Monthly Archives: November 2010

Burglar Caught on Tape

Even the tiniest, most inexpensive surveillance camera can help catch a thief.  In Carlsbad near San Diego, police are hoping for just that.  That’s where one burglar broke into an area home in mid November and took off with electronics, jewelry and coins, but not before leaving a photo of himself behind.

Ashley Millington said her husband came home from work the evening of Nov. 15 to find the front door busted open, according to SignOnSanDiego.com.  Missing were camera equipment, a necklace that belonged to Millington’s grandmother and a small coin collection.

Reporter Kristina Davis writes that the couple had installed a small security camera in their upstairs home office in February while construction crews were working on a remodel.  The camera begins recording to a remote location once something moves into its line of sight.  The alleged burglar noticed the camera and turned it off, but it was already too late.

“He pointed it toward himself while trying to turn it off, and luckily for us, it captured his face,” Millington said.

 Anyone with information on the identity of the man can call Carlsbad police at (760) 931-2197.

Tips on How to Protect Your Home this Thanksgiving

Crime does spike over the holidays, so it’s essential for every homeowner to take a few simple precautionary steps.  Here are some tips from Front Point Security –

1. Doors and Locks. The front or back door is the most common point of entry for a burglar.  Be sure your doors are locked: as many as 40% of burglaries occur through an unlocked door or window. Remember, to use that deadbolt to back up the primary lock. The door from the garage into the house also deserves a good lock – preferably a deadbolt.

2. Light It Up.  The last thing a burglar wants is to be seen.  Exterior lights (especially the ones that are activated by motion) are a great deterrent to intruders, who focus on the rear and sides of your home.

3. Lawn and Papers.  Nothing is more inviting to a bad guy than the “We’re away!” message.  Cancel deliveries or task a friend to keep things ship-shape.  And remember to think twice about posting your whereabouts on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.  Sharing too much information on social media presents its own risk.

4. Think Like a Burglar.  Look objectively at your home and try to find a way in.  Ladder left outside?  Put it away.  Shrubs to hide behind, or trees to climb that give access to upstairs? Vents? Dog doors? Get creative – and sneaky!  For those considering home security systems: burglars do cut phone lines, so always choose safer cellular monitoring.

Don’t fall for Door-to-Door Scammers

Using common sense when a stranger comes to your door is paramount in keeping scammers out.  Patricia Lewis of TheStandard.co.uk reports that this can be achieved with a few simple steps.

 **Keep your front and back doors locked, even when at home.

 **Before answering, stop and think if you are expecting anyone.  Look through the peephole or the window to see who it is.

 **If you do decide to open the door, put the door chain or bar on first.  Keep it on while you talk to the person.

 **Ask for and check their idenitity card.  This can be done in three ways – look up the phone number in the phone book and check it against the card the caller has given you.  You can also check the number by contacting directory enquiries.  It will help to check if the company is genuine.  You can also look at a recent bill to check the phone number against.

Investigator Stewart McColm, who is a crime reduction officer, offered this advice, “All genuine callers will have an ID on them.  If they do not provide one, do not let them in and do not continue talking to them…These bogus callers are professionals and know what they are doing…Many of them have conned people for years and know exactly what to say to get through the door.

Why a Panic Alarm is a Good Idea for your Home

In West Linn near Portland, Oregon, 86-year-old Columbia Sportswear Chairwoman Gert Boyle was held briefly at gunpoint as a man tried to burglarize her home.  However, Boyle’s calm and quick thinking allowed her to notify the police without the suspect being the wiser. 

Here’s what happened – West Linn Police say the home invasion began just before 7 o’clock at night when Boyle pulled into her garage.  According to KGW News, Boyle told police that a man carrying a basket and a book approached her and asked if she’d sign the book.   She told him she was not interested and then she said he pulled out a gun.

At that point, she told the man that she needed to turn off her house alarm.  But instead, she set off the panic alarm, which sends a message straight to police.

Officers arrived moments later and found Boyle with her hands bound.  That’s when a suspect was seen running from the home then the police began a manhunt.  The suspect was later spotted and arrested near a McDonald’s.

Most home alarm control panels feature panic alarms.  In addition, there are panic buttons on keyfobs and individual panic alarms that you can incorporate into existing systems.

