The Rundown on Doorbell Cameras

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Doorbell cameras are growing more popular, popping up in many Triangle neighborhoods. But does that mean it’s the right solution for your home? At Secur-Tek, we’ve received more questions about doorbell cameras in recent weeks, so here is the rundown on how doorbell cameras might aid your home security.

What is a doorbell camera?

A doorbell camera alerts you when someone rings your doorbell. You can speak to visitors through your smartphone from anywhere — just as if you are home. In some cases, the camera will detect motion and send an alert to your phone even if the bell isn’t rung. Some will record video for later use.

Why use a doorbell camera?

Doorbell cameras have many advantages for busy people. Most home burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when no one is home. Now that Wake County year-round schools are back in session, it’s more likely that your house is sitting empty for at least a few hours each day. These days, we might not know our neighbors well enough to rely on them for monitoring our porches — and that’s if our neighbors are home at all.

Also, about 33 percent of intruders enter a home through the front door. Many would-be burglars will ring a doorbell first, to make sure no one is home. Burglaries are fast, taking between 90 seconds and 12 minutes, according to the FBI. On top of that, burglaries are difficult to solve; only about 13 percent of burglaries are cleared by police.

Pros of a Doorbell Camera

Those burglary statistics are why a doorbell camera adds another layer of security. With one in place you can:

  • Pretend to be home by “answering” the door.
  • Monitor movement on your porch, whether it’s a delivery person or someone suspicious.
  • Monitor housekeepers entering your home or get an alert when your child returns home from school.
  • Lock and unlock the door remotely.

With some models, you can record video footage of someone if he/she enters your home, making it easier to identify suspects.

How to Choose a Doorbell Camera

Not all doorbell cameras are created equal. Like so many things, the type you buy depends on what you need and how much you are willing to spend. Some things to note as you shop:

  • Video Quality – is it HD and how clear is the image?
  • Mounting Hardware – Some consumers have complained about mounting systems for some of the less expensive models. They have been known to break during the installation process. Be sure yours comes with a solid mounting system.
  • Fit – Will it work for your doorframe?
  • Wires – Hardwired or wireless?
  • Night Vision – Some doorbell cameras offer the ability to record night video.
  • On-Demand – Some cameras let you check the video whenever you want, while others only show you video when movement is detected.
  • Phone Compatibility – Some versions don’t work with all mobile carriers and devices. Make sure yours works with what you have.
  • Contracts – Some of the popular models come with monitoring contracts and may require someone else to install them.
  • Appearance – They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.

We sell multiple types of doorbell cameras at Secur-Tek. Talk to us about whether adding one to your home security system is the right move for you.

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 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.