By Col. Steven Ellsworth
The Best Secured Coin Shows of 2013 have been selected by Col. Steven Ellsworth of the Butternut Company in Clifton, Va.
This is the 17th annual recognition that Ellsworth has extended.
He personally attended nearly 40 coin shows and conventions during 2013. He pays particular attention and evaluates the various types of security that are provided to both dealers and the public. In addition, he receives reports from coin dealers, collectors and crime-incident reports from the media and law enforcement sources.
“Last year in my report I predicted that due to our near stagnate economy crimes perpetrated by criminals would escalate and unfortunately this has come to fruition,” Ellsworth stated.
“During 2013 we had several violent home invasions and robberies of coin collectors and dealers, several at gunpoint. Along with these violent crimes we still had nearly one a month of road-side thefts and robberies. In addition we had several armed robberies and assaults that resulted in several in-store shootings. Some may have occurred due to dealer/collector lapses or lack of their own security procedures, but some are for economic gain or in supporting illicit drug activities,” Ellsworth explained.
“As predicted several dealers and collectors were virtually wiped out and have terminated their businesses,” he said.
Ellsworth also was also not optimistic about the current year.
“Our 2014 economy will likely be a repeat for criminal endeavors. We are all very lucrative targets for the criminal, especially since our hobby is advertised in so many local publications, as well as road signs offering to buy gold and coins,” he pointed out.
The purpose of the award to is make everyone more security conscious.
As he looks around, Ellsworth sees that more and more dealers and collectors have rushed out and purchased a gun and applied for a concealed weapon permit for their state. Most have done so without any thought to serious education and training.
“As a Advanced Certified National Rifle Association instructor,” Ellsworth cautions, “I would advise against this approach. Unless the individual involved is committed to continuous firearm instruction and training they are not only putting themselves at risk, but those around them.”
Owning and carrying a firearm requires even more responsibility and a commitment than driving a car, Ellsworth noted It requires continuous serious instruction and training to maintain proficiency.
“This is not accomplished by a friend who is a cop, or my neighbor who was in the military taking you out and punching holes in paper or shooting at bottles. It is only accomplished by proper training from a professional firearms instructors,” Ellsworth said.
“Unless you are willing to take the time and spend the money for training, I would advise not making a firearm part of your security plan,” he declared.
All shows listed below were actually attended by Ellsworth’s company or by its representative. The list is slightly shorter this year, he said.
More shows and promoters are taking the safety of the exhibitors and attendees more seriously, but most still do not prosecute shoplifters, according to Ellsworth.
“Simply throwing a shoplifter out of a show creates an incentive to repeat their crimes and for others to follow suit,” he continued. “It is time consuming and expensive however. Dealers and bourse chairs must take on the burden to prosecute an offender.”
Ellsworth tells shows that in briefing security personnel, they must be told to stay off their iPhones and cell phones when working and to limit use only for must-answer calls. It is impossible for them to be texting and still be vigilant to the security task at hand.
In alphabetical order, these are The Best of the Best in Coin Show Security for 2013. They are listed with a brief synopsis provided by Ellsworth. His only objective, he said, is always to keep security matters on the “front burner” to help dealers and collectors manage the risks posed from theft or worse.
• American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money Show, Chicago, Ill. They do it right. Security was continually provided by uniformed police and plain clothes private security. Security was provided in and out of the facility during set-up and breakdown. All security officers are tied into a monitored communication net. Registration and name tags were required for all attendees. The ANA staff and board is given special recognition this year for their proactive efforts to reduce crime and improve the safety of its members and staff and the entire hobby through their continued educational efforts. Much has gone on behind the scenes that the public may never know or see but the efforts of the ANA are beginning to take effect. Never in the previous 110 years of its existence has the ANA actively done more to increase the awareness and education to help reduce the threat of crime as this organization has and deserves to be commended.
• Bay State Coin Show (C4), Marlboro, Mass. The show is at a new location and security adjusted quickly to the changed venue. Security is continually provided by a private security firm and several off-duty law enforcement personnel. Security is provided in and out of the facility during set-up and breakdown. Unloading and loading is under watchful eyes of security personnel. Security personnel continually walk the show floor to discourage shoplifting. All security officers are tied into a monitored communication net. A registration fee and name tags were required for all attendees.
• Blue Ridge Numismatic Association, Dalton, Ga. Security is continually provided by off-duty uniformed Walker County sheriffs, off-duty GBI agents and private security. Security is provided in and out of the facility during set-up and breakdown. Unloading and loading is under watchful eyes of security personnel. Security personnel continually walk the show floor to discourage shoplifting. Registration and name tags were required for all attendees.
• Florida United Numismatists Convention, Orlando, Fla., Security is provided by a private security contractor and supplemented by numerous off-duty uniformed Orange County police. Security is vigilant in and out of the facility during set-up and breakdown. Security is triple layered with uniformed, plain clothes and video surveillance. Parking areas are also patrolled before, during and following the show. Registration and name tags are required for all attendees. As one of the largest shows in the country, they always set a good example. The amount of resources devoted for security at this show is impressive.
