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Dallas Burglary Victim Has a Warning for Other Homeowners

ThiefImagine the horror of experiencing a carefully orchestrated burglary firsthand. First you hear a fierce pounding at your front door. Then suddenly the power goes out. You look out your window and find the burglar scurrying straight toward you. He shatters the glass and leaves you virtually helpless, unable to even access your home security system in light of the sudden power outage. It may sound like the plot of a horror movie, but this actually happened to one family in Dallas. NBC reported the story earlier today, and it’s shedding some important light on key burglary prevention measures.

Background

When Dallas resident Paris Sunio described his ordeal to reporters, he recalled the terror of realizing that his home was being invaded. It all took place on Friday, and it began, as previously mentioned, with increasingly loud knocks at the door. “Each subsequent knock would be a lot louder, by the tenth one it became a bang bang bang,” he told NBC, “maybe eight minutes later my power goes off.” Sunio had suspected that the invaders might be burglars from the moment they began knocking, but what happened next truly took him by surprise. Total power failure.

The Aftermath

After the power went out, Sunio hurried to the front window and peered through the blinds. That’s when he saw the burglar marching toward him. “He kind of made a motion and punched the glass, and then I opened up my blind and started yelling whatever I could to startle him like ‘intruder, call the police!’” Sunio then called 911 and barricaded himself inside his office. Thankfully, the police arrived and nobody was harmed, but Sunio won’t soon forget this terrifying experience. Police suspect that the burglars had been casing his home for some time, as there were slats missing in the fence between Sunio’s home and a nearby alley.

1377152_35794384The Lesson

Sunio is now encouraging others to lock their outdoor breakers. If a burglar cuts off your power supply, you may find yourself stranded in the dark, or worse, completely unable to access your home security system. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that your security system has a backup power supply, whether in the form of a battery or an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). If your system uses a backup battery, make sure to check it often to ensure that it doesn’t require replacement.

Additional Tips

Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about optimizing your home security system to withstand a power outage, but what if you don’t have a security system to begin with? If your home lacks a safety net, now is the time to do something about it. A home without a security system is three times more likely to be burglarized, so don’t underestimate the importance of professional home security. Oh, and if you see strange men watching your home from a nearby alley, you should probably call the police.

If you’re looking for a top-grade home security system at an affordable price, check out the wide selection at Home Security Store. Arm your home with the ultimate protection, and experience renewed peace of mind as a result.  


Apartment Burglary Prevention – What You Need to Know

apartment home securityIs your apartment secure? If not, it’s time to take action. Apartments are every bit as vulnerable as houses when it comes to burglaries, and in fact, many burglars actually favor apartments for the simple fact that these living spaces are far less likely to have a security system in place. Lest you should join the ranks of the more than 2 million yearly home invasion victims, it’s critical that you take steps to protect yourself, your family and your property. Securing your apartment is not only easy; It’s also remarkably affordable.

Go Wireless

Chances are, your landlord isn’t too keen on the idea of you tearing up your walls and installing an intricate, hardwired security system. Therein lies the problem with apartment security. Given your installation limitations, wireless security systems are a real godsend. A few short years ago, it would have been virtually impossible to install a quality alarm system in an apartment, but with today’s wireless technologies, you can easily assemble the system of your dreams without tearing up your walls or infuriating your apartment manager.

Warn Potential Intruders

To the criminal element, apartments are often more difficult to case than houses, due to the enclosed nature of apartment complexes, and the limited visibility of the apartments themselves. As a result, apartment burglars are more likely to invade without adequately assessing the environment. Most burglars won’t know whether or not you have a security system, and you can usually ward them off with a few meticulously placed warning signs. Consider purchasing some home security decals and placing them on your windows and front door.

One Word: Surveillance

Much like the aforementioned wireless security systems, surveillance cameras are now more affordable and versatile than ever before. Wireless cameras can be mounted just about anywhere, and many can even be integrated with your mobile phone for round-the-clock monitoring. Apartment burglaries are often committed by residents of the complex, and if you do become a victim of intrusion, you may catch one of your neighbors in the act. Reliable surveillance is essential for any home security plan, because it puts a face to the crime and increases your odds of recovering your stolen property.

deadbolt home securityImprove Your Locks

Does your apartment door use generic locks? Thieves are using sophisticated devices like bump keys to quickly infiltrate traditional locks, so speak to your landlord about improving the locks. If possible, you’ll want to install a grade 1 or 2 solid metal deadbolt for added reinforcement. Just make sure to clear it with your landlord beforehand, and provide them with a copy of the key. Failure to do so may result in punitive action or even eviction.

