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"Security an issue at Virginia airport"
- From: "Stephen Irwin" <stepheni@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 00:13:49 +0430
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Security an issue at Manassas Airport
By KIPP HANLEY
The Potomac (VA) News
Geoffrey Peterson, owner of Rising Phoenix Aviation, and manager Laura Suite
are angry about what they say is the lack of security at Manassas Regional
Airport. Peterson recently had a trailer stolen from in front of his
Rising Phoenix Aviation owner Geoffrey Peterson doesn't expect to see the
trailer that was stolen from his airport business anytime soon.
However, the owner of the aircraft maintenance and flight school business
would like to see the security at the Manassas Regional Airport improve in
the near future.
The theft occurred in front of his 10507 Wakeman Drive business on Sept. 17
and nobody has been caught yet, Tim Neumann, Manassas police spokesperson,
said last week.
And unfortunately for Peterson, the airport-installed camera located down
the road from his business was positioned just a bit too high to pick up
what he believed could have been important details of the truck that left
with the trailer that evening.
"This is totally unacceptable, post 9/11, for such a large vehicle to be
driven in and out of the airport and not be captured on any security camera
operated by the city," wrote Peterson in a letter he read to the Airport
Commission last month.
Airport director Juan Rivera said it was a regrettable incident. However,
because the theft occurred on what Rivera called the "land side" of the
airport not the "air side," there was only so much the airport could do to
monitor this area.
Rivera said the airport is concerned about security but has to dedicate its
resources toward the more sensitive areas that are protected by electronic
gates and that aren't accessible by the general public. The camera in
question focuses on the gated entrance to the runway across Wakeman Drive.
Therefore, the footage picked up by the airport camera showed only the top
of the vehicle that towed the trailer, said Peterson.
He said the crime most likely occurred between noon and the time that the
security guard goes on duty in the evening. And because the $5,000 trailer
was only outside of the air side of the airport for the better part of that
day, he believes the theft was an inside job.
It's also a somewhat unique trailer in that it has a pintle style hitch, not
the typical ball style hitch, which would require a pintle-hitch-equipped
truck to move it, said Peterson.
Ironically, Peterson said he thought about towing the trailer home when he
left work that day but decided that he didn't need to use it that night. He
said because the trailer is normally under cover, he didn't even realize
that it had been stolen till later the next day.
And he couldn't believe the audacity of someone to steal such a large object
given the fact that Rising Phoenix is located right next door to the airport
office of the Virginia State Police.
Regardless of whether the crime is solved, Peterson would like to see the
camera angle changed, as well the purchase and placement of various cameras
at the three entrances to the airport: Piper Lane, Wakeman Drive and Harry
J. Parrish Boulevard.
Moving the camera isn't going to happen, said Rivera, and Rivera wouldn't
comment on the location of future cameras.
"[The camera] is aimed at a specific target and its present locations and
angle give us the best view of what we are looking at," Rivera said.
The airport is doing other things, though, to improve security. Rivera said
the city recently spent $31,482 on a Lensec system that allows airport
personnel and police to observe the airport's cameras over a secure Web
The airport also has $13,785 in this year's budget dedicated to other
security improvement and will be improving its lighting at the terminal ramp
area and on the west side of the airport in the near future. Rivera said
having better lighting will help compensate for the current cameras'
And in the future, Rivera said, he would like to see the quality of any new
camera to be higher than the current ones.
"We have cameras out there that are probably one step above what you'd get
at Costco," Rivera told the Airport Commission last month. "So we really
need to look at pan, tilt, zoom type [cameras]. ...But we can't afford to
have a camera in every single corner."
Aurora Flight Science Manufacturing Director Gary Stroud said he could
sympathize with Peterson but doesn't believe the airport has a security
Stroud said that he has had far more
expensive vehicles than Peterson's trailer go untouched while sitting in his
two large parking lots on the land side of the airport.
Stroud said he doesn't remember a theft in the 15 years he's been at the
airport, and that includes nights where they accidentally left the door open
in their facility.
Stroud said it would be nice if cameras were placed at the entrances but
wondered if the airport would have the ability to monitor them on a regular
Dulles Aviation president Joe Gardner, who works on the west side of the
airport, said the airport regularly schedules meetings with its tenants to
discuss matters like security.
However, he thinks the airport could do a better job of notifying the
tenants on individual situations like Peterson's. Gardner said he was not
notified by airport staff that a theft occurred on airport property.
Ultimately, Peterson would like to see an upgrade in security as the airport
continues to expand.
The city council recently approved the transfer of nearly $2 million from
the general fund to the Airport Capital Projects Fund for the purchase of a
16-acr0 parcel of an old clay mining site labeled the Glen-Gery property
that's located on the east side of the airport.
When the airport purchases any property, it is taking into account future
security concerns, said Rivera.
"The airport does not spend money to be spending money," Rivera said in an
e-mail. "We look at the needs based on a security assessment and then move
forward to budget for the items we feel we need to have a balance approach
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