Vigilante Security provides complete residential, commercial, and industrial alarm services. We are a full-service organization that installs security systems, fire alarm systems, video surveillance systems, access control, life safety systems, and all types of environmental services.
The FBI released its annual crime report for 2017, and property crimes were 3 percent lower than they were in 2016, marking the 15th consecutive year the collective estimates for these offensives declined.
Nationwide, there were an estimated 7,694,086 property crimes, according to the report. Of this number, there were an estimated 1,401,840 burglaries, a decrease of 7.6 percent when compared with 2016 data.
In 2017 the number of burglaries decreased 27.4 percent when compared with 2013 data and was down 37.1 percent when compared with the 2008 estimate.
Why the decrease? Many crime experts feel the age of crime-prone individuals (typically 15-24 year olds) is a large factor. The decline in this population demographic reduces the crime numbers. Many also believe that security systems play a chief role in the reduction of property crimes, especially burglaries. In a study done three years ago, 73 percent of burglars said that they preferred to abandon their attempt if there was a system in the home. Experts also believe that not only installing home alarm systems, but adding cameras and other additions to their systems are responsible for the reduction of residential burglaries.
Burglaries accounted for 18.2 percent of the estimated number of property crimes.
By subcategory, 57.5 percent of burglaries involved forcible entry, 36.2 percent were unlawful entries, and 6.3 percent were attempted forcible entry.
Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.4 billion in property losses in 2017. The average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,416.
Burglaries of residential properties accounted for 67.2 percent of all burglary offenses.
Criminals love targeting a home that is visibly undergoing a home improvement project. Why? It’s simple really. Criminals know that most home improvement projects involve material and tools which can be easily sold and are also aware that home owners will be especially preoccupied during the renovation project.
Home improvements turn your home into a construction zone with security risks that leave your family and your project tools and materials vulnerable. Before you begin your next project, check out these important tips:
1. Use Only Trusted Contractors and Service Providers
Letting strangers into your home is a big deal, so do your research before you hire anyone. Get referrals for contractors and check online to see if anyone has had any issues with them. Find out whether they sub-contract some or all of the work to others. If they sub-contract, you may have little idea or control over who enters your home.
2. Be Aware of the Number of People in Your Home
Always know how many people come in to your home and where they are at all times. When possible, have them use one entrance, such as a back door, so it is easier to see who enters and leaves and when.
3. Keep Doors and Windows Locked
More activity means more chances for the doors to be left unlocked. Ask all workers not to unlock any door or window unnecessarily and to re-lock when done with any task. Be sure to check the doors when you leave or retire for the night.
4. Never Leave Openings
Never leave any open access to your home. Try to finish all projects before leaving or before evening. When that is not possible, secure openings with plywood to prevent criminals from entering the property.
5. Make Burglarizing Your Home Difficult
Deter criminals by making the risk of getting caught far greater than the reward of gaining access to your property. Use fences, locked gates, motion activated lights, and video surveillance systems to make gaining access less attractive.
6. Keep Your Materials Out of Sight and Protected with Security Systems
Keep all of your materials in a secure location such as a locked garage, preferably protected by security systems such as alarms and CCTV.
7. Call Your Alarm Company
Adding or changing your space can cause gaps in your security. Home security specialists configure security systems to meet the needs of the space at the time of installation. Any changes might mean the system is not optimally situated to the new space.
If you have questions about how to protect your home during a renovation or how to use your home security system during large projects, call us today.
The day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, is the biggest shopping day of the year. It is also considered the beginning of the holiday shopping season. With reports of increased cyber purchasing, and closings of major retail outlets, there still seems to be a large amount of people out and about shopping for the holidays.
Many shoppers have a strategic plan, including store maps and item locations that are planned days in advance. Others take a less organized approach, but are still hungry for a deal or this year’s hottest holiday toy. Overzealous drivers can make parking lots a zoo. Also, unfortunately, holiday shopping also brings out thieves, pickpockets, and others who are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers.
Whether you’re still planning your shopping excursion, already shopped on Black Friday, or are leaving holiday shopping for the last minute, keep these safety tips in mind when navigating the parking lots and wandering the aisles.
