Young woman setting burglar alarm at home.

Stay Protected During COVID-19 Crisis

Maintain Your Alarm/Safety Services During COVID-19 Crisis

First, we wish all safety for you and yours through the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s also worth remembering that though many of us are working from home and practicing social distancing, we still need to be reasonably cautious. This means maintaining our security and environmental surveillance and monitoring systems.

Sobering Statistics

Despite our relative isolation at home, we’re still vulnerable to theft or vandalism. That’s because despite good times or bad, criminals never really rest. In fact, contrary to what we might expect, crime hasn’t universally decreased: in some areas, it’s shown an uptick.

Young woman setting burglar alarm at home.

In New York City, general crime incidents spiked by 12 percent in the first three months of 2020 (as compared to the prior year) according to a news story. Burglaries rose by 22 percent, or 533 more cases. Possibly this is a mark of desperation, but whatever the cause, it’s a fact that robberies generally do rise in such crises, as local police and FBI statistics will likely bear out.

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Remote Surveillance for Those Most at Risk

 

Using High Tech to Protect At-Risk Loved Ones

Given current COVID-19 related events, it’s more important than ever to have ways to watch and protect our elderly or at-risk relatives and loved ones. At the same time, these people want to live as independently as possible, and not feel as if they are a burden.

Unfortunately, it’s more difficult than ever to safely move around and visit loved ones most at risk – both here in New England and across the country. One way to compensate for the lack of in-person visitation is to deploy a secure and reliable remote medical monitoring and alerting system.

A Growing Safety Field

There is great potential in the medical monitoring industry, particularly as smart technologies rapidly evolve. A major driver is the maturation of Internet of Things (IoT)-based solutions. In fact, this tech was the subject of an expert panel held in Boston last December, as TechTarget notes.

The article describes how  companies are exploring ways to embed “IoT remote monitoring for connected medical devices with the intent to improve their products and differentiate themselves from the competition.” These systems are largely still in development, but such an event shows how medical monitoring is a promising field.

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Shedding Light on Crime

You couldn’t be blamed if you assumed light (electric or natural) is an effective crime deterrent tool here in New England. After all, no self-respecting burglar would try to rob a house or a business where he or she could be easily observed and reported. 

If we look at some crime statistics, we might discover that just leaving the lights on isn’t necessarily useful — without an accompanying comprehensive defense strategy. In fact, according to an Alarms.org article, in 2015:

  • There were 1.5 million daytime burglaries 
  • And 1.3 million nighttime burglaries 

This means there was a 6 percent higher chance that a burglary would happen between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. than in the evening. The reason is simple: most people are away during the day performing errands or working. While night offers a certain amount of security to thieves, it also increases the likelihood that someone will be home. 

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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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Keep Your Home Safe from Carbon Monoxide

Winter is here, and we’ve already weathered our first big snowstorm of the season. Now, as temperatures keep dropping and the weather becomes more inclement, we New Englanders will be spending more and more time indoors.

This also means we need to be doubly on the alert about carbon monoxide — the “silent killer.” As this blog has noted previously, carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas. It leaks from common heating and lighting sources, like faulty furnaces, portable generators, stoves, lanterns and gas ranges.

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Defending Against Cyberbullying

In 21st century New England, protecting our loved ones’ lives and wellbeing must factor in new digital threats. Complete strangers can reach into our homes electronically, defeating any physical safety system we’ve installed.

And with the proliferation of smartphones, tablets and social media platforms, the risk of cyberbullying – simply defined as inflicting intentional electronically enabled harm – only grows, as a guide on the subject illustrates.

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Keep Halloween Spooky — But Safe

National Fire Prevention Week just passed, and we’re heading to October 31 and all its trick-or-treating fun.

Halloween presents its own set of risks, however, and we should think of special ways to protect our homes, loved ones and property. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), among the fire risks are traditional Halloween paraphernalia and activities:

  • Glowing jack-o-lanterns (sometimes with candles inside)
  • Paper ghosts and dried corn husk decorations
  • Children running about in costumes

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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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Going on Vacation? Here’s 5 Tips to Keep Burglars Out of Your Empty Home

Vacation coming? Protect your home while you’re away so you can really relax and enjoy yourself. This requires addressing both physical and cyber protection challenges. Naturally, burglars in New England want to get the easiest targets possible, as the Ashland, Massachusetts, police point out. They know where to go to find them: social media.

Once, crooks would look for obituaries to target houses, knowing when the residents would be out at a funeral. Now, convicted burglars themselves believe that 75 percent of their thieving colleagues are leveraging social media to locate marks, according to a Virginia-based law enforcement website. Read more