7 Ways to Tighten Your Home Security for the Holidays

Every year at this time you’ll read stories about the increase in home burglaries while homeowners are away. Studies show that increase is not always fact. Instead, many factors affect burglaries in different communities and when they occur.

21908228_sStill, it’s smart to play it safe with home security around the holidays. After all, you may have extra valuables inside after buying all of your gifts, and you may be absent more often as you attend holiday parties or head to grandmother’s house.

According to FBI data, in 2010, there were an estimated 2.1 million burglaries in the U.S. Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $4.6 billion in lost property, an average dollar loss of $2,119 each. In the Raleigh-Cary area, including Franklin, Johnston, and Wake counties, there were 628 burglaries per 100,000 residents in 2010.

Keep your holiday gifts and your home safe this season with a few simple measures:

  • Light your home. The strings of Christmas lights may bring good cheer, but they don’t keep burglars out. Mount exterior lights on your home, out of reach. These can be put on a timer or used as motion detectors. Put indoor lights on timers.
  • Burglars don’t want to spend all day trying to break in. Keep your doors and windows locked and install deadbolts on exterior doors, making it tougher to gain entry.
  • Check your doors. Your lock might be amazing, but if your door is weak, a strong kick will give a burglar easy access. Make sure your door is solid wood or has a solid wood core. You can also consider a fiberglass or metal door.
  • Trim the shrubbery. Don’t make it easy for burglars to hide behind bushes as they work to open a window. Keep the landscaping trimmed so it’s easier for a neighbor to spot the suspicious person standing outside your home.
  • Install a home alarm system. More than 90 percent of burglars say they would avoid a home with an alarm, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Effective alarms don’t just make noise, but alert emergency services. Many insurance companies offer a discount on homeowners insurance if you have an alarm.
  • Hide and lock your valuables. Once inside, a burglar doesn’t want to take too long. He or she knows to check the desk and the bedroom for important documents and jewelry. Put your important papers and expensive items in other locations and hide them well.
  • Heading out of town? Be sure to:
    • Have your mail held, or have a neighbor pick it up.
    • Schedule deliveries. Packages are at risk this time of year sitting on your front porch. Try to time deliveries so that they don’t arrive when you are out of town.
    • Leave blinds in their usual positions so it appears you are home.
    • Ask trustworthy neighbors to keep an eye on your home. Letting a few people know you are gone will help keep them on alert for something amiss.

Questions about home security? Give us a call: (919) 387-1800.

5 Technology Upgrades to Home Security

Control4 Door locks

Home security has come a long way since the invention of chain link fences and guard dogs. Today, technology has made it possible to keep an eye on your home 24/7. Whether you’re looking for the latest cool tools in home security or just want an easier way to keep your home safe, here are 5 technology upgrades to consider:

  1. Door locks – Forget to lock the door? If you have an electronic door lock, it’s no problem. You can remotely lock it from anywhere. Electronic door locks work with your entire home security system. In addition to locking the door from your smartphone or tablet, electronic door locks track the history of opening and closing and can send you text message alerts if you want. You can also give visitors an access code that only works during certain times of day, making it easier to keep your home secure when working with household staff. Plus, no more digging around for your keys!
  1. Remote monitoring – Keep an eye on your home from anywhere with videos and photos of what’s going on. Home security systems now offer streaming security camera feeds, the ability to arm and disarm from anywhere, send alerts, and more.
  1. Cameras – Speaking of streaming, home security cameras are no longer for the super-rich mansion owner. Cameras are inexpensive and easy to install. If you don’t want to check the life feed, you can save it for later if you need to — a nice option if your home is burglarized or if you need to check up on working crews.
  1. Home Sensors – Your home is so smart, it knows you’re coming. Home sensors can open and close the door for you. They also work as part of your home security, for motion sensing when you’re away. They’re smart enough to work off of winks or waving and can be controlled from your smartphone or tablet.
  1. Garage systems – Some people may recall the large, brown button to open the garage door. These days, many people use a button in their car to open the garage. The latest systems not only open the door when you want, but give you remote control from your smart device, allowing you to let people to enter when you are not home. It can also track how long the door has been open. Systems today also have motion sensors to protect those jetting through the door as it’s closing.

