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Electronic Security Association

Home for the holidays? Think like an intruder

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

We’re getting into the time of the year when opportunistic thieves make the most of others’ holiday cheer and generosity. Packages left at the doorway or a pile of presents that can be easily seen from outside a home send a signal to the unscrupulous: Come and get it.

Alarm systems are an obvious deterrent, with the signs and decals accompanying them often enough to make thieves think twice. But for true peace of mind, there’s no substitute for an actual system. The problem is that many alarm users don’t know how to properly use their systems, or if they do, they neglect to do so.

The Security Industry Alarm Association estimates that 77 percent of all false alarms are due to end-user error. Many of those end users could just as easily forget to arm their systems amid the bustle of the holidays, essentially leaving the door open to property crime. It’s safe to say most alarm companies could tell a tale or two along those lines.

There are other ways to reinforce security at home, though, measures that might seem obvious but somehow are frequently overlooked. With that in mind, the Electronic Security Association has rolled out a tip sheet to help homeowners think like an intruder. Alarm companies can also use the tips to remind their customers to think deterrence, especially during the holidays.

Here’s an excerpt of what the ESA had to say:

Most home intrusions can be classified as random opportunistic acts—not planned events. Homeowners can protect against a home intrusion by looking at the weaknesses of their home from an intruder’s point of view. Here are a few questions an intruder might ask when deciding on a house to target.

 

Is anyone home?
The first thing many intruders do is check to see if anyone is home. Sometimes the intruder will simply knock on the front door. If someone answers, the intruder may make up an excuse for the disturbance, such as being lost and needing directions. If no one answers, the intruder may do further research to ensure the home is vacant. He or she may look into windows and listen for the sound of someone watching television. Other times, if the knock at the door goes unanswered, the intruder may try his or her luck at an unlocked door. Three out of 10 times, he or she will hit the jackpot and walk right in.
 Homeowners should try to make their homes appear occupied at all times. Timers for inside lights and televisions serve as easy solutions. Another effective and cost-efficient measure to consider is motion sensor lights. Placing these lights in dark areas outside of the home may scare away potential intruders lurking in the shadows.

Is the home equipped with an alarm system?
A 2009 study by the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice found that an installed burglar alarm makes a dwelling less attractive to would-be and active intruders and protects the home without displacing burglaries to nearby homes. Additionally, the Cromwell-Olson-Avary study, conducted to better understand offenders’ perception of the risks and rewards involved in criminal activity, found that nearly all convicted intruders (90 percent) admitted that they would avoid homes that are equipped with alarm systems. Additionally, the study revealed that if a potential intruder sees a yard sign or window decal from a credible security company outside of a home, around 75 percent would think twice about going through with an attack. But signs and decals aren’t enough to deter an intruder; alarm systems are the best protection against home intrusion.

What is the easiest way to break in?
On average, intruders will spend no more than 60 seconds breaking into a home, since a longer attempt may result in detection by a neighbor or passer-by. First, they will seek out unlocked or open doors and windows—even on the second or third floor—that can be accessed by a ladder. And sometimes, a standard locked door or window won’t always be enough to stop them. Homeowners should consider upgrading to deadbolts and reinforcing the frame of their front door to make a break-in more strenuous for the intruder.

Will anyone notice?
Intruders tend to target homes that they can get away from easily. For an intruder, an ideal home would be located in a dark, lifeless neighborhood with good hiding places and escape paths, such as overgrown bushes or trees in the yard. Hiding areas can be eliminated by keeping the landscaping neatly trimmed and using outdoor lights so the home is well lit at night. Homeowners are encouraged to start or join a neighborhood watch group. These groups can help reduce the risk of home intrusion for everyone in the community. By enhancing the home’s security features with electronic timers, motion sensor lighting and a professionally installed security system, homeowners can protect their property and keep their family safe from crime.

ESA of Florida to hold inaugural event

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Friday, September 14, 2012

I wrote this spring about the Irving, Texas-based Electronic Security Association launching a state-chartered chapter in Florida. Now ESA of Florida is about hold an inaugural event.

ESA created the new state chapter because Florida is home to so many security companies.

The Sept. 20 inaugural event, which will be a legislative dinner featuring the chairman of the Electrical Contractors' Licensing Board, Ken Hoffman, who will discuss licensing requirements in Florida and the function of the board, according to an ESA news release. Also, updates on ESA of Florida and the upcoming ESA Leadership Summit in Orlando (slated for this Feb. 18-21, 2013) will be shared.

Steve Paley, president of Rapid Security Solutions LLC and chairman of the ESA of Florida steering committee, said a prepared statement: “We're excited to kick off the activities of ESA of Florida with this legislative dinner. We're encouraging everyone interested in helping to grow the security integration and monitoring industry in Florida to attend.”

