Salt Lake City coin shop owner Bob Campbell admits he’s a bit paranoid when it comes to security.
When he expanded and remodeled his store, All About Coins, last year, he did it with safety in mind for his family, employees and customers.
“It’s strong as Fort Knox and has better security and a better safe system than most banks,” Campbell said.
The historic brick building was updated with layers of security, he said, from wire and glass windows to a double-door entry system and solid steel doors.
“We thought of every possible way someone could burglarize us or stage an armed robbery,” Campbell said. “When the perception is that this is a hard target, then maybe the robbers will move on and go to an easier target.”
He spent about $200,000 on the security measures. He and his staff did a lot of the work themselves.
“I wanted a safe place that I could bring my family, and this provides a safe place,” Campbell said.
But even before the new security systems were put in place, Campbell took safety seriously.
“One person never opens up,” he said. “There are usually multiple people opening, up to four employees. You are never by yourself. You have your buddies with you.”
His staff has concealed carry permits and are armed, although most customers don’t realize it, he said. They all go to the range to practice shooting.
“I kind of hate guns, but I sure know how to use them,” Campbell said. “We practice. We’re into firearm safety. We’re never fooling around.”
The store arsenal also includes a .45 caliber shell 450 Bushmaster and a 12-gauge shot gun with riot barrel that shoots .00 buckshot.
Campbell said they would only fire their weapons if someone’s life was in danger.
“We hope we will never use them,” he said.
Security measures also extend to how he and his staff drive to and from work.
“We take different routes home and we’re always checking to see if we’re being followed,” Campbell said.
When his daughter worked at the store, they would leave work in separate cars and follow each other home. Sometimes he’d call her on her cellphone and shout “Crazy Ivan,” a line from the movie “The Hunt for Red October” that refers to a sharp turn made by a submarine.
“It meant she should go a different way in case someone was following us,” he said. “We practice these little things.”
As for the enhanced security at the shop, Campbell said, he approached it in layers.
The first layer is the outside of the building. While the original store has a brick exterior, the portion expanded into used to be a car dealership with big glass windows. That wouldn’t do.
“We used reinforced steel frames for the windows. The panes themselves have two layers. The first is one-quarter inch wire glass in a diamond shape. You can break through it, but it takes a long time. The second layer is double laminated window that’s even stronger. Both are safety glasses.”
The windows sit on a concrete reinforced wall.
“Only a Sherman tank is going to come through here,” Campbell said.
Customers enter the store through a double door entry system. They are buzzed into a small entry where they wait until they are buzzed through a second door into the store.
“We did that so no one can come in and sneak around a corner,” Campbell said.
The entry area has the wire glass, intercoms and cameras.
“When they come to the door the first thing they see is a monitor with their picture on it. We did that for the safety of our employees and customers,” he said.
Multiple cameras record all activity and two independent alarm systems monitored by two separate security systems offer double security and help cut down on false alarm reports to the police.
“In all the years we’ve had double alarm systems we’ve never had both alarm companies call. We know if both call, then it’s the real thing,” he said.
Inside the shop are motion sensors, curtain sensors and heat and smoke sensors. All doors to the outside have dead bolts and non-pickable locks.
Then there is the kiosk, the “air traffic control” center of the business.
The 12-by-15-foot room has one-way mirrors on three sides and a security wall. It is bullet proof and armored, and the windows, well they weigh 300 pounds each. The fourth side, the security wall, is 18 inches thick.
The kiosk houses the computers and video system. It is the cash room and the place where coin collections are examined. Three different lighting systems aid in counterfeit detection, grading and observing hairlines on coins.
It also houses the 4,000-pound safe equipped with proximity alarms.
Campbell said he could have done more to enhance security. He looked into eye and print recognition systems. But that all costs money.
On a scale of 1 to 10, he figures he has a security system that ranks 9.9.
“I’ve been here a long time, and I plan to be here a long time,” he said.