Jan 152015
 

Extreme weather conditions can cause a world of problems for those who aren’t prepared to cope with what it brings. Severe cold weather can strip our homes of their ability to keep us warm and safe from the elements, especially when it isn’t properly weatherized and equipped with plenty of supplies and insulation. But subzero temperatures aren’t only effective in dropping the mercury in your thermometer – it can also severely reduce how effective you can defend your home against burglars and predators.

How the Winter Can Expose Your Household

Winterproof Prep for Home SecurityWhile it might not be obvious at first, freezing temperatures can alter our daily routines in ways that drastically reduces our safety. For example:

  • Broken windows or weathered doors due to the elements can provide easier ways to trespass into your home
  • Accumulating snow and frost can provide an inconvenient footprint for criminals to determine when a home is absent
  • In the event of frozen pipes, acquiring water can be a daily struggle that leaves members of your household vulnerable
  • Damage to gardens and crops means a less sustainable house, resulting in more frequent supply runs which expose your property
  • Excessive and long periods of cold can cause home security equipment to malfunction either due to power failure or by obscuring their ability to detect criminals if not prepared and maintained

Given these problems, how can we reduce the probability that winter will get in the way of being able to defend ourselves from those who’d rather prey than prep?

Home Modifications for Your Winter Preps

To nip the most obvious way that winter weather can expose your home, which is due to broken or damaged windows and doors, applying some minor upgrades and putting on the elbow grease can go a long way.

Technologies such as home security equipment can help you realize when an entry to your home is compromised whether by a burglar or mother nature - but for when physical resistance is more important than mere detection, these improvements are fundamental ways to limit how your home can be accessed for when you’re not available to defend it yourself.

While windows can be boarded for a quick and foolproof solution, this also reduces sunlight exposure and natural lighting – both of which are commodities in freezing temperatures and power outage situations. Instead, apply shatterproof window films to windows (or install more sturdy theft-proof varieties if your budget allows it.) However, applying films in advance of the winter season is crucial since window films installed within three days of freezing temperatures can cause the adhesive in it to crystallize.

Doors are even more problematic than windows during cold weather. Cold weather can interfere with the function of electronic locks (such as garage doors). It makes more standard locking mechanisms brittle and weaker to brute force entry. In fact, many burglars use compressed air in warmer seasons to make these locks easier to smash open. It can also freeze your doors shut, especially given that we tend to insulate our doors extra tight during these seasons. Without airflow from outside, doors tend to freeze over more readily.

To take care of freezing doors and locks, apply WD-40 along the edges of these entrances to discourage moisture from developing and freezing up throughout the day. Taking care to apply WD-40 to any locks on your doors and gates which are susceptible to breakage will also make them more reliable against lock picking or bumping since finding a grip becomes far harder.

Fortifying Your Premises

One of the greatest risks presented by long-term blizzard conditions is that power outages can render many of your security measures – such as electrical equipment – useless when not equipped with an auxiliary generator. If you have the funds and means to support this kind of system during long conditions, the following steps can still assist your home safety precautions. Of course, it is pertinent to use some traditional methods in case of electrical issues. Storing documents, jewelry, and other valuables in a safe is highly recommended.

Focus first on your fencing and gated entrances. Fortunately, winter can make this first barrier to your house more difficult to scale depending on the materials and construction of your home. Metal, vinyl, and PVC-treated wood fences become slicker with freezing temperatures, though be warned that they can also crack and become brittle if you don’t apply protective coatings. If your fence stands several feet high and is gated with a locking mechanism, your property instantly becomes less tantalizing to predators.

The next way you can deter crooks from your property is by maintaining it and keeping it well lit. A house which is buried in snow appears more viable to criminals, since this either indicates your home is unoccupied or inadequately geared (and therefore more vulnerable.) While spending the effort to plow your yard might seem trivial as warmth becomes scarce, attempt to at least clear paths, windows, and entrances during peak hours of warmth to provide your property a presence.

If you have a renewable auxiliary generator for your outdoor lighting, motion sensing floodlights can be your solution for keeping your home lit, it can be easy to program your lighting to an automatic schedule.

But if a power source is not available, this can be far more difficult to sustain – but an effort should be made when possible. Oil lanterns, rechargeable flashlights, and campfire locations are all great ways to keep your property lit. However, always take caution with fire safety and know the risks of dangerous gasses that fire can create in enclosed spaces.

