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Security Cameras for the Home

The use of security cameras in Kansas City has grown dramatically in the past few years as the price of camera systems continues to fall and the quality continues to increase.  Security Cameras have an important role in a comprehensive security solution, but are not a substitute for an alarm system.  Security Cameras around the home provide a number of potential benefits:

  1. They are an effective deterrent against crime as criminals do not want to be identified and they signal a home owner that takes security seriously, that would probably have other counter measures inside. They can give you peace of mind by allowing you to look in on your home remotely to make sure that everything is OK.  They can also alert you of motion detected at the home.  Most commonly these cameras would detect a car in the driveway or a person at the from door and then notify you and send you a video clip.

There are three common types of camera systems being deployed in homes today.  The first is the video intercom/doorbell.  It notifies you when there is motion at your door or when your doorbell rings and then gives you the ability to answer the door with a smart phone app from anywhere.  The second is a cloud based camera that has the ability to be placed about anywhere that has Wi-Fi access and can notify you when motion is detected or allows you to view it live at any time.  Finally is the full DVR/NVR based system that usually consists of 3 or more cameras and a recorder that can store weeks or months worth of video for viewing later.

From a price perspective, the doorbell cameras cost around $250 installed and the cloud based camera costs around $200 installed, while the DVR based systems are usually over $1000 installed.  In later discussions, I will talk about the various formats and technologies of today’s mega-pixel camera systems.

Burglars Caught and Arrested using Leading Edge Video System

This month, one of our new customers got a call in the middle of the night, that intruders were trespassing at his business.  Well, in the alarm business, that is unfortunately nothing new, but how the thieves were caught is new.

An innovative new high-definition Security Camera system had been installed just eight days earlier.  This system has a sophisticated motion detection processor that determines the size of the object and then sends an alert to the owner and our central station whenever there is motion detected outside normal hours.  Not only that though, it actually sends a video clip that they can watch from their computer or smart phone! Well at about midnight, our central station called the client to inform him that they were watching three men burglarizing his business.  The central station dispatched the police who arrived on the scene and took the men into custody.

Systems such as this can help small businesses protect themselves without the expense of a dedicated security guard.  Security guard services could also use this technology to dispatch their officers.

Security System Apps for Android and iPhone

Have you ever gotten to work and wondered if the garage door was closed?  Have you ever gotten to the airport and wondered is you remembered to arm the security system?

Honeywell’s  makes it easy to find out this and much more.  In fact, if you did forget to arm the security system or close the garage door, it could let you do it from your smart phone as well.  In this post, I’m simply going to describe a few of the Total Connect applications that we have done.  While I’m using Total Connect as an example, Alarm.com offers similar features. 

Case 1:  Rex had sensors installed on his overhead garage doors and gets an email alert everytime the garage door is opened or closed.  He now needs olny glance at his smart phone to determine if the garage door is closed.

Case 2: Jennifer wanted to get an email alert each time her daughter got home from school and wanted a video clip attached so she would have the peace of mind of knowing she got home OK.  Total Connect was configured to send a 20 second video clip from a security camera near alarm keypad each time the system was armed or disarmed. 

Case 3: Nick has a system configured to send updates as door way sensors are tripped so that he knows when his elderly parent moves from one room to another.  This way, he doesn’t have to worry about the scenario like we hear about where someone needs help and can’t get to a phone to call for help.  If no activity is reported, Nick can have someone check on his parent. This is service is called In Home Activity Tracking

Case 4: Gina has a vacant house that she wants to be able to monitor, and when service people or realtors are going to be there, she can disarm the system.  She also gets an alert when the door opens so that she will know when the people came and left.

The are but a few of the possibilities that exist.  We haven’t even touched on the light control, electric locks and thermostat control options that also exist.  These capabilities represent the next wave in home security.  You can now monitor and control your home from anywhere with internet access and with powerful iPhone and Android apps.

Security System Techniques – Protecting Double Hung Windows

Double hung windows are the ones that slide up and down to open.  There are several ways to gain entry to this type of window.  The first way is to simply pry it open with a crow bar.  When this is done, the two small locks that typically are between the two panes, often pull out, as they are normally only attached with a couple of small screws.  In this case the glass does not break and therefore a window contact is the primary method of detection.  Surface mount contacts are often used with new windows to avoid drilling holes that might otherwise void the window warranty.  An interior motion detector can detect the intrusion, after the intruder has already climbed through the window and started moving within the house.  More information on types of window contacts will be given in another posting.

The second entry method would be to break the glass to get to the latches to open the window.  This is done because the glass is open very sharp and the openings are often a little tight for crawling through.  In this case, either a glass break or window contact would work.  The glass break would go off first, followed by the window contact and as always a motion detector would detect the intrusion after the intruder was inside.  That leaves crawling through the broken window pane as the third option.  In this event, only the glass break detector and motion detector would pick up the intrusion.

From a deterrence point of view, security system stickers might help as well as making sure that the window is well lit and not hidden by tall shrubs.  From a denial perspective, windows with automatic stops help prevent the window from being slid open too wide.  In some cases, people will drill hole and insert a nail to prevent the window from opening too far.

Home Security – 3 Primary Lines of Defense

The 3 D’s of Security – Deterrence, Denial, and Detection

One of the important themes that you’ll see repeated throughout these discussions are the principles of deterrence, denial, and detection.  Our first objective should always be to discourage or deter a would-be intruder from targeting our property in the first place.  It is easy to see how we are the safest if the intruder never targets our home or business in the first place.  The second concept is denial.  In denial, we attempt to make intrusion more difficult in the event that our property is targeted.  The object of detection is to alert you and the authorities of a threat if our avoidance techniques were not successful.

The same principles extend beyond intrusion to other threats such as fire, carbon monoxide, flood, etc.  Again, it is obvious that preventing the fire is far better than just detecting and reporting it in the unfortunate event that one occurs.

Home Intrusion Deterrence

The majority of home intruders are looking for an easy point of entry with a low probability of being seen and caught.  Other postings will discuss protecting against premeditated crimes and employee theft.  Witnesses and Security systems both increase the likelihood of being caught and are therefore usually a deterrent.  To avoid witnesses, intruders will want to target homes that appear vacant and choose an entry point where they won’t draw the attention of neighbors or passers-by.  A security system sign and window stickers indicate to an intruder that a siren will draw additional attention to the property, not to mention the fact that police will be dispatched as well.

There are many things we can do to make our home seem inhabited.  Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to assess the degree to which you are making your home a less attractive target.

While you are away

  • Do you indicate the presence of a security system with clearly visible signs and stickers?
  • Do you have several lights in your home set up on automatic timers?
  • Do you arrange for a friend or neighbor to come by and check on your home when you plan on being away several days or longer?  Do you discontinue mail and newspaper service?
  • Do you avoid messages on your home and business phone announcing that you are traveling or not at home?

Exterior Lighting

  • Is your front entrance lit well enough to enable you to identify visitors at night?
  • Are all other entrances illuminated well?
  • Do floodlights or illumination cover all exterior sections of your home or property?
  • Do motion sensors control your exterior lighting?

Landscaping

  • Is all landscaping trimmed to eliminate areas for a person to hide near doors and windows?
  • Is all landscaping trimmed to prevent obstruction of exterior lighting?
  • Have tree limbs been trimmed to prevent access to upper floor windows or balconies?
  • Have you planted thorny shrubbery near windows to discourage loitering or hiding?
SHIELD Security Systems | 7111 W. 151st Street, Suite 30 | Overland Park, KS 66223 | (913) 667-7500