Penn Basketball Player Accused of Dorm Burglary

door room burglaryUniversity of Pennsylvania freshman basketball guard Tony Bagtas was reportedly arrested last weekend on burglary charges, stemming from a recent string of dorm room invasions at the university. In all, eight burglaries have been reported, but as of this writing, Bagtas has only been charged in connection with one of the invasions at Penn’s renowned Quadrangle dorm. The news was initially reported by the school’s student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Surrounding Details

According to reports, all eight burglaries occurred on Saturday, and stolen items included electronics and cash. There were no signs of forced entry in any of the incidents, leading investigators to conclude that the thief or thieves targeted unlocked rooms. Maureen Rush, the school’s Vice President for Public Safety, has since urged students to keep their doors locked at all times. “By leaving the door unlocked, people are tempting someone to come in and take what they don’t have,” she said in a statement.

Rush also noted that burglaries in the area are extremely rare, although another string did occur in December of 2013. Those four burglaries remain unsolved. As for Bagtas, he was charged with two felonies (burglary and criminal trespassing) and two misdemeanors (theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property). He has been removed from the dorm and is scheduled to appear in court on April 8 for a preliminary hearing.

The #1 Rule of Dorm Security

Dorm burglaries are a very real concern for today’s student population. When you consider the lack of privacy and internal security, it’s not difficult for opportunistic thieves to treat the dormitory as their own personal buffet line. As previously emphasized, it’s extremely important to lock your door at all times. Don’t get so caught up in the vibrant communal atmosphere that you forget to exercise common sense.

dorm room security

Tony Bagtas

If you’re taking in the full college experience, complete with ramen noodles and dorm living, consider protecting your space with a quality alarm system. Many college students don’t even consider the value of a security system for their dorm room, because the technology just seems so expensive and complicated. After all, is it really worth it to hardwire a full-fledged security solution in what essentially amounts to a closet-sized room? Well, no, but believe it or not, there exists a wide range of reliable systems designed specifically for simplicity and affordability.

When it comes to straightforward security on a budget, we like to recommend the iSmartAlarm, an innovative security kit designed especially for the millennial generation. It comes with all the essentials, including a control panel with built-in siren, a motion detector, and door/window sensors. But unlike the traditional alarm system, this one communicates directly with your mobile device. It’s perfect for the savvy student on a budget, and if you’re looking for a combination of security and surveillance, there’s even a premium package that includes an iCamera. It starts recording whenever a security breach is detected, and then sends the footage directly to your phone.

Protect Your Dorm

Please stay tuned, because next week we’re going to follow up with a more comprehensive post that delves into much greater detail about dorm security, with a series of simple but highly effective tips on how you can masterfully burglarproof your dorm room. In the meantime, remember to keep that door locked. There is nothing that thieves love more than an easy target, and as a college student, you already have enough financial burdens to worry about.

How to Prevent Daytime Burglaries

daytime burglaryDid you know that 62 percent of burglaries happen during the day? The majority occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., because people are less likely to be home during those hours. If you work the 9-to-5 grind, you need a home security plan that accounts for those critical moments when your home is unattended. Unfortunately, only about 23 percent of reported burglaries are ever solved, and only about 15 percent of stolen property is ever recovered, so when it comes to home security, prevention really is the best cure. Some of these tips might seem simple or self-explanatory, but far too many Americans still have no security plan whatsoever. Even the most seemingly obvious measures can go a long way in protecting the space between those four walls.

Install a Home Security System

If you don’t already have a reliable home security system installed, now is the time to start shopping around. Thanks the emergence of new streamlined, wireless technologies, it’s now easier than ever to purchase and set up an affordable, reliable system for your home. At Home Security Store, you can find a wealth of versatile, all-inclusive kits starting at less than $200. Whether you decide to shop here or somewhere else, the important thing is that you arm your home.

Expand Your Existing System

Maybe you already have a security system that you’re happy with. The next step is to assess your kit and uncover any weaknesses. Are there motion sensors strategically situated throughout the home? Does your system include glass break detectors? Do you have surveillance cameras set up around the home? Do you have yard signs or window decals that alert potential burglars of your impenetrable security? How about door and window contacts? Even the smallest additions to your system can go a long way in improving and optimizing your home security.

