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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Security Guards Were in on It, Company Says

ATLANTA (CN) - Contract security guards helped thieves steal $5 million worth of vehicle batteries, which were resold on the cheap, the Trojan Battery Co. claims in court.

Trojan sued U.S. Security Associates and Golf Cart World, in Fulton County Superior Court.

Trojan, of Lithonia, Ga., specializes in golf cart batteries. It claims that the very security guards it hired to stop the battery thefts took extraordinary steps to help the thieves, who sold some of the hot batteries to Golf Cart World, and that Golf Cart World had to know the batteries had been stolen because it got them so cheaply.

Trojan claims the security guards moved security cameras to hide what they were doing, took bribes to open the gates for the thieves, and watched as they loaded up with batteries and drove them away.

Golf Cart World, of Eastman, Ga., bought some of the hot batteries way cheaper than wholesale, and resold them for substantial profits, Trojan claims.

"Trojan hired U.S. Security for the primary purpose of preventing the theft of batteries from the facility," the complaint states. "To prevent theft, U.S. Security was obligated to provide qualified and competent guards who are charged with, among other things, guarding the gated entrance to the facility, verifying the identity of each person and checking the contents of each vehicle that enters and exits through the gate, and otherwise preventing stolen batteries from being removed from the premises. Recently, Trojan discovered that U.S. Security guards, in complete derivation of their security duties to Trojan, knowingly and willfully facilitated and participated in the theft of Trojan batteries from the facility, including by allowing vehicles to exit the facility containing the stolen batteries in return for monetary payment by the thieves."

Trojan claims it discovered the thefts in September 2012, though they had been going on for years, costing Trojan more than $5 million.

"Commencing in as early as 2009, U.S. Security guards became complicit with certain employees of Trojan at the time and possibly other persons in the theft of batteries from the facility," the complaint states. "The U.S. Security guards did so by, among other actions, intentionally (1) opening the gate at the entrance to the facility to allow the thieves to enter the facility during off hours, (2) moving security cameras so that that theft could not be observed, (3) observing and allowing the thieves to load batteries into trucks knowing they were to be stolen, and (4) opening the gate to allow the trucks loaded with stolen batteries to exit the facility without checking the content. Moreover, to hide the theft, U.S. Security guards failed to maintain logs of the thieves entering and exiting the facility. In return for these and other misdeeds, on information and belief, U.S. Security guards received cash payments from the thieves of the stolen Trojan batteries.

"After committing the theft, the thieves then sold the stolen batteries to others, either directly or indirectly, including to GCW, for a fraction of their retail value. Given the extremely low price for the batteries and other factors, GCW knew, or should have known, that they were stolen. GCW then resold the batteries to the public at a substantial profit.

"In September 2012, Trojan first discovered the thefts when Trojan reviewed video footage from several cameras after noticing several pallets of batteries went missing over a weekend. The footage of the theft was taken in the evening hours after the plant had closed on Aug. 31, 2012, and clearly shows, among other things, a U.S. Security guard intentionally moving two security cameras so that they could not record the theft. Different cameras, however, capture footage of the U.S. Security guard admitting a truck through the gated entrance, and the truck being backed into a shipping dock where batteries were loaded. Several minutes later, the truck is seen pulling away from the dock and stopping at the gated entrance. Knowing that stolen batteries were contained therein, the U.S. Security guard did not check the truck's contents, but instead he is handed something by one of the thieves, believed to be money. Then, the U.S. Security guard is seen opening the gate and allowing the truck to exit, never having been either inspected or logged."

Trojan seeks compensatory and punitive damages for conversion, breach of contract and negligence.

It is represented by Douglas Duerr with Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson.

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