Holiday Safety and Year-round Peace of Mind

The holidays are just around the corner and it’s a wonderful time of year! It’s a time to see friends, family, or go on that nice relaxing vacation you’ve been looking forward to all year. But taking a few precautions can help keep you safe.

Five safety tips for when you are out and about: 

  • Light up outside. The strings of outdoor Christmas lights are cheery but if your home goes dark when you leave town, it signals that you’re not home. Put them on a timer and mount exterior lights on your home, out of reach. These should also be put on a timer or used as motion detectors.
  • Make it seem like you are home. Put your usual indoor lights on timers and leave blinds in their usual positions so it appears you are home.
  • Hide and lock your valuables. A burglar wants to get in and out fast! They know to check a desk and the bedroom for important documents and jewelry. Put your laptops, lock boxes, important papers, and expensive items in multiple well-hidden/unusual locations.
  • If you are going to be away for more than a day, have your mail held or have a neighbor pick it up.
  • 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.

According to multiple research studies, burglars avoid homes with alarm systems. Monitored alarms don’t just make noise, but alert emergency services so there is a quick response to the trouble. In addition, most insurance companies offer a discount on homeowner’s insurance if you have a security system, making them a smart investment in your family’s safety and property.

 

Five advantages of having a Secur-Tek Inc. smart home security system around the holidays:

 

Package Theft

Concerned about your online shopping being left on the doorstep while you are away? As well as being a target for porch pirates, a package indicates that no one is home when potential thieves check out the neighborhood. For peace of mind, a video doorbell or entryway camera can verify a delivery. A smart security system can unlock your front door or garage so a neighbor or authorized deliveryman can put the package inside.

Property damage

Gas and smoke detectors can be connected to your security system and monitored 24 hours a day to maximize protection for your family, property, and pets while at home or away.

Water damage

When you’re home, small problems like a leaky hot water heater can be quickly dealt with. Leave home for a few days and even a slow leak can cause serious flooding and expensive damage. With a monitored system and specialized detectors, you can know if something goes wrong at your property. With a smart system, you can even activate a water shutoff to minimize damage. 

Pet monitoring

Ever wonder if your pet sitter or neighbor remembered to feed, walk and play with your pets? No worries: just give your pet caretaker a temporary security code so they can enter when needed. This dedicated code unlocks your door and can alert you when your sitter uses it. If you want to see how your buddy is doing, just add cameras to your security system. Secur-Tek’s technician will place cameras so you can check in on your pets and see for yourself! 

Home Security

Finally, as you travel around for the holidays, you can be assured your property is protected. With a cost-effective Secur-Tek customized security system that monitors 24/7, it will notify the security professionals at our monitoring center, who immediately alert your local police and fire department for you. This ensures a quick response to minimize any loss or damage if an unfortunate incident should happen.  

Smart home security is the way to eliminate many of the worries that creep into our minds during the holidays. Remote access allows you to be notified, view and control activity in the interior or exterior of your home at any time.

 

Have a happy and safe holiday season from all of us at 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 these North Carolina communities: Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, Pittsboro and Wake Forest.

Are You Wasting Money on an Alarm System?

Safety statistics show that having an alarm system can be an effective tool for protecting your family and property from home invasions.

According to the National Council for Home Safety:

When Do They Happen? Burglaries most often occur during the day between 6 am and 6 pm while people are at work or running errands. The seasonality is quite simple as well, with snow and cold being principal deterrents, the lowest number of burglaries happen in February while burglary rates are higher in the summer.

How? Intruders are most attracted to houses that do not have home alarm systems.

  • The national average indicates that homes without a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized.
  • 85% of convicted burglars said that they specifically look to see if there’s an alarm and that they would leave and target another property where no security system is installed.
  • The F.B.I also reports that 90% of all intrusions occur through doors; 6% occur through windows; 3% occur through the roof and 1% occur through the walls.

Who? Over 85% of thieves are amateurs with 41% saying break-ins are an impulsive decision.