Lock Your Windows

Maybe you’re thinking, “Duh! What kind of idiot doesn’t lock their windows when they leave?” Believe it or not, far too many of us are leaving our windows unlocked or even open. Approximately 30 percent of burglars enter the home through unlocked doors or windows, and many burglars will specifically move from house to house in search of an easy entry point. So always make sure to lock all windows, and install a secondary locking device on any window that only contains a latch.

730590_43423433Get a Dog

Now please don’t misunderstand. We would never recommend that you run down to your local shelter and pick up a dog solely for the purpose of guarding your home, but if you’re already considering adopting a little canine companion,  it’s worth noting that the mere presence of a dog can serve as a huge burglary deterrent. As professional burglar Walter T. Shaw told MSN Money:

Little yappy dogs are a huge turnoff. I would never go into a house that has one. They’re a huge deterrent because they just don’t stop barking and can be heard by neighbors or their owners if you’re checking out the house a day before going in.

Report Suspicious Persons

Remember the classic John Hughes film, Home Alone? For all their farcical ineptitude, criminals Harry and Marv did one thing right: They cased the homes they were planning to rob over the holiday season. They didn’t just select random houses and start smashing windows. They familiarized themselves with the neighborhood, learned the daily routine of each home on the block, and determined which families were leaving for Christmas vacation. A skilled thief will spend days or even weeks casing a neighborhood, so if you see a mysterious van of people parked across the street for days at a time, or if you encounter suspicious solicitors who appear to be ringing your doorbell under false pretenses, contact the police right away.

Be Mindful When Home During the Day

As previously mentioned, thieves will sometimes go door to door dressed as solicitors, simply as a means of surreptitiously casing a home. They might pose as insurance salesmen, government workers or even home security installers. For instance, someone might claim to be an alarm salesman, and then start asking personal questions about your home security system: Does it have third-party monitoring? Is the system up to date? Is it tied to a landline? Don’t answer any personal questions about your home or family, and don’t grant anyone access to your home unless you personally know them or are expecting them.

Burglary Suspect Leaves ID at Crime Scene

surveillance security cameraAs we often say at Home Security Store, there are very few burglars who truly qualify as professional. The dastardly criminal masterminds who tiptoe effortlessly through high-security environments and escape undetected with priceless pieces of artwork are far more common in popular heist films than in the actual public landscape. Most everyday burglars are in fact quite sloppy and unskillful, just looking for a quick score. Case in point: Travis Rice.

Not Quite Ocean’s 11

The Sun-Sentinel recently reported about two burglary suspects (and possibly more) who allegedly broke into a car dealership in Plantation, Florida and got away with files, license plates, car keys and 4 cars, worth an estimated $43,984. Not bad for one night’s work, but there’s just one problem: one of the suspects, 21-year-old Travis Rice, left his ID at the scene of the crime.

Excuse Me, Sir…You Forgot Something

According to the Sun-Sentinel Report, Rice unknowingly dropped his state identification card during the invasion, while retrieving a cell phone from his pocket to use as a flashlight. The entire botched job was caught on surveillance video, and the ID was handed over to the local police department. Rice had reportedly acquired the ID only three weeks earlier, at the recommendation of his probation officer.

But Wait…There’s More

A misplaced ID is enough to build a pretty solid case, but Rice didn’t stop there. He also reportedly posted pictures of his bounty on Facebook shortly after the burglary. The Sun-Sentinel notes that in one photo, Rice is seen crouching down and making hand gestures while dangling keys from his mouth. According to Det. Robert Rettig, the images show Rice wearing the same clothes as one of the suspects in the surveillance video.

home surveillance systemSecond Suspect Still on the Loose

Rice was ultimately arrested for his alleged crime and held without bond on charges of grand theft, burglary causing damages over $1,000, and probation violations. Police are still searching for the stolen cars, and Rice’s alleged collaborators are still on the loose, but the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is being urged to call Broward Crimestoppers at (954) 493-TIPS (8477).

