Security Tips and Industry Musings

Happy New Year!

Lew Stouffer - Tuesday, December 31, 2013

As 2013 draws to a close, once again we find ourselves distracted with celebrations. Several of the tips listed below still apply. Due to the nature of New Year’s there are more practical things to think about.

There are many services available for those who have enjoyed the holidays too much and still need to get home. Free taxi rides to towing services, find out what is available in your area before you leave for the evening. Having a plan beforehand will make everything easier. If you are hosting an event, have these options mapped out for your guests who may need them.

One service that I have found to be excellent is Uber. It’s also available as a smartphone app. They offer a fantastic ride service at a very reasonable price.

Happy New Year from Atlanta Home Alarm Systems. We’ll see you in 2014!

The Holidays

Bob Peters - Monday, December 23, 2013

It’s that time of year again. By this point you are running to the store to find that last minute present. Doing the grocery shopping for that special dinner. Cleaning the house and soon everyone will be there! It is easy to overlook things this time of year. Don’t let your security be one of them. Here are some helpful tips to remember as you prepare for the holidays.

  • Have a neighbor pick up the mail while you are out of town.
  • Do not put the boxes from expensive gifts on the curb for trash collection.
  • Put a central light on a timer so the house looks occupied. Maybe, the neighbor who is picking up the mail can turn the lights and TV on and off in different parts of the house?
  • Tell your neighbors your plans for the holidays so they can keep an eye on your property.
  • Secure items in your yard that may help someone break in.
  • Have a safe and happy holidays!

Garages and Security

Bob Peters - Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Garages have evolved into an odd assortment of space. Consider yours for a moment. If you are like most people, it has become your main entrance, a large closet, odds and ends collection point, home for your pet and a general project workspace. I’m sure I left some uses out, but you get the idea. With that much going on there, think about what someone looking at your garage could tell about you. The first thing is, are you home? Do you have expensive items visible? Is the door cracked to allow air flow for your dog? By the way, this means Fido is not inside your home protecting it. A potential thief can tell a lot about you and your family by simply looking in your garage. There are some simple steps you can take to avoid giving too much information to the wrong person, and improving your home and families security overall.

To start with we should make it as hard as possible to see inside. Keep the garage door down as much as possible. If you have windows in the garage cover them so someone cannot see into it. There are several films that can easily (and cheaply) be applied to the windows to obstruct the view. Curtains or blinds work for this as well.

Overhead doors have some special considerations you need to think about. That cord hanging from the automatic door opener is a problem. Cut it off. It is possible to push the door from the top, reach in and pull that cord to release the door. Use the doors locks when you go on vacation. If your door doesn’t have locks (a lot of them don’t now days), you can attach a C-clamp to the rail right above a roller on both sides to block the doors travel.

The interior door should be as solid as your front door. Add a peep hole so you can see into the garage without entering.

Take a look at what you store there. The more expensive items should be out of sight from the street. Maybe move that tool chest to the back of the garage? Trash cans towards the front? The less conspicuous your belongings are the better.

 Consider expanding your security system (or getting a security system) to cover the outer garage doors and windows. Low cost, no-contract alarm monitoring from Atlanta Home Alarm Systems can add lots of security for a small price.

Burglar Alarm Buying 101

Bob Peters - Friday, November 08, 2013

While doing my morning read through of the news, I came across this article By Clark Howard in the AJC. Clark has some excellent points to consider before you make your security system purchase. While many of the ideas are fairly old fare for those of us that have followed Clark’s words of wisdom. It’s good to get a refresher and put it in front of people that may have missed it in the past. The last point is probably the most important. Do your security shopping before you need a system. Emotions run high after a break in. Many people overbuy when trying to secure their home after the fact.

http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/atlanta-bargain-hunter/2013/aug/01/clark-howard-its-best-find-burglar-alarm-without-c/

Rereading this was good for me. It made me reexamine something that I already knew, and add my observations from my experiences from the other side of the sale. After years of selling security systems I have seen several points that most people overlook. Understanding your goals helps the representative you are going to meet best serve you.

Before you contact any companies for quotes, take a minute to understand what you want to do. Do you want to protect the Picasso’s in the living room or have additional piece of mind while on vacation. There can be a large cost difference between the levels of security.

Take stock of how your family lives in the home. Do the kids get up early while you sleep in on Saturday? If so, you may need several keypads or fewer motion detectors. Do you have pets that are given free roam of the house? Would you be alright with limiting their access while the alarm is on? Do you travel for work? Will this impact how you want to use the system? Maybe adding remote access and cameras is something you would like to do. These are some of the most common items we run across while working up an estimate for our clients.

Once you have done the first two steps, you are almost ready to start calling security companies. The last thing you should do is take stock of your home. Walk around the outside of the house. Are there points that look like good opportunities for burglars? How do you want to address them? Will adding physical barriers (more/better locks, stronger doors, less glass) solve the issue for you? If not, add that to the list to talk to the security company’s representative about. While you are walking around the outside, count the number of doors and windows you need to cover. This helps us be able to give you a ballpark estimate over the phone.

Now that your homework is complete, you are ready to start calling Companies. Friends’ referrals are a great source to start with. Call/email those companies and ask for a quote. One thing to keep in mind if you use email is to check your spam folder. (Many times I have responded to prospective clients, but have received an angry call the following week complaining that I haven’t responded yet; only for it to be found in the spam folder!) Most companies will insist on sending a representative out before quoting, some (like Atlanta Home Alarm) will be happy to give a quote based on what you tell them you need. 

Security and Social Media

Bob Peters - Thursday, August 22, 2013

Atlanta Home SecurityWhen you go on vacation, you should not update social media until you have returned. Naturally, you want to share the fun and antics of the family getaway, but this information can be invaluable to the wrong people.

The problem is that most people have larger friend lists on their social media accounts than one would comfortably share this information with. Criminals can find out a wealth of information by simply watching your accounts. This simple step helps to keep potential thieves from knowing when you will not be home.


Security Foundations

Bob Peters - Thursday, August 08, 2013
The foundation of any security plan starts with the strength of the building's physical features. Strong, properly fitting doors that latch solidly are a must. Consider investing in reinforcing your door jambs to protect against burglars kicking in your doors.  Ensuring that windows are not cracked, fit properly and have good locks can go a long way toward securing your home.

While you are taking stock of the physical features of your home, look at the outside property. Imagine you are going to break in.  How would you do it? Is there somewhere you could hide to approach the house? Perhaps you might plant some dense, thorny bushes in those places to discourage a person from going there. Some lighting might be added for the nighttime hours. Are there items on the property that could be used to gain entry? These are concerns that should be addressed.

A good emergency plan is also an important part of your family’s security foundation. Just as you have a plan for escape in case of fire, you should have a plan to escape a burglary in progress or a personal assault. Examine your property again. What would you do if you were approached in your driveway as you came home? How would you react if you were suddenly surprised by an intruder inside your home? These, unfortunately, are situations that should be considered before the need for action occurs.