Lock Your Windows

Does your apartment reside on the first floor? If so, thieves may target your windows for entry. Far too many apartment dwellers rely on the simple latches that rest on top of each window, without taking the time to reinforce those potentially vulnerable entry points. Use window bars or additional locks to secure your windows in place, and never leave them unlocked. If you leave your windows open for fresh air, never open them more than six inches.

Secure Your Apartment  

If you haven’t yet moved into your new apartment, you can start by researching the various local neighborhoods. Sites like city-data.com and neighborhoodscount.com allow you to view detailed crime indexes not only for cities, but also for individual neighborhoods and even blocks. So do your homework, and be proactive about your apartment security. You can find affordable wireless security systems and accessories (including window bars, security cameras and decals) at Home Security Store. Get yours today, and feel a little safer between those four walls.


Protecting Your Mobile Devices from Thieves

iphone-app-store2Ten years ago, nobody knew what a smartphone was. There were no angry birds of which to speak, and Siri was nothing more than a gleam in some developer’s eye. Fast forward to 2014, and mobile devices are ubiquitous. It seems that everyone is walking around with an iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle or other handheld computing mechanism, and not surprisingly, these technological marvels have become supreme targets for thieves. If you want to protect your property and your personal information, you’ll need to take a proactive approach.

Keep Your Phone at Your Side  

Approximately 1.6 million mobile phones were stolen in the U.S. in 2012, according to Consumer Reports. That number increased in 2013. It’s imperative that you keep your smartphone close at hand at all times, and never leave it out in the open. Mobile devices are very popular targets for burglars, so if you charge your phone at night, keep it near your bedside, and don’t leave it another room or downstairs. If you find yourself in a busy social setting, don’t set your phone on a table or counter and assume that no one will take it.

Install GPS Apps

Androids, iPhones and popular tablets can all be equipped with apps that enable you to locate, lock and even wipe your phone in the event of theft. Take a few moments to download some security apps onto your phone, and prepare yourself for any eventuality – no matter how unlikely. If a theft does occur, you won’t have your personal information compromised, and you may even be able to locate the device.

Password Protect Your Phone

Did you know that you can input a custom password or passcode that prevents other people from accessing your Home screen? Yeah, it can get a bit annoying when you have to constantly punch in that four-digit code every time you wake up your phone, but if your device is ever stolen, you’ll be glad you opted for the inconvenience. You can create and update your password using your Settings application, and you can even customize it so that the password is only required after 1 minutes, 5 minutes or even an hour of inactivity. For security reasons, try setting it for 5 minutes or less.

visonicappDon’t Share Personal Information Over Public Wi-Fi

It’s not just the phone itself that thieves are after. You may have your personal information compromised and stolen without the phone or tablet ever leaving your hand. Passwords, credit card numbers, banking information – savvy criminals can intercept this information by monitoring your activity over a public Wi-Fi network. So next time you’re at Starbucks or the local library to surf the Web, don’t enter any personal information. You never know who’s watching.

Don’t Jailbreak or Unlock your Device

We all want to break free from the shackles of “the man,” but there are serious security risks associated with jailbreaking a phone or tablet. Without the general system restrictions in place, you leave yourself vulnerable to malfunctions, viruses and even spyware. Cyber-thieves will use any vulnerabilities to their advantage, so don’t give them the opportunity.

After a Theft

So what if the unthinkable happens? You turn around to find out that your phone has already been stolen, and the perpetrator is nowhere in sight. First, you need to stop what you’re doing and contact your carrier, be it AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or anyone else. Let them know of the theft so that no additional charges may incur on your account. If you have any remote tracking or locking apps installed on your phone, make use of them right away. By 2015, all mobile devices will be equipped with an optional “kill switch,” which allows users to automatically lock and erase their device in the event of theft, but until then, we all need to be diligent about making these preparations ourselves.

