Safely Shopping / Receiving Your Holiday Gifts In 2020

 

The holiday season is upon us and with it, the search for gifts. On-line shopping and gift delivery will be bigger than ever this year. But with the convenience of shopping from home, there are also risks.

Keep reading for 15 tips to help keep your on-line shopping and package delivery as safe and predictable as possible.

 

Online shopping safety:

 

1) Keep your network updated

Before shopping, check to make sure you have the latest security updates installed on your phone, computer, antivirus software and your router. These updates help improve security and fight new attacks. It may seem inconvenient to have to wait for your computer or phone to update and restart, but the protection is worth it.

2) Use unique, strong passwords and two factor authentications on your accounts. Don’t let your computer or device remember your usernames, passwords, or credit card information. To reduce the chance of being hacked you can use a password generator and manager to create and keep track of complicated passwords that are not worth a hacker’s time to crack.

3) Don’t use your debit card!

When online shopping, it’s best to use a credit card or payment service like PayPal instead of a debit card. Because debit cards are linked to your bank account, you are at much higher risk if someone hacks your information. Credit cards offer more protection and less liability if a card number gets stolen. Also, credit cards are much quicker at refunds or cancelling payment than trying to reverse a cash transaction that has been automatically paid out directly through your bank account. This is one time when it pays to put it on plastic.

4) Be smart about shopping apps

Apps make everything more convenient – even stealing your information. So be sure to only download shopping apps from established, reliable sources like the Apple App Store or Android Market; check out the reviews and comments on an app before downloading.  And then, don’t just click approve – pay special attention to the permissions that the app asks for. If you see something that doesn’t make sense, like access to your contacts, don’t allow the app access.

5) Check to make sure the site you’re shopping on is safe and secure

Verify that the online store is secure before entering any personal or financial information. Look for “https” at the beginning of a site’s address. If you don’t see the “s” at the end of “http,” then the site is not encrypted, and your data will not be secure. All legitimate shopping sites will have the “s” for your protection.

 7) Don’t shop in public

Free hotspots are great when you’re out and about, but hackers like them even more than you do. Because public networks aren’t secured, don’t log in to banking sites or payment sites like PayPal on a public network — and make sure that you are logged out of those sites before connecting to a public network.

8) Put devices on lockdown

An advantage of online shopping is that you can do it from anywhere and use any device. Make sure every device that you shop from has security software in place. Always use a passcode to access your tablet or smartphone and log off your computer or lock the screen when you walk away from it. After accessing a shopping or banking site, be sure to completely log out of the site before exiting, and don’t let your computer or device remember your usernames, passwords, or credit card information.

 

Package Delivery Security:

 

1) Track it!  If the ordering system allows you to choose the time of delivery, select a time you know you’ll be at home. Always use the alerts option or tracking #s to follow your packages along on their journey so you can arrange to get your packages off the porch as soon as possible. If things appear slow or stopped, get in contact with the delivery service or store for assistance in locating your package.

2) Deliver decisively. If you’re not home much, consider having the package delivered to your office or a friend or neighbor’s house for safekeeping.

3) Hold the post. If your package contains very valuable items, request UPS, FedEx, and or Postal Service to hold packages at their facility for you to pick up later. UPS has created a service called Access Point that enables you to choose an alternate delivery location in your neighborhood.

4) Alert a neighbor. When you are expecting a package and won’t be home, you can ask a neighbor or friend to keep an eye out for it. Also, if you use Nextdoor.com or a similar neighborhood app you can let neighbors know if something has been stolen from your porch so they can keep an eye out and report suspicious behavior.

5) Get a smart doorbell. Swap your current doorbell for a Skybell and enjoy a higher level of safety and security with remote monitoring and cloud recording features. When the delivery person rings the doorbell, you can see when and how packages are delivered. You can also check for any unwanted visitors at your doorstep.

6) Open your Garage Door. With Total Connect 2.0 integrated with the MyQ garage door app, you can monitor and allow deliveries to be placed inside your garage. To learn more about how convenient this can be, click here or call us at 919.387.1800 or fill out the form below.

7) Invest in monitored home security. A home security system can be a great deal. If there are visible security features like cameras or alarms, potential thieves will be more likely to move along to a less protected house rather than risk getting caught by a security system.

The holiday season is a fun and exciting time of year. Following these easy tips for online shopping and package delivery can help ensure the joys and excitement of holiday gift-giving.