What Have We Learned?

As with any major news story, there is quite a bit that we can learn here.

1)      An accomplice may or may not keep his mouth shut in the interrogation room, but a wayward ID card will rat you out every single time.

2)      Facebook is a great tool for law enforcement, because criminals just love to incriminate themselves through social media. Usually, the police have the last LOL.

3)      If you’re going to heed your probation officer’s recommendation to obtain a photo ID, you should probably also heed your probation officer’s recommendation to stop committing crimes.

4)      If you’re going to rob a car dealership while surrounded by $15,000 worth of surveillance cameras, don’t forget to smile.

The Surveillance Connection

Even if Rice hadn’t left his ID at the scene, he would have likely been caught before too long. As previously mentioned, the dealership is monitored by a $15,000 surveillance system, and Rice is prominently seen in the footage. Surveillance cameras are the secret weapon of residential and commercial security, especially in this age of high-def video and DVR technology. If you’re considering a system for your own home or business, check out the selection of high-end security cameras at Home Security Store. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy quality surveillance, and even a basic system can vastly improve your safety and peace of mind. Sadly, most criminals won’t leave their driver’s license on your living room floor, so be proactive about your home security.

Invisible Burglars and Anti-Cloak Technology

invisible burglarsWhile the subject of home security and combating invisible burglars may sound like the plot of a campy science fiction movie, it isn’t. This is because very savvy criminals know how to make themselves invisible or, in better words, circumvent certain types of sensors by camouflaging or “cloaking” themselves in such a way that their radiation is not picked up by these sensors. Rest assured, however, that a number of DIY home security devices are offered with the right technology to combat against these so-called invisible burglars.

Not Your Average Criminals

Burglars who intentionally camouflage themselves so as not to be detected by security devices are not of the everyday variety. As we’ve informed many times before, the average intruder is not terribly sophisticated and many are in the business simply to support a lazy lifestyle, a drug habit or they are part of a street gang or just looking for a quick score for any number of other reasons (including all of the above). This is not to suggest that these ne’er do wells are not dangerous or that homeowners do not have to give much thought to outwitting them, but rather we mean to highlight the fact that most don’t go to great lengths to learn how to bypass strong security systems.

On the other hand, criminals specializing in high-priced burglaries– that is break-ins that will net significant gains such as priceless artwork, expensive gems and rare collectibles are of a different ilk. Some are not average thieves at all, in fact, but specialize in kidnapping wealthy, high profile individuals or worse. These criminals tend to take a considerably more focused approach to learning their craft. They carefully plot their approaches and eventually learn how to circumvent even the most complicated and robust security systems. It is these types who are most likely to go to great lengths to disguise their bodies in such a way that their presence neither registers on nor triggers a home security alarm.

Anti-Cloak Technology

There is a solution to stop these types of criminals, however. Known as anti-cloak technology (ACT), home security manufacturers have designed dual technology devices, which make it nearly impossible for an intruder to go undetected. Take, for example, the DIY home security solution provided by RISCO Group which is also featured in our main store. This sensor features an incredible range of up to 28 by 60 feet and automatically switches between passive infrared and microwave technologies whenever it senses that someone is attempting to mask radiation in order to bypass a security system.

Who Needs Home Security With Anti-Cloak Technology?

Window and Glass Security Tips

Glass SecurityIs every window in your home secure? Do you have windows in your garage or basement? Are those secure, too? If a burglar were to open or break the glass on any window or door at your house, how soon would this be brought to your attention?

Thinking about your home right now, it is important to be honest with yourself in terms of what is needed in order to keep criminals out. It is not unusual for a homeowner to want to ignore potentially weak areas of security for lack of time or to avoid the presumably high cost of new home security. Neither of these is a valid excuse, however, since DIY home security allows homeowners to fortify a home according to their own schedule (often in a matter of hours) and at prices far less than a home security company would charge for equipment, installation and monitoring.

When installing a new security system, special attention should be paid to all windows and glass doors in a home. It is not enough to merely rely on factory window locks to keep an intruder out. Instead, homeowners should take a multi-layered approach to window security by installing specialized locks, window sensors and glass break detectors.

