Social media flashmobs used to vandalize property, plan drag racing: A primer on how to protect your property

You thought your vacant commercial property was secure. Perhaps you were transitioning to a sale or maybe renovating for a new tenant. You locked doors and used outside security lighting to ward off vandals. Then, the local police call you reporting repeated crimes or maybe the building department in some far away state starts issuing violations. Bam, it hits the Internet hard and fast. You see your property on social media. You have gone viral, and not in a good way. Videos of how to break in are being posted and vandals are brazenly photographing themselves inside your facility. Laughing, doing damage, and posting to social media their escapades for everyone to see (and worse, copy). Wait, where was security? You hired guards to prevent this from happening. Despite securing windows and doors, alerting local law enforcement about the vacancy of the building, and employing security guards, social media promoted vandalism was the norm.

CAP was contacted for help

Asked how we could help, Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP) dispatched a local locksmith and general maintenance contractor. Doors were reinforced with L brackets from top to bottom. The entire building was boarded. CAP consulted with local fire officials to make sure the security measures were within fire and safety codes. Often homeless individuals may take up residence in a vacant building. And, there are strict rules about removing vagrants and their personal property. Social services, along with local law enforcement may be needed to clear the grounds. Winter is a particularly challenging time for property owners dealing with the homeless as the desire to gain entrance, away from the elements, is heightened.

LONG BEACH, CA – JUNE 01: After rioters looted, destroyed and burned businesses along Pine Ave. Sunday evening, a worker puts up sheets of plywood over windows of a business while California National Guard members patrol the streets Monday, June 1, 2020 in Long Beach, CA. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

No trespass signs by themselves do not always have the teeth needed to dissuade such attacks. Speaking with CAP’s Maureen Fitisemanu, a Supervisor of Commercial Services, she indicated a stronger deterrent within the law is a no-trespass criminal affidavit paired with the threat of prosecution. This seldom-used section of the penal code is geographically specific and should be discussed with local officials.

Off to the races – on your property

Another property was attracting large crowds to a vacant store, featuring weekends filled with throngs of drag racing youth. To deter and prevent these activities, CAP installed cement barriers, chains, and bollards at entrances and coordinated with local law enforcement to place signs at strategic locations. That action put an end to the congregating youth. This tactic also works to deter overnight parking by long-haul truckers. Another problem that can be solved by blocking property access is the illegal dumping of trash, as well as construction and building materials, a shortcut unscrupulous contractors might take to save disposal fees. Maintaining awareness about the vacant facility is key. CAP contractors routinely visit properties, looking for changing conditions from the prior inspection.

Annoyance as a defense

One of CAP’s clients found themselves dealing with drug users violating the property, sleeping at the facility, and creating large amounts of hazardous trash. One solution used to deter the illegal occupiers is called a Mosquito Anti-Loitering Alarm. Per the website, “Using high-frequency sound, the Mosquito alarm helps to reduce anti-social behavior such as loitering, vandalism, graffiti and violence.” CAP uses specialized alarm vendors to install, operate, and manage these systems.

While the challenges of keeping and protecting your commercial assets are daunting, the tactics and services CAP provides will ensure well-managed, thoroughly documented, and safe properties for the community at large.


Judge fines Century III Mall owners more than $240K over conditions at West Mifflin site

Reprinted from TRIB Live.

A portion of the former Century III Mall in West Mifflin is pictured on June 9, 2014


A judge hit the owners of the shuttered Century III Mall with a hefty fine Wednesday in response to the dilapidated condition of West Mifflin’s once-mighty shopping center.

During a brief hearing Wednesday, District Judge Richard D. Olasz Jr. fined Century III Mall Pa. LLC and Moonbeam Capital Investments just more than $240,000 for violating West Mifflin ordinances on sanitation, unsafe structures and weeds and high growth, court records show. Moonbeam Capital Investments obtained the property in 2013.

The Las Vegas-based company previously pledged to revitalize the site. Instead, the mall closed in 2019 and now sits dilapidated, structurally unsound and covered in graffiti.

