Friday, September 23, 2011

Burglary a Visual Overview

The world is filled with many incredible people fighting the war on crime and the InfoGraphics team that created this fall into this category. Often I receive valuable pieces of information from people reading my blog that I wish to share with my audience and this is one of those golden nuggets. So whether you live in North Carolina, New York, or New Hampshire or anywhere else you will find this information shocking and relevant.
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Burglary Statistics Illustration - Graphic & Marketing by Yellow Robin Now that you are enlightened, it is time to act. If you thought you didn't need a safe or a security system, I am certain that you are reassessing your previous notion. Check out the links on the graphics for a safe and if you are considering a security system go to

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Your Home Security-Never Before Revealed-How Burglars Case Homes

What makes a burglar choose a specific home as a target to break into? Are there certain things that make a certain home more appealing? Are there things that homeowners can do to make their home less appealing? This article will reveal some of the shocking never before revealed insights burglars have made in the past when selecting a home to break into. If home security has ever been important to you this is one of the most important articles you will ever read.

One of the first things a burglar looks at is ease of entry. As a burglar drives through a neighborhood he observes a large number of things in a single glance. One of the first things they notice is the layout of the neighborhood. Neighborhoods with street layouts that allow them to see multiple sides of a single home or multiple homes are more attractive. Homes that are located on corners are very appealing. Homes that have walking trails that pass behind them, through wooded areas, are also prime targets.

The ability to see multiple sides of a home lets the burglar see if the home has a sliding door, French doors or an enclosed patio with a window above it. The burglar can see the crawlspace door and if it is secure. With multiple vantage or viewpoints a window left open is obvious. Tools and ladders left unsecure is also something they can quickly survey.

Siding doors are easy targets because they can often be lifted from the track and pulled out or simply pried open. French doors are also easy targets because they are generally located in the rear of the home and can easily be kicked in. The crawlspace is a perfect access point because many homes have ductwork for their air handler in the crawlspace. This ductwork can be pulled down and a small criminal can gain entry through a large vent cover that holds the air filter.

If the home has an enclosed patio, there is normally deck railing that can be used as a step from the outside to climb onto the roof. Normally the burglar is looking to reach a window located above the porch. Windows located on the second floor are often unsecure and most security or alarm companies do not place security devices on the second level. If the master bedroom is on the second floor this is a goldmine for a burglar, because that is where they will easily find guns money and jewelry.

Installing a screw in the top track of a sliding glass door will prevent it from being removed from the track. A dowel rod or cut off broom stick behind the door is a valuable way to fortify a sliding door. French doors like all entry doors in the home should have reinforced strike plates installed with extra long screws. The dead bolt should be high security locks that are bump key resistant. Protect the crawlspace by replacing the hinge screw with star bolts and installing a U-style lock that is bolt cutter resistant is an easy and cost effective means of securing the crawlspace. If you have an alarm or security system and a flush mount security contact was not installed originally, call several companies if you are out of your contract, and have a security upgrade assessment where the crawlspace contact can be addressed.

Some of those things may have seemed obvious but were you aware that a quick casing of your home by a burglar that sees that older children especially teenagers live in the home makes the house a prime target.
Homes with teenagers are far more likely to have doors left unlocked. Think about it and you’ll realize the truth in that statement.

From the front of the home the burglar can see what door you use to enter the home. If there is a lot of dust on the front patio and no well worn trail leading down the steps then that is not your normal entry point. Also, if there are cobwebs and solicitation pieces left on the door knob - which appear to have been there for a long period of time; it is obvious that the door is not the primary point of entry. Burglars can also see the type of lock on the door and whether there is a screen door with an outer lock. If the screen door is left unlocked and the door is fitted with a traditional lock and deadbolt –it is an easy door to kick in. Burglars can also see if there are gaps between the door and the door jam, which makes the door easier to pry open.

Burglars will often use the same door you use to enter the home because it is more likely to left open especially if there is a screen door because most people will be too lazy to lock it. If the home has a security system the installation design may aid the burglar because many run of the mill companies place the keypad in plain view of the primary entry door allowing a burglar to see if the system is on or off.

