Category: Home Security Tips

January Sees Burglaries Peak

Get ready for the January blues and to send out the red alert for cat burglars.

Christmas has come and gone and your home is full of new exciting goodies. Flat screen plasma televisions and games consoles, coffee machines and new smaller than your remote mobile phones. You’re the absolute thrilled showing off your new gear to all your friends and family. But whilst you’re demonstrating all your new gadgets and gizmos just who else is getting a fleeting glimpse of your sparkling new merchandise?

Despite being the quietest month when it comes to shopping trips and other events burglaries have the tendency behave in the exact opposite direction. With new games and gadgets on show in all homes around the country thieves are on high alert to target any easy catches when they are left unguarded. However there are some measures that you can take to ensure your home is as safe as it can be, whether you’re at home or not.

A really obvious first step is to keep all high profile items out of sight. Whether it’s hidden by a closed door or tucked in a dresser drawer. Placing a plasma television in full view near a window is definitely not a good idea. One reason is the frontal view seen by all offending eyes, the other being the glare from the sunshine on the screen.

Just because thieves can’t see the items it doesn’t mean that they’re not there. It also doesn’t mean they won’t try looking for it. Locking your windows is just as important if not more than locking your doors. Even though doors are first port of calls, windows are commonly used to prevent leaving any trace of entrance points to the building. Always check every window in the house before you leave even if it will be just a five minute trip. If your day has come that five minutes will be all it takes to lose your favourite Christmas presents and more.

For a cheap deterrent to stop thieves breaking in many residents try leaving radios on during the day and a timer light on during the evening. A solution which gives off the impression of either people talking, or watching TV in the room next door. A lot of burglaries are purely for items and pricey merchandise so contact with people is often avoided at all costs.

For those who can afford it a burglar alarm is a good deterrent. Some can be fitted yourself or fitted by a professional.

Do take a moment to Log the serial numbers of your new possessions, the IMEI number of your phone and put your postcode on valuable items with a UV pen.  Also update your insurance company if you have made any particularly large purchases to ensure your insurance cover is not affected. There are a number of stories of people not getting paid out because they have forgotten to do this.

Taking in all these measures the January blues won’t be on you but on the burglars instead. Keep your belongings locked up and safe.

Protecting Yourself Online

Find out the Hacking Methods used by criminals use to crack your lifestyle wide open.

Hacking methods

Online scams: Scam attempts have gotten way more sophisticated than the stereotypical Nigerian Prince trick. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3.gov) lists dozens of variations on email and online scams – from fraudulent automobile auctions to online dating schemes – in its annual Internet Crime Report. In 2013 alone, more than a quarter of a million complaints were submitted related to online scams. And if you think it only happens to older people, think again: One fifth of scam victims last year were younger than 30.

Phishing: One particularly nefarious form of online scam uses legitimate-looking websites to trick a victim into sharing their username, password, or other sensitive information. Phishers will design their sites to look exactly like the website of your bank, credit card issuer, or another financial institution. The hope is that you won’t realize you’re on the wrong site, and just punch in your password like you normally would. Then, they use it to log into your real accounts and transfer out your money.

Massive data breaches: The above methods are all aimed at getting information about individuals. However, there’s a whole profusion of hackers who are looking for the big score. Recent hacks of Home Depot, Target, and other major retailers have led to millions of credit card numbers being compromised. Hackers turn around and sell these numbers on a black market website for anyone who might be willing to buy them.

Staying Protected

Vigilance: Look carefully at a website before giving any information, especially sensitive data like passwords, credit card numbers or Social Security numbers. Especially look out for slightly misspelled words or words that use unexpected characters, such as substituting a “0” (number) for an “O” (letter) – for example, H0ME DEP0T. If something looks even a little bit fishy, delete the email or close the site immediately.

Browser bookmarks: Rather than clicking on links in emails, create bookmarks in your browser to commonly used sites, like your bank, insurance company, etc., and use those bookmarks every time you visit the site. That way, you know you’re always going to the right website, rather than trusting in an email that could’ve been sent by anyone.