Cassandra Stevens is interested in making home security look stylish, she loves dogs and winter sports.

Dec 262014
 

With somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million burglaries happening in the United States each year, you likely want to take some measures to prevent it from happening to you. Fortunately, there are a number of things that are cheap and easy that can put the odds in your favor. See, the thing is, burglars are lazy. They don’t want to screw around with alarm systems, heavy duty locks, and other such preventative measures. They want to get in and get out as quickly as they can. Any obstacles you can put in their way will increase the chances they’ll just move on to an easier target.

Easy Ways to Prevent a Burglary

Home Security SystemIf you don’t have an alarm system, fake it. Purchase or even print up on your computer at home stickers you can place on windows, advertising one or another alarm company. This simple measure might be all it takes to keep someone from wanting to risk a break in at your home.

Install good locks on all doors and windows. Deadbolts should extend at least one full inch into the door frame when they are locked. Generally speaking, the cheaper the lock’s price, the lower the quality. In other words, don’t just buy what’s on sale but spend a few bucks more to get something that is going to do some good.

While you’re at the store looking at door locks, pick up a small package of 3 inch long wood screws. When you get home, open your front door and examine the hinges. You’ll see three screws going into the door and three screws going into the door frame, right? Typically, these screws are rather short and don’t dig into the frame very far. Replace them one at a time with the longer wood screws. If you go one by one, you won’t have to deal with completely rehanging the door. The longer screws will go past the thin door frame and dig into the studs, making for a much more secure entry point to your home.

Dogs as a deterrentWhether you have a dog or not, place an empty food dish somewhere easily seen from the back door to your home. Why the back door? Well, burglars tend to favor entry points that are away from prying eyes. By placing the dog dish near the door that is away from the street, you increase the odds it will be seen by the burglar. Over and over, studies have shown that crooks tend to avoid homes where they believe one or more dogs may be present.

Signs that say things like, “My home is protected by Smith & Wesson” are cute and all but really, all they accomplish is informing the burglar you likely have firearms in the home. Firearms are highly prized among burglars as they often can be sold quickly and for decent amounts of cash. Rather than encouraging a burglar to go elsewhere, all you’ve done is increase the temptation to see if your gun safe is unlocked.

Install motion sensor lights above or very near each and every entry point to your home. Again, crooks don’t want to be seen. Test these lights regularly to ensure they are working properly and that the bulbs haven’t burnt out.

Clear bushes and shrubs away from doors and windows. They can provide concealment for thieves. If you simply must have some greenery, choose thorny plants such as Hawthorne. If you’ve ever encountered that plant before, you know well just how nasty it can be.

Take a walk around your home and look at it from an outsider’s point of view. Imagine if you were tasked with breaking into the house. What vulnerabilities do you see and how can you overcome them?

Dec 152014
 

While we hope it never happens, at some point in your life you may become the victim of a burglary. You come home from a long day at work and find your front door has been jimmied open. Your blood runs cold and a chill goes down your spine. As your heart thumps madly in your chest, you wonder, “What do I do?”

Fight the urge to immediately rush inside and see what’s been taken or damaged. If the burglar is still inside, he or she might become violent in their own panic to escape. Instead, get back in your vehicle and drive a bit up the road. It would be great if you are still within eyeshot of your home, so you can see if someone leaves.

Call 911 and provide the dispatcher with the following information.

–Your name
–Your address
–That you came home and discovered a possible break in.

Speak clearly and remain calm. The dispatcher may ask you for your description as well as a description of your vehicle. This is so the responding officer will hopefully recognize you as the caller, rather than a potential burglary suspect. Follow any instructions the dispatcher gives you and wait for the police to arrive.

Once the police are on site, they will want to walk through the home and search to ensure the burglars have left. You will remain outside until they give you the all clear. This is for your own safety, as well as the safety of the officers. If during their search they hear a noise or see an indication someone is in the home, you don’t want to be caught in the middle.

Upon entering your home, you will want to go into each room and try to determine what, if anything, is missing. Some things may be obvious, such as a TV. Others, though, you might not discover until later. You’re obviously going to be very upset and distressed and it is easy to overlook things when in that state of mind. Make a list of everything you find to be missing, with as much detail for each item as possible.