Century III Mall Pa. LLC shares an address with Moonbeam in Nevada and was listed as the debtor in bankruptcy court proceedings in 2018, court records show.

A clerk in Olasz’s court said Moonbeam has six months to pay the fine or up to 30 days to appeal the decision to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.


The attorney representing the mall owners, James Berent, did not return phone calls Wednesday seeking comment.

Walter Anthony, West Mifflin’s community development director, said the municipality previously tried to fine the site’s owners as a way of motivating them to do something with the mall — once one of the finest of its kind in the nation.

Moonbeam Capital Investments was fined $80,000 in 2018 because of the poor condition of the site, Anthony said. It is unclear if they ever paid the bill.

“They’ve neglected to maintain the site or do anything, over several years, a long period of time,” Anthony said after Wednesday’s hearing.

“The borough was willing to work with them,” he added. “But they’ve neglected to do anything.”

Moonbeam Capital Investments, whose website lists Century III as a property, did not return calls or emails Wednesday seeking comment.

Donald Brucker, Allegheny County chief deputy fire marshal, previously said the mall is plagued with mold and broken glass and that several sections of the ceiling are leaning or sagging. Electrical power to the building was cut years ago.

West Mifflin police Chief Gregory McCulloch has said trespassing and vandalism at the site are rampant.

West Mifflin Council previously announced plans to lobby local, county and federal officials for help securing the $15 million cost to raze the building.

The borough plans to hold a condemnation hearing on July 18, Anthony said.

May You Live in Interesting Times – CAP’s response to COVID and ever-changing economic pressures

Whether you believe this is an ancient Chinese proverb or as some report, a phrase coined by politician Frederic R. Coudert in 1939, the message is clear. Times have changed, providing people and businesses alike with unforeseen challenges. It is how we respond that makes the difference.

We went to the front lines to speak with a few of Commercial Asset Preservation’s supervisors of Commercial Services for their reflections on just how interesting the past two years have been from their perspective. Brittany Jacobs and Maureen Fitisemanu are two of CAP’s supervisory staff that have worked to overcome the challenges of our times.

“CAP has adjusted and pushed forward through the trials and tribulations in the new ‘normal’ we all live in.  Times have changed and CAP has adjusted accordingly to continue to serve our clients and provide the best service possible,” comments Brittany Jacobs.

 What has CAP done to overcome labor, material, and technology hurdles?             

In 2022, CAP continues to serve its clients and provide the best service possible.  Here are a few of the many challenges since COVID first appeared and how we responded:

  • Many property owners and operators have experienced an exodus of available contractors. CAP was not immune, seeing contractors shrink their coverage area due to a lack of manpower, illness, and even retirements. By means of an example, regional plumbing companies who had 4-5 licensed plumbers on staff pre-COVID, all of the sudden had 1-2 licensed plumbers available in 2021-22 as staff members were concerned for their health or chose not to return because they received more money from unemployment. Fortunately, CAP was able to maintain coverage, primarily through the deep network it developed over the past decade coupled with a stellar reputation for consistent payment, honesty, and technological efficiency. The overwhelming majority of independent contractors in CAP’s network are still in business as they regrouped, rehired people, and pushed forward.
  • Internally, CAP has brought on more vendor management staff to help locate additional coverage and expand its independent vendor base. As work volume increases from our clients, CAP’s independent contractor pool is constantly broadening.
  • Another challenge across all supply chains has been the rise in fuel, material, and labor costs; CAP has maintained an open line of communication with its clients notifying these business partners where a cost increase may be needed to handle a project or to travel to a more distant area.  As always, communication is a key factor for CAP in providing its clients with updates. In the early months of COVID when in-person meetings were a challenge, a CAP customer commented as follows in a situation where a contractor had to provide access for a property showing, “I wanted to thank you for always coming through for us. Today was no exception and appreciate the team approach that you always employ to solve problems and get the job done.”


What has separated CAP from the competition during COVID and beyond?

“Speaking personally from my own experience in the industry and from conversations that I’ve had with clients and vendors; the biggest things that set CAP apart from other facilities maintenance companies (during COVID and outside of COVID times) are communication and honesty,” states Ms. Jacobs.