Two-factor authentication: More and more sites (especially those of financial institutions) are using two-factor authentication. With such methods, after logging in with your password, the site will text or email you a single-use code that must be entered. Only the registered phone number or email address will receive the code, making it that much harder for hackers to gain unauthorized access to your accounts.

Protected servers: Consumers may not have direct control over how companies store their information, but with larger and larger hacks occurring regularly, you have a right to demand that companies take more responsibility for securing your personal information. For example, SingleHop embeds security features into their dedicated servers at the physical access level all the way down to the network, server, application, and account levels. Close monitoring along with antivirus protection, application patching, private networking, and firewalls all work to ensure that company data is protected and isolated.

 

Holiday Check List – Timer Lights

The dos and dont’s of holiday security

DO –
Make your home look occupied.
Set your lights on a timer
Ask a neighbour to pop round occasionally
Ask a neighbour if they don’t mind parking their car on your driveway.
Cancel milk and newspaper deliveries.
Register for the Royal Mail ‘Keepsafe’ service
Double-check that you’ve locked all outside windows and doors.
Check your front door is lock is not vulnerable to lock snapping or picking – surprising how common they are.
Mark your property with UV pen or smart water
Think about hiding a safe when it is secure and can not be found
Think about removing valuable and items of sentimental value
Get an alarm if you haven’t already – even if its just a fake box.
Take a picture of your passport and credit cards on your phone.
keep a few emergency numbers written down – in case you loose your phone
have lots of fun whilst you are away and have a great Holiday

Dont
Advertise that you are going away on Facebook, Twitter etc.
Forget to Set your burglar alarm.
Leave valuables in sight
Don’t say you’re ‘away’ on your home or mobile answer machine
Do not draw all the curtains in your house, as this wouldn’t look like someone was living there during the day.
put your home address or phone number. on your luggage tag – people will know that you’re not at home
forget the garden and shed – keep tools and ladders safe and secure
worry too much as long as you have taken the necessary precautions

Lake. Suho Island. Russia.

Timer Plugs – Keeping Your Home Safe When You Go On Holiday

Many people use timer plugs to leave a light on when they go on holiday

Timer plug advantages

timer plug

  • Give the appearance of being in when you’re out.
  • Turn lights, radios, etc on or off even when you’re not there.
  • can be programmed to switch the connected appliance ‘On’ and ‘Off’

But using timer plugs when you’re away also means

  • You have to use a lamp
  • Potentially means leaving lamps in places where they could be a fire hazard
  • Means you are not able to turn all the sockets off at the mains
  • Can make it look obvious you have left a lamp on a timer as you are away from home.
  • that annoying clicking noise they make

 

Timer plugs work well when you have a bed site lamp or a light in the study or that you would usually use in the evenings but putting a lamp in the hall way is a real no no as it can be a real giveaway.

The smarter solution is to time the lights you use on a daily basis. Why bother setting artificial lights on timers when you can just as easily program a couple of main lights in your home to go on and off to make it look like your moving about the house.

This way no on will suspect your away and wont draw any unwanted attention to your home.

Why not just leave the light on before you go out?

This is actually a really bad idea as it sends a clear signal to burglars that you’re not in and won’t be back till after dark.

Think about it – burglars don’t have day jobs and any one walking down the road seeing a visible light on during the day will know that you may not be home and likely wont be back till after dark.

 

Review of the best timer plug

Should You Leave A Light On When You Go Away On Holiday?

Police and security experts would all say yes, but which lights should you leave on.

Lamps, how effective are they? Holiday

Its a well known fact that burglars prefer to target empty homes. So to minimise the risk of being targeted whilst your away it makes sense to make it look like your home is occupied. Lighting has been highlighted as the most effective way to create this illusion of presence when away. However it is important to remember that maintaining the same lighting routine as normal is integral for the illusion to really work.

To give an example If you always use the mains lights when at home having your hallway lit with a small lamp may just be a tell-tale sign that your actually away.

The smarter solution is to time the lights you use on a daily basis, i.e. the mains lights.  Why bother setting artificial lights on timers when you can just as easily programme your mains lights at home.  With different mains lights coming on and off it really does look like your moving around the home

We recommend setting two of your mains lights to go on and off whilst your away. This helps build the illusion that your not just home but your actively moving around it. Programme your downstairs lights go off when you normally head upstairs and program the bedroom to come on. The trick is to mimic your normal routine so nothing looks different in your absence.