Secur-Tek can help you install a Control4 Home Automation System to help with these areas and more, including lighting, sound, intercom and more. Contact us today to find out more.

5 Reasons to Install a Control4 Video Intercom

Video intercoms used to be something one might see on the old cartoon, “The Jetsons.” But today, that technology is available for North Carolina homes. Our Secur-Tek team can now install Control4 video intercom systems.

IMG_5716Control4 offers many home automation features, but video intercom systems are the latest way to make life easier. Here are five reasons to call Secur-Tek for an installation:

  1. Convenient communication. In other words, save your voice. No more yelling upstairs to tell the kids that dinner is ready, or yelling downstairs to find your spouse. Video intercoms give you the power to see and hear what’s going on in any room of the house. This is especially useful as our houses grow larger, saving you laps around the house to gather everyone.
  2. Cool look. Old intercoms have nothing on today’s systems. Bring the sleek look of your smartphone and tablet to your home intercom system. Control4 offers either a black or white touchscreen in two sizes: 5 inches or 7 inches.
  3. Security and safety. The video intercom system can also be used to monitor what’s going on outside your front door, giving you an extra security feature. Speak to visitors from the safety of your home, so that you never open the door to someone untrustworthy. Use the video intercom to take a look at the backyard and check on the children at play.
  4. Privacy settings/Do not disturb settings. Avoid waking someone from their afternoon nap and give your guest some privacy. The Control4 system lets you turn off monitoring in any room, whether it’s audio, video or both.
  5. Talk or listen. Intercoms used to be a two-way street only if you pushed the right button. Now, intercoms can be used to simply listen to a room, to check on a baby, for example. The Control4 system can also be used to make a general announcement to all systems in the house. Plus, the person answering does not have to get up from the couch to press a button and answer.

Learn more about Control4 Intercom systems or contact Secur-Tek for a free estimate. Call us today: (919) 387-1800.

Secur-Tek’s Home Automation Featured in Parade of Homes

Parade of Homes logoA home with Secur-Tek systems is part of the Parade of Homes in October.

The Parade of Homes is a free open-house tour of new homes in Durham, Orange and Chatham Counties. Visitors can tour some of the area’s most beautiful homes and learn more about the latest products and technology available in new home construction.

The Secur-Tek team set up a home security system and automated lighting at a home on Seneca Court in Pittsboro. Automated lighting is a popular home automation feature, offering convenience, security and energy savings in many ways:

● Timed control of all lights, based on sunrise and sunset, even taking into account Daylight Saving Time.
● Outside lights can be set for motion, enabling you to enter your home safely after dark.
● Inside lights can turn on automatically when you enter a room, and can be programmed to turn off after a certain period of time.
● Lights can be connected to the security system, which can shut down interior lights when you are away. Key lights can be left on at night to simulate the appearance of someone at home.
● Lights can turn on if the security system detects an intruder.
● Lights can also flash to signal the doorbell or phone ringing in addition to or in place of sounds.

The homes will be judged Oct. 1 and winners are invited to a special banquet. Cross your fingers for Secur-Tek’s home! Then, take the tour to view these amazing homes.

This year’s parade takes place during the first three weekends in October: October 3-4, 9-11, 16-18. Homes are open between 12 and 5 p.m. Visitors can stop any of the dozens of homes on tour during those times, no appointments needed. Get a map online starting Sept. 28 at http://www.hbadoc.com. You can also pick up a map at one of several locations in the area.

Learn more about how Secur-Tek can set up home automation for your home.

Small Business Insight of the Triangle

SBI

Ken Henke, owner of Secur-Tek, met with Don and Olga of Entrust Associates recently, to be interviewed for Small Business Insight of the Triangle.