Install New Locks On Every Window

Most factory window locks are not enough to keep a burglar out. While companies that manufacture windows produce them with built-in locks, these devices are not exactly created with the highest levels of security in mind. Also, with enough such windows on the market, burglars have plenty of opportunities to learn how these locks work and, more importantly, how to unlock them. In most cases, the latter does not take much effort as these locks tend to give way with a little extra force or manipulation.

Window Locks and Ventilation

With this in mind, homeowners should stop all reliance on a manufacturer’s window locks and, instead, install new locks on every window in a home. Sliding glass doors should also be fitted with special security locks. For those with concerns about summer heat and who may prefer extra ventilation at times, security locks will allow for such where a manufacturer’s locks generally won’t (or may offer flimsy security when then do). One such security device that we recommend for this purpose is the Lock-it Block-it Home Home Security Burglar Bar for Windows found in our main store. Made of PVC and ABS plastic, this durable but adjustable bar requires no installation and offers a high level security to those who would like to ventilate a room while still presenting a strong barrier against outside intrusion.

Children, Teenagers and Solid Window Security

Beyond keeping burglars out, proper window and glass security also keeps children safe. We’ve all shuddered in horror at news reports of children falling from windows which were not properly secured. Home security window burglar bars and other window locks help in significantly reducing the likelihood of a window being left open wide enough for a child to fit through or even of a young child being able to manipulate a lock on her own in order to open a window.

Window sensors also provide greater security for homes with mischievous teenagers. Once an alarm is armed, parents can sleep peacefully knowing that a teen cannot sneak out of a home at night. Should a teen even attempt to do so, an alert or a full alarm is sounded the moment that a window is opened.

Glass Break Sensors

Whether a home is equipped with casement windows or sliding windows, at least one window in each room should be fitted with a glass break sensor. Additionally, glass window boxes and decorative glass on doors or around a doorway should also be equipped with glass break detectors. Doing so ensures that an alarm is triggered the moment that glass is broken in a home. For the best protection with glass break sensors, shop for one with dual technology so that it can detect breaking glass beyond the window where it is mounted. For example, this one has a 15 foot detection radius, which means that beyond the window it is mounted on, it can detect breaking glass from nearby windows up to a range of 15 ft.

Garage and Basement Glass

Smaller windows in garages, attics and basements are sometimes ignored due to a perception that some are too small for an intruder to climb through or because they have been sealed shut and a homeowner believes that they cannot be pried open. Ignoring these spaces is a serious security breach, however, since intruders are willing to use children, smash glass or use any number of tools to pry these windows open. Do not cut corners by leaving a single window or glass door in any of these areas unprotected.

Your Tips Are Needed

If your home has ever been broken into via a window or a glass door, sharing your experience may teach us all a thing or two. What are your best tips for window and glass security? Help spread the word by leaving your thoughts in the comments section now.

GPS Vehicle Tracking – The Driving Force on Breaking Bad

gps vehicle trackingAlmost 6 months have passed since the spellbinding finale of Breaking Bad. Have your withdrawal symptoms finally subsided? Then again, in this Netflix/DVR/VOD generation, maybe you’re still making your way through season 3 and trying to figure out if Gustavo Fring is really all that he seems. But we’re not here to talk about blue meth or Bryan Cranston’s shaved head or Walt Jr.’s apparent obsession with breakfast foods. We’re here to talk about those unsung heroes (or villains), the GPS vehicle tracking devices, without which the unfolding events of Breaking Bad would not have been possible.

Spoiler Alert

If you’re still telling your friends, “I’ll start watching Breaking Bad as soon as I finish House of Cards,” you should stop reading right here. We’re going to delve into some pretty serious, game-changing plot points, in order to illustrate how emerging technologies are changing the ways we tell stories…and the ways we do business. GPS vehicle tracking was once limited to the imaginations of sci-fi authors, but now it’s available to everyone at an incredibly affordable price…for better or worse.