Even if the security system is armed and the crook knows by observation of the security yard sign that the company being advertised as monitoring it is no longer in business: they know it is just a noise maker and can quickly get past it before it makes any noise. This is because the door you use for entry has a delay on it to give the homeowner time to enter the code before the audible alarm sounds. All the burglar has to do is kick in the door and pull the sounder of the wall and then take anything they want.

If the home has windows that are not covered by drapes or blinds or the drapes and blinds are open the valuables such as wide screen televisions, computers, gaming systems and blue-ray players can be seen. Now they know that you have things worth stealing and your home becomes far more appealing.

If your home doesn’t have a garage burglars are often aware that you are not home. Even having a garage can give a burglar, posing as a random door to door solicitor, valuable information. If the garage has little windows the crook can see if you have a garage door opener with a red cord hanging down. He can also see tools and hobby items that are worth taking. Simply knocking out the small window pane closest to the garage door opener and reaching through with a grab stick and pulling the red cord, releases the tension on the garage door opener allowing the door to be raised.

Blacking out the windows and removing the red tag are simple fixes that can make the home more secure. Also installing a glass-break detector or a garage door contact tied to a monitored security system are valuable measures you can take to help fortify the garage.

A burglar can tell quite a bit from your landscaping. If there are large bushes that cover windows, the burglar may have an enticing entry point.
If the yard has high grass compared to other homes in the community it may indicate that you are away from the home on vacation.

When a burglar sees your name on a placard on the home- like ones that read Jones family established 1999, they know who you are and can research more information about you online and through the phone book.

Far too many people have too much information online as to their schedules and what they will be attending and where. I constantly advise people not to broadcast there goings and coming in public and what is more public than the internet using social media sites.

As a homeowner it is possible to make your home less attractive to burglars casing the neighborhood but it takes a plan. Having a complete home safety and audit that addresses 48 areas of concern is something I provide at no cost to my clients and perspective clients. If you are located in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Mebane, Knightdale, Clayton, Garner, Creedmoor, Hillsborough, Goldsboro or surrounding areas and are considering a home security system or home security upgrades give me a call at (919)949-9690 or email me at Thanks for following the blog and pass the site link on to everyone you think can benefit from it contents.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dangers of Purchasing a Security System over the Phone

A security system is a necessity, but there are dangers when purchasing that system from a phone solicitation. It is becoming more common for home security companies to employ the tactic high pressure phone solicitation to gain more installs and increase their bottom line profitability. Although the security companies do provide what they solicit, it is often not in the best interest of the consumer’s needs.

One of the main reasons many unwary consumers believe that the deal presented to them by the security company is a good deal is due to what I call company pairing for profitability. The term company pairing for profitability means that two or more companies come together and refer each other for the sole purpose of profit. When company (A) refers company (B) and Company (B) makes a sale they give company (A) some of the profit. When this type of arrangement is made the referring company, which you are already doing business with, might not have your best interest at heart, because they are receiving a kick back. In some cases the referring company has no fear of losing your business due to a bad referral because they are the only provider of that service in the area- namely the power company.

So if you are relocating to the area or moving service from one place to the next decline the option to hear about alarm service even if it is from a major company that you recognize. The reason is phone solicitation deals allow no room for consumer negotiation and provide the maximum profitability for the company. There is different pricing and packages between dealers representing the same company and the corporate office. This means that due diligence is a must. One of the main reasons to abstain from phone solicitation deals is the security company offering the deal has a basic package that provides a sense of security but not full security or the best equipment options.

The notion that all you need is three door contacts and a motion is a far cry from full security that addresses fire, medical emergency, glass break technology, flood detection and system aesthetics. In most cases a consumer that purchases over the phone will receive a wireless panel with 3 bulky door sensors, and a motion detector. The keypad, siren and circuit board are combined. This poses a risk because most companies do not place a tamper switch on the back of the panel to keep it from being snatched from the wall by an average criminal that kicks in the front door because he knows that it has a delay of 20-30 seconds. There are hard-wired systems that are available where the keypad, siren, and master-control circuit board are separate. The master-control is secured inside a metal can that is locked. It is also advisable to place a tamper contact on the can or the door that leads to its location. The contacts are also hidden providing a much more polished look. There are some instances when wireless is the only option but the consumer is not given any choice when they purchase over the phone.