If you want to customize your smartphone, check out the selection of accessories at Home Security Store. We offer a wide selection iPhone pepper spray cases, smartphone-compatible security cameras and even iPhone-driven home security systems. Put your mobile device to work for you. 


10 Startling Burglary Statistics

Dumb BurglarBurglary. The very word sends shivers through your spine, especially if you have ever been a victim. If you know what it’s like to experience those incomparable feelings of anger, shock, violation and vulnerability, then you probably already understand why a good home security plan is so essential. But if you have never experienced burglary firsthand, you—like so many people out there—might be complacent, assuming that it won’t likely happen to you. Consider these startling statistics, and see for yourself why this all-too-common scourge demands to be taken seriously.

Did You Know…

  • A home invasion occurs every 13 seconds in the United States, with more than 2.5 million burglaries occurring each year. Burglars commonly steal cash, jewelry, consumer electronics, firearms and power tools.
  • In 2010, just over one million burglaries were attributed to forcible entry. An additional 600,000 burglaries were attributed to unlawful entry (entry without the use of force). If you leave your doors or windows unlocked, you’re practically asking to be burglarized.
  • Also in 2010, a total of 127,251 reported robbery case involved a firearm, and more than 129,000 cases involved the use or threatened use of physical violence. This represents a small percentage of total invasions, but it’s all the more reason to ensure that you have a quality home security system with 24/7 monitoring.
  • The top 10 most burglarized cities are Cleveland Ohio, Toledo Ohio, Memphis Tennessee, Detroit Michigan, Cincinnati Ohio, Indianapolis Indiana, Oklahoma City Oklahoma, St. Louis Missouri, Tulsa Oklahoma and Oakland California. Of course, a burglary can happen anywhere, so even if you don’t live in Ohio (which, apparently, burglars are quite partial to), you should always be diligent about your home security.
  • burglarThe most common means of forced entry is to kick in the door. If you don’t already have one, install a security door made from solid wood, metal or fiberglass, and reinforce all other points of entry.
  • The majority of burglaries are committed by males under the age of 25. Some of these kids are motivated by drug addiction, others by financial hardship, and others by greed. Which leads us to our next point…
  • Eighty-five percent of break-ins are committed by non-professionals, and the majority of these individuals scope out the easy targets.
  • Only 13 percent of burglaries are ever solved, and only about 15 percent of stolen property is ever recovered. So hide the jewelry and lock down those consumer electronics.
  • What are some of the most common tools used to commit a home invasion?  Screwdrivers, pliers, pry bars and hammers. Not exactly the high-tech burglary swag that you typically see in heist films.
  • It’s not all bad news. Between 2001 and 2010, U.S. robberies decreased by 19.7 percent, and between 2009 and 2010 alone, burglaries decreased by 10.5 percent. The outlook may seem bleak, but the long-term statistics actually show a continuous positive trend).

Don’t Become a Victim

If all this burglary news sounds a bit frightening, take heart. You can significantly reduce your chances of becoming a victim by simply installing a quality home security system and exercising common sense. For instance, post plenty of signs warning potential intruders of your home security system (even if you don’t have one yet), don’t allow mail and deliveries to pile up while you’re away, and make sure to install additional security reinforcements like deadbolts and windows bars. Remember, the vast majority of burglars are amateurs in search of easy targets, and the more difficult you make it, the less likely you’ll come home to find a crime scene in your living room.


Home Security Store Responds to Heartbleed Concerns

home security store heartbleedEverybody’s talking about it – it’s the dreaded Heartbleed security bug! News of the dastardly defect has been making the rounds since its discovery was announced on April 1st, and quite understandably, we’ve been receiving a lot of questions from customers about whether their Home Security Store accounts are vulnerable. So we’d like to take a moment and assure you that your information is 100% secure on our site. Home Security Store was not affected by the bug, and your secrets are safe with us.

A Bit of Background

For those unaware, Heartbleed refers to a recently discovered security bug in the open-source OpenSSL cryptography library. In other words, the very library widely responsible for encrypting your personal information may actually be used by unscrupulous people to steal your personal information. The bug allows security certificates to be stolen, and recent reports indicate that skilled hackers may even use the bug to create fake websites that look exactly like the real thing, thereby enabling cyber-thieves to trick consumers into submitting personal information. The vulnerability was discovered within the Heartbeat Extension used by the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) protocols, hence the name “Heartbleed.”

