Social Media Posting on Your Holiday Activities? Think Again

Sure, it’s the season to share gifts, time and presents — as well as information about all our holiday activities. However, we must all be wary of what we share with the public on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.

‘Tis the season to beware of multiple scams, from phony gift cards to fake charities seeking donations, as this Walpole, Massachusetts, Patch article explains. There are also thieves looking for empty houses to rob.

Given all the risks surrounding us, we should do our part not to expose potentially high-value information to total (and potentially felonious) strangers. This includes any social media posts that tell the world our homes are empty and unprotected while we are away visiting family

Loose Lips on Travel = Big Risks

Traveling is obviously a major risk. It leaves your house and property vulnerable for hours, days or even weeks as you visit friends and relatives. As this blog has noted previously, telling the world on Facebook you’ll be away from your home for any length of time is highly risky.

Would-be thieves can seek out such residences on Facebook and identify temporarily unoccupied houses to rob during the holidays. In fact, the town of North Andover, Massachusetts, considers social posting on any travel information a “holiday hazard” and urges citizens to say absolutely nothing about their whereabouts.

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‘Tis the Season for Holiday Home Safety

The holidays pose unique home and business safety risks. With so much travel, gift procurement and giving, thieves have an excellent opportunity to strike our homes and small businesses.

A recent Boston 25 article states the challenge like this: “While the holidays are a great time to sit back, relax and enjoy time with family and friends, it is also prime time for criminals to act. Whether it’s an online scam or breaking into your home, when December rolls around the rule of thumb is to sleep with one eye open.”

New England Grinches and Trolls

Just this month, three thieves robbed the Christmas decorations from a Norwell, Massachusetts, garden center. According to 7 News, the act was caught on video. The stolen objects are valued at $150. “We don’t know why they would do it to us,” says the store’s co-owner. “We’re honest people here, we work hard and we just want everybody to be happy.”

Naturally, the risk to our homes and businesses exists year-round, as the Boston 25 piece explains. One of Boston’s Back Bay residents, who operates a fitness studio on the first floor of his apartment house, installed a camera at his building’s entrance.

The results of his surveillance were shocking, amounting to “a revolving door of criminal activity.” He also says he lost count of “recent run-ins with trespassers and thieves in his front vestibule.” The holidays can exacerbate these dangers.

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Enjoy Small Business Saturday Securely and Successfully

Since its launch in 2010, Small Business Saturday has given smaller retailers and other local firms a chance to compete against the major online powerhouses, such as Amazon. As one of these smaller companies, you want to make the day as successful as possible.

That means using every tool and platform available. Ensure all your goods and cyber assets are secure, and your personnel both honest and competent. This way, you’ll increase your chance to end the day in the black and not the red.

Small Business: Big Results

The event has had a real-world impact throughout New England and the rest of the United States. In 2018, it drove nearly $18 billion in sales, according to the National Federation of Small Business (NFSB).

That’s not too surprising when you realize that there are:

  • About 28.8 million U.S-based small businesses
  • And these represent 99.7% of all U.S. businesses

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Fighting Fire with Fire Alarms

The passage of Fire Prevention Week offers an opportunity to re-evaluate our fire protection. Simply being aware of the risk is inadequate – alarm systems and procedures need to be in place for true fire safety.

As a FEMA press release about October being National Fire Protection Month notes, “most Americans underestimate their risk for fire, and many either lack emergency response plans – or fail to practice them with fire drills.”

FEMA also notes how in a typical house fire, there may be only one or two minutes after an alarm sounds to escape the premises. A small flame can become a major blaze in just 30 seconds. There isn’t a lot of room for delay once fire breaks out.

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Empty Nest with School in Session? Beware Burglars

Classes have started, and children are out of the house in New England. That means during regular business hours, your home is empty and more vulnerable to burglars than in the summer months.

Burglary is a serious problem. In 2017 — the most recent year with reliable statistics — some 1.4 million burglaries were committed across the United States, says the FBI. That’s about 18 percent of all property crimes committed in 2017.

The overall cost in property loss ran to about $3.4 billion, and the robbery of residential properties represented some 67 percent of all burglary crimes. Unfortunately, police only solve about 13 percent of burglary cases, Alarms.org reports.

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School Vandalism is Costly: Security Systems Can Help

School is back in session, which means school vandalism unfortunately tends to rise accordingly. Surveillance and security solutions can help school administrators to deter or resolve such incidents.

School-related vandalism — a type of crime involving any damage or defacement of school property — is a real problem in Massachusetts and beyond. According to the Vandalism at School website, the annual price tag to remedy this kind of crime runs at around $8 billion nationally.

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Self-Checkout: Most Commonly Stolen Items

Gaps Plague Retail Self-Checkout Security

We know that self-supporting retail technology — with its sensors, devices and big data capabilities — offers us many conveniences. However, basic self-checkout platforms don’t always work well for retailers, here in New England, and beyond.

In fact, the Springfield, Massachusetts-based chain of stores Big Y World Class Markets decided it had to remove its self- checkout aisles, according to a Worcester Telegram.com article. In large part, this move was because of the higher incidence of thefts. The article notes that shoplifting is five times more likely at a self-checkout terminal than at a typical human-manned cash register. Read more

Burglar’s Best Friend and Other Silly Security Stories

Security is a serious matter. That doesn’t mean we can’t relax a bit in the summer heat and recollect some of the oddest New England home and business intrusion stories.

Here is a brief list of some of the most interesting encounters we’ve found between local felons, furry friends and property. Some were caught on camera, while one incident was apparent only by the evidence left behind. Read more

Saving Money on DIY Security Cameras Means Taking Major Risks

In recent years we have seen technology improvement leaps and cost reductions in do-it-yourself (DIY) cameras and security systems. This has contributed to the rising popularity of residential alarms and monitoring. An Angie’s List essay says half of home owners surveyed claimed they want to install a monitored security system.

Some property owners hope to save money with low-cost alarm/monitoring solutions and services. These buyers are going to relatively cheap providers (as opposed to the more traditional national or regional companies) as a Forbes article notes. Other owners are even winging it alone with self-monitored systems.

Both of these groups of consumers may be making a huge mistake. Read more

School Systems Security in the 21st Century

In recent years, we’ve seen all too many tragedies unfold in our public school systems and universities. Even more incidents end quietly that could have been much worse. Last year, a school custodian in South Hampton, New Hampshire, discovered an intruder armed with a shotgun and carrying prescription medication. Fortunately, the man fled and was later apprehended, local news reported. This just underscores the reality of the risks.security camera in a classroom

Strong security systems can protect our children and have recently proven effective in Everett, Massachusetts and Warwick, Rhode Island.

Recognizing the issue, education officials across the country have been investing heavily in security equipment and services. The total market value for the education sector of security gear and services hit $2.7 billion last year, according to industry research.

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