On the Road and in the Parking Lot:
When backing out of a parking spot, be aware of waiting cars, others who are backing out at the same time, and motorists who speed through lanes.
Lock all doors and roll up all windows even when leaving the car for a short period of time.
When shopping, keep gifts in the trunk or hidden from view in the interior of the car. Also, put all of your packages in the trunk before departing one parking lot and driving to another. Waiting until your next shopping destination allows others to see packages go into the trunk of your car and then you departing into the mall or store.
Avoid parking next to vans and large trucks that block your space from general vision of others.
Make a mental note or write down exactly where you park your car to avoid wandering around longer than necessary.
During the day, park away from buildings to reduce the chance of dings from car doors or shopping carts. At night, avoid secluded areas and park directly under lights whenever possible.
Have your keys in hand when leaving a store. Also, look underneath your car before you reach it; criminals have been known to lie underneath in wait.
Bring gifts in the house with you instead of leaving them in the car.
In the Store:
Use a credit card to avoid thefts of large amounts of cash that are irreplaceable.
Shopping with a single credit card is preferable because it’s easier to cancel one, rather than several, if your wallet or purse is stolen.
Keep purses zipped and close to your body. Never leave a purse unattended in a shopping cart where it is more susceptible to theft.
Keep a reference list of phone and account numbers for all your credit cards in a safe place at home.
If possible, carry keys, cash, and credit cards separate from each other.
For freedom of motion and clear visibility, do not overload yourself with bags when leaving a store and returning to your car. It’s difficult to defend yourself with when you’re carrying a lot of packages.
Use ATMs in well-populated, well-lit locations. Do not throw ATM receipts away at the ATM location.
Remember there is increased safety in numbers. Avoid walking alone and leave malls and stores well before closing time to assure a more active parking lot. Ask mall security to walk you to your car if you feel you are not safe.
At Vigilante Security we offer you the most reliable and technologically up-to-date alarm systems and camera systems for protecting your home or business property. But disaster can strike when you’re on the road, too. With the weather getting colder, we want you to be prepared and safe no matter where you are, so here are the essential elements of a car safety kit. Keep them tucked away in the trunk or behind a seat, and you’ll be much better equipped to deal with any issues while you’re out and about.
Jumper Cables with Instructions
This basic item can save the day when you’ve accidentally drained the battery by leaving a light on or leaving the door cracked. Plus, having jumper cables gives you the chance to be the Good Samaritan for a fellow driver who finds themselves stranded in a parking lot.
Hazard Triangles or LED Flares
If your car breaks down by the side of the road, you’ll need to protect it from other drivers while you’re waiting for assistance, especially if it’s dark outside. Reflective hazard triangles or LED flares give other motorists enough warning to get out of your lane, preventing an accident. LED road flares are replacing the traditional burning flare. They are safer, as there is no burning, can be driven over and are reusable.
Flashlight and Batteries
Speaking of after dark, a flashlight will be essential if you have a vehicle emergency past nightfall. Even a simple repair can be impossible to make in the dark. Include new batteries still in their package – don’t put them in the flashlight to prevent them from corroding.
Car Jack and Lug Wrench
Your vehicle should already come with these tools so that you can change a tire in case you get a flat. But, especially if you’ve bought a used vehicle, make sure you know where the car jack and lug wrench are and how to use them. Make sure there is a spare that is filled. Also, spare tires are an option on many new cars today.
Most people carry a phone with them everywhere these days, but keeping a charged pre-paid phone (with charger) in your kit gives you extra peace of mind – in case your phone fails or in case you’ve forgotten it. And remember that 911 operators can’t locate you by the position of your phone, so you’ll need to give them as much information as possible about your location.
Investing in an ice scraper to keep in your car – they’re only a few dollars – means you won’t have to frantically rummage through the house for flimsy spatulas. Leave the defroster running on high for 5 minutes before you try to scrape the ice off, and never, ever pour hot water on your windshield, as it may crack the glass.
From Band-Aids for minor scrapes to bandaging for larger wounds, a well-stocked first-aid kit can help in case of personal injury.