Vehicle Tracking in the 21st Century

GPS vehicle tracking was more than just a passive plot device on Breaking Bad. It was the driving force behind many of the series’ most pivotal events. Remember the fateful moment when DEA agent Hank Schrader demanded that Walt (the show’s Shakespearean antihero) place a GPS device on the vehicle of drug lord Gus Fring? And no one can forget when Hank and Jesse lured Walt to the location of his hidden fortune by deceiving him into believing that they had already located the money with the GPS record of the truck used to transport it (of course, that particular truck was not even equipped with GPS tracking, but Walt certainly didn’t know that). If it weren’t for that ruse, there would have been no heart-stopping shootout in the desert, and the series would likely have concluded quite differently.

The Landscape is Changing

Fifteen years ago, none of this would have been possible on a program like Breaking Bad. It may have worked on Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica, but certainly not on a serious, real-world melodrama.  Technology has evolved so rapidly that the line between science fiction and reality has become increasingly thin. While GPS tracking has existed since the 1960s (and other tracking systems have been around even longer), only recently have we had enjoyed such wide-reaching and affordable access to the technology.

Long Live Heisenberg

vehicle tracking deviceWhat made Breaking Bad so captivating? Was it the multidimensional characters? The jaw-dropping plot twists? The protagonist’s epic fall from grace? There is certainly something to be said for all of these things, but perhaps most of all, the series presented us with a reality that was frighteningly believable, thereby enabling us to become a part of that world and connect with the characters on a profound level. Walt’s motivations for entering the drug trade were not only understandable, but fully relatable, and the writers (led by the incomparable Vince Gilligan) were absolutely meticulous in getting the science right. From the chemistry to the technology, everything was as cautiously outlined as Heisenberg’s meth formula. Which brings us back to the subject of vehicle tracking.

Oh, the Possibilities

Why was GPS tracking such an effective plot device? Because it works. A GPS tracker is small, discreet, and accurate to within less than 8 meters. That’s why it’s so popular for freight tracking and for monitoring young teenagers who are just stepping behind the wheel. Home Security Store carries some of the most accurate and affordable micro GPS trackers on the market, so if you’re looking to secure your treasured loved ones or your valuable property with cutting-edge technology, pick up one of your very own. We’re not in any way advising that you use this device for spying (in fact, that will get you into serious trouble in many states), but it can make for an excellent theft recovery system on a budget. Most car thieves don’t even think to look for discreet GPS devices. So take a page from Breaking Bad, and use the most advanced gadgets to secure what’s yours. 

The Differences between Smoke Detectors and Heat Detectors

smoke detector vs heat detectorA quality smoke detector can quite literally save your life, and to be without one is to roll the dice on your family’s safety and well-being. If a fire breaks out in the middle of the night, you need an alert system that immediately warns you of the impending danger, and to that end, we recommend installing a combination of smoke detectors and heat detectors. But maybe you’re wondering: What exactly is the difference between the two?

Smoke Detectors

The smoke detector is your first line of defense. It uses ionization and/or photoelectric technologies to determine the presence of smoke, and then it emits a blaring siren in response. The smoke detector remains the most effective line of defense for fire safety, and it’s absolutely critical that you install them throughout your home. The majority of house fires are more easily distinguished by smoke than by temperature, so if you’re wondering where to start, go with smoke detection.

Heat Detectors

As you probably guessed, heat detectors work similarly to smoke detectors, but rather than responding to smoke, they respond to dramatic temperature increases. Different heat detectors respond to different temperatures, ranging anywhere from 135 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. By and large, heat detectors aren’t as instantly responsive in the event of a fire, but they can still be tremendously valuable, particularly in areas where smoke detectors aren’t as feasible. For instance, in a kitchen, smoke alarms can be a source of tremendous frustration, as you’re forced to contend with false alarms every time you attempt to fry up a few bacon strips. Heat detectors eliminate this problem.