Hoffman also said in the news release: “The security industry in Florida is primed for growth, and I'm happy to be able to address companies looking to improve their businesses and serve their customers even better.”

The dinner will be held at 6 p.m. at
Ruth's Chris Steak House at 2525 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale.

The event — which is sponsored by Interlogix, Honeywell, Telguard and Tri-Ed/Northern Video Distribution — is open to both ESA members and non-members. Registration for ESA members is free; non-member registration is $35.

For more information or to register, visit www.esaweb.org/event/ESAofFLDinner or call ESA's Member Service Center at (888) 447-1689.

Bill to deregulate telecoms in Pa. concerns industry

AICC says legislation would give telecoms like Verizon unfair advantage over security company competitors, but Verizon denies that
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08/08/2012

HARRISBURG, Pa.—Proposed legislation in Pennsylvania to deregulate the telecommunications industry in the state would give an unfair advantage to telecom providers of home security services, according to an attorney with the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC).

Technology still top challenge for alarm companies, new ESA president says

John Knox takes helm amid advances that are reshaping the industry
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07/03/2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Competition from telecoms and cablecos is drawing a lot of attention in the security world, but keeping pace with technology is still the biggest challenge facing alarm companies, new ESA President John Knox said at the Electronic Security Expo.

ESX on track to be largest ever

Organizers predict 30 percent increase in attendance
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05/07/2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The 2012 Electronic Security Expo is on track to be the largest in the event’s five-year history, with more exhibitors and a projected 30 percent increase in attendance from last year, according to event organizers.

Getting home security from the cable guy: drawbacks along with benefits

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We’ve written a lot here at Security Systems News about more and more telecoms and cable companies getting into the security market. And now mainstream media is taking note. For example MSN Money had a recent post from its SmartMoney partner site, titled “Home security—from the cable guy.”

I read the post, thinking it would simply extol the convenience of bundling security with your cable. But it was actually a balanced piece that included the argument from professional security companies that the service they offer is safer. In fact, the subtitle of the piece was: “More cable TV companies are offering home-monitoring systems in their markets. Know the drawbacks before you sign.”

Here’s what the April 20 post had to say to consumers:
 

The same company that provides your home phone, Internet and television services now wants to offer some protection.

A growing number of telecom providers have added home security to their lineup of services. Their interactive systems use sensors and cameras to monitor the property, while apps let users check in remotely and receive alerts about trouble.

Comcast has expanded its Xfinity Home system to 65 percent of its markets since the 2010 pilot. In October, Verizon introduced Home Monitoring and Control in 12 states and Washington, D.C. Time Warner Cable launched IntelligentHome in markets including Los Angeles, Hawaii and upstate New York last summer. Cox Communications and AT&T are separately in the process of rolling out similar programs.

For the companies, the services are a way to "improve their revenue per user" by tapping into the $8 billion home security market, says Tom Kerber, research director for home controls and energy at Parks Associates, a research firm. Telecoms are worried about slowing broadband growth – 62 percent of households already have it, according to PewResearch –  as well as the rise in landline cord-cutting, he says.

CTIA-The Wireless Association reports that roughly a third of households are wireless only, up from 11 percent in 2006. It helps that smart-home technology has also become cheaper and more widespread in recent years, as consumers get used to using their smartphones to control the thermostat or sync with the car's entertainment system.

These companies say their smart-security set-ups let consumers have more interaction with their home than simply arming an alarm when they leave home and disarming it when they get back. Window and door sensors and cameras interact with apps and a control panel, letting customers set rules about when the system reacts, and how.

For example, "when doors open, the system takes a video of whatever made that door open, and I get an alert on my phone," says Mitch Bowling, a senior vice president for Comcast Cable.

Users can also set alerts for things that don't happen, such as if the front door doesn't open by 3:30 p.m. when the kids should be home from school. As an added benefit, most systems can tie in technology to control home appliances such as the thermostat, lights and door locks from afar. So you could set the system to turn on the light when that front door opens, or turn on the air conditioning when you're on your way home from work, says Ann Shaub, director of product management for Verizon.

Cheaper -- but is it better?

The services are typically cheaper than going through a dedicated security firm -- $10 to $40 per month instead of $30 to $75. But experts warn that consumers are likely getting less protection. More elaborate home security systems can monitor for threats as diverse as carbon monoxide and rising water levels that smart systems can't detect.

In addition, some telecoms' monitoring services only alert solely to you, without relaying an alarm in a central monitoring station that would call the police or fire department, says James Orvis, a past executive vice president of the Electronic Security Association and owner of Security Solutions in Norwalk, Conn. Miss the text that the door sensor tripped, and the police may not arrive in time to catch the burglar.