Setting lights to turn on and off multiple times a day across a 7 day week helps reinforce the idea your still there. Programme your lights on a minute to minute basis so no light is turning on at an identical time across multiple days of the week when your away.

Which Lights should you leave on when you go away?

You want to recreate the lights you use when you are at home.  This means you should have at least a couple of lights turning on and off, multiple times in the evening.  A simple lamp in the Hall really inst going to make a burglar think you are home.

Think like a burglar.

Don’t give them any reason to stop outside your home and investigate.

Lighting up the front of you home will also stop them wanting to hang around outside your home and risk being seen. Most outside lights if not on a sensor are connected to a wall switch inside the home. So if you have external security lighting – it is a good idea to put them on a timer too.

 

The mydome light switch timer is a retro fit easy to install timer that enables you to programme your mains lights. It does not involve any wiring during the installation process and provides a solution to your lighting predicament the next time your not at home. Please visit about light switch timer to learn more.

Visit The Crime Prevention Website

Grab a coffee and visit the Crime Prevention Website.

this is really the best information site we have seen.  Packed full of practical insight and advice.

This really is a great resource for information about crime prevention. Written by Calvin Beckford, a retired Metropolitan police officer and author, with many years of crime prevention experience this website has been created as a security resource for all members of our society and contains some really helpful advice.

The site contains crime prevention advice to help you improve your home and personal security, covering locks, windows, security devices, alarms and more.

It includes contributions from retired and serving police crime prevention staff, security professionals and academics and is reciprocally linked with many Police Services, Police and Crime Commissioners and Neighbourhood Watches.

What is the Internet of Things?

The ‘internet of things’ has become one of the most popular search terms of this year. IoT gives individuals the ability to control devices through internet applications and is now making huge advancements at an exciting pace. This is most evident is in the home automation field, so what does this mean for home owners?
The IoT is beginning to transform home security. According to recent information released by the London Metropolitan Police the number one reason for break-ins is the ease of accessibility. As technology improves and the IoT grows, authorities believe that homes will become more difficult to enter and burglary rates will fall as a consequence.

Home automation

Through the internet of things has been one of the strongest upsides to home security. Home owners now have the freedom to control various aspects of their homes whilst they are away. This includes lighting, locks, plugs and cameras. The IoT devices allow homes to appear occupied when in fact they are empty. This has been proven to be the biggest deterrent to burglars.
Gone are the days when you have to spend a lot of money for a good system, in fact the days when you have to pay a lot of money every month for a good security system are quickly going away too. IP Camera Hosting is quickly dropping in price, and with it a whole new array of opportunities is starting to appear. No longer will you need some kind of server to store the camera data, it will all be stored on the cloud from now on. This will make it easier and cheaper to run home security in the future.
Fingerprint Scanning Devices ten years ago seemed like a distant idea for the rich class only. Now days this is something that exists on smart phones, tablets, laptops, and a few homes as well. The technology still has a ways to go, but in the next few years we will start to see it entering homes, and when it does it will make picking locks much more difficult than it already is.
As technology that catches criminals improves the expense keeps getting cheaper. Gone are the days when companies had to hire security guards to constantly be on watch. Many companies are switching over to services where a third party is alerted whenever there is suspicious activity, and that third part can than decide on the course of action. What this does is it cuts down on costs as well as false alarms. As these companies continue to come up with better surveillance technology we will start to see a large drop in price as they are able to take on more customers. This means that these services will no longer be locked in with big companies, but will now be an option for the common house owner as well.
One of the biggest changes that the internet of things has brought to homes is the ability to control your home while you are away. You can now change the temperature, lock the doors, turn off the lights, and even turn on your T.V. while you are away. One security benefit of having this technology is the ability to know if anything is removed. For instance if a burglar enters your house and removes your T.V. suddenly you could receive a message on your phone, that tells you someone has unplugged your T.V. These types of messages can be programmed so well that you can receive for just about anything, for instance if your front door opens while you’re away on vacation. Now imagine that you also have control over your home alarm, you can check your IP hosted camera and see who is in your house and then sound the alarm if you need to.