What You Can Do to Prepare for a Disaster

You never know when a disaster may strike.  That’s why planning for a disaster is essential to surviving one.  Finding out what can happen to you or your family is the first step.  Meaning, if you live in tornado alley then plan for severe weather year-round.  Once you have determined the events possible from a hurricane to terrorist act, and their potential in your community, it is important that you discuss them with your family or household.

In preparation, the Red Cross recommends that you and your family develop a disaster plan.  To do that you should create an emergency communications plan.  This means you should choose an out-of-town contact that your family or household will call or e-mail to check on each other should a disaster occur.  Your selected contact should live far enough away that they would be unlikely to be directly affected by the same event. 

Next, establish a meeting place.  Having a predetermined meeting place away from your home will save time and minimize confusion should your home be affected or the area evacuated.  Be sure to include any pets in these plans, since pets are not permitted in shelters and some hotels will not accept them. 

Third, assemble an emergency preparedness kit.  If you need to evacuate your home or are asked to “shelter in place,” having some essential supplies on hand will make you and your family more comfortable.

Survey shows Americans Continue to have Misunderstandings about Smoke Alarms

A recent survey shows homeowners continue to have misunderstandings about smoke alarms, including how many they need in their homes and how often they should be tested and replaced.

The survey commissioned by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) shows that most American homes include a base level of smoke alarm protection.  Almost all adults (96%) have smoke alarms in their homes, with more than two in five (42%) owning two to three; hallways are the most popular area for people to place them, while 42% reported having one in each bedroom.

NFPA recommends at least one smoke alarm on every level of the home, including the basement, as well as outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom.  Larger homes may need additional smoke alarms.

“Over the past 30 plus years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of homes that have at least one smoke alarm, which represents a big step toward increased home fire safety,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of communications.  “But with those gains, this survey demonstrates that confusion about smoke alarm placement, maintenance and testing persist, which ultimately put the public at continued risk to home fires.”

Interconnected smoke alarms provide the best level of protection — when one alarm sounds, they all do. However, survey findings show that less than one quarter (24 percent) have interconnected smoke alarms.  And while smoke alarms should be tested monthly, a large portion of the population doesn’t check them as often as they should.

Don’t Be Left in the Dark When It Comes to Home Security this Fall

This Sunday we change the clocks as we “fall back” one hour.  This means it’s an ideal time to check your home security and brush up on those good security habits that may have been relaxed during the summer months.  So as the days go shorter, keep these security tips in mind, as reported in AboutMyArea.com –

1.  Consider fitting a burglar alarm system – which provides a visible deterrent to the front and back of your home as well as audible warning.

2.  Check your outside security lighting is working.

3.  Check that your tools, spades, ladders, etc that may be left out in your garden or yard are securely locked away.

4.  Make sure doors and windows are locked and secure when you leave your home.

5.  Beware of the ‘bogus caller’ at the door. Keep them out, and call the Police.

6.  Leave a light on in a room and remember to draw the curtains when you go out at night. Or invest in a timer switch for lights when next shopping.

7.  Mark your postcode and house number on your expensive electrical equipment and property with a UV security pen, permanent marker or engraver.

Alarm Systems are only good if you ARM them

According to the Uniform Crime Reporting Program Crime Clock, there is one burglary every 14.6 seconds in the United States.  Statistics also show that among burglaries, 41% of the cases happen when home security systems were switched off in the houses.  That means, just investing in a home security system is not enough, making sure it is on and working is the key.  After all, your alarm system is only good if you arm it.  Here are some reasons why property owners might not arm their system –

      1.  Forgetfulness

      2.  Don’t know how to

      3.  Worried about false alarms

      4.  We have a dog

Do any of these excuses sound familiar?  Is the risk of your home being broken into really worth it?

Typically, there are two ways to arm your home security system – that is the “Arm Away” mode and the “Arm Stay” mode.  The arm away mode activates every contact and motion detector inside and outside the house and should be activated when no one is home.  Meanwhile, the arm stay mode allows for movement within the house.  It is imperative that your home alarm be activated 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  Then and only then can you get the full value of your system and get the full protection that the system has to offer and that your family deserves.