Which Websites are Affected by Heartbleed?

A repaired version of OpenSSL was released on April 7th, but many businesses have yet to implement the update as of this writing. The bug is said to impact up to two-thirds of the Internet, including major sites like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Tumblr and Amazon Web Services (though not Amazon’s retail site). If you’re wondering if your favorite websites are affected, you can use this helpful Heartbleed checker to determine whether or not your information is vulnerable.

What to Do Now

It’s time to start changing your passwords. In fact, many tech industry experts are recommending that you change all of your passwords, even for sites that don’t use OpenSSL. For instance, if you use the same password for Facebook (vulnerable) and Amazon (not vulnerable), a hacker may use your Facebook password to access your Amazon profile. So just to be on the safe side, take some time to update all of your passwords if you haven’t done so already.

Your Information is Safe with Home Security Store

As previously mentioned, Home Security Store is immune to the effects of the Heartbleed bug, because our site does not use OpenSSL. Nevertheless, if your Home Security Store login password has been used on other websites, we recommend that you take a moment to change your password. Your security is of the utmost importance to us, and we go to great lengths to ensure that your personal information is always safe. Thank you for choosing Home Security Store.


Securing Your Home? There’s an App for That

mobile home securitySmartphones have enriched our lives in ways not seen since the invention of the wheel…okay, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s hard to deny that these handheld digital wonders have afforded us myriad conveniences previously unimagined. For instance, we can now reply to emails while waiting in line at the smoothie stand, scan barcodes for price comparison at the local supermarket, and explore the flight habits of ornery feathered vertebrates from the comfort of our toilets (assuming that Angry Birds is still a popular pastime). But did you know that you can even use your smartphone to make your home safer?

Smartphone Alarm Control

Home Security Systems like the iSmartAlarm and the GE Interlogix Simon XTi are designed to be controlled and managed from your smartphone. In other words, you can arm and disarm your system whether you’re sitting on your couch at home or vacationing in the Bahamas. You can even activate a panic signal in an emergency, and some of the more sophisticated models (like the Simon XTi) enable you to control your thermostat and other home automation functions. Who would have guessed that someday you would be able to access your home security system from the same handheld device used to simulate digital fart sounds (there really is an app for everything)?

Smartphone Alarm Monitoring

It’s one thing to remotely control your system, but with the right setup, you can even monitor your home while you’re away, all from the comfort and convenience of your mobile device. For instance, the iSmartAlarm Premium comes equipped with an iCamera, which takes high-resolution photographs and transmits them straight to your phone. You can opt to receive push notifications whenever your home security is breached, or you can monitor your home at will, using your iPhone to pan and tilt the lens in any direction. It might freak out the cat, but it will make you feel much more secure.

Smartphone Hidden Cameras

Let’s shift gears for a moment and discuss an entirely different technology. When is a smartphone not a smartphone? When it’s a smartphone hidden camera. Bear with me for a moment. A smartphone hidden camera, like the DVR257, features a discreet, microscopic lens within the power port or headphone jack, so if you leave it lying indiscriminately on a kitchen counter, your thieves won’t even know that their crime is being documented with high-resolution video.

smartphone home securityAlways Keep Your Smartphone at Your Side

Getting back to the topic of real smartphones, It’s important to note how the technology itself represents a step forward in home security. You don’t need any apps, alarms or accessories. You just need a few percentage points remaining on your battery. In the event of a real emergency, such as a break-in, you can phone for help from any hiding place. While the same can surely be said of cordless phones, most cordless phones spend the majority of their time connected to a charger somewhere else in the home, and what’s more, they can sometimes be difficult to dial in the dark (depending on whether the model has an illuminative keypad). But your smartphone is always easy to navigate, and it’s almost always nearby. Or if it isn’t, it should be. Don’t just think of your phone as a selfie machine. Think of it as a lifeline.

Ode to a Smartphone

If you haven’t already incorporated your smartphone into your home security game plan, it’s time to close out the Candy Crush and consider how you might put your personal safety into the palm of your hand. Just to recap, there are a number of home security systems that may be installed or expanded for mobile control and monitoring, and the phone itself should always remain at your side. This is the 21st century, so let’s use those emerging technologies to their full effect.