• Georgia Numismatic Association, Dalton, Ga. Security is continual provided by off-duty uniformed Walker County sheriffs, off-duty GBI agents and private security. Security is provided in and out of the facility during set-up and breakdown. Unloading and loading is under watchful security personnel. Security personnel continually walk the show floor to discourage shoplifting. Registration and name tags are required for all attendees.
• Pennsylvania Association of Numismatists, Monroeville, Pa. Security is provided by a private security firm wearing distinctive company clothing of armed personnel. Security is provided in and out of the facility during set-up and breakdown. Registration and name tags were required for all attendees. Unloading and loading is under watchful eyes of security personnel. As with all shows, collectors and dealers leaving the watchful eyes of show security must immediately implement their own individual plan on their remaining travel to avoid theft.
• Texas Numismatic Association, Fort Worth, Texas. Security is provided by Doug Davis of Numismatic Crime Information Center and off-duty Fort Worth sheriff’s deputies. Security is excellent from set-up to breakdown with both uniform and plainclothes officers keeping constant vigilance of the bourse, parking areas, entrances and exits of the facility. Officers are well equipped with all the necessary weapons and equipment to handle most any incident. Registration and name tags are required for all attendees.
• South Carolina State Show, Greenville, S.C. Security is provided by South Carolina constables and retired South Carolina state troopers. Security is vigilant in and out of the facility during set-up and breakdown and is continuous during the show. Officers are equipped with additional assault weapons and equipment at night. Registration and name tags are required for all attendees.
• Virginia Beach Coin Show, Virginia Beach, Va. Security is continually provided by uniformed Virginia Beach Police. Unloading and loading of the convention center is observed by a police presence and provides better than average security for dealers unloading and loading. Several of the officers are instructors at nearby Academe (formally Blackwater) where security is a religion. Registration and name tags are required for all attendees.
• Weyers Cave, Va. Security is provided by off-duty plainclothes Augusta County sheriff’s deputies. Even though it is a small show with just 40 tables, two officers are present during the show and during set-up and breakdown. Law enforcement personnel continually monitor the entrances, loading and parking areas. It is noteworthy that even in small shows, security can be taken seriously.
• Whitman Baltimore Coin & Currency Convention, Baltimore, Md. Security is continually provided by private security and uniformed Baltimore city police. Unloading and loading is in a gated section of the convention center and provides better than average security for dealers unloading and loading. All security officers are tied into a monitored communication net. Registration and name tags are required for all attendees. This show has grown to one the largest in the country and their security has adjusted accordingly.
That’s the list. Ellsworth also wanted to commend the ANA for offering an in-depth, four-day security course during Summer Seminar sessions in Colorado Springs, Colo. The course was titled “Think Like A Thief: Security for Dealers and Collectors.” The course is taught by Doug Davis of Numismatic Crime Information Center, Sgt. Scott Morgan a Pima County deputy sheriff and Ellsworth.
The course walks through development of a Security Plan or reviews and updates existing plans. This course fills the proficiency requirements for most states concealed carry weapons permits. Ellsworth said he would highly recommend it for dealers and for firms to send a representative.
In addition, Davis continues to give seminars to federal, state, county and local law enforcement officers on how better to investigate numismatic crimes. For more information on ANA courses contact Susan McMillan, ANA Education (719) 482-9850, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ellsworth said, “As I have continuously advised for over 20 years, the single greatest risk to a dealer or collector is after a show. It does not matter if you are loading your vehicle at the convention site or being followed while on the road, you have been observed and possibly targeted by thieves or been singled out by random opportunity criminals.
“Dealers or collectors should never leave their coins in an untended vehicle, this is rule number one. If this simple rule in not written in your own security plan, then you are giving an open invitation to being a victim of a crime. And importantly, a plan that is not written is only an idea – definitely a mistake to your own safety and security,” Ellsworth lamented.
Very few dealers and even fewer collectors spend the time and money needed to actually minimize the risks associated with the hobby, and even fewer take the effort to train for it, Ellsworth points out. It is important to realize that security is an individual’s own responsibility and not that of a show promoter, sponsors the police or government.
“It is up to every dealer and serious collector to have a written plan on how they will handle the array of security threats,” Ellsworth said. “Many dealers tell me they are real careful when they are transporting coins. To which I ask, what is your plan if this or that threat occurs? In nearly all cases they have not thought that far ahead and have no idea what they will do.
“Their plan they say will evolve by their seat of the pants, but in reality they most likely will be like a deer in the headlights if they are confronted with a theft. The usual response afterwards is “I could not believe this was happening to me.’”
Col. Steven Ellsworth retired from the Army with over 32 years of service. His many assignments included serving in the Army’s elite Rangers and Special Forces (Green Berets) and in addition he 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 a collector and serves on several numismatic boards. He is a master certified NRA instructor and has been an instructor for the American Numismatic Association during the Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs numerous times over the last 15 years. His website is www.Butternut.org. Email: BUTTERNUT@Butternut.org.
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