Food and Water
If you end up stranded for a few hours, this can make all the difference. Consider keeping four bottles of water (or more, depending on how many passengers your vehicle holds) and some high-protein energy bars in your emergency kit to keep everyone fed and watered until assistance arrives.
For even more suggestions on vehicle emergency kit essentials, take a look at DMV.org’s recommendations on How to Pack An Emergency Kit, Ready.gov’s thoughts on Emergency Kit Storage Locations, and ConsumerReports.org’s Roadside Emergency Kit list.
After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. Remember, you may be stranded in place or have to evacuate. Your emergency kit should be designed to sustain your family for at least three days, no matter what the situation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers many helpful publications about disaster preparedness that can assist you in making an emergency Go-Kit.
Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life. Headed to the store? Download a printable version to take with you. Once you take a look at the basic items, consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets, or seniors.
Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers
Replace expired items as needed
Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.
Kit Storage Locations
Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.
Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
Vehicle: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.
The devastating hurricanes in Florida and the Carolinas, recently, remind the nation of the importance of preparing for disasters. Often, we will be the first ones in our communities to take action after a disaster strikes and before first responders arrive, so it is important to prepare in advance to help yourself and your community. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers many helpful publications about disaster preparedness that can assist you in designing an emergency response plan.
Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area. Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.
Step 1: Put together a plan by discussing these 4 questions with your family, friends, or household to start your emergency plan.
1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
2. What is my shelter plan?
3. What is my evacuation route?
4. What is my family/household communication plan?
Step 2: Consider specific needs in your household.
As you prepare your plan, tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like the operation of durable medical equipment.
Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance. Keep in mind some of these factors when developing your plan:
• Different ages of members within your household
• Responsibilities for assisting others
• Locations frequented
• Dietary needs
• Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
• Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
• Languages spoken
• Cultural and religious considerations
• Pets or service animals
• Households with school-aged children
Step 3: Fill out a Family Emergency Plan
Download and fill out a family emergency plan or use them as a guide to create your own.
Step 4: Practice your plan with your family/household
According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), between 2010 and 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 15,970 home fires per year involving clothes dryers or washing machines. These fires resulted in annual losses estimated at 13 deaths, 440 injuries, and $238 million in property damage.Facts and figures
Clothes dryers accounted for 92% of the fires; washing machines 4%, and washer and dryer combinations accounted for 5%.
The leading factor contributing to the ignition of home fires involving clothes dryers was failure to clean, accounting for one-third (33%) of dryer fires.
A mechanical or electrical failure or malfunction was involved in the vast majority of home fires involving washing machines.
Fires involving clothes dryers usually started with the ignition of something that was being dried or was a byproduct (such as lint) of drying, while washing machine fires usually involved the ignition of some part of the appliance.
Doing laundry is most likely part of your everyday routine. But did you know how important taking care of your clothes dryer is to the safety of your home? With a few simple safety tips you can help prevent a clothes dryer fire.
Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
Do not use the dryer without a lint filter.
Make sure you clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry. Remove lint that has collected around the drum.
Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.
Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a qualified professional to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.
Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and don’t overload your dryer.
Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.
The clothes dryer is an indispensable convenience and necessity. However, damaging fires can occur if clothes dryers are not properly installed and maintained.
FACT: The leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them.
Smoke Alarms in Clothes Dryer Fires in Occupied Residential Buildings
Smoke alarms were reported as present in 64 percent of clothes dryer fires in occupied residential buildings. In 16 percent of clothes dryer fires there were no smoke alarms present. In another 21 percent of these fires, firefighters were unable to determine if a smoke alarm was present. When smoke alarms were present (64 percent) and the alarm operational status is considered, the percentage of smoke alarms reported as present consisted of:
Smoke alarms present and operated—42 percent
Smoke alarms present but did not operate—16 percent (alarm did not operate, 8 percent; fire too small, 8 percent)
Some alarms present, but operational status unknown—6 percent
Smoke detectors need to be installed on all levels of your home, including basement and attic, as well as all sleeping rooms. These detectors should be wired to each other so if one sounds, they all sound.