“More times than I can count, clients praise the level of communication we have when providing them updates during the life of a service, even if they aren’t favorable updates.” The culture that Marc Insul, President and COO of CAP, instills has been the backbone of our company. CAP makes a point to express the use of NTE (Not To Exceed) amounts to its clients to get services done in one site visit.  With independent contractors, CAP is honest and clear when it comes to payment terms. One of the ways we have maintained status as the nation’s commercial service provider status is by doing everything possible to ensure there is never a skip in the beat when it comes to remitting payment for completed services.   A Ft. Worth based contractor commented, “please let your people know that y’all are the best in the industry. We work with over 20 management companies and there are at least another 20 more that we will not work with you guys are the absolute best. I want to give you those kudos so that y’all feel a little more pumped, it’s hard times right now.”


CAP’s predictions for 2023

Fortunately, it seems as though CAP employees, clients, and vendors alike have been moving forward, rebuilding, and continuing to get comfortable in the ‘new normal’. What we are hearing when speaking with our network of independent contractors and clients is that most people are eager to keep moving forward and collaborate to get things taken care of in the best possible way.   Collectively, our network of independent contractors is committed to constantly improving their turn times and increasing their staff to handle increased service opportunities sent their way.  While early 2023 may see a slowdown as clients/vendors come off their holiday schedules and increased illness from a potential winter-related COVID spike, as we emerge from the holiday months, the service count should pick up, and vendors would have had time to rehire more staff, allowing CAP to handle the surge.

“A few contractors I spoke with have committed to a better time in 2023. More work is coming through, from CAP and other resources and people are rebuilding,” says Maureen Fitisemanu. “The contractors that I speak with have told me (that) receiving services from CAP has made them stay on with what they do as they do not have that level of cooperation with other (service) companies they work with.  Comments such as these make me proud of CAP and I feel it is the empathy, honesty, experienced people, and support these contractors get when they receive assignments from CAP that makes all the difference.”

Do you have a repair or maintenance project to discuss? Contact: or (801) 461-8242.


As 2022 kicks off, store closures are down 65%: Coresight

Reprinted from

Dive Brief:

  • By the fourth week of January, announced store closures across the retail industry — at 742 total — were down 65% compared to the same time last year, according to the latest counts by Coresight Research. CVS accounts for 300 of those closures.
  • Store openings, meanwhile, stood at 1,910, a 3% increase from last year. Coresight’s tallies for the full year 2021 showed that openings (5,048) outpaced closures (4,975) in a year marked by strong consumer demand and few retail bankruptcies.
  • So far this year, Dollar General has more planned store openings (1,102) than every other retailer combined, according to Coresight data.

To read the entire article click here

How communities can use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for Vacant or Abandoned Properties

How communities can use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for Vacant or Abandoned Properties

The American Rescue Plan Act provides $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to respond to the Covid-19 public health emergency. This act also established the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) to help local governments respond to the economic effects of the virus and build a stronger, more equitable economy during recovery. The SLFRF monies are available to state, local and tribal governments to replace the revenue lost due to the crisis.

Abandoned or vacant properties dramatically impact neighborhoods’ economic and public health. Research indicates that these properties pose an environmental hazard and can be a barrier to economic recovery.

As an authorized use of funds, intended to build stronger, safer communities; the SLFRF dollars can be utilized by communities to impact their vacant or abandoned properties. Commercial Asset Preservation recognizes that such use of funding by local or state governments may have an impact on vacant properties owned by its clients.