We’re thankful for such initiatives to promote local small business and you can read the full interview at the link below:

 

http://sbicarolinas.com/secur-tek-inc/

5 Tips to Avoid Home Security Scams

Home security is an important part of your peace of mind. That’s why scammers will often prey on people with fear tactics.

39670032_sHome security telemarketing calls were the second most common telephone scam in 2014 — second only to credit card scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers will call someone and offer a free home security system. The caller will also mention several burglaries in the area, hoping to push the resident into action.

Don’t fall into the home security scam trap. Follow these five tips to find a legitimate home security company to protect your most important asset:

  1. First, if you ever receive such a call, don’t agree to anything right away. This gives you time to make an informed decision.
  2. Keep your guard up. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No business can afford to offer you free home security. To get the free alarm, you may have to sign a long-term and expensive contract for system monitoring.
  3. Research a company before making a large purchase. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the company has any complaints against it. Ask friends and family for recommendations, and it’s OK to ask the company for references.
  4. Choose local. Triangle, North Carolina residents have many local options when it comes to home security. Choosing a local company makes it easier for you to check them out. Local business owners know they have a reputation to uphold within the community.
  5. Read any fine print before agreeing to anything. Most home security companies have contracts. Be sure you know what you are signing.

Other Security Scams

Some home security companies will send salespeople door to door. If you already have home security, they may tell you they are there to upgrade your current system or that your security company has gone out of business. Secur-Tek and other legitimate North Carolina security companies will not send another company to your door. Your home security company will inform you by mail if something has changed with your current system.

  • It’s best not to invite salespeople inside your home; it is much harder to get them to leave once inside.
  • Never let such a person into your home without checking his or her identification.
  • If you feel uncomfortable and the person will not leave, call the police.

Questions about home security? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help!

5 Ways You’re Wasting Your Money on an Alarm System

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You might be wasting your money on that home alarm system.

That might not sound like something a security company like Secur-Tek should say to potential customers. But yes, we’ll say that. Here is why: We believe in alarm systems as a large part of your home security. While we install high-quality alarm systems, we know that you are just as much a part of your home security as the alarm.

You might be wasting money on an alarm system if …

  1. You don’t set the alarm. About one in every 36 homes in the U.S. will be burglarized this year. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, financial losses from burglaries increased between 1994 and 2011. Alarm systems have been proven to decrease the dollar amount of items stolen. But only if you set the alarm.
  2. You don’t use the stickers or sign as a warning. Homes with alarms are less likely to be targets; those stickers and signs are a good way to deter them from even trying to enter your home.
  3. You don’t test the system. Our home security systems are high quality. But technology sometimes fails. Be sure to call us each month using your system so we can run a test and make sure everything is functioning properly.
  4. Your system isn’t monitored. You may have inherited a home alarm system that no longer has a contract for monitoring. Although the noise of an alarm may scare off those who enter your home, it’s vital that you have a company monitor those alarms so that a police officer will check for forced entry. Monitoring is also useful in case of a fire or carbon monoxide alarm.
  5. You leave windows open. Thirty percent of burglars entered a home through an unlocked door, window or other opening — no force necessary. Windows are a favorite, especially those left open in warmer months and obscured by bushes or buildings. Many lower-priced alarm systems do not activate if someone enters through an open window. If you don’t install glass-breaking alarms or alarms on the windows, be sure to at least close and lock your windows while you are not home.

Help us protect your home by keeping your security top of mind. That way your dollars — and your belongings — aren’t going out the window.

Prevent Your Wireless Home Alarm from Burglar Hacking

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There’s a new tool in town.

Protecting your home or business with a security system is an important part of preventing burglary, but those intent on breaking in and stealing your possessions will often think of unique ways to thwart the system. The latest: a software defined radio that connects to a laptop. For an easy $20, a burglar can buy the device and instructions on how to use it.

The device reads the alarm system’s radio signals and can overpower them, allowing a burglar to tell the system a door is closed when it’s open. They could even prevent an alarm signal from reaching your security company.