Something I’d encourage you to do today is to take photographs of your more valuable possessions – electronics, computers, jewelry, firearms, that sort of stuff. When there is one present, take a photo of the serial number of the item. Keep all of these photos on a flash drive so you can easily pull them up, even if your main computer was one of the items taken.

Submit the list of taken items, complete with photos if available, to the police and your insurance agent. I’m sorry to tell you this but the odds of recovering much or even any of the stolen property are probably going to be rather slim. Thieves don’t tend to hold on to stolen goods for very long. They typically don’’t want the TV, they want the cash from someone who will buy the TV from them. Hopefully, though, your insurance agent can process the claim quickly and you’ll be able to replace the goods soon.

Dec 022014
 

I’ve worked in the security and investigation fields for about two decades now. Time and again, one of the areas that I’ve seen given the least amount of attention in security planning is adequate lighting. Often, the problem isn’t that lights aren’t installed but rather they aren’t nearly powerful enough. Another common issue is lights that aren’t maintained properly.

Criminals and such avoid light like vampires avoid the sun. They don’t want to be seen when they’re engaging in their chosen profession. If they are working at jimmying open a window at 2AM, if a light comes on they scatter like the cockroaches they usually are.


Motion activated lights should be present on all sides of the home. You want these lights to be as bright as possible. The ideal would be bright enough that you could read a newspaper dozens of feet away from the spotlight. Position the motion sensor so movement at any entry point will be detected. If the range of your unit won’t extend far enough to reach all of the ground level windows and doors along the side of the house, consider adding another unit.

If money is tight and you can only afford one or two motion activated lights, install them over or very near the front and back doors of the home. These are the most common entry points, not only for you but for intruders as well.

While there have been great strides in bulb technology, as they last much longer today than they did years ago, you still need to check them regularly to ensure none are burnt out. Test them monthly by taking a walk around the perimeter of your home. Any lights that don’t operate as expected should be checked as soon as possible. Could be a bulb has burned out or perhaps the motion sensor is obstructed by something. Bear in mind that many motion activated lights on the market today only turn on at night, so as to conserve energy. So, your testing may need to be done after sundown.

Of course, while these lights may help with deterring crime, they only do so passively. It is up to you to get out of your chair, possibly missing part of Dancing with the Stars, and check to see what it was that activated the light. While it is most likely going to be a critter of some sort, the time you don’t look will be the time it turns out to be Joe Burglar.

Security lighting shouldn’t be limited to the perimeter of your home, either. Each and every room of your home should have at least one working flashlight in it. In a sudden power outage, those flashlights will help prevent you from stumbling over something and getting hurt. If you have small children, I suggest investing in a few dynamo (crank) powered flashlights for their rooms. Reason being, you know they are going to play with any flashlights you put in their rooms. Using the crank powered ones will prevent the possibility of learning, at the worst possible time, that the batteries are either dead or missing from the light.

Nov 282014
 

I will admit, the name threw me off a bit. What, is it something marketed to little green men who find themselves landing in shady parts of town?

The UFO Alarm is a Multi-Functional Security Device

The UFO Alarm is, simply put, a multi-function alarm device that can be used to secure doors, windows, drawers, and even yourself. It has a ton of features all wrapped up in a neat little package.

UFO Alarm

It has a 120 decibel alarm that sounds when the device is activated. How loud is 120 decibels? Think a running chainsaw or a loud rock concert. Plenty loud enough to not only startle an intruder into fleeing but it is certain to catch the attention of anyone else in the area. The alarm will sound for up to 50 full minutes if not turned off.

The alarm is activated either by pressing a panic button or by pulling out a strap from the side of the unit. The panic button is a wonderful addition, turning the UFO Alarm into a great personal security device to keep handy in your purse or pocket. Plus, it has a small flashlight built in, making it a multi-use addition to your every day carry (EDC) gear.

The UFO Alarm is Versatile

The flashlight also serves as a strobe when the alarm is activated, adding a visual cue to the auditory blast. Not only will this help to call attention to the alarm, it can serve to disorient an intruder.

For those who carry purses (this would include both the standard Mom purse as well as the “man purse” that has become increasingly common), you can loop the wrist strap on your arm and if the purse is taken from you, the alarm will let everyone in the area know something is amiss.

