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Defend your dwelling. Home security do’s and don’ts

Defend your dwelling. Home security do’s and don’ts
August 21
10:19 2017

Out of sight, out of a potential intruder’s mind.

That’s what the Billings Police Department’s crime prevention specialist Tom Keightley considers the rule of thumb for protecting your property.

Keeping the garage door closed and locking windows and doors are easy safety measures. And when it comes to preventing crime, Keightley says it’s about being proactive, not reactive.

Limit larceny with a few tips from local home safety experts.

Sound the alarm

“A simple alarm system has been shown to reduce the likelihood of home invasion or robbery,” Keightley said. “For most would-be intruders, it’ll make them leave. They know the police are on their way. It stops a lot of crime in progress.”

Today’s alarm systems extend beyond notifying homeowners when a door is opened. Security features like locking windows and doors remotely are part of a larger home automation service.

“Most security systems have that (home automation) feature built in,” said Kenco Security and Technology general manager Jeff Guenthner, referring to additional automation services like lighting and thermostat control.

Geo-fences are another option, detecting when a customer leaves the property with their cellphone and shutting off unnecessary power to the dwelling.

It’s up to customers whether they want to utilize those services at the time of installation.

“Usually one of our security professionals determine how they want to use it,” Guenthner said.

Smile, you’re on camera

Alarms are a proactive approach to home security, whereas most video recordings are reactive.

When videos come in handy, the damage has likely been done. That’s when companies like Kenco Security and Technology start receiving calls for camera installation, said general manager Jeff Guenthner.

“Where we get a lot of calls from anybody is after the fact,” he said. “Something’s happened and they want us to retrieve video.”

Because many videos submitted to the police department were recorded from cameras not mounted by professionals, Keightley says they sometimes cannot be used as evidence.

When professionals install cameras, they account for positioning and lighting. Homeowners can even view live feeds from their phone or computer, plus receive alerts when a motion sensor is activated.

“Typically customers are asking for video recording of their front door, their driveway, maybe in the front or backyard,” said Guenthner. “They want video of someone going in the backyard, using their pool.”

Kenco installs anywhere from one to 16 cameras, but four is the average. Many customers want more than just the motion-activated feature, which adds to the data used, Guenthner said. Higher resolution video also increases data usage.

“Now we’re into megapixel cameras,” he said. “That was just unheard of a year ago.”

One terabyte and larger hard drives are typical, but Guenthner says the video recording service is best used as an alarm system backup, although a camera does serve as a deterrent when a potential intruder notices it.

“The camera system we like to refer to as our backup, or base of information after-the-fact,” Guenthner said. “Cameras aren’t going to be able to see everywhere; a camera system is put into a specific task.”

Do your part

Keightley says the average city of 100,000 people has 210 police officers; Billings has 148.

He suggests participating in or starting a neighborhood watch program because “it’s no surprise that we’re understaffed as far as the number of officers for a city this size.”

“The more eyes and ears we have out there, the better for your own community and the police department,” Keightley said.

Billings has approximately 60 neighborhood watches; some are newer and others have been running for 30 years.

“We’re always looking for more people to get involved,” he said.

Those interested in joining a neighborhood watch program can call (406) 657-8464.

When something is stolen and a report has to be filed, Keightley says it helps the department and insurance company if homeowners can provide an item’s make, model or serial number.

“I tell people all the time, ‘Digital photography is free,’” he said. “It’s a one-hour chore to take photos of everything. Take a photo of the overall object and the serial number.”

And if a homeowner is at home during a break-in, Keightley says to let the professionals deal with it.

“You just have no idea what you’re up against.”

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