Protecting Your Home

As previously emphasized, it’s best to install a combination of heat detectors and smoke detectors throughout your home, in order to maximize your fire protection. In many states, smoke detectors are legally mandated (click here to see a state-by-state breakdown of the laws and regulations), but whether or not the law requires them, every home should have them. Fortunately, these detectors—both the smoke and heat varieties—are extremely affordable, and many are incredibly easy to install.

smoke detectorChoosing the Right Detectors

While we’re on the subject of easy installation, it’s important to note that wireless detectors are the quickest and simplest  models to configure. For the most part, you just need to insert a battery and mount the device to your ceiling. Hardwired installations are usually required for detectors that correspond with hardwired alarm systems. For instance, at Home Security Store, we offer a number of DSC smoke and heat detectors which function as accessories to DSC home security systems.

Home Security Integration

There are numerous advantages to integrating your smoke detectors with your alarm system, including control panel access and the ability to submit automatic distress signals to a third-party monitoring station, but even standalone detectors can work wonders. If you have a wireless home security kit, you may be able to find wireless detectors that work with your system.

Fireproof Your Home

If your home is in dire need of fire protection, don’t wait another moment. No home is immune to the potential devastation of a sudden and unexpected fire, and it only takes seconds for a small spark to erupt into an uncontrollable inferno. Check out the wide selection of heat and smoke detectors at Home Security Store, and save money while revolutionizing the safety of your home.

How To Avoid High Alarm Monitoring Fees

alarm-monitoring-feeHigh alarm monitoring fees are a drag. In fact, the avoidance of these fees is one of the main reason that so many homeowners go without home security monitoring. As dangerous and ill-advised as doing so may be, we understand why this happens.

Despite the fact that we are sympathetic to the plight of homeowners when it comes to avoiding high security monitoring fees, we are not content to allow a lack of monitoring to exist with any of our customers. Hopefully, you all feel the same way and will not only take this subject seriously, but will also spread the word to your friends and family members. And by word, we mean the following tips on how to avoid high monthly alarm monitoring fees:

Beware Of Home Security Tricksters

We’ve discussed this many times right here on this blog, but if you are a first-time reader please listen up. Some of the biggest names in the home security business are unapologetic in taking advantage of customers just like you. See, with promises of low-cost or free equipment and discounted installations, these companies gain significant profits by overcharging on monitoring fees. Know this and avoid this tactic by first opting for DIY home security devices and thus rendering these companies both useless and unnecessary for your household’s protection.

Say Goodbye to Monitoring Middlemen

Installing your own home security devices is a good start, but to truly avoid the high cost of alarm monitoring, it will be necessary to cut the middleman out completely. It helps to note that home security companies that attempt to sell alarm monitoring rarely (if ever) actually do the monitoring themselves. Instead, they contract with a professional monitoring company who charges a far more reasonable rate for service. Customers never realize this true rate, however, since the middleman is notorious for inflating the cost of service to the end consumer and pocketing the difference themselves.

The easiest and most cost-effective way of cutting the middleman out without sacrificing quality and professional monitoring is to go direct to the source. We highly recommend Alarm Relay where, as a Home Security Store customer, you can enjoy a rate of just $8.95 per month for professional grade monitoring from a UL certified central station. This low-cost, first rate monitoring is offered at up to a 300% savings of what typical home security companies offer for the exact same service. How’s that for avoiding high alarm monitoring fees?

Consider DIY Remote Alarm Monitoring

Alarm monitoring fees are completely eliminated with DIY remote monitoring devices like the Envisalink Internet Alert Module for DSC and Honeywell Security systems. Anyone with a smartphone can receive instant alerts whenever home security has been breached. Homeowners can also remotely look in on a home at anytime from anywhere they may be. This, of course, is all at no additional cost.

Professional Monitoring Vs. Remote Monitoring

We have to be honest here. While DIY remote monitoring is, by far, the most economical choice for alarm monitoring, it is not necessarily the best. If a smartphone is ever lost or even if a battery is simply low or an owner is in a poor service area, alerts may not be received in a timely fashion. At such times, actual remote monitoring capabilities may be limited or completely nonexistent. This is not to suggest that remote monitoring is not a good option for some, only that nothing beats live monitoring by a professional service provider, such as Alarm Relay. While there is a monthly fee associated with this option, it is far less than what can be found elsewhere for a comparable service.

