The peace of mind that comes with a home security system is one of the most valuable assets it can offer. According to CrimeInAmerica.net, there were an estimated 3.7 million household burglaries in the U.S. each year between 2003 and 2007. While this may be staggering, there are some things we can all do to avoid being a part of this statistic.
Homeowners aren’t the only victims of burglary. Business burglaries are just as prevalent and the need to protect investments is just as important. Securing homes and businesses will require a few different techniques, but the same basic components are needed for each. We will take a look at just a few here.
One of the first defenses to home and business invasion is the presence of light. Use plenty of outdoor lighting and keep all entrances well-lit. To avoid a major electricity bill, try installing motion- or heat-censored lights that only flash on when someone is present.
Startling a burglar is often the best deterrent. You simply want to eliminate as many hiding places as possible. Burglars will almost always go for the “easy” location, so your job is to make breaking into your home or business as difficult and inconvenient as possible.
Doors and Windows
Many burglaries occur when a thief comes into the home through an open door or window. The first step in securing your home is to simply lock your doors and windows, especially at night. The National Criminal Justice Reference Service also suggests making sure all of your exterior doors are made of either metal or solid wood. Many interior doors are made of hollow-core wood, which isn’t sturdy enough for use on exterior doorways.
The NCJRS also encourages the use of strong door hinges on the inside of the door, with non-removable or hidden pins. In addition, make sure you have great lighting outside your doors and a wide-angle door viewer so you can monitor the individuals outside.
Your choice in windows is also important. Make sure you have updated, sturdy windows that cannot be unlocked from the outside. The NCJRS offers a very inexpensive tip for security, called the “pin” trick. It suggests drilling an angled hole through the top frame of the lower window and partially into the frame of the upper window. By inserting a nail or eyebolt, you can prevent the window from being opened. If you choose, you can make a second set of holes with the windows partly opened so you can allow air flow without allowing them to open fully.
The next step in security is a monitored alarm system. You can have a system installed in your home that will alert you and the security company if any doors and/or windows have been breached while it is armed. In most cases, the security company will call you to confirm that the alarm has not been set off accidentally, and then they will call law enforcement. This can be a great way to ensure that you know quickly if there has been a break-in, and that the police have been informed as well.
There is a plethora of home and business security companies that are committed to keeping you, your family and your investments safe. It’s important to make sure you know what you’re getting into before signing a contract for a monitoring service. Here are few questions to ask before you get started:
How long have they been in business? This is important to know, simply because you want to be sure that you are working with a company that is stable, and that is with you for the long haul. In general, it’s best to go with a company that has been in business for at least five years.
Is the company licensed? Some licensure is required when working with electrical units such as security systems. Make sure the company you select is fully qualified to install and monitor the system.
Do they conduct background checks on their employees?
Do they own their own monitoring service? Is it local? While the security company may be local, it’s also worth it to ask if the monitoring of the alarms is done on-sight, or if it is contracted out. One method is not necessarily better than the other, but you should know how the company works and figure out what you are most comfortable with.
Will you be purchasing the system or leasing it? Again, one is not necessarily better than the other, but make sure you do what is best for you.
Another way to secure your home, business or belongings is to install security cameras. Cameras can be mounted both inside and outside the building and can be a major deterrent to a burglar who doesn’t want any evidence of his or her visit.
Spy Centre Security is a company specializing in both home and commercial security and surveillance equipment. They offer security cameras, DVRs, audio recorders, GPS trackers, nanny cameras and hidden cameras – just about everything you need to secure your valuables.
“We focus on several different areas of security,” said Allen Walton, manager of Spy Centre’s Addison location. “Home security is the most popular, and it generally consists of installing security cameras around the perimeter of the home with possibly a few indoor cameras.”
Walton says that having cameras that record onto DVRs is a very important part of security, but that often the investment isn’t made until after the client has had a break-in.
“All too often, I have customers walk in to the store who have recently been robbed at gunpoint or had their homes broken into while they were away,” he said. “You should always invest in your security before something happens and not after you’ve been a victim of crime. Installing a camera system after the fact won’t help you get your belongings back or find out who committed the crime, but it will help protect you against future incidents.”
Walton explains that, for those who want to keep their cameras under wraps in their home, cameras can be put into almost any item. He says Spy Centre keeps a large stock of smoke detectors and motion detectors with cameras built in.
Walton says that perhaps the greatest benefit of having a camera system is that they provide evidence of the crime – something that even a monitored alarm system often cannot do.
If you are a business owner and would like to take it up another notch, there is still yet another step you can take in securing your business.
Rick Charney is the sales manager at Stealth Monitoring, a company that proactively watches security cameras in real-time when businesses are closed. They also install security equipment such as cameras, access control, intrusion detection, gates/fences and remote/mobile applications.
Live remote video monitoring is not a service that has always been offered. Charney says it’s one that has developed because of a growing need for surveillance that sees the incident coming, rather than reacting to it.
“Millions of dollars are spent each year by businesses installing CCTV cameras, but over 90 percent of all those cameras are just recording to a DVR and used for after-the-fact evidence,” he said. “We asked, ‘Why wasn’t anyone watching these cameras?’ Stealth combined advanced technology and experienced IT professionals to build a state-of-the-art control center that now proactively watches hundreds of customers and thousands of unique surveillance cameras.”
Charney says that a huge benefit of live monitoring is that it allows their trained operators to inform law enforcement and the business owners of unusual activity when the facility is closed. He says their company provides peace of mind, letting their clients rest assured that they are watching and protecting their assets.
“Investing in security cameras over traditional burglar alarms is part of the solution, but having someone watch those cameras is what actually catches unwanted activity in the act,” Charney said. “Police experience a 98 percent false alarm rate with burglar alarms, so the police department makes our video verified dispatches a higher priority with response times of approximately 3-8 minutes.”
–By Addison Magazine