The bottom line is that utilizing a security system on your property will offer an increased level of protection and peace of mind.

HOWEVER – you might be wasting your money on that home alarm system if:

1) You don’t set the alarm. This is understandable — but it can be impacted by the ease and convenience of doing this simple act. Therefore, thinking through your daily routines and researching which system is most compatible with your personality and lifestyle is an important part of choosing the best system for you and your family.

2) You don’t thoroughly understand and learn the proper usage or programming of the alarm system you have purchased. At Secur-Tek, our systems are easy to use, and we take the time to ensure you understand the system’s functionality.

3) You don’t have your installer use windows stickers and signs as a warning. We at Secur-Tek ensure that warning stickers and signs are placed in the optimal locations for good visibility and thus function as a key deterrent.

4) You don’t test the system on a regular basis. At Secur-Tek we only install high-quality security systems and recommend testing every month. It only takes a few minutes to ensure everything is functioning properly. You can find the steps here.

5) Your system isn’t monitored. You may have purchased a home with the alarm system already installed or installed one yourself. Although the noise of an alarm may scare off those who enter your home, it’s vital that you have a company monitor your alarm so that the police can investigate for forced entry. Monitoring is also critical in case of a fire or carbon monoxide leak, especially when your family is sleeping or away.

6) You leave the house with the windows/doors open or unlocked. Windows and back doors are a favorite, especially those left open in the warmer months and obscured by bushes or buildings. Many alarm systems do not go off if someone enters through an open window. If you don’t have a motion detector installed or alarm sensors on the windows, be sure to at least close and lock your windows when you are not home.

When used properly, alarm systems can be a very effective tool in deterring crime and protecting your family and home. We at Secur-Tek, Inc. partner with you to ensure you get the right system for your situation.

Please give us a call at 919.387.1800 or contact us by using the form below for a complimentary in-home consultation.

Secur-Tek, Inc. is locally owned and operated in Apex, NC, offering home and business security and monitoring. Secur-Tek also provides automation, audio, and central vacuum systems to customers in the Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Garner, Holly Springs, Durham, Raleigh, Morrisville, and Pittsboro areas.

Community Spotlight: Animal Rescue Clinic

Harmony Animal Rescue Clinic helps animal rescue organizations save more lives by providing timely, low-cost veterinary care. The non-profit 501(c)(3) clinic is the only non-profit animal rescue clinic on the east coast. HARC’s sole purpose is to provide out-patient veterinary care for animal rescue groups when they need it.

HARC’s lead veterinarian, Dr. Claudia Sheppard, has volunteered her skills locally and with rescue organizations around the world. Shelter medicine quickly became her passion and her volunteer work turned into her full-time career. Many pets that arrive at shelters are too sick or injured to be placed in a home. Dr. Claudia found that helping them get well and finding their forever homes was deeply rewarding.

HARC is Harmony Animal Hospital’s way of giving back to local animal rescues for all their hard work in saving dogs and cats and giving them a new lease on life.

Secur-Tek’s owner, Ken Henke, has a soft spot for furry friends. He felt that providing care for rescue animals is a much-needed service and wanted to contribute to the effort. Secur-Tek provided and professionally installed HARC’s security and camera system at no charge for the equipment and installation.

“Harmony Animal Hospital worked with Secur-Tek when they provided a security system for our new facility in 2018. Their service was excellent and their team provided a very high level of service, so when we were looking to open HARC, of course we went to them. When they offered to provide our new security system at HARC for NO CHARGE, we were absolutely floored by their generosity. 

Just like Harmony Animal Hospital and HARC are always there for our clients….Secur-Tek has always been here for Harmony. Thank you Secur-Tek for being one of our first partners at Harmony Animal Rescue Clinic!!   

                                               — Gary Canfield, Harmony Animal Hospital Practice Manager

 

Secur-Tek is pleased to be able to support this local non-profit.