Consumers often fail to realize that the security system needs to be custom designed to fit their unique needs. This should be done by an on sight review of the property. This allows the consumer to take their time, ask questions and have the involvement of all the people who would be using the system.

Consumers purchasing a security system over the phone have not read the contractual agreement that in some cases could have them obligated for 5 years.

Consumers purchasing a security system over the phone will pay a higher price for additional equipment than if they had shopped around.

Finally, consumers purchasing a security system should have an agent that will stand by them not only during the sale but after. If you wouldn’t purchase a home without a quality real estate agent or purchase insurance without a quality insurance agent- you should not purchase a security system without a quality agent. Quality agents have years of experience, their profiles can be researched online, and they have references.

For additional information on this topic, contact Jim McNeely, Residential and Commercial Security Agent at or at (919) 949-9690. For some of the best deals in home security go to

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Butler Shoots and Kills Himself Demonstrating Gun Safety

Randall Trent Butler (23) of Sanford, NC accidentally shot and killed himself while demonstrating the gun safety features on his 22 caliber pistol. According to WRAL website, Butler was at the home of his girlfriend Sunday June 26, 2011 demonstrating how the gun safety worked to friends when he apparently failed to reengage the safety, when he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Upon reading about this tragedy I felt compelled to share a few simple gun safety tips.

1. Guns should never be loaded when demonstrating them.

2. Guns should not be pointed (loaded or unloaded) at people or animals in a nonthreatening environment.

3. Use a trigger lock in addition to the safety.

4. Store gun in a lockable gun box or gun safe.

5. Make sure that weapons are protected by a monitored external home security system when they are left in the home while you are away.

6. Never horse play with weapons, even if unloaded.

7. Never handle a gun or other weapon if you have been drinking or under the influence of drugs.

8. Use common sense.

My condolences go out to the family. It is my hope that his death will save the lives of others by serving as a chilling reminder that a forgetful or thoughtless moment with a gun can be fatal. For more information on gun safety or other personal safety or home security issues contact me at (919)949-9690 or email me at

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Home Inventory Plan – A Cornerstone to Home Security

Home Inventory Plans are often treated like Fire Escape Plans they are topics that people have a vague idea of their relevance but fail to prioritize them and put them in place. For most people the home inventory plan need becomes apparent when they face a burglary or fire and must file a claim against their insurance. The lack of planning and proper implementation during a time of disaster heightens stress levels and delay or minimize the settlement a person might have received from the insurance company. This article will detail several quick and easy ways to put a home inventory plan in place.

The first method utilizes the common cell phone that almost all people own. If you have a video phone or even just a camera phone along with internet accessibility you can perform your inventory room during a commercial break.

Video the items in the room and give a description of the item including make and model. Save the video and then email it to yourself. In the event that something should occur like a burglary or fire you will be prepared.

Another more detailed way of performing a home inventory can be found at . This amazing free site will walk you through a simple process that allows you to inventory items room by room, manage and update as necessary and create reports that can be printed in a excel format or accessed remotely over the internet.

As you inventory your home you will often discover that over the years you have acquired many more items than you originally had when you first took out your homeowners or renters policy. I cannot stress the importance of having an insurance review to make sure that you have adequate coverage. Your insurance agent may also discover ways to increase your coverage and lower your premium at the same time. This was the case for me. A sometimes overlooked discount is the monitored fire and security system discount that a person can qualify for if they have a monitored fire and security system installed in their home. These discounts can be as much as 20%.

For additional information on this topic or other security related issues contact Jim McNeely at (919) 949-9690 or

Friday, June 24, 2011

Highway Shootings Raleigh, Durham-Tips to Stay Safe

With three shootings on Triangle area highways since June 18, 2011, there is cause for everyone to be concerned. According to media reports the three shootings have left on fatality, Michael Hunter who was shot and killed on I-147 on Saturday night of June 18, 2011. There was a second shooting on Monday the 20th and another on Wednesday the 22nd. There were only minor injuries in the most recent shootings. According to witnesses the community should be on the lookout for a 2000 model silver Acura and a Dodge Charger. In addition to looking for the suspect vehicle here are 10 tips to stay safe on the roads.

