The earlier in a film’s release, the more valuable the film is to pirates
Always stay alert, but pay particular attention during new release periods.
Be extra vigilant on a film’s opening day – first and early showings in particular or when there are few customers present.
Be aware of films which are the subject of VRAs (Vulnerable Release Alerts).
Observe customers entering the auditorium
Look for anything unusual or suspicious and take a discreet, closer look if necessary.
Take note of any customers who move seats – “seat-hopping” – film thieves have been observed trying seats from different positions to find the optimum location for their activity.
Begin monitoring the auditorium as customers arrive
Film thieves usually set up equipment long before the film starts. Unless spotted during set-up, they can be difficult to detect. Monitoring the auditorium in advance of the start time increases the likelihood of detecting or deterring them.
Consider all possible camera locations
Films thieves tend to prefer seats at the rear of the auditorium in the centre, but will equally sit where they feel safe, so each auditorium is different.
They sometimes use clamps or other devices attached to seats in front of them or beside them to improve the camera’s line of sight and to steady the recording.
Devices are sometimes wedged between seats or placed in cup holders for the same purpose.
Be alert for possible camera concealment
Film thieves are often creative when it comes to concealing their cameras. It may be as simple as a coat or hat placed over the camera, or as innovative as a specially-designed concealment device.
Pay special attention to clothing, packages or other possible concealment aids placed in line of sight with the screen.
Don’t assume that the film thief will be alone
Thieves do not always operate alone. They may have accomplices who aid in set-up or act as lookouts.
The thieves can appear as a couple or even a family – sad to say that some thieves have even brought small children with them to use as cover.
Look for glowing lights
Often film thieves cannot fully conceal the glowing light of the screen on the camera. If someone is seemingly using their mobile throughout the early part of the film, or if employees notice a small glow in the dark, take a closer look.
‘Professional’ thieves will sometimes also use a remote viewing device to check that the full screen is in the frame.
Use night vision devices to aid screen checks.