If you are part of a local, non-profit animal rescue, and would like to learn more about how HARC can help your mission, please visit their website, Harmony Animal Rescue Clinic.

Should You Have Your Home Security System Monitored? Seven Things to Consider

 

We often find ourselves dealing with change:

  • Moving into a new home and neighborhood
  • Completing a home renovation project
  • Upgrading our home’s technology — smart feature, entertainment or home security
  • Personal or family changes — like seniors coming to live with you or adding a pet to the family

And when you’re dealing with the changes, you may find yourself wondering, should I have my security system monitored? If so, taking the time to clarify and think through your security situation will help you make an informed decision.

 

 Seven questions to ask when determining your home security needs:

  • Do you have children, seniors or pets that are left alone during the day? What are their ages and how self-sufficient are they? Have you ever found yourself worrying about them or their safety while you are away?
  • Has your job status or personal situation changed so you find you must travel more and spend time away from your home?
  • Have you acquired any new expensive jewelry, electronics, or family heirlooms that would be difficult to replace?
  • Do you work more than 20 – 30 minutes away from your home, making it more difficult to run home to check on things?
  • Home location – does your landscaping hide your home or is it visible from the street? Are you near major roads with lots of easy accessibility?
  • What kind of security does your neighborhood have? Police presence? Gated community? ACTIVE neighborhood watch?
  • Do you have a pool, fireplace or fire pit?

If you find yourself worrying about any of these situations, here’s what monitoring can do for you. While deterring burglars or prowlers may seem like the main function of monitoring your house, there are also other critical aspects that monitoring offers. The key to minimizing loss of property or helping individuals in need is quick response time. Fire detection, heat sensors, air quality as well as senior/child/pet alert systems can keep a potential bad home situation from turning into a disaster.

So why monitor your home if there is an alarm installed?

The typical system will have a siren go off for approximately five minutes after it is tripped. If monitored and there is no emergency in progress, the alarm can be canceled by giving the monitoring station your password. If a burglar or prowler trips the alarm, they usually leave the premise quickly. In many cases, the intruder will then hide and watch to see if there is any activity in the home, or if police/people arrive. If so, they typically will leave quickly to focus their efforts on an easier target — a non-monitored home.

Low-voltage smoke detectors connected to your monitored alarm system give quicker responses to fires — much better than relying on someone possibly noticing smoke from your house and reacting to it.

Pro Tip: If you are away and unable to respond to an alarm, it is a good idea to have a relative, trusted neighbor, or friend know the code and meet the emergency responders if the alarm is tripped. They can let the police in and check to make sure nothing is missing.

Finally, you might want to consider this – monitoring isn’t just to alert the police or fire departments. It is there for you and your family’s peace of mind.  

            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. Many security system clients say knowing someone is there offers peace of mind, making it easier to sleep at home and while away.

Bottom Line: While there is a monthly cost to monitor your home, only monitored systems have professionals to help respond to emergencies 24/7. Once you assess your lifestyle, property parameters and situation, you may see that monitoring is the right choice for you. But please be sure to always read the contract you are signing carefully to ensure you are getting the exact coverage you require for the price you deem expectable.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your security system needs, please don’t hesitate to call us!

Frequently Asked Questions on Home Security Systems

FAQs on Home Security

Do you have questions about home security systems?  We asked our staff to answer some of our customer’s frequently asked questions – check the answers below.  

How often should I test my home security system?  We recommend you test your system once a month.

How do I test my monitored home security system? I don’t want to bother the police. We are glad you asked that!  First, call the 800 number on your sticker and tell the monitoring company to put your system on test, then activate your alarm and call monitoring company back to verify alarm signals were received.   

Who do I call for service on my Secur-Tek system? To set up a service call, please call our office at  919.387.1800. Secur-Tek stands by our products and the same reliable technicians install and service our systems.

Can Secur-Tek upgrade my system?  Yes, but it does depend on the type of system you have. If you have a Honeywell home security system, we can upgrade your system by adding remote monitoring, cameras, and gas, smoke and motion detectors. If you have another type of system, we still may be able to help you, just call for a consultation or contact us.