80 Percent of Burglars Use Twitter and Facebook to Select Victims

tmi

Social media has revolutionized the ways we communicate in the 21st century, but some of those LOLs and OMGs may be putting your home at risk. According to one survey, a staggering 78% of burglars use social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook to choose their victims. The report was issued by the home security experts at Friedland, and has shed some interesting and unsettling light on how criminals are using high-tech means to scope out potential victims.

Real Burglars Weigh In

In the interest of full disclosure, it’s important to note that the survey utilized a small sample size and was in no way scientific. It does, however, offer some major perspective on how social media is opening sinister new doors for thieves. The survey looked at 50 burglars in the UK, all of whom had been recently incarcerated for burglary. Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed claimed to use social networks as a means of locating potential targets.

Are You Inviting Criminals?

The burglars offered some fascinating insight into the mistakes made by everyday people who fail to realize the potential impact of their own tweets and status updates. “We’re living in the age of the digital criminal and people are taking advantage of social media to access information about would-be victims,” said Richard Taylor, one of the convicted burglars interviewed in the survey. “We’ll tell them even when we’re going away on holidays. We will let them know that we’re not in. We’re inviting them round to our house.”

Less is More

The data doesn’t end there, however.  Seventy-four percent of those surveyed said that Google Street View played a role in theft, and 54 percent noted the foolishness of placing one’s whereabouts on social media. In other words, when it comes to social media, less is more, and the best approach is to remain mum on your location at all times. You never know who’s watching, and in today’s digital world, criminals don’t need a van to case homes.

visonicappIf you Check In, Watch out

At Home Security Store, we have often proclaimed that you should never announce your vacation plans on social media. That should go without saying, because there is nothing criminals love more than to learn that a home will be completely vacant for days at a time. But if there’s anything else we can take away from this survey, it’s that all location data can be used against you. So next time you have a family day at Disneyland or the beach, wait until the festivities have ended before you start publishing all of the exciting photos. It takes only about 2 minutes to break into a home, and approximately 10 minutes to complete a robbery, so even your seemingly harmless trip to Jamba Juice may be used against you if publicized.

A Surprising Revelation

Finally, there is one other intriguing detail that we should all take away from the UK survey. Almost 80 percent of the burglar participants said that an alarm system would have prevented them from breaking in to their target homes. Think about that for a moment. Even when the burglar knows that the homeowners are away, he’ll almost always think twice before attempting to enter an armed home. We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a quality home security system, and this survey only reinforces that point.

Just Be Sensible

So just to recap, try not to use your social media profiles as real-time travelogues. While you’re living it up in Daytona Beach, the bad guys might be living it up in your living room. And nothing will ruin a vacation quite like coming home to find that your big screen TV has taken a trip of its own (good luck finding that on Twitter).


Do I Really Need a Home Security System? – The Homeowner’s Fallacy

Burglar Breaks GlassUnsecured homes are up to 300% more likely to be invaded than homes with a security system, and yet only about 16 percent of U.S. homes have any sort of security mechanism in place. A burglary occurs every 15 seconds in the U.S., so are you prepared? If you’re living with the assumption that it won’t happen to you, it’s time for a wakeup call. This isn’t about inciting fear or paranoia; it’s about emphasizing the extreme importance of having a security plan, and thereby reducing your risk of becoming a victim.

It Won’t Happen to Me

Ah, those famous last words. If you have never been the victim of a break-in, it’s so easy to become complacent and underestimate your own burglary risk. In the gambling world, there is a term known as the gambler’s fallacy. It is the false assumption—often made at the craps table or roulette wheel—that one can predict future outcomes based on past results. Quite similarly, the homeowner’s fallacy might be reasoned along the lines of, “This is a safe neighborhood; nothing bad ever happens here,” or “I’ve lived in this house for over 10 years and have never had a problem.” But just like the craps player who mistakenly thinks he’s “due for a 7,” you’re drawing a false conclusion based on an unscientific premise. With over 2,000,000 homes burglarized every year in this country, none of us can afford to take chances.