The Final Word on High Alarm Monitoring Fees

Now that you know why the standard monitoring fees charged by most home security companies are so high, we hope that you will select a better alternative. While alarm monitoring is optional for DIY home security, we hope that you realize that it is still a very necessary component of your overall plan to protect your family and your home. If opting for professional monitoring, for little more than $100 for an entire year’s service, homeowners can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that a professionally trained team of alarm monitors are paying vigilant attention to a security system and are ready to spring into action on a family’s behalf at the first sign of a security risk.

Tell Us About Your Alarm Monitoring Experiences

We are always interested in hearing your take on various home security topics. Do you have direct experience with alarm monitoring? If you’ve encountered excessive alarm monitoring fees or have a story to tell about how a monitored system helped save your family from potential harm, we’d love to hear all about it in the space provided below.

Surveillance Cameras for Everyone?

Surveillance CamerasIncreasingly, neighborhood groups are realizing that 24/7 public video surveillance is one of the best ways to promote the safety and security of local residents. With easy installation, more and more homeowners are also turning to DIY CCTV cameras and other surveillance equipment in order to record and remotely monitor what is going on in and around their homes. Some are even allowing local law enforcement agencies access to private outdoor camera systems in order to help solve crimes. As these trends continue, we wonder if there will ever be a time where surveillance cameras become standard safety equipment common to every home much like smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors.

Cities Under Surveillance

Throughout the United States, city governments and law enforcement agencies are opting to install public video surveillance cameras in order to keep a close watch on their jurisdictions. With 3,000 cameras in action, Manhattan is already under watch. London is also under constant surveillance as thousands of public cameras are stationed throughout that city. While such an enormous presence of security cameras in public may make some individual citizens uncomfortable, there is no denying that these security devices also serve to make criminals even more uncomfortable.

Burglars Aren’t the Only Concern

Thieves aren’t a homeowner’s only threat, nor are they the sole reason for groups coming together in order to place entire neighborhoods under surveillance. Daily, our newspapers are filled with reports of sexual and physical assaults, kidnappings and terrorist threats. These crimes are of enormous concern to everyone and are what drives residents in support of public security cameras to advocate so tirelessly for more surveillance.

Residents of Brooklyn neighborhoods like Flatbush, Borough Park and Midwood have deep concerns about possible threats to their safety. Following the kidnapping and murder of a child in Borough Park (the suspect was eventually caught on camera), neighbors have banded together to install outdoor surveillance cameras throughout these areas. Doing so is no small feat either, as more than 300 public video cameras are being installed throughout those specific areas.

Standard Security Equipment

In some states, working smoke detectors are a requirement in every private household. Few would argue against these devices being a necessity as they provide early warnings to residents as to the possibility of fire and such technology is intended to allow enough time for individuals to escape and call for help. In areas where smoke detection devices are required by law, few have argued against them as many lives have been saved as a result of their presence.

Should we take a similar approach to home security? Imagine if every homeowner were required to install, at minimum, a burglar alarm and a surveillance system. Would people take home security more seriously? Or would such a requirement be going too far?

Cameras For Everyone?

Requirements and advocacy aside, we are of the strong belief that no homeowner should ever choose to be without a good alarm and video surveillance system. Indoor and outdoor cameras, as well as hidden cameras all help strengthen security layers and make it possible for homeowners to maintain better control over their own security. DIY home security manufacturers have gone to great lengths to make it easy and affordable for average residents to benefit from levels of protection that were once only achievable by the very well-to-do. With do-it-yourself DVR systems offering multi-channel and remote surveillance, homeowners have flocked to this technology for good reason. Since top-quality DIY video surveillance cameras are available to the public and since we know that they are such good crime deterrents, why shouldn’t everyone have one or more of these affordable devices in their home?

Beyond Home Surveillance

Crime is everywhere, so it stands to reason that everyone should join in fighting it. We believe this and the fact that you’re reading this blog suggests that you do, too. How far should we take the fight, though? Beyond placing surveillance cameras in every home, should private outdoor cameras be accessible to law enforcement agencies? Should neighborhoods continue to band together in a push to install surveillance cameras throughout entire neighborhoods?