How many cameras are needed to have a complete home security system?  The number of cameras you may need to safeguard your home depends on your home design. We can add cameras to most security systems and offer a complimentary consultation where we take a look around your home and recommend how many cameras are needed and the locations to install them.

Should I have my home security system monitored?  Having and monitoring a home security system can increase your peace of mind, especially if you travel or have valuable items in your home. For more information, see our blog on monitoring.

How much does monitoring cost?  We offer reliable, low-cost monthly monitoring. Our monitoring starts at $21.95 for standard monitoring and $31.95 for cellular.

Do you require a three-year contract?  No.

How long is the monitoring agreement?  Our monitoring contracts are just for 1 year. We don’t require long-term contracts.

Can I monitor my security system myself?  We don’t recommend it. Our monitoring goes to a company that provides monitoring 24/7 and will contact the police, fire and medical emergency agencies. They are always there to call the authorities.

What type of remote services work with your home security systems?  You can view and run your system from your smartphone or iPad with Honeywell Total Connect Services.  

What types of systems are compatible with Secur-Tek’s low-cost monitoring?  We can monitor many types of systems. To determine if your specific system can be monitored, please call your office.

We hope you found this helpful. If you live in our service area and have further questions, would like an estimate on upgrading or monitoring your security system, please give us a call at  919.387.1800

Secur-Tek, Inc. serves all of Central NC, including the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, Apex, Cary, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Pittsboro, Wake County, Chatham County, Durham County, Orange County, Harnett County.

To Monitor or Not Monitor – That is the Question

 

People often ask: If I have a security system with an alarm, why should I pay to have it monitored? There are many things to consider when determining if you need a security system and if it should be monitored. Taking the time to clarify your security situation and needs is essential for making an informed decision.

These variables should be considered when determining your security needs:

  • Do you have valuables such as jewelry, paintings, or irreplaceable family heirlooms in your home?
  • How about children, seniors or pets that are left alone during the day?
  • Do you travel frequently – for how long – is your workplace more than a 30 minute commute?
  • What are the physical properties of your home – do you have lots of bushes and trees or high visibility?
  • Are you near high traffic areas; do you have police patrolling?
  • Do you have a pool, fireplace or fire pit?

What monitoring does – While keeping burglars or prowlers out of your house and off your property is critical, minimizing loss through quick response time, fire detection, heat sensors, air quality and other features is also a great benefit.

How monitoring actually works – Basically, when your alarm is triggered, it sends a coded signal to the monitoring center. The security company will call your agreed upon pre-set number and ask for the password you have set – if they get no answer or the person doesn’t know the password, the police are immediately contacted. If a fire, flooding or air poisoning is detected the same routine is followed.

So why monitor your home if you have an alarm already installed?

The typical system will have a siren go off for approximately five minutes after it is tripped. If monitored and there is no emergency in progress, the alarm can be cancelled by giving the monitoring station your password. If a burglar or prowler trips the alarm, they usually leave the premise quickly. In many cases, the intruder will then hide and watch to see if there is any activity in the home, or if police/people arrive. If so, they typically will leave quickly to focus their efforts on an easier target — a non-monitored home

Low-voltage smoke detectors connected to your monitored alarm system give quicker response to smoke in your home than a neighbor seeing the flames shooting thru your roof — when it is too late to save your property or maybe someone’s life.

Tip: If you are away and unable to respond to an alarm, it is a good idea to have a relative, trusted neighbor, or friend know the code and meet the emergency responders if the alarm is tripped. They can let the police in and check to make sure nothing is missing; but are not to enter before the authorities arrive for their safety.

While there is a monthly cost to monitor your home or business, only monitored systems have professionals to help respond to emergencies 24/7. Once you assess your lifestyle, property parameters and situation, you may see that monitoring is the right choice for you.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your security system needs, please don’t hesitate to call us!

