Bars, nightclubs introduce new ID scanner security system

July 9, 2008 No Comments

By Sebastian Ruiz

Councilman Kevin Faulconer and San Diego Police Department officials joined local bar and nightclub owners outside of Bub’s Dive Bar to unveil a new ID scanner system that would increase security at the bars in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach.

The scanner lets security staff keep track of people who might become too intoxicated, start fights or commit other crimes, said Todd Brown, owner of Bub’s Dive Bar

Brown is also the chair of the Pacific Beach Hospitality Task Force, a group of nightclub, bar and restaurant owners that are involved with programs that improve the area’s hospitality community.

The system also allows security staff to alert other establishments if an intoxicated person or troublemaker leaves and tries to enter another venue connected to the same system.

“People gotta know, if they get out of line line, they’re not going to be welcome back,” Brown said.

Faulconer said the new technology would help keep Pacific Beach safer as it is home to “world class” restaurants, bars and establishments.

The high-tech ID scanner copies and stores the printed information from the driver’s license or ID card of the patrons entering one of six Pacific Beach establishments currently using the system.

When club or bar security staff scans the identification card, the person’s picture comes up on the monitor. It logs their entrance and about 19 pieces of information into a searchable computer database indefinitely, Brown said.

Known as the Clubscan ID, the system has already played a crucial role in the arrest of sexual assault suspect.

San Diego Department Police Captain Shelly Zimmerman said the tool “helped greatly” and led to the arrest of the suspect, Hosh Thomas, shortly after the attack.

In December, a woman was attacked after leaving the Tavern at the Beach, 1200 Garnet Ave. The suspect then allegedly attacked the woman and sexually assaulted her just a few blocks from her Pacific Beach home.

“He repeatedly beat her [and] knocked her to the ground.” Zimmerman said.

During the investigation, police learned that the suspect approached her while at the Tavern and offered to walk her home safely, Zimmerman said.

Thomas attacked her on the 1200 block of Diamond Street, but ran off when a man riding by on a skateboard heard the victim’s screams and stopped to help.

After discovering the suspect met the victim at the Tavern, police were able to identify Thomas, 24, from the photo ID taken at the bar. Thomas subsequently pled guilty to the crime and is now serving a six-year sentence, Zimmerman said.

Although the system does store the patrons ID information, police do not have direct access to the password-protected database. So with the cooperation the Tavern’s management, police were able to police identify the suspect, said Mark Cirillo, owner of the Tavern at the Beach.

The Clubscan ID system costs about $7,000 and is an example of the latest trend in high-tech security for businesses, he said.

Though the new computer system won’t replace the watchful eyes of trained security staff, it will help owners like Cirillo and Brown keep tabs on exactly who comes through their doors.

“We want to manage our customer base and help people enjoy our establishment,” Brown said.

The database can also compile information including male to female ratios, customer demographics and address lists.

Though Brown said his establishment wouldn’t sell the personal information of potentially thousands of customers, the information would be available to help better serve customers.

He added that any responsible establishment using the information for mass marketing should let their customers know.

The ID check also deters minors from entering an establishment using a fake or stolen ID card, police said.

In addition to The Tavern and Bub’s, the ID scanner is already up and running in four more bars and restaurants in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach including Plum Crazy, 1060 Garnet Ave.; Johnny V’s, 945 Garnet Ave.; Pacific Beach Bar & Grill, 860 Garnet Ave.; and the Sandbar Sports Grill, 718 Ventura Place, according to list compiled Discover Pacific Beach.

Six more establishments in the area are working to install the technology, said Benjamin Nicholls, executive director of Discover Pacific Beach.

Though the ID systems aren’t networked into one database, Nicholls said that such a network would allow customer information to be stored and used, comparable to how a grocery store uses a club card. He added that it would mainly be used for security purposes, he said.

The relatively new technology comes from the UK, according to a statement from Discover Pacific Beach.

Iuval Hapzav, vice president of Card Scanning Solutions, the developer of the card scanning technology, said the US version due out next year would have beefed up security to further prevent identity theft and fraud.

Pacific Beach is the first to introduce the system in the Western United States, according to Discover Pacific Beach.

Source: Beach and Bay Press
estimated July 2008

Bars and Restaurants, Business District

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