The ruling on this funding is effective on April 1, 2022. Read the entire ruling, specifically see page 133 of this PDF. The services allowed by this act include:

  • Rehabilitation, renovation, maintenance, or costs to secure vacant or abandoned properties to reduce their negative impact
  • Costs associated with acquiring and securing legal title of vacant or abandoned properties and other costs to position the property for current or future productive use
  • Removal and remediation of environmental contaminants or hazards from vacant or abandoned properties, when conducted in compliance with applicable environmental laws or regulations
  • Demolition or deconstruction of vacant or abandoned buildings (including residential, commercial, or industrial buildings) paired with greening or other lot improvement as part of a strategy for neighborhood revitalization
  • Greening or cleanup of vacant lots, as well as other efforts to make vacant lots safer for the surrounding community
  • Conversion of vacant or abandoned properties to affordable housing
  • Inspection fees and other administrative costs incurred to ensure compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations for demolition, greening, or other remediation activities

Commercial Asset Preservation offers Property Maintenance, Repairs, Preservation, and Inspection Services for Operating and Vacant Commercial Real Estate throughout the United States and Canada.

Interested in learning more about the maintenance and oversight of vacant properties?

Contact Marc Insul, (801) 461-8242 or


For more information visit


Yuck, non-potable contaminated water entering your facility



A simple and effective approach is our backflow preventer inspection


Benjamin Franklin famously advised fire-threatened Philadelphians in 1736 that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

In 2021, we can certainly heed the same advice when it comes to preventing changes in water pressure that can cause unwanted sewage and other contaminants to enter our property.

Backflow happens when water, water, and other liquids, or gases, reverse inside the system and flows in the wrong direction. Contamination of your water system can lead to business disruption, as well as serious illness and even death.


CAP recommends an annual backflow inspection


One main cause of backflow is backsiphonage, which occurs with a change in water pressure. This is often the result of a water main break. Another common cause of backflow is backpressure. This happens when there is an increase in water pressure. If a system, such as an irrigation system becomes clogged or a pump malfunctions, an increase in water pressure can occur. Depending on your location, you may be required to have a backflow inspection performed annually.

Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP) offers a nationwide network of plumbing contractors that can quickly, efficiently, and economically provide a backflow preventer inspection. Our local experts will evaluate your plumbing system to see if backflow is occurring. If your system is using a backflow preventer, a device within your plumbing system that keeps water flowing in the proper direction, our technician will make sure it is in working order by assessing valves for leakage, gauge movement, and other critical warning signs.

CAP’s commercial general contractor network not only identifies issues of concern but also can perform emergency repairs without delay. Rest easier knowing that you have someone checking on your buildings and protecting your property.


Contact CAP at (801) 461-8242 or

Copper Prices are soaring. Great news for the economic recovery – potentially bad news for property owners.


As the US economy continues to move forward in some semblance of recovery, the impact of rising copper prices poses a threat to commercial and industrial property owners. Dozens of stories can be found of copper theft across the United States. While some criminals may be part of a sophisticated crime ring, others may simply be looking for a quick score. And, your vacant or even occupied property is an easy target.

Stealing copper from your building’s HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems not only renders the systems inoperable but can result in thousands of dollars of damage as well as business interruption. Fortunately, even if you cannot be at your property all the time, there are steps you can take to mitigate the risk.

  • Inspect the property regularly
  • Hire a guard service
  • Engage and work with local authorities to pay special attention to your property
  • Have the HVAC equipment moved inside the building
  • Use security fencing around your property
  • Disable roof access

One of the best ways to stay protected and maintain the condition of your property is to get professional assistance. Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP) specializes in the protection and preservation of vacant commercial buildings across the United States.

Our locally based skilled contractors provide services to ensure that properties are maintained in a way that retains value. Ready to discuss how to best protect your property? Call (800) 445-0640 or email

Copper Theft news:

5 Arrested In Homestead Copper Wire Theft Scheme

3 arrested in joint operation for copper theft and thefts of catalytic converters

What You Need to Know About Protecting Your 1031 Exchange Investment Properties

There is a windfall of opportunities today that meet the criteria of a 1031 exchange. Whether you’re a commercial investor, an

attorney, or an accountant that represents clients with these types of properties, there are some critical issues to consider impacting the market.

A 1031 exchange allows investors to avoid capital gains taxes when they sell an investment property and reinvest the proceeds in a similar property or properties within a specific timeframe. Investors may use this approach when focused on smaller commercial properties like restaurants and retail.