Can Your Devices Spy on You? Tips for Stronger Security and Privacy

Smartphones, apps, and devices such as Amazon’s Alexa/Echo and Google’s Home are all making our lives easier (or at least more fun). After all, you can play games, check the weather, see what your friends are up to, and go shopping, track packages, and set reminders — all with the click of a button or a voice command.

But the more devices we allow into our lives, the more we increase our security risk. Many of our home security customers are asking about security and privacy. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

Smartphones
Some people don’t mind digital eavesdropping. Others would prefer Facebook not to listen in all the time, which it does. If this bothers you, the best thing to do is uninstall the app completely. However, you can also disable any app’s use of your microphone using the following steps:

iPhones/Apple:
● Go to “settings”
● Choose the app you want to change
● Turn off the microphone

Android
● Go to “settings” and select “personal”
● Choose “privacy”
● Then choose “permissions”
● Finally, choose “microphone” and turn it off

Home Devices
Home devices such as Google’s Home or Amazon’s Alexa/Echo record conversations after you activate them with the code words, “Ok Google” or “Hey Alexa.” They listen for your voice query, then upload it to servers, where it is analyzed so the appropriate response can be delivered. While the data passed between the device and the servers is encrypted, there are some other security concerns, including:

● The microphones are always listening unless you mute them.
● The devices don’t differentiate between people, meaning someone else can use your voice device to make changes to your security system if you have that set up.
● The recorded voice queries are stored on cloud servers. That data is used to create more targeted advertising.
● Your device’s location is shared.
● Data may be shared with third parties.

Using these devices means sharing your information. But you can make some small adjustments to make them slightly more private:

● Mute them when not in use. On the Echo, a physical mute button is located at the top of the device. On Google Home, use the touch panel on top to mute.
● Delete old recordings. For Echo, you do this through your Amazon account. Click “Manage my device” to delete your history. Note: Amazon warns this will result in a lower-quality experience. For Google, go to the My Activity dashboard to manage everything.
● Don’t connect sensitive accounts to home devices.

Home security questions? Contact us to learn how we can make your home more secure.

4 Amazing Security System Features You Should be Using

Home security systems are getting better all the time, and not just in keeping your home safe from burglars. Today’s security systems can also monitor many more things about your house, from water leaks to who’s at home.

Here are four features you’ll want to try:

Water Sensors – Remember that time you came home from vacation to find your laundry room flooded? What a mess. Avoid that situation from now on by installing environmental sensors in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and basement. These detectors notify you when floods, leaks and extreme temperatures occur so you can take action and prevent serious wall or floor damage. Leaks also account for 10,000 gallons of water wasted annually — in one household.

Pet Friendly Sensors – People with pets at home often worry about their alarm system going off when Fido jumps onto the couch. While that used to be a problem, today’s motion sensors can be set to detect the difference between an intruder and your furry family member. Animals up to 100 pounds can move around your home without tripping the alarm. Plus, home security systems can help you keep an eye on our four-legged friends, alerting you to smoke, carbon monoxide, or other problems. Systems can even tell you if outdoor gates or kitchen cabinets are open.

Video – Video is becoming very popular and it’s easy to see why: you have eyes on your home 24/7. You can see who is at the door, when your kids get home, and keep an eye on babysitters or other in-home employees. For pet owners, a live video feed gives you the chance to check on Fluffy from your desk or phone. You can even get a text message, email or video alert when your dog walker or pet sitter arrives or if they didn’t show up.

Light Controls – Your home security system offers a way to program lights for different situations, including an off-and-on scenario while you’re away to make the home appear lived in. Forgot to turn off a light when you left? No problem. What’s also fun about this control is the ability to instantly turn off or on indoor and outdoor lights from your office computer or smartphone. You’ll never have to arrive at a dark house again.

Check out many more fantastic features of our home security systems or contact us to learn more about setting up your home automation.

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.

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.

Security & Home Automation