The smoke detectors should be wired to the house power source, with battery backup. And most importantly, they should be connected to your Vigilante Security, Inc. monitored home alarm system so an alarm signal will be sent to the central station when smoke is detected. The central station will dispatch the fire department as soon as the signal is received. This is very important when no one is home. The alarm system can also monitor the smoke detectors for any loss of power, as well as the battery life.
On the night July 20th,, 2018, a fire swept through an apartment complex, killing five young people that were students or associated with Texas State University, in San Marcos, TX. Six others were injured, one critically burned, and over 200 people were displaced from their off campus apartments. This was the largest loss of life in a campus related fire since 2005.
With many students and parents preparing to make the move to college over the next few weeks, it is a time to think about many things. The most important thing that will concern most parents is safety. All facets of safety are important, but fire safety is critical as it involves many people.
Fire is a serious threat to a college student’s safety. Unlike crimes or personal attacks that typically only harm one victim, fire usually affects all people living in a residence hall. Fire has no conscience. It does not discriminate or select its victims. You can’t negotiate with it.
Timothy Ryan Assistant Director/Manager of EH&S Office of Public Safety & Emergency Management Ithaca College
Firefighters respond to an average of 3,810 fires in college residence halls and Greek housing each year. Since 2000, campus fires have resulted in 122 fatalities and millions of dollars in property damage. According to FEMA, the vast majority of these fires could have been prevented through awareness and education. If a college student’s most recent fire prevention training was learning to “stop, drop, and roll” in elementary school, then it’s time for a refresher.
Things to Know
There are several things everyone should know in regard to fire safety. Of course there is prevention and what to do in the event of a fire. There are also things to know before you move into a dorm, Greek housing or even off campus housing.
FEMA’s University Housing Fire Report found that fires cause $26 million in property loss annually. Court rulings have also shown more often, than not, that college and universities are not liable for accidents or unsafe actions by students, so having an insurance policy is essential.
Parents and students tend to believe that the parents’ homeowner’s policies protect them, but that is often untrue. Those policies usually have high deductibles or complicated eligibility requirements that exclude certain claims.
Before moving on campus, you should carefully examine your homeowner’s policy. It may be a good idea to take out a separate policy. To find coverage, you should:
Inquire as to how much it would cost to make adjustments to your policy.
Check with the school. Many colleges and universities offer special policies with registration.
Get several quotes for renter’s insurance. A quick online search will bring up a list of companies to call.
More importantly, you should also be knowledgeable about the facility your student will be living.
The Campus Fire Safety Right-to-Know Act is an amendment to the Higher Education Opportunity Act. This amendment serves to increase campus fire safety awareness across the nation, providing students and their families with the fire safety records of colleges/universities. This information provides prospective and current students of the policies, concerns, and fire safety conditions that are present at the institution in which they have applied or are enrolled.
If you do not see this information and statistics, ask for them.
Here are some important questions for STUDENTS and PARENTS to ask:
How many fires have happened on campus in the past year? How many in off-campus housing?
Are residence halls, Greek housing or off-campus housing protected by automatic fire sprinklers?
Does every student’s room have a smoke alarm? If so, does it send a signal to campus security, or to the fire department?
Do you know how many false alarms have occurred in residence halls? False alarms are dangerous on their own in that they can cause students and staff to stop paying attention to the alarms—and that can be a fatal decision.
What are the disciplinary steps the college will take against anyone causing a false alarm, failing to evacuate during an alarm, or tampering with fire safety equipment?
In case of any alarm system activation, is the fire department immediately notified?
What items—and practices—are prohibited in residence halls because of fire safety? Make sure that candles, firepots, and halogen lamps are not permitted, and that smoking is off limits.
What are the school’s policies on permissible and safe electrical appliances such as surge protectors, etc.?
How much fire prevention training does the residence hall staff receive?
How often do students themselves receive fire prevention education?
How often are evacuation drills conducted? There should be at least one per semester.
How often are fire safety inspections of the residence halls and student rooms done? Are the results shared with students and parents?
For off-campus housing, are there working smoke alarms in each bedroom and on each level?
Are there couches or upholstered furniture on the front porch or deck? Many communities have banned these due to fires having started in couches and spread into houses, especially in high fire-risk areas.