At home, the UFO Alarm is used to secure doors and windows, alerting you immediately if someone attempts entry. I could see these being rather popular with people who live alone as well as college students who tend to rent apartments in less than ideal parts of the city. It would be great for travelers as well, who would use the UFO Alarm to secure their hotel room doors.

If you are concerned about people sneaking into your desk when you’re not around, the UFO Alarm can even be used to secure your sensitive files (or snacks, whichever you feel is more important). Imagine the fun you could have the next time Phil from Human Resources tries to snatch some of your M&Ms!

The UFO Alarm is available in green, blue, or pink. These pastel colors are pleasing to the eye and will blend in with many decorative schemes in the home. If those colors all clash with your walls and such, just hide it behind a picture frame. At just a couple of inches across and an inch high, it will fit darn near anywhere!

Specs on the UFO Alarm

Nov 242014
 

Several months ago, my father spent a few weeks in the hospital as the result of varying health issues. He’s doing better now, thanks for asking. He’d taken in a roommate not too long after my mom passed away and while Dad was in the hospital, the roommate had to run all the errands and such so the house was empty more often than normal. I got a call one evening from the roommate, telling me that the house had been robbed while he’d been gone.

A Home Break In

Smashed Back Door Gained EntryThe entry point was the back door, which had been smashed in by the intruder. What he’d done was grab a bucket that had been sitting outside in the snow and used that as a battering ram. The bucket had been filled with frozen rainwater and worked rather nicely, I’ll have to admit. Upon entering the home, it appeared he’d gone immediately to the roommate’s bedroom and snatched a fair amount of cash he’d had on his dresser, as well as some prescription medications. Nothing else in the house looked to have been touched.

I and the responding officers were able to follow tracks in the snow to where the guy had parked his vehicle. It didn’t take long for us to piece together exactly how it had played out, though to this day, about 10 months later, no arrests have been made.

Surveillance Gear Would Have Helped Solve the Case

Just a single surveillance camera could have solved the entire case. The way the house is laid out, anyone entering or leaving through a door would have to walk through the main living room. A pinhole camera, hidden inside an alarm clock or some other innocuous item, would have easily shown the person’s face, a face that would no doubt be recognizable to law enforcement.

Fan Surveillance CameraHere’s another quick example. A husband and wife I know have a small vacation home located a few hours north. This is a home they built themselves, little by little on most weekends from spring through fall. Someday, it is going to be their permanent home, once they both decide to finally retire. One Saturday not too long ago, they arrived at the home to find it had been ransacked. While it didn’t look like anything had been stolen, many dishes and other items were smashed or otherwise vandalized. Walls were covered in spray paint, too. By all accounts, it was obviously the work of a group of kids. But, which kids? The house is fairly remote, so no neighbors would have easily seen what was going on. Had the homeowners purchased a motion-activated camera, one that would alert them remotely to something amiss, they could have responded much quicker, alerting local law enforcement and possibly even catching the kids right in the act.

It used to be that home surveillance cameras and other gear was so expensive, only the wealthy would consider it. Today, prices are reasonable and the quality of the footage is light years ahead of what it was even a few years ago. Technology has come a long way. You could have a motion-activated camera hidden inside darn near anything you can imagine. Couple it with a wi-fi router and it will not only record what it sees, you’ll get a text or call sent right to your phone. On top of that, you can even view the video live, wherever you are. Pretty darn cool.

While home surveillance gear won’t necessarily prevent a burglary, it will go a long way toward catching the people who did it. Burglars have a tendency to revisit successful scores. You’ll sleep better knowing they’ve been caught, maybe within mere minutes of the act.

Jun 142014
 

Burglar Caught in the ActYou came home from work and surprised a burglar who was in the process of stuffing your family jewelry into a sack. Fortunately, when he rushed you to try and escape, you managed to use your stun gun, TASER, or a trusty billy club to take him down.

So You’ve Caught a Burglar – Now what?

Despite what you’ve undoubtedly seen in the movies or on TV, your immediate course of action should be to get out of the home. You cannot assume the intruder will be out of commission for any set length of time. Get out now and call the police. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and for darn sure, don’t stop to take a selfie!

With the adrenaline that will be coursing through your veins, it might be difficult to think straight. Your hands will be trembling and you’ll probably feel more than a little queasy, again due to the adrenaline.