It's also added risk if you're at home during a fire, break-in or other emergency where calling for help yourself isn't easy or safe, he says.

On the other hand, alerts that go only to you limits the number of false alarms, which some police departments add a fine for responding to, Orvis says. Verizon's Shaub says Home Monitoring and Control, which doesn't use a central monitoring station, still provides peace of mind and keeps consumers in tune with what's going on in the house. At the very least, it's a way homeowners can keep tabs on their kids and pets.

Shoppers should also be careful to dig into package details to determine the full cost before signing up, says Chris McGoey, a Los Angeles-based security consultant. Telecom companies' $70 to $500 one-time equipment charge is typically for a basic kit with a monitoring station and a few sensors; consumers with a large house will need to buy extra equipment for thorough coverage. So will those who want remote control over more home devices.

Services may also charge extra for connectivity to a cellular network so alarms will sound even if the power goes out. "By the time you get the system that you really want, it costs you a heck of a lot more than the promotional offer," he says.

Consumers may have little recourse to change their mind, either: Some offers require a two-year service contract.

 

ESA launching Florida chapter

New chapter to focus on business development and lead generation for members
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04/09/2012

IRVING, Texas—The Electronic Security Association, based here, is launching a state-chartered chapter in Florida.

Security industry seeks access to disaster areas

Proper credentialing key for security personnel to access emergency zones to restart critical security/life safety systems
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02/01/2012

IRVING, Texas—In the aftermath of a tornado, hurricane, flood or other disaster, the security and life safety systems of everything from homes to banks to medical facilities need to be quickly restored to aid in the recovery. But without official procedures in place to ensure they have the proper credentials to enter emergency zones, critical security industry personnel may be unable to gain access to rewire and restart their customers

Vance in Vegas; Five Diamonds for Johnson Controls

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The last time SSN caught up with Mary Jo Vance, in April 2011, she was contemplating taking the summer off to “ride cross-country on my Harley” after leaving CenterPoint Technologies. Vance, better known in the industry as MJ, recently let CSAA members know she is “alive and very well in Vegas” after landing a new gig: manager of 1 Time Inc.’s new central station in Henderson, Nev.

MJ says she’ll have more details soon about her latest endeavor, but the company is still building its website and sorting through “new ideas and new adventures. … Right now we can’t give you the full picture.”

MJ served as vice president of operations and business development for CenterPoint for three years before what she described as an amicable departure last spring. A well-known and respected leader in the industry, she received the CSAA’s Manager of the Year award in 2007 and the Presidential Award from the Fire Marshals’ Association of Missouri in 2010.

Five Diamonds for Johnson: Congratulations to Johnson Controls’ central station in Milwaukee, which recently joined an elite group by earning Five Diamond certification from the CSAA. The station is among 132 of roughly 2,700 centrals nationwide to have received the distinction, according to the CSAA’s website.

To qualify, all of Johnson Controls’ central operators had to pass a CSAA online training course, proving their proficiency in alarm verification, PSAP communications, knowledge of electronic communications equipment and the standards of Underwriters Laboratories, Factory Mutual, the National Fire Protection Association and other organizations.

“This prestigious certification reflects the dedication and determination our central station operators bring to the job to help protect the many corporate customers we monitor every day in the U.S.,” Paul Pisarski, manager of field support and remote operations for the company’s Building Efficiency unit, said in a prepared statement.

Calling all duffers: Looking to get into the swing at ISC West before everyone hits the show floor? Then this one’s for you: the ninth annual Alarm Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF) golf tournament, scheduled for Tuesday, March 27 at the Revere Golf Club in Las Vegas.

The Electronic Security Association created the nonprofit AIREF in 1977 as a way to help raise money for industry research. Funding for the foundation is derived almost solely from the golf tournament, which promises players “a casual golf outing” with other industry professionals while supporting AIREF in the process.

To register for the tournament, visit www.airef.org. For more information, call 203-762-2444 or email Pat Remes at premes@airef.org.

When background checks aren't enough

Door-to-door security sales rep charged with rape and attempted murder, but company who hired him says it had no information showing he was threat
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01/04/2012

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—SecureWatch, an ADT authorized dealer based here, takes steps to make sure job applicants don’t have criminal backgrounds—such as paying a top-notch company to do background checks on them and searching the Internet for information about them, said company COO Paul Victor.
So the company was stunned to learn that a brand-new door-to-door sales rep it had hired—who Victor said had checked out clean—now stands charged with rape and attempted murder while on the job in Tampa, Fla.

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