Are students and parents aware that setting fires is a serious crime, and can be punishable by fines and time in prison?
Fire safety experts stress the importance of practicing escape plans in case of fire in a residence hall room. Practice should include trying a blindfold. If at night, with heavy smoke and no lights, you may not be able to see where you are going. You should know by experience how to get out of the building. A fire alarm should never be ignored. Students must get out of the building immediately and stay out until given the direction to come back in.
When a fire occurs students should:
“Get low and go” under the smoke to the nearest safe exit, assisting people with mobility impairments
Never use the elevator – take the stairs instead
Carefully feel a closed door for heat before opening. If it’s hot, find another way out
If trapped in a room:
Keep doors closed.
Put a wet towel under the door to keep out smoke.
Open a window and wave a bright cloth or flashlight to signal for help.
Fire Safety Considerations for Students with Disabilities
According to the United States Fire Authority (USFA), practicing proven fire safety precautions increases the chances that people with mobility, sight and hearing disabilities will survive a fire:
Gail Minger founded The Michael H. Minger Foundation after her son died at Murray State University in Kentucky from arson. His non-verbal learning disability contributed to his death. The foundation has worked to advance fire safety awareness through education, legislation and research to ensure all students are safe. http://www.mingerfoundation.org/
While the reported number of on-campus fires and fatalities are disturbing, for the last decade the numbers have been steadily declining. Off campus housing is still a great concern and parents and students need to be extra vigilant when choosing a rental. With continued awareness in prevention, safety and regulations, the numbers will continue to fall and colleges can be a safer place to live and learn.
College will be challenging for most students. It will also be very stressful for many parents to have their children living away from home. With proper education and planning, parents should feel confident their students are capable of meeting and overcoming whatever challenges they may face in school and in the future.
A Vigilante Security, Inc. alarm system provides you with state of the art protection of your property. A key component of the system is the central station monitoring. Vigilante Security has our own Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listed and 5 Diamond Central Station that monitors your system constantly. Our central station needs to have a list of your authorized people to call in case an alarm is triggered or a problem develops. It’s important to select the right people and to make sure they know their responsibilities.
Who to select for your call list
We suggest a minimum of 3 people on your call list with a mix of family, friends, and neighbors. For example, if you only have family listed and you’re all at the same function with poor cell reception so no one answers their phone, there will be no way to reach anyone about an issue with your system. It’s good to have someone in your neighborhood that will be close to your home/business.
If you go out of town, you can always give temporary orders. You can add someone on to the call list for a short time or even add the hotel you’re staying at.
Please note; it is also important that you keep your list information up to date. People pass away or become unable to provide the services required, phone numbers change, your contacts may also move or relationships may end.
Whomever you select for your call list should be responsible and someone you are willing to give a security system password to. They’ll need to give the password to the central station, in the case of an alarm, to stop an emergency personnel dispatch or to acknowledge a service concern, such as a low battery.
Adding someone to your call list also gives them the ability to authorize something if an issue occurs such as a water issue, furnace failure, burglary, or fire. You want to feel confident that the people on your list are capable of handling this responsibility. Are the people presently on your call list are able to address these issues?
What you need to do
When you’re selecting people for your call list, you’ll want to make sure the people you select have Vigilante Security’s Central Station phone number. It is suggested that they enter the Central Station’s number in their phone so it identifies who is calling – they may not recognize a strange number calling at 4:00 AM. They should also be able to enter the site. You can supply a key, have a key in a lockbox, or use keyless smart locks. The people on your call list should also know how to arm/disarm the system. It’s also good for them to know how to power down the system in the case of a lightning strike or other catastrophic issue. They should know where the battery is located as well as the power for the unit.
You’ll want to make sure that if there is a lock on the control box that you have a key available. The alarm panel may be in a box that generally has a lock and key, and in a residential setting, the key tends to stay in the door. However, for a commercial setting, the key may be located on top of the box or somewhere near the box.
Again, it is very important for your contacts, as well as yourself, to know the passcode when communicating with the Central Station. We need to know we are speaking with the authorized people.
Creating a call list for the monitoring station is a very important part of setting up your security system. Make sure to choose people you can trust and who can make decisions about your home or business.