The possibilities are endless, and the low cost involved in setting up these types of protections will allow the majority of households to set up powerful home security systems in the future.

Fake TV – Secure Your Home

Winter is fast approaching and with shorter days and longer nights on the horizon coupled with late working hours we leave ourselves vulnerable to intruders and break ins.

Fake TV

Now that the holidays are over and were all set to go back into routine it’s always good to know that everything we hold dear, is safe and sound, particularly our homes. Statistics from the home office have shown that burglaries and break ins are most likely to happen over the coming months.  The question we all ask is how do I secure my home to minimise the risk of this ever happening? It’s usually the most obvious things that we forget and today its precisely them that we will be discussing.

A fake TV or TV Simulator is a novel solution; a small easy to use security feature that imitates the lighting features of a TV giving the impression someone is present in the home and watching tv.

TV Simulator

Appearance is always the most important and that always starts from the exterior of the house. If your home looks like a target then your risk profile increases. Exterior lights are important and motion sensor lights are a great place to begin. Having these situated around the home, shed and garage can deter a burglar because they immediately draw attention to that area, making it a focus point. Without ringing alarm bells it simply highlights activity is going on in that area and any passer-by will naturally look towards it.

Alarm systems are a must but don’t advertise which alarm system you are using. Burglars often scope out a neighbourhood before they attempt any burglaries. They will look for any weak points or information that can help them and security system stickers go a long way in doing this. Stickers such as ‘protected by ADT’ offer valuable information to a burglar and rather than act as a deterrent they more often than not offer vital information on how to best tackle the problem of disabling a security system. By using a generic sticker the burglar is unaware of the system being used and is therefore unable to prepare.

Displaying items of value in the home only entices a burglar. Make sure all electronic devices and valuable items are hidden away and out of plain site. If a burglar can see something they like then they won’t hesitate breaking in to get it. Most thieves like to ‘smash and grab’ so having to look for items of value can deter them from ever entering.

Finally give the appearance that someone is home and never give away your routine knowingly. A thief likes to know when to best enter a home and your routine is a focal aspect of that. However if they think you are home it can eliminate the risk of entry. There are a number of security products on the market now that help with this problem. There is the traditional wired light timers that switch on at predetermined times. These can be a pain to install. Alternatively the new wireless light switch timers are easy to install and also do the same job.

A fake tv simulator

A fake tv

Ensure you take every step possible to make a burglar think twice about targeting your home let alone breaking in and entering. The aim is to make your home less attractive to a burglar and this usually translates into a lower risk of burglary.

Heatwave Hitting The UK

Summer Burglary

The highly anticipated heatwave hitting the UK is being welcomed by many but how do you stay comfortable when the heat starts to climb?

When the sun comes out everybody’s attentions are focused purely on making the most out of summer as we like to enjoy the moment to its fullest. That includes fresh lemonade and ice cream or a day out in the parks, for some a nice pleasant afternoon in the outdoors with a book is more than enough to keep us relaxed and enjoying the weather to its most. Whilst having all this fun we sometimes overlook simple ideas that can make us slightly more comfortable when the heat begins to rise. Here are a few simple ideas which can sometimes be overlooked.

Don’t be afraid to get a little wet! According to Cambridge University physicist Lisa Jardine-Wright ‘the most obvious way to cool down is to dampen your clothes’. The natural process of your body allows the body to cool. When water changes from its natural liquid state to a gas, a source of heat energy is required to cause evaporation. This energy comes from within the body to cause a cooling effect on the skin as a result cooling the skin. So encourage your children to have a water fight and it might not be too farfetched to picture yourself joining in. “When I was cycling in France it was more than 40C and I soaked my T-shirt in water before I went out. But that’s a bit extreme,” Jardine-Wright adds. “Anything that involves evaporation is going to take the heat away from you.”