Happy Holidays from Secur-Tek, Inc.!

Secur-Tek is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, offering home and business security, monitoring, automation audio, and central vacuum systems. Our service area includes Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, and Pittsboro in North Carolina.

Home Security: DIY vs Professional Installation

Home security DIY vs Professional

You’ve probably seen ads online for low-priced DIY Home Security Systems. Or maybe you’ve heard an ad or two on the radio.

So, you start thinking about your list of home DIY projects on your refrigerator door and wonder if you should add “install home security” to it.

Then a couple of things enter your mind: first, it will take time away from projects you really enjoy – like woodworking, gardening. or watching sports. Second, a home security system is an important item and your family’s safety will depend on it, and you don’t want to worry about if you installed it correctly. Third – you like to support small businesses when you can and wonder if there is a local company with trained technicians that you can actually talk to and trust to do a good job. So you decide a little research is appropriate to evaluate whether you should go the DIY route or engage professionals for your Home Security System.

1) Will a DIY system save me money?

That’s usually the main reason people look at DIY systems. But remember, you get what you pay for – a box of basic security equipment and manuals. You pay the retail price for the equipment and then add the investment of your time, which can vary depending on how familiar you are with installing electronics. While doing a home project, have you ever gotten halfway through and wondered if you were doing it right? Or it takes three times as long because the directions aren’t clear? After that, you still have to pay a monthly monitoring fee. Are you interested in fire detection, a smart thermostat, or a doorbell camera? Check that out in advance, as some DIY security companies don’t integrate these devices, so you’ll have to purchase them separately and download multiple apps. 

When you have professionals install your security system, you get the following:

Trained and qualified technicians for installation, adjustment, or repair

Using a certified technician will take the doubt out of the effectiveness of your security system. Secur-Tek customizes your security system to your home while explaining the process and confirming the optimal placement of every device, so you can trust your security system to work.  The same local technicians are available should you need service for your system.

Customized protection that fits your needs

Not every property, neighborhood, or crime profile is the same. Secur-Tek doesn’t just bring a standard box of equipment and go to work. First, we talk with you to understand your security objectives and do a complete assessment of your home environment. We understand camera angles, lighting, and acoustical variables that should be taken into consideration when choosing the type and placement of security and surveillance equipment. We will help you customize a complete inside and outside solution that does  exactly what you want.

Real Technical support and guidance

Our expert technicians walk you through your new security and/or smart home system step by step at time of installation. They’ll answer every question you have, help set up smart rules and automation when appropriate, and leave you confident and ready to protect your home and family.

Confidence in your security system

Security systems are critical during times of emergency and stress. You need to be confident and knowledgeable about the functioning of your system during these situations. A trained Secur-Tek technician is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for after-hours emergency service.

At Secur-Tek, we are passionate about protecting you, your family, and your property. We take pride in knowing every system is installed correctly and customized for your home. You can be confident in your system because our technicians test every individual device and the total system upon installation. We then walk you through it to make sure you are comfortable, knowledgeable, and confident in how to operate your system effectively.

Personal response

Secur-Tek is a locally owned and operated company. We answer our own phones and talk with you directly. We take the time to personally understand and answer any questions you may have. Our technicians are local company employees — not contractors. In addition, you can call our office to schedule a time to service your equipment.

Think about your family’s safety and the security of your property before making your DIY vs Professional installation decision. You can also check out the benefits of a monitored security system. Then call us at 919-387-1800 or use the form below to schedule a complimentary security assessment.

 

Secur-Tek is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, offering home and business security, monitoring, automation audio, and central vacuum systems. Our service area includes Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, and Pittsboro in North Carolina.

October is Fire Safety Month – Safety Tips for You and Your Family

In October of 1871, The Great Chicago fire devastated much of that city, killing 300 people and leaving over 100,000 homeless. In remembrance of that horrific event, October was designated as Fire Prevention Month. During this month, fire departments across the country hold educational events focused on fire and home safety. The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2019 campaign for Fire Prevention Month is “Not Every Hero Wears A Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape.” 

To support this effort, our blog this month offers tips to help keep you and your family safe:

1) Install/check your smoke alarm:

If you don’t have a smoke alarm, install one. If you have one, make sure it is maintained and working properly.

Test your smoke alarms at least once a month by pressing the test button to be sure the alarm is working.

Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.

When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside, call 911, and stay outside.

