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Saturday January 03, 2015

Using Web Information to Burgle your home - within 30 minutes

Over the Christmas period we investigated how easy it is to choose a home to burgle from the comfort of a chair.

We started with our followers on Twitter and Facebook and chose two people who had posted information suggesting they were about to go on holiday.

WE KNEW THEY WERE SOON GOING TO BE OUT OF THEIR HOMES.

They posted photos and information later that told us they were either on their way to the airport or at the airport. The information they posted about where they were going told us they and their family were going to travel on flights of at least six hours, one for a two week holiday and the other for one week.

BURGLARS ARE USUALLY IN AND OUT OF YOUR HOME WITHIN 10 MINUTES. WE KNEW HOW LONG OUR WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY MIGHT BE, OVER 7 DAYS.

Within 20 minutes we knew the home addresses of the people with some simple web searching using names of family from other previous posts they had put on social media sites.

One address came from a local authority planning application put in by the Facebook Follower. We found this after five search clicks through Companies House, 192.com and then the local authority web site.

The other address came simply from company information as they are a sole trader with their home address as their registered office address.

WE NOW KNOW THE KEY INFORMATION - THEIR ADDRESSES.

Using Google Earth we found both their homes and what they looked like.

Both showed us the nice cars on the drive.

One had a house alarm bell box on the house and the other didn't.

One was on a main road with street lighting, one was in a secluded country road in a country village with no street lighting.

Both had no visible sign of security lighting or CCTV .

One had UPVC double glazing, the other had single glazed leaded light wooden framed windows.

Both driveways didn't have gates.

WE DECIDED WHICH OF THE HOMES WAS EASIER TO BURGLE THAN THE OTHER - ALL WITHIN 30 MINUTES AND IN COMFORT

What can you do to limit the chance of being burgled as a result of social media data being used by a burglar?

  • Do not share location information on social media services.

  • Take a vacation from social media whilst on vacation. Avoid 'bragging' about where you are and who with.

  • Share your photos after the event.

  • Do not share your address.

  • Consider sharing with 'friends' only and not 'friends of friends'.

Still, even doing these things do not secure your home - remember prevention is better than cure. Look at our Home Security Advice below.

Let us come and check your home to make sure it is safe, secure and meets the basic requirements of your home insurance policy. Give us a call on 0844 7705128.

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Monday May 26, 2014

Is there a link between Burglary and no street lighting after midnight in Brentwood?

The lighting in four streets in Pilgrims Hatch, Brentwood have been turned back on after midnight following a recent spate of burglaries in this area.

Why?

Acting Inspector Scott Kingsnorth of the Police has said that this was to reassure residents although he stated that they