As a result, you cannot be reasonably certain you are capable of restraining the intruder by tying him up or through some other means. He could become mobile again at any moment and if that happens while you’re present, odds are pretty good that things aren’t going to end well for you.

In fact, in all the excitement, you could have been injured yourself and not realize it right away. More than one homeowner has been stabbed or cut during a scuffle with an intruder and didn’t know it until the responding officer brought it to their attention.

It’s Not the Time for Gloating!

Not the Time to Gloat!Save the gloating for later. Your first priority is to keep you and your family safe. That means getting out of the house and calling the police.

While you’re talking to the dispatcher, try and remember everything you can about the intruder’s appearance, including things like height, build, hair color, facial features, and clothing.

In the event the intruder rouses himself enough to make his way out of your home, your description will be valuable in tracking him down.

May 122014
 

Although the crime rates in cities certainly have much higher statistical numbers, there is no denying that rural areas are targeted frequently and perhaps more successfully. Rural residents often have fewer neighbors that can see what goes on, the lighting is less prevalent, and people in some areas even leave their homes unlocked while they are away.

True, a relaxed lifestyle is one of the benefits of living away from the city, but many homeowners may not realize that this lack of vigilance could someday cost them dearly. The most common types of crime in rural areas are larceny, burglary and vehicle theft.

Protecting a Rural Home

Home Safety Kit

Property crimes are actually somewhat common in rural areas. This could be in part because so many people leave their cars and outbuildings unattended without locking them up, and again it could be because the crimes are easier to commit due to the relative privacy of these rural homes.

However, instances of aggravated assault have skyrocketed over the last few years due in part because of the increasing drug traffic that now takes place in more isolated areas. This means that today, no one is safe, and the carefree days of living in the country may be a thing of the past.

Door Brace for Your Home

Using your Door BraceAnother factor to consider is that rural areas often have far fewer resources for protection at their disposal, due to smaller budgets and less man power. In addition, since the rural home are more far flung and are often many miles away from the nearest police station, help could be a long time in coming when you call 911.

Rather than give up on ever feeling safe, you simply need to invest in some home safety devices which can not only repel attack, but keep you safe if such an instance should occur in these rural settings.

Protect Your Doors

The Home Safety Kit combined with extremely powerful outside lighting may be enough to not only prevent burglary or other crimes from happening, but keep you safe if it does. Our kit contains a combination of protection and alert devices to help you stay aware and react appropriately to the situation at hand.

You can also get our Door Brace or door stop alarm, which can keep intruders outside where they belong. Our products are affordable enough to allow you to set up a whole security system that can fit almost any budget, so start down the road to home safety today.

Nov 192013
 

Every little bit helps. From a deadbolt being used to having alarms and surveillance systems installed, the more you have helping you protect your home, the better off you’ll be.

“It’s all about protecting yourself with layers of security.” So says Detective Andy Mehl and it’s good advice from someone who knows.

Last week, three detectives and Sgt. Mark Marsh from the Edmonds Police Department shared their knowledge about home burglaries, identity thefts and scams at a meeting in the city council chambers. Dozens of residents learned about ways to protect themselves from common crimes and how to be proactive post-invasion. Read more here:

http://myedmondsnews.com/2013/11/police-share-tips-protect-crime/

The crowd listens to the police department presentation.

Jun 102013
 

Securing the garage is just as important as securing the rest of the house. For those of us who use their garage as their workshop, complete with expensive tools and such, it is vitally important to keep things under lock and key.

There are three ways a burglar can enter the garage.

Secure the service door just as you would the entry doors to the home. Have a solid door, rather than a flimsy hollow-core one. Use a good, locking doorknob as well as a heavy-duty deadbolt. Make sure the hinges are installed using screws long enough to go into the studs. If you have an attached garage, take these same security measures on the door coming into the home from the garage.

The overhead door should be closed when you’re not in the garage working. If you just leave the door open all day long, what you are really doing is showcasing your good stuff to any burglars looking for good scores. If you have a garage door opener, unplug it when you’re not going to be home for a few days. You could also lock a padlock through one of the holes in the tracks to keep the door from moving.

Windows need to be secured as well. I honestly don’t know many people who actually open the windows in their garages. They are just for letting in light. If that’s the case for you, run a few wood screws through the frame to keep them closed permanently. Also consider putting security film over the windows to keep prying eyes from checking out the merchandise.