This subject triggers a good mix of opinions including those with valid privacy concerns and who oppose moving beyond home surveillance to also include public neighborhood surveillance projects. What are some good security alternatives to public surveillance cameras? And how might we better protect our city streets against crime? All ideas are welcome and respected, so…

Let’s Talk About It

Do you live in a neighborhood where a high level of intentional security exists? Are you interested in forming a neighborhood group in order to focus on public surveillance efforts? Or are you opposed to widespread video surveillance? Please take a moment to share your thoughts, questions, concerns and experiences in the comments section below.

Home Security Tips for Remodeling Your House

Young man drilling hole in wall while woman standing byIt may not look like it now, but spring is just around the corner. With plenty of sunshine and dry weather, this means that a lot of our readers will be remodeling their homes. Whether adding a single room, upgrading a few fixtures or completely refurbishing an entire house there are certain security precautions that should be taken during and after these projects are completed. If you are among those planning to spruce up a nest this season, know that integrating the following home security tips into the process will save you time as well as help keep your house and your family safe in the process.

A Change of Pace

While much of the country suffered a brutal winter and many of your homes are still buried under layers of snow, know that warmer days are coming soon. Contractors, construction workers and legions of do-it-yourselfers are already rolling up their sleeves to work on special building projects that better weather will soon allow. Unfortunately, some burglars are also looking forward to this change of pace as they know that some of these projects will create opportunities for them to break into properties while work is being done.

The Allure of Tools, Materials and Fixtures

For a burglar, things like copper wiring, power tools and new household fixtures and appliances are a great payday. The very items used to create the home of your dreams may be the same ones that attract a criminal element. Thieves attracted to these items are known to break into construction sites after hours to nab these very items.

The best way to distance yourself from a crime like this is to place all tools, materials, fixtures and other supplies in a secure storage facility overnight and on weekends. Also, your property should be well-protected by surveillance cameras, a security alarm and home security signage should be clearly displayed in order to warn a burglar that your guard is not down just because a little cosmetic work is in progress. Depending upon the extent of construction taking place at your home, you may want to consider placing a temporary fence around it, too.

Keep Careful Watch

Speaking of keeping your guard up, as often as possible, keep a close watch over those hired to help in your home’s remodel. Often, one or two of the very workers used to help create the home of your dreams may also be the very ones to turn your experience into an absolute nightmare. This can be particularly true if hiring people whom you have not vetted and do not have a history with, such as day laborers or random handymen found in places like Craigslist.

To avoid being ripped off by one of these double-agents, install surveillance cameras in and around your home. Don’t stop there, however, as your job is not done yet. Take the time to discreetly check your cameras daily to be certain that their field of vision hasn’t been adjusted or that they haven’t been turned off, disconnected or otherwise tampered with. Also, randomly review the footage from those cameras as often as possible.

Avoid hiring workers who are not licensed or bonded. While the desire to save money is understandable, the price that you may pay for hiring someone with a criminal history may be entirely too high. And even if hiring workers who are licensed, bonded and affiliated with a reputable company, continue to watch them closely as they work in your home. This means that you or someone you trust should remain at the property while work is being done.

In addition to visible security cameras (which are a strong deterrent, even if they are fake), place a few hidden cameras around the inside of your home. While you obviously want to see what is going on in the main construction area, place cameras in other areas where no work is being done. By reviewing the footage– or by randomly watching a remote live stream throughout the day, you can witness whether or not workers are wandering into areas that have nothing to do with the remodel.

Protect the Little Things

Jewelry, emergency cash and small electronics that can be discreetly slipped into a pocket should be tightly protected. If you have a safe at home (and you should) place valuables like these there while your home is being worked on. Small things like this may not be immediately missed, but are pretty easy for a thief to walk away without even other workers noticing.

Have a Home Security Remodeling Tip?

Do you have any tips to share about home security while remodeling a house? Have you ever had anything stolen during a remodeling phase? We’ve left a little space for you here and we hope that you’ll help make this post even better by sharing your own tips and experiences right now.