A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Install alarms on every level of the home and in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area

Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all should sound.

Facts about Smoke alarms: 

Almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with either no smoke alarms (40%) or no working smoke alarms (17%). 

The death rate from reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have working smoke alarms compared to the rate in homes with working smoke alarms (12.3 deaths vs. 5.7 deaths per 1,000 fires).

In fires where smoke alarms were present but did not operate, 43% of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries. 

Dead batteries caused one-quarter (25%) of the smoke alarm failures.

2)    Make an Escape Plan: 

In the event of a home safety emergency, every second counts. According to the National Fire Protection Association, you may have less than two minutes to escape after your smoke alarms sound. That’s why it’s important to be prepared by planning and practicing an escape route with your family. By planning, practicing and repeating your emergency exit plan, you can help ensure a safe escape.

Here’s what to do:

Walk through your home with your family and identify multiple exits out of each room in the house. If windows or doors are blocked, clear them so they can be easily accessed and opened.

 For two-story houses, consider equipping bedrooms with escape ladders to provide additional, safe exits. If you need and escape ladder, Secur-Tek has these in stock.

 Dedicate someone to assists small children or infants out of the home.

 Assign a meeting spot outside that is a safe distance away from your house like the mailbox, tree or neighbor’s house.

 Ensure your street address is clearly visible on your home or mailbox for first responders.

 If you have children, teach them how to call 9-1-1 once outside at your meeting spot and help them memorize your home address.

 Once you have your escape plan, it’s time to practice. The NFPA recommends executing your escape plan twice a year, as well as at night.

To get started, download this home escape plan worksheet.

3)  Place properly functioning Fire Extinguishers strategically placed around your residence.

Fire extinguishers should be available on every level of the home and in areas like the kitchen and garage. Store them in accessible places or mount them on the wall for easy access in the event of any emergency. Be sure to choose the right fire extinguisher for your home’s needs.
It is important for the whole family to understand how a fire extinguisher works, so be sure to read the instructions carefully and thoroughly with them.

When using a fire extinguisher remember the PASS technique:

 P – Pull the pin

A – Aim directly at the source of the fire 

S – Squeeze the lever slowly and smoothly to get the flow even and aimed where you need it

S – Swipe back and forth to contain and eliminate all burning fuel.

4) More tips:

Kitchen fires caused by unattended cooking are a major cause of fires in Apex and throughout the country. Keep an eye on anything that you’re cooking.  Click here for kitchen safety tips.

Ensure your fireplace screen covers the entire fireplace.

Have proper ventilation for heaters and other small appliances.

Do not smoke in bed.

Use the correct size fuses.

Don’t use worn-out electrical wiring or run it under rugs or out windows or doors.

Clear refuse away — the less clutter, the less fuel a fire has to feed on.

For more information on safety and fire prevention – please go to https://www.nfpa.org or https://www.apexnc.org/335/Safety-Information.

Secur-Tek is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, offering home and business security, monitoring, automation, audio, and central vacuum systems. Our North Carolina service area includes Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, Pittsboro and Wake Forest.

8 Tips for Package Theft Prevention

Will you be receiving packages this holiday season?

Packages left on the porch/mailbox are vulnerable at any time of year, but the holiday season usually means there are a few more parcels arriving at your doorstep. A study from InsuranceQuotes that examines holiday hazards  notes there were approximately 26 million thefts of deliveries from doorsteps and economic indicators show online shopping is up over 28% so far for this holiday season over last year.

Whether you’re ordering gifts online for family and friends, or receiving them from others, you’re more likely to have packages sitting vulnerable on your porch this time of the year.

To prevent your deliveries being stolen, check out these EightTips for Package Theft Prevention. 