1. Beware of your surroundings and driving habits of those around you.

2. Drive with the traffic and try not to be isolated, there is safety in numbers.

3. If at all possible avoid major highways- the shooter or shooters will have a more difficult time escaping to a major arterial road if you take secondary roads.

4. If possible avoid driving late at night and early morning before sunrise- especially highways.

5. Avoid being distracted by your cell phone, load music, or eating in your vehicle.

6. Drive in the far right hand lane on the highway, so you can minimize your risk of being boxed in and you can observe someone passing you that may roll down their passenger window.

7. If someone pulls behind you flashing their lights get over and take the first exit and get to a well populated, well lit area. Report any aggressive drivers.
8. Never respond to others poor driving habits by flipping them the bird, cursing at them or exhibiting other road age actions.

9. Never let your poor driving habits cause others to become irate with you. Don’t cut people off, signal when you change lanes and don’t drive slowly in the passing lane.

10. Until the suspects are caught only take necessary trips.

For more information on this topic or other personal or home and/or business security issues contact Jim McNeely at (919)949-9690 or

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Realtor Safety when showing foreclosures and short sales

The current weakened economic market and the affect on the housing market has created enhanced occupational hazards for realtors. Selling real estate has always been a job that could be considered high risk, due to the fact that realtors often spend time in unoccupied homes with people they do not know, which could make them targets of robbery, assault, battery, rape and even homicide. With the increased number of foreclosures and short sales realtors not only face the dangers from those they are showing the property to, but also from those that may be squatting in the property they are showing. This is cause for realtors to take more safety precautions in order to protect themselves.
The longer a house stays on the market the more likely that home is to attract crime. Foreclosures have been known to be used by gangs, drug addicts, illegal immigrants and the previous owners that were foreclosed on. In order to stay safe realtors should apply these simple tips.

1. When looking at a foreclosure or short sale always alert someone at the office as where you are going and when to expect you back.

2. Before viewing the property stop by the neighbor’s home and introduce yourself. Let them know who you are and what you are doing. Ask them to watch out for you.

3. If at all possible bring someone with you. If it a high risk neighborhood get a police or sheriff deputy to go with you.

4. When pulling up to the house do not pull into the driveway. Park on the street where you can not be blocked in.

5. When walking up to the house observe your surroundings look for areas where someone or something could be lurking.

6. Perform a perimeter sweep of the house look for broken windows, or broken door jams. Press all exterior doors to see if they just open. If they do open at the touch-do not enter. Immediately call the police

7. Have your cell phone pre-programmed to call 911.

8. If you are working with a buddy have them remain in the car to act as your look out. Should something happen they can get away quickly and get help.

9. Upon entering be observant if you see things like drug paraphernalia, gang signs, items of food or evidence that someone is still in the home. If you see any of these things leave immediately and call the police. You do not want to encounter a squatter.

10. If you do encounter a squatter get out of the house and call the police.

11. The number on thing every realtor should do is put safety first and use their gut instinct. If something does not feel right do not proceed.

For more information on realtor safety or other security related issues contact Jim McNeely at 919-949-9690 or at

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Top ways to protect an unoccupied home on the market from thieves

1. Secure the crawlspace door by removing the Phillips or flat head screws in the hinges and replace them with star bolts. Also add a U style lock to secure. This will keep thieves from stealing the air handler underneath the home.
2. If the power is left on and there is a garage door opener, remove the red hanging tag to prevent a thief from breaking out the glass or drilling a hole and pulling it to gain access.
3. Hide deer style hidden cameras that can be hidden in the landscaping to see any unwanted activity. They are relatively inexpensive and can be moved from property to property.
4. Keep the security system active and make sure that it has cell monitoring.
5. The listing agent should become involved the neighborhood watch, by doing so they can get more exposure for themselves and protect the property.
6. The listing agent can also build good will and gain exposure by meeting with police in that district and circulating a picture of that listing and asking them to patrol the area. By getting increased patrols in the area is a strong selling point. The realtor can also get referral business from the police department.
7. Realtors can also work with a veteran security specialist to have them perform a security audit of the home that can be provided to prospective buyers, which will highlight the safety features of the home and suggest upgrades to further strengthen the safety of the property.

To learn more about any of the above listed items contact Jim McNeely (Certified Life Safety Specialist and Security Expert with Advantage Security at or (919)949-9690)