut.org or write P.O. Box 498, Clifton, VA 20124-0498.

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