I Don’t Have Anything That Burglars Would Want

It’s important to understand that burglars target modest as well as affluent homes, trailers as well as mansions. Granted, some are after the big payoffs, but others are just looking for easy targets. The typical burglar is under age 25, and just skilled enough to force his way into an average home. Never assume that your home is undesirable merely due to a lack of opulence or an absence of high-value goods. Even if a burglar spends several days casing your home, he (or she) won’t really know what’s inside until he breaks in, and at that point, he’ll take whatever he can get.

I Have Good Burglary Deterrents

Perhaps you haven’t invested in a full-fledged home security system, but you have taken steps to make your home less desirable to burglars. Maybe you have a home security lawn sign, a Beware of Dog sign, a few motion-activated lights or even a fake security camera. These are excellent tools to have at your disposal, and they will certainly reduce your likelihood of being targeted for burglary, but there’s just one problem. Not all criminals are deterred by smoke and mirrors, and in the event that a crook does enter your home, you have no defenses on the inside. The majority of burglaries occur between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., and if an invasion happens while you’re away, you don’t want to be left with a defenseless home. It might as well be an all-you-can-eat burglary buffet.

iStock_000007366103XSmallI Can’t Afford a Home Security System

This is the #1 complaint among people who lack home security. Granted, if you contact an installer to arm your home, you may pay through the nose for parts, installation and possibly even a mandatory monitoring contract. That’s why many homeowners are now opting for the DIY option. Today’s wireless home security systems are remarkably easy to install, and more affordable than ever before. For one low cost (often less than $200), you can install your system in very little time and experience the immediate benefits. No high-pressure sales, no restrictive contracts, no overpriced components. For the homeowner on a budget, DIY is the way to go.

My Security System is Already Pretty Good

If you already have a home security system in place already, congratulations. You’re well ahead of 84% of Americans. At this point, your ideal strategy would be to enhance your system with some new accessories or burglary deterrents. If your system has expansion capabilities, you can always take things to the next level with additional motion sensors, glass break detectors, door/window contacts, or even a few surveillance cameras. Home security is always a work in progress, because it’s all about remaining one step ahead of the bad guys. So do whatever it takes to give yourself the total advantage today.

 


What to Do During a Power Outage

power-outage-tipsAt one time or another, we have all experienced the sudden and unexpected emergence of darkness and silence stemming from a power outage. Maybe it was a rolling blackout, or maybe it was an electrical malfunction, but whether it lasts for a few minutes or a few hours, it can really ruin your day if you don’t take the proper precautions. Before the lights go out again, here are a few important considerations.

Determining the Cause

Check the circuit breakers to see if you have blown a circuit. If you can’t determine the cause of the outage, contact your local utility company for more information. The problem may be widespread in your neighborhood, or—failing that—it may signify a more serious electrical problem in your home.

Staying Hydrated

Keep a supply of filtered water on hand. A power outage can interfere with filtration systems and compromise the quality of your water supply. It’s best to keep plenty of bottles of filtered water in your emergency supply kit, but more on that later.

Securing Your Data

Keep an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) on hand.  A UPS device enables you to temporarily maintain power for certain electronic devices when the power fails. It’s useful for office equipment, laptops, alarm systems, medical devices and other equipment the failure of which may contribute to data loss or compromised safety. You’ll also want to invest in some surge protection to prevent your important electronics from suffering permanent damage.

Protecting Your Electronics

Unplug major appliances until the power returns. Connected appliances can create a power surge when electricity returns. A surge protector can minimize this risk, but it’s still a good idea to disconnect your major electronics.

emergency-kit-flashlight

Every emergency kit should include flashlights.

Maintaining Your Safety

Make sure your alarm system has a backup power supply of its own.  Since we’re on the subject of uninterruptible power, it’s important to address the importance of maintaining your home security system during an outage. If your system is entirely hardwired and contains no backup battery, burglars may cut off your power supply just to disable your alarm. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that your system is equipped to compensate for power outages.

Preparing for Anything

Create an emergency plan. The CDC recommends keeping an emergency supply kit with water, dried and canned food, flashlights, first aid, batteries, medications and a digital thermometer. You should have enough supplies for at least three dadys.