Today, many of these types of properties are vacant either temporarily or permanently due to closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While 1031 exchange properties are a great way to reinvest profits without incurring capital gains taxes, that gain itself can diminish quickly if the property falls into disrepair during vacancy.


When opportunity meets risk

While investors have seen more availability of shuttered retail and restaurant properties, stark increases in unemployment are accompanying these closures. As of February 2021, over 10 million Americans remain unemployed1, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unemployment may explain why commercial property crime is on the rise. A 2020 Washington Post article shows dramatic increases in commercial property crime in major cities. Rates of burglary at commercial properties increased by 44% in Seattle, 41% in Denver, and 17.5% in New York.2 The article suggests the properties are targeted because they are vacant with fewer personnel on-site.

With our current climate driving increases in criminal behavior, well-meaning property investors are exposed to risks like theft, vandalism, copper theft, and safety issues. These risks are counted along with common weather-related issues such as freeze damage, storm damage, mold, and water intrusion, which can reduce property value.

These negative impacts can make the perfect investment property become a headache, where repairs and remediation efforts are required to address damage, safety issues or municipal regulations. Otherwise, you or your client may face citations, fines, or lawsuits.


How to Stay Protected

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for commercial real estate maintenance and security. Your risk can depend on geography, crime rates in your areas, the condition of your properties, use of security systems or guard services, and other factors.

Ultimately, one of the best ways to stay protected and maintain the condition of your property is to get professional assistance. Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP) specializes in the protection and preservation of vacant commercial buildings across the United States. Our locally based skilled contractors provide services to ensure that properties are maintained in a way that retains value.

A few of the steps we take to preserve properties:

  • Assessment: An initial property condition report reveals the current status of the property and identifies areas in need of repair, preventative or ongoing maintenance, and a schedule for recurring inspections.
  • Security: Rekey locks, install a lockbox, and review personnel who accesses the site. Protective boarding of windows and doors may be beneficial in certain instances as can engaging guard services. Commercial Asset Preservation can arrange interior building access for other parties who need it.
  • Protection: Winterization, seasonal landscaping or snow plowing, preventative maintenance, and addressing any repairs needed. We also offer access to a vacant building insurance policy to further protect the investor’s interest in the property.


Trust the Professionals

Since our launch in 2009, CAP has become the go-to resource nationwide for inspection, maintenance, and repair services for dozens of well-known retailers, restaurateurs, landlords, REITs, financial institutions, receivers, and other parties responsible for commercial real estate.

At closed buildings, CAP can conduct recurring inspections to report on evidence of vandalism, security concerns, life safety issues, and possible municipal code violations. Even though our customers are distantly located from the vacant building, we help them feel as though they are on site at the property through detailed photo documentation and identification of issues of concern. Because CAP uses highly-skilled commercial contractors to perform inspections, emergency property repairs can be addressed without delay.

A few reasons why CAP is a smart choice:

  • Unmatched experience: Our operations team has managed the maintenance and inspection of well over one million retail, restaurant, medical, office, and industrial property services. We leverage experience and our extensive contractor resources to provide our clients with solutions that help retain property value.


  • Specialized focus: CAP is the only company in the United States predominately focused on vacant commercial properties. We believe our unique niche allows for a greater concentration on an aspect of the real estate world that until now many had considered to be an afterthought.


  • Nationwide reach: We support all kinds of commercial property operators across the country through our nationwide team of local independent contractors. That means your business has access to a professional resource to protect and preserve your property, even in emergencies, without delay. Our contractors are familiar with the neighborhoods in which these properties reside and the requirements of local officials.


Protect the investment you’ve made. Reach out to discuss how Commercial Asset Preservation can protect your vacant properties now and in the future.

Contact CAP (801) 461-8242,


1 Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment Situation Summary. Last Updated: February 5, 2021. Accessed: February 25, 2021.


2 The Washington Post. Amid pandemic, crime dropped in many U.S. cities, but not all. Last Updated: May 19, 2020. Accessed: February 25, 2021.


Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP) offers in-person oversight and maintenance of closed/dark commercial properties nationwide

Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP) specializes in closed/dark property oversight, repair, and maintenance. Only CAP has the national network, experience, and detailed closed property reports to conduct recurring visual property inspections.

Reference this recent article:Chain Store Age: Sephora, Cole Hann, TD Bank on best practices for maintaining dark stores

Our experts look for evidence of vandalism, security concerns, and life safety issues. Commercial Asset Preservation is an experienced provider offering its services throughout the United States at thousands of commercial properties for banks, retailers, REIT’s, and receivers.



CAP’s commercial general contractor network not only identifies issues of concern but also can perform emergency repairs without delay. Rest easier knowing that you have someone checking on your buildings and protecting them when they are most vulnerable.

As your portfolio of distressed and vacant properties grows, CAP’s services can reduce your overhead and personnel costs, contact CAP (216) 765-1220 or


Chain Store Age: Sephora, Cole Hann, TD Bank on best practices for maintaining dark stores

Reprinted from Chain Store Age 

Retailers learned an important lesson since March: Temporarily shuttered stores need constant attention.

Store inspections conducted during the pandemic revealed unexpected damages, many of which caused store preservation work orders to surge. As a result, retailers are rethinking best practices when it comes to inspecting and managing stores during extended closures.

Retailers didn’t miss a beat when it came to proactively cleaning and disinfecting stores before re-opening for customers. However, repairing unexpected damages caused by faulty plumbing, loss of electricity, and other factors gave some companies a run for their money.

“We did a decent job envisioning what maintenance would be needed before reopening but some issues were unexpected,” Tony DiSpirito, director of store preservation at Sephora, told Chain Store Age. 

“We had minor leaks that stained or partially collapsed a ceiling, or caused a floor to buckle, for example,” he said. “However, these [issues] resulted in a significant uptick in work order volume for our team, and simultaneously handling different projects across all of our stores was tough.”

Looking back, DiSpirito would have conducted proactive assessments to stay abreast of potential repairs.

“If I could do things differently, I would have sent out preventive maintenance teams regularly to address these issues while stores were temporarily closed,” he said. (Want to hear more lessons these retailers learned during the pandemic? Click here to register for Chain Store Age’s X/SPECS conference, Nov. 17-18.)


Savvy retailers agree that security camera and closed circuit television (CCTV) systems provide benefits well beyond loss prevention.   TD Bank for example, used its fleet of security cameras to remotely check on internal maintenance and security needs at physical locations throughout the pandemic.

“Technology is our friend,” according to Aaron Ancello, VP, regional facilities manager lead, TD Bank. “In addition to successfully enabling us to keep an eye on locations where [maintenance teams] don’t have a physical presence, we also use [the system] to monitor and adjust location temperatures and lighting needs.”

Cole Haan typically uses its CCTV system across all stores to monitor the cash wrap and high-ticket items. Looking ahead, Eric Korth, Cole Haan’s retail facilities manager, has bigger plans for the technology.

“If we used the cameras to focus on store-wide conditions — not just loss of product — during the pandemic, we could’ve better assessed potential damages, especially across stores that were vandalized,” he explained. “By expanding and recording store activity, we could share specific details with our vendors assessing and making repairs. Capturing more first-time fixes will also help cut our repair and maintenance expenses.”

Many companies now mandate inspections of physical locations during extended closures. However, typically only store personnel have a key, “which limits the ability have a store inspected by a third party,” TD Bank’s Ancello explained.

By adopting a national key program, retailers’ high-level operations and real estate associates are entrusted with a “master key” to specific locations. “In the event of extended closures, natural disasters or other business disturbances, these associates can provide this key to vendors or employees who can access the location, perform inspections and address circumstances,” he added.

Retailers can complement master key programs with an electronic access control (EAC) system that requires an additional credential — such as a card, fob, or fingerprint— to open a door. Besides restricting access to unidentified users, the system also records every door entry, creating an audit trail of all users.

Commercial Asset Preservation (CAP) offers in-person oversight and maintenance of closed/dark commercial properties nationwide.