But there is a solution. It’s called spread-spectrum technology. You can protect your possessions by installing a device that uses S-ST, as its known. Such devices “spread out” the wireless signals in your system, hopping from one to another to avoid interference from outside sources. So if a signal is jammed, it simply chooses another route. S-ST technology can also encrypt signals, making sure a burglar can’t try to send a fake message to the system.

What You Can Do

Secur-Tek is making sure its alarm systems are protected against outside threats. But a home alarm system is only as good as the person using it. Many customers install home alarm systems, but fail to set them. Protect your home and family from smoke, carbon monoxide, burglary, and more by setting your system each time you leave the house. Here are some other home protection tips:

  • Test your system with us once each month.
  • Lock all windows and install deadbolts on the doors.
  • Secure sliding doors with a dowel.
  • Look for other ways to dissuade burglar activity, such as planting bushes below windows, making sure entrances are visible to neighbors

What questions do you have about home security? Send us a message and we can answer them in a future post.

7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Security Company

Home Security Image

A security system is one important way to keep your home or business safe. Security systems can deter crime, but you also want to make sure your security starts with scrutiny of the company itself.

When deciding which company to choose, be sure to check them out by asking these 7 questions:

  1. Are they insured? Any proper security company will have insurance to protect all parties.
  2. How do they choose employees? Are the employees part of the company or are they contractors? Whether your business needs security officers and guards or your home simply needs someone to install the system, a security company’s employees should undergo vigorous background checks. After all, the person installing your system will have access to your home and its contents. Background checks should include a criminal history, the sex offender list, and the employee should have multiple references.
  3. Are the company and its employees licensed? In the State of North Carolina, any person, firm, association, or corporation engaged in an alarm system business needs to be licensed and all service and installation technicians need to be registered.
  4. What is the company’s response time? If you need emergency assistance, you want help as soon as possible.
  5. How much will the service cost? You will ask this question naturally, but be sure to confirm installation costs, service costs, and fees. Some companies advertise one cost but charge you another.
  6. Do you have a contact person at the company? Or is there customer service available 24/7? When you have a question or concern, you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to manage it.
  7. How does the company document any incidents that require your attention? Depending on your level of security, this may not apply. But if so, be sure the company has a policy in place, including logs and written reports. You should be able to acquire copies of those when necessary.

More questions about security? Contact us to find out about different options for security systems.

 

Four Reasons to Rely on 24-Hour Security Monitoring

Affiliated Central - Monitoring Center

Whether you’re fast asleep in your own bed in Raleigh or away on an international vacation, it’s important to know your home security system will work the way you expect.

One expectation most people have for home or business security systems is a response to the alarm — no matter what time it occurs. This 24-hour security monitoring means authorities will be notified as needed when the alarm is activated at your home or office.

Monitoring isn’t just to alert the police or fire departments. Here are some other advantages to making sure 24-hour monitoring is part of your security system:

  • True Protection — Some homeowners assume a burglar alarm making a lot of noise is enough protection. In truth, like car alarms, home alarms are often ignored by people nearby, who assume it is going off by accident.
  • Other Home Issues – While not as urgent as a fire or break-in, a gas leak can cause serious problems in your home. Monitoring systems can be set up to alert you in case of a gas leak or to let you know your freezer is no longer on — indicating a power outage.
  • Assistance — Monitoring systems can also notify people that you need assistance in case of a fall or other personal accident.
  • Sleeping Easy — Monitoring means someone is always keeping an eye (and ear) on your home or business. Many security system clients say knowing someone is there offers peace of mind, making it easier to sleep at home and while away.

How Monitoring Works
Secur-Tek works with Affiliated Central to monitor your home or business. The team at Affiliated Central is CSAA Five Diamond Certified and uses the most up-to-date technologies including live digital video. The company has installed a redundancy system for its telephone and automation, ensuring dependability.

Secur-Tek, Inc. does not require a long-term monitoring contract when you have your home or business connected to our monitoring services.

While most security companies offer 24-hour monitoring, some companies may consider it an add-on feature. When contacting a security company to keep your home or business safe, be sure to confirm you are receiving the service you deserve.