Illuminating Your Path

Install some battery-powered lights. As kids, we all remember our parents breaking out the candles and lighting them during a power outage. Some of us still keep a drawer full of these waxy wonders for just such an occasion, but nowadays you can head down to your local store and purchase light bulbs that run on AA batteries. Keep a few battery-powered lights on hand and you can illuminate your home without exposing yourself to the fire risk posed by candles.

Getting Informed

Keep a battery-powered radio. In the event of a widespread outage or other disaster, you’ll want to keep up with the latest developments, and you may not be able to rely on your cell phone, so keep a quality handheld radio on hand…and make sure to keep an ample supply of batteries.

Preserving Your Health

If the power outage lasts longer than 4 hours, throw out the food in your refrigerator. If it lasts longer than 24 hours, throw out the food in your freezer. It’s no fun having to throw out a week’s worth of groceries, but it’s even less fun to spend your entire night vomiting bacteria-ridden food.

Exercising Good Judgment

Keep all generators, charcoal grills and gas heating mechanisms outdoors, away from all doors and windows. For many frostbitten homeowners, it can be tempting to generate heat by any means necessary, but the carbon monoxide exposure can be deadly.

Preventing the Worst

Install carbon monoxide alarms on every floor of your home.  Even if you take steps to avoid carbon monoxide exposure, you must still be diligent about monitoring your indoor quality, especially when an outage occurs. Move outdoors or near an open window if the carbon monoxide alarm sounds.

And Finally…

Spend some time on non-tech hobbies. Read a book, play games with the family, get back in touch with a world free of pixels, texts and other technological distractions.


Restaurant Owners Chase Down Burglary Suspect Caught on Surveillance Video

burglar-or-copA Colorado burglary suspect has been arrested after being recognized and chased down by a restaurant owner whose business he had allegedly robbed. Karim Moulkelleh and Said Ouag, two brothers-in-law from the Denver area, arrived at their newly opened restaurant last Wednesday to discover that it had been broken into. The crook had made off with cash and a laptop, and the whole ordeal was caught on surveillance video, according to a report from ABC Denver.

Caught on Tape

“I watched it at least 10 times in one hour,” Moulkelleh told reporters. “I watched it and re-watched it.” One day after the burglary, Moulkelleh saw the man again – this time in the flesh. “When I saw his eyes, I recognized him from his face,” he said. “And he was wearing the same clothes, too.” Moulkelleh then called out to Ouag, who called 911.

Fortunately, an officer drove by as Moulkelleh and Ouag were confronting the man. The suspect tried to flee the scene, but Moulkelleh chased him and tackled him. “I was so lucky,” Moulkelleh said with a laugh. “The police car was next to us in 15 seconds. He was there.”

Busted

The suspect was discovered to be in possession of a pry bar and was taken into custody by police. According to police records, 50-year-old James Harvey was charged with second-degree burglary and possession of burglary tools. The brothers’ cash and laptop have not been returned, but Moulkelleh told reporters that they aren’t concerned about the stolen items. Said Moulkelleh,”We care that those kind of guys should not be on the street because it’s a threat for everybody.”

Surveillance cameraSurveillance…Not Just a Good Idea

Stories like this serve to remind us about the tremendous value of business surveillance. If it weren’t for the brothers’24-hour security system, Moulkelleh would never have identified the suspect, and James Harvey would still be on the loose, possibly burglarizing other homes and businesses (all suspects are innocent until proven guilty…but Mr. Harvey is going to have a heck of a time explaining the pry bar in his possession).

Every day we read about cases in which burglaries are solved by video surveillance footage. In fact, you may recall a story that we covered only a couple of weeks ago, involving a burglary suspect in Florida who unknowingly left his ID at the scene of the crime. The ID itself was a pretty powerful piece of evidence, but the surveillance footage allowed investigators to make a positive identification and definitively place the suspect at the scene of the crime.

Protect Your Business

If your business doesn’t already have a surveillance system in place, the time to act is yesterday. Not only will a quality surveillance system enable you to prevent the loss of valuables and stop burglars in their tracks, but it can even improve workplace productivity and help you to identify areas for improvement in your business. You can find surveillance systems for every business size, and suited for every budget. Regardless of where you purchase your system and what type of system you choose, the important thing is that you do it, because you never know when a 50-year-old man with a pry bar is going to force his way into your establishment.


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