Protecting the Home FrontApr 01, 2016 ● By Lisa Dawson
Another reason may be that savvy home dwellers are going to all lengths to protect themselves. Across the U.S., approximately 18 million homes have some type of alarm system installed. Statistically, alarm systems are proven to do their job. A study by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology found that most burglars try to determine if a house has an alarm system before attempting a home invasion. In fact, almost all convicted burglars say they intentionally avoided homes with security systems. If an alarm sounded, they admitted to fleeing the home immediately. It is estimated that un-alarmed or unprotected homes are 300 percent more susceptible to break-ins.
Sergeant Jeff Inmon of the Frisco Police Department says 42 percent of the calls for burglary of habitation they received were from open garage doors. “This is why we are always reminding residents to close them. We also encourage residents to be proactive in securing their home and protecting themselves by installing cameras and security systems. As far as alarm systems are concerned, we suggest they include a combination of motion sensors and glass break sensors, especially in master bathrooms. Recent trends indicate burglars have figured out that people keep valuables in their master bedroom and master bedroom closet, where there is little to no alarm coverage. There is also typically a window in master bathrooms that provides easy access to both, without setting off an alarm.”
In the preventative security world, and to professionals who are experts in helping keep property and people safe, installing special locks, alarms and other measures is called “hardening the target.” In other words, making a home less likely for a would-be thief to target. Most break-ins usually occur during the daytime, when occupants are at work and school (and, interestingly, most break-ins occur in July and August, when families are often travelling or on vacation). Home security experts say burglars will usually bypass a house if it requires too much effort or more skills or tools than they possess. Additionally, most break-ins are typically through front doors, back doors and windows. These are the three places every alarm system, no matter how expensive or what type, will monitor. Lighting is another important aspect of home safety and security. Interior lighting is necessary to show signs of activity inside. Using timers and devices that remotely turn on and off radios, televisions and lights will make a home appear occupied. Having bright lights outside front and back doors will make a thief less likely to use darkness as a cover during a break-in.
Protecting local homes is something very familiar to Joe and Beth East of A-1 Locksmith in Frisco. The Easts, who have been in business for more than 65 years, say alarms go beyond protecting a home. “Alarm systems can manage your environment and learn your behavior in order to save you money. All security systems have the same basic functions. The difference lies in the system’s ability to expand and integrate. We install Honeywell systems, which can accept almost any home automation platform and can integrate with other systems in your home, like your surveillance system or your climate control system,” says Mr. East. “We pride ourselves on being able to custom design a system to fit most anyone’s needs. Even if it is only to enhance your lifestyle or give you piece of mind, adding security to your home is always a good idea.” Mr. East says a basic alarm system for a typical, four-bedroom home can cost as low as $29.99 per month.
For those looking to go beyond merely protecting their home by keeping family members safe from intruders, storms and nearly anything else, Chris Hooser and Mike Carman of Lone Star Safe Rooms are the safe room experts. Headquartered in Mansfield, Texas, Lone Star Safe Rooms has been working with builders and residents in Frisco for the last three years installing 3/16-inch steel rooms under stairs, in closets or garages. “These safe rooms can be installed anywhere on the foundation slab and do not require a particular place in the home,” says Mr. Hooser. “A lot of our customers purchase safe rooms to keep their family members and valuables safe, but are concerned for their pets’ safety, as well.”
According to Mr. Hooser, less than 1 percent of Frisco homeowners own a safe room, but the technology of safe rooms is gaining popularity as we see more and more severe weather in our region. “We do have more than 20 builders in the Frisco area using safe rooms in their new construction homes. We believe these numbers will only grow exponentially, year to year, as people understand the need,” he says.
Mr. Hooser says safe rooms can typically be installed in less than four hours, and all they need to do is measure the home prior to the installation, to ensure a perfect fit. A typical unit will cost about $5,000, but costs vary depending on size and application. There is even a rebate that potential safe room owners can apply for, provided by the North Central Texas Council of Governments. The program will pay half of the cost, or up to $3,000, provided the owner is selected prior to purchasing a unit.
Beyond alarms and safe rooms, one of the best and most trusted methods for deterring and helping solve crimes, is cameras. Frisco police are tapping into the numbers of homeowners with security cameras installed and using them as part of their crime prevention and investigation program. The project, called “SafeCam,” allows the public to collaborate with the police department by registering their cameras and providing security camera footage. The voluntary registration process, which only takes about 10 minutes and is free, tells police where your camera is located. Once the police have verified the camera, a member of the department will confirm the registration. If a crime happens in the vicinity of the camera, detectives will contact the owner for help in assisting solve the crime. Registering the camera does not mean the police will automatically have access to the recording.
According to Sergeant Inmon, citizen-provided security camera recordings are increasingly becoming an invaluable asset to the Frisco Police Department, by helping establish leads and identifying perpetrators. “We suggest camera systems be installed in a manner that helps deter crime, captures offenses on video and provides a good description of the perpetrators. We often receive video of crimes being committed, but they are of little value due to the poor video quality,” he says. “Frisco is a very safe place to live, however we are not immune from all crime.”
Take matters into your own hands! Are there additional measures you can take inside your home to better ensure your family’s safety?