We all dream of diving head first into an outdoor swimming pool when the sun is scorching over our heads but sometimes it’s not always possible, so what can we do? To throw your hands into a bucket of cold water is the closest alternative. According to Mike Tipton, professor of human physiology at the University of Portsmouth the sudden change in temperature will help cool you down; but why your hands? He goes on to explain that when the core body temperature rises blood is sent directly to the surface. “Your hands have a high surface area – it’s like you have five radiators sticking out of your palm,” says Tipton. “As soon as the deep body temperature returns to normal, it slows the blood flow to your hands and you’ll feel cool.”

Circulating cool air is always important. We often use fans in the room or open our windows and doors to let in the fresh breeze and cool down our homes, but why not make use of them both? A fan in the centre of a room simply moves around the air which on a hot summer’s day is obviously warm. It does help cool you down as your sweat evaporates but there’s a better method says Jardine Wright. It’s much more effective to leave a fan next to an open window. This helps to circulate cool air from outside and bring it into the building. “You’re taking the cooler air from the outside and propelling it inside,” she says. “If there are no windows or doors open you’re just circulating the hot air.”

When the heat is sometimes too much the thought of a nice cold shower can be an entertaining thought but this does not have the desired effect we wanted and bring our body temperature down. Our bodies naturally react to sudden dramatic changes to temperature, so in the event you jump under a freezing shower the bodies is inclined to preserve its heat. “If I’m hot and I go under a cold shower, I’ll shut down the blood flow to the skin and trap the heat inside me rather than let it escape,” says Tipton. “It’s better to have a warmer shower that is cool enough to lower the deep body temperature but is warm enough to allow the blood to the surface of the skin.”

Open Windows and doors

Dont forget – open windows are and doors offer an easy entry point into your home.  It easy to forget when your in the back garden and your windows are open that a burglar can quickly enter – take the keys, phone etc and quietly exit through the front door in seconds.

Also leaving windows open at night is another security risk.

Finally if you chose to go away for a few days and enjoy the sun then don’t forget to read our article on home security tips and our award winning light switch timer.

 

BBQ Dragon & BBQ Grill Mat

With Summer Finally Here, it is probably safe to pull out the BBQ.

We recently found two great products whilst over in the US of A at the Las Vegas National Hardware Show.

Do you have trouble lighting your charcoal grill??  The BBQ Dragon is probably what you need. It is a great fire-starting tool so simple and yet revolutionary that it is literally changing the way you start your barbecue. It can reduce the start time of charcoal grills to less than ten minutes and supercharges the starting of all kinds of other fires. It works by blowing large amounts of low-velocity, cool air at the fire.

Yes it is a fan but what makes it stand out is it is It’s battery-powered, hands-free, micro-USB rechargeable, and looks fantastic. It works on anything: charcoal grills, fire pits, fireplaces, wood stoves, smokers – even campfires.

With the BBQ Dragon:

  • Charcoal ready to cook in 10 minutes!
  • Eliminates the need for lighter fluid or chemicals
  • Save charcoal by heating up dying coals.
  • No more blowing and waiting on smoky grills – the BBQ Dragon works for you.
  • Charcoal grills are now ready faster than gas grills- and hotter!

You can use the BBQ Dragon anywhere you want to light a fire. It clips to any type of charcoal grill, but that’s just the beginning. Ceramic cookers like the Big Green Egg, or the Primo Grill are some of the most popular new ways to grill, and the BBQ Dragon works perfectly with them. Clip the Dragon on leg of your ceramic smoker, aim it up the vent, and in minutes have the grill hot enough to cook pizza.

Second Up was the BBQ Cook mat.

Yes a mat which you can place over the BBQ coals,

Reusable and reversible allowing you to use Oil- and fat-free cooking: on the BBQ without worrying about those small items falling though the grills. Things don’t stick to the grill and it’s easy to clean with no need to scrub or

Scour, easy wipe or wash clean

  • Ideal for grilling vegetables, meats, fish, seafood, pizzas, shish kebabs, sausages, sticky marinated food, chicken wings, ribs, eggs, etc.
  • Keeps small and delicate foods on the grill and out of the fire
  • Ideal for BBQ camping, BBQs on boats, etc.
  • Can be put on top of a hotplate to keep it clean

Neither is currently available in the UK and we are seriously thinking about getting them over!

What do you think??