Even Mummies Need Security

Egypt’s Minister of Culture lies awake at night worried about security and the safety of the country’s relics housed in the Mahmoud Khalil Museum. He has every right to worry because security at the facilities is…well, lacking.

On August 21, van Gogh’s 1887 “Poppy Flowers” was stolen, and the subsequent investigation revealed that no alarms were working, and worse than that, only seven of the 43 cameras were operational.

These revealed facts are the things nightmares are made of.

The Egyptian Museau houses some of the world’s most prized antiquities, including the gold mask of King Tut. It draws millions of tourists every year, but it too has an outdated video surveillance system that doesn’t work around the clock. And the guards are notoriously noted for sleeping on the job or are reading the Quran while they should be working.

Ton Cremers, director of the Netherlands-based Museum Security Network said taking the van Gogh was a lot easier than it should have been because of the lack of security, or in this case, working security equipment. The van Gogh is valued as high as $5 million.

Cremers said the complete security system would cost about $50,000, and to keep in running would be about $3,000 per year. Security doesn’t work very well if it’s antiquated, doesn’t work or the staff supposed to be monitoring it isn’t working.

Enough said.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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