LAS VEGAS - The security industry is booming and companies catering to consumer fear see no end to the good times. There are literally hundreds of security devices, many of which were on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, held Jan. 6-9. And hundreds of devices translate into thousands of plastic parts.
The outlook for the automotive security industry, for example, continues to be good as companies ``try to keep up with the thieves,'' said Dirk Thomas, marketing director for Crimestopper Security Products Inc. in Simi Valley, Calif. Thomas also owns American CrimeFighter Automotive Security, with offices in Sylmar and Fullerton, Calif.
Although auto theft fell in 1992 for the first time, by 3.1 percent, a decade of annual double-digit increases has made theft an expensive problem. The result: Consumers have turned to products like auto alarms.
An Electronics Industries Association report said, ``Consumer recognition of an alarm's effectiveness lifted aftermarket security sales in 1993 by 14.5 percent to $542 million at the wholesale level.''
EIA expects sales to reach $724 million in 1997.
About 50 auto security companies displayed their wares at the show. There are several types of systems on the market, including sensors that use microwaves to detect movement around the car, shock sensors and sirens that go off if a window is broken. One of the newest devices on display at CES was one that fills the car with a thick smoke, making it impossible for the thief to drive the car after breaking in.
Many devices can be armed and disarmed with a remote control, and some devices start
the car remotely. All involve plastic components, meaning another market for molders.
Personal security is also a primary concern, and there's no shortage of companies that manufacture pepper spray canisters in plastic housings and other devices to ward off would-be attackers. One of the newest devices to hit the market is Air Taser, manufactured by Air Taser Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz.
Although Taser technology has been around since the early 1970s for police use, the devices were not available to consumers. Taser devices were classified as a Title 2 firearm because they used gunpowder. In June, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms certified the new Air Taser for use by the public. It uses compressed air to fire two probes.
When fired, the probes remain connected by wire to the handle and can hit an assailant up to 15 feet away. Upon contact, an electrical signal transmits along the wire into the assailant's body, resulting in instant loss of neuromuscular control.
Patrick Smith, 24, president and director of corporate strategy, developed the device after two of his friends were killed in a traffic altercation in Scottsdale.
Wordsmith Inc. and LIM Plastics Corp., mold making and molding companies in Santa Monica, Calif., make the molds and mold the Air Taser's polycarbonate and ABS components. Richard G. Milack, owner of both firms, said his companies operate 14 presses with clamping forces of 15-175 tons.
Air Taser comes in a molded plastic carrying case with two air cartridges and a 30-minute instruction video for a suggested retail price of $249.
Home security also is big business, especially for do-it-yourself kits. EIA estimates 18 percent of all U.S. households have some type of electronic security system. EIA estimated home security device sales for 1993 at $1.3 billion.