Nonprofit Full Security

Cameras help therapeutic center re-establish peace of mind

For more than 30 years, Equest Therapeutic Riding Center in Wylie, Texas, has provided horse-assisted therapies to adults and children with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. The first nonprofit riding center of its kind and one of the largest in Texas, Equest has helped more than 150 clients per week improve muscle tone, strength, flexibility and balance through horseback riding instruction. Operating primarily with donated horses and volunteers, the 48-acre facility helps riders increase emotional and physical development by the use of therapies that increase self-esteem, concentration and independence. Equest recently launched a mental health program for military veterans to help those returning from war cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. The center does not rest on its current accomplishments; rather, it is constantly training new instructors and working with experts to improve its range of horse-assisted activities and aims to empower, enrich and educate its students.

One morning about 18 months ago, Brad Causey, the facility and stable manager, arrived to find that the riding center’s truck, flatbed trailer and riding lawnmower had been stolen from the property.

“We were in shock that it happened,” Causey said. “We thought, ‘Who would do this to us?’”

Fortunately, the ensuing media coverage led to a string of generous donations from sympathetic people looking to help the center’s cause. The donations didn’t just place a bandage over the loss of stolen goods; they enabled Equest to purchase upgrades. With the donations and insurance, center officials were able to purchase a new truck, trailer and lawnmower that were better than the stolen equipment.

“We felt very blessed,” Causey said. “The community support was unbelievable. We became the ones that needed therapy, and we were provided with care that exceeded our expectations. The support of our community allowed us to turn a negative into a positive.”

However, the monetary donations could not help with the emotional recovery. Equest relies on hundreds of volunteers and employees to manage the center and its activities, and the theft made employees, riders and families fearful that more crime could occur on site.

Thankfully, a proactive donation arrived: a surveillance system consisting of five MOBOTIX D12 cameras and five MOBOTIX M12 cameras. Systems integrator Alpha Security installed the system and educated the staff on how to work the cameras and the MOBOTIX MxControlCenter video management system. Sasho Sorli, owner of Aspen, Colo.-based Alpha Security installed four cameras in the barn looking up and down the aisles of the horse stalls. One camera is directed at the driveway, one in the accounting office, two in the hay barn and storage shed and two pointed to the parking lot protecting the truck and trailers.

Founded in 1994, Alpha Security is a technology solutions company with a diverse background of talent and experience. It aligned itself with MOBOTIX after learning the value of the company’s German-engineered quality and unique approach to IP-based megapixel video surveillance.

“I never doubted that MOBOTIX was the right solution for Equest,” Sorli said. “The weatherproof M12 is perfect for their parking lot surveillance with its night-time sensitivity and high-resolution imagery. The staff quickly learned the user-friendly interface of MxControl- Center and can now access live images, review video and record permanent footage for storage on CDs or DVDs.”

Alpha recommended a comprehensive surveillance system from MOBOTIX because of the system’s IP-centric approach, high-resolution video and cost-effectiveness. One high-resolution MOBOTIX camera with 3.1 megapixels records 30 times more detail than traditional CCTV cameras. As a result, larger image areas of up to 360-degree views are possible, reducing the number of cameras needed and upfront and long-term costs. Unlike other systems, the MOBOTIX decentralized concept incorporates a high-speed computer into every camera, reducing network bandwidth because video is processed on the cameras itself and images do not have to be constantly transferred. With the purchase of MOBOTIX cameras, users receive MxControlCenter free of charge. MxControlCenter is a video management software package that includes features such as unlimited users, simple configuration and installation, layout editor for floor plans and a userfriendly interface and camera view.

“Many times people don’t know how to use some of the features of their VMS systems, so we make sure our clients not only know how to use Mx- ControlCenter but are aware of how to maximize it for the best return on investment,” Sorli said.

Equest never dealt with much crime in its 30-year history, but it took only one incident to serve as a wake-up call. Since the MOBOTIX cameras were installed, only one more incident has taken place, but it was nowhere near the scale of the last occurrence.

“We came in one morning and saw the truck backed up with the tailgate facing the road, and we thought that someone might have tried to steal the tailgate,” Causey said. “We went in and reviewed the video footage from the night before and, sure enough, at about 2 a.m. someone came and tried to cause some sort of damage to our truck.”

Most importantly, the new surveillance system from MOBOTIX allows Equest to focus on its core mission: to be a place of therapy. It has allowed the center’s generous volunteers and recovering clients to get back on the horse, literally and figuratively, shedding any fears created by the previous criminal incident. With the support of its community, Alpha and MOBOTIX, Equest has taken the reins to securing the future of its riding center.

“If we can’t make our clients feel secure, it will greatly affect the degree to which we can help them,” Causey said. “How can we help them gain confidence when, at the same time, they are worried about safety in our facility? We have demonstrated that we have these cameras, and I’m sure it has helped and will continue to help deter suspicious activity and give the staff, horses and clients peace of mind.”

This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Security Today.

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