  1. Customize delivery. If the ordering system allows you to choose the time of delivery, select a time you know you’ll be at home.
  2. Get a smart doorbell.Swap your current doorbell for a Skybell and enjoy a higher level of safety and security with remote monitoring and cloud recording features. When the delivery person rings the doorbell, you can see how and when packages are delivered. No more interruptions during family dinner or missing important packages while you’re gone! You can also check for unwanted visitors at your doorstep.
  3. Deliver decisively. If you’re not home much, consider having the package delivered to your office or a friend or neighbor’s house for safekeeping.
  4. Hold the post. If your package contains very valuable items – Have the post office or carrier hold the package. Request UPS, FedEx and the Postal Service to hold packages at their facility for you to pick up later. UPS has created a service called Access Point that enables you to choose an alternate delivery location in your neighborhood.
  5. Alert a neighbor. When you are expecting a package and won’t be home, you can ask a neighbor or friend to keep an eye out for it. If you use Nextdoor.com or a similar neighborhood app you can let neighbors know if something has been stolen from your porch so they can keep an eye out and report suspicious behavior.
  6. Talk to family and friends who may be mailing your holiday gifts. Ask them to let you know when they send packages so you can watch for them.
  7. Light it up. Install outdoor lights. Your package is more likely to be stolen during daylight hours, but night falls early this time of year. Outdoor lights with motion or light sensors are a good way to keep unwanted people away from your home in any season.
  8. Monitored home security A home security system can do a great deal. If there are visible security features like cameras or alarms, potential thieves will be more likely to move along to a less protected house rather than risk getting caught by a security system. And you can even tie in your Skybell with security and automation features for greater convenience, like letting in out of town guests that arrive when you’re out doing those last-minute errands.

If you are going out of town, check out our Security Checklist before you leave.

We hope you have a great holiday season. If you’d like a quote on Skybell or would like to learn about other home Security System options to increase your peace of mind, please contact us.

 Happy Holidays to You and Your Family!!

The Rundown on Doorbell Cameras

47237659 - close-up of woman pressing the button of a doorbell on a brick wall

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.

Business Security Systems Need to Protect Inside and Out

Business owners all strive to keep their businesses safe. Installing security systems, cameras, and access tracking are all part of burglar prevention for your business.

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But what about protecting your company from inside threats? According to a recent study, 20 percent of employees would sell their work passwords to a competitor.

“The research by identity management company Sailpoint, found that of those who would sell their passwords, 44 percent would do it for less than $1,000, and some for less than $100. This is made worse by the fact that 65 percent admit to using a single password among applications and 32 percent share passwords with their co-workers.”

Less than $100. That could be all that’s standing between you and a hacker who takes down your business. While we all want to believe the people we hire are good, moral employees who would not do something like that, we simply do not know what people have been through, what life situations may drive their behavior.

Business security systems that keep intruders out are important, but just as vital are your internal security procedures. Take a look at this checklist of things to review to keep your data safe:

  • Employee access – Secur-Tek can help you control access to the business itself, and to certain rooms. But what about who has access to your important data? Of course employees need to have a certain level of access to data, and programs to do their jobs. Maybe you already track who has access to what while they are employed with you. But what happens after that employee leaves? The above survey found that more than two in five employees still have corporate account access after they leave their job. Do you have security procedures in place to revoke access or change passwords?
  • Uploads to the cloud – Well-meaning employees may be uploading data to the cloud using various storage programs. While it’s useful to backup information in case of a crash, be sure to confirm which information is uploaded where. If you don’t have a secure server set up, your data may be at risk.
  • Downloads – In large companies, employees are supposed to check with the IT department before downloading any software or installing anything. Studies show this does not always happen. Employees get impatient with the extra layer of process. As a small business owner, you may not have an IT department, or may not have oversight of what your team downloads. But one wrong program means a virus or malware or spyware, putting your business at risk. Make a list of approved programs and check all the computers in the office on a monthly basis. While this sounds big brother, your employee is not the one whose business is at risk.

Secur-Tek works to keep your business secure from the outside. Be sure to consider what security measures you take inside your company to keep it safe.

Part 2: Q&A Continued: Secur-Tek Owner Discusses Changing Industry

Secur-Tek opened its doors in 1990 to provide the Triangle and central NC residents with security systems and home automation. In our last post, Owner Ken Henke spoke about his business and what customers should know about home and business security. This time, we continue the conversation, which includes his thoughts on a changing industry.Ken at Home Show

What question do you most often receive from potential or current customers and what’s the answer?

The most common question I get from people who call in, usually it’s do we have a contract for the system? We have a yearly agreement. A lot of our competitors have a three or five-year agreement, but we do one year.

Secur-Tek specializes in many audio and home automation services. What got you into this?

We work with a lot of builders and they have homeowners who request low-voltage products such as central vacs, audio systems, home automation, wired or wireless networking. Those are things we are able to install so it made sense to expand those services and offer them to the builders and in turn when a homeowner calls us to install them.

Not long ago, Forbes published an article on DIY home security and how it will affect the security industry. What do you think about those systems?

It mostly affects the providers of the “free” systems. A lot of the DIY systems are wireless. Some of these DIY systems are very cheap and are going to be easy for people to hack.  We do wired systems so there’s no interference so there’s no hacking or jamming of the system.

What changes do you see happening in the security/home automation industries?

I think security systems will start becoming more and more automated. The security system we install interfaces with the automation system we install. It’s going to be more and more integrated as time goes by. As it gets less and less cost prohibitive, these homes are going to have a package that includes lighting, security, music, blinds, who knows what they’re going to include. The prices keep coming down.

The one thing that will determine where it goes is whether there is enough level of expertise in the field. The companies who offer free systems, the technicians they hire, there’s often no expertise there. As these systems get more and more involved, my fear — is the field support going to be there to do the troubleshooting and the technical work that’s required in the field?

What’s important for someone to know about your business?

What’s important to us is the relationship with our customers. Our attrition rate for our customers is very low. We want to take care of that customer for life. That’s why we install a system at a market rate with the low monthly monitoring fee. Secur-Tek, Inc.’s monitoring rate is going to stay constant and not increase once the yearly agreement is over. Our employees all work for Secur-Tek and are licensed underneath my license. We don’t have subcontractors or people that I’m not familiar with that I’m sending to my customers. We trust our employees. We can let our technicians handle it and we feel comfortable that our customers are going to be happy.

Also, we use brand name products that people recognize. Everything we use has brand name recognition where we have the support of the manufacturer behind us. We’re planning for years down the road, not just for today.

And we’re a local company. What you pay Secur-Tek, Inc. is going to stay in the local community and not sent to another company’s headquarters located out of the state.

 

Part 1 Q&A: Secur-Tek Owner Reflects on Best Security Practices

Secur-Tek opened its doors in 1990 to provide the Triangle and central NC residents with security systems and home automation. Owner Ken Henke recently spoke about his business, the industry, and what customers should know about home and business security.

You had your first security job in 1983. How did you get into security?

A security company had a job opening that was appealing to me and with my associate degree in electronics it was a good fit. I worked for this company for seven years and then I started my own business.

What do you love about your job?

I love that I’m my own boss. Working for myself and having more control over what I am providing to the customers. So if I was working for somebody [and] I didn’t agree with what was being provided to the customer, but that’s the way the employer did it, you bit your tongue and got paid. But as the owner, we have a standard we want to meet and make the customer happy and they in turn refer us to neighbors, friends and business associates.

What’s the most important security thing a homeowner can do?

Lock their doors. Go online and read about the breaks-in that occur. For example, you’ll hear about a rash of car break-ins in a neighborhood. The police find out all the car doors were unlocked. A lot of times it’s crimes of opportunity. People will walk up to a door and turn the doorknob and if it opens, they might knock on the door to make sure no-one is home, and if no-  one is home, they’re going to go in.

Installing a security system is also important because it’s more than just security. It’s smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors. It’s protecting your home from burning down or the death of a person who lives in your house because of carbon monoxide.

For businesses, what’s the most important security measure they can take?

In that case, a monitored security system is important. With businesses, people do break in and randomly search for things to steal whether it’s petty cash or small electronic devices. They’re going to break open doors and cabinets. It could be more of a monetary loss from the vandalism versus anything that’s been stolen from your business. How much money are you going to lose from being out of business for a day?

Are there any security challenges unique to the Triangle area?

People in North Carolina face the same crime challenges everyone does. Crime is pretty much random. All it takes is for somebody that is living a life of crime or if someone gets into a financial situation and they’re desperate or need quick cash. Neighborhoods are getting broken into now where people have said, “Oh crime doesn’t happen in our neighborhood.” One thing I would pass onto people is: some sort of crime is going to come to your neighborhood in the future. There is no way that you’re going to stop it, and it’s random. So a security system is like an insurance policy. Things happen at the wrong time. A security system is there to minimize the impact and to allow you to have peace of mind and go on with your life.

What security mistake do homeowners or business owners make most?

They buy the “free” alarm systems. The public is susceptible to the marketers, who say “I’ve got a free alarm system.” But they charge the customer more for the monthly monitoring. In the long run, you pay more for the free system than you do a purchased system. A lot of our current customers have already gone through the free system and came to Secur-Tek, Inc. to get away from it.

Click here to read Part 2

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

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 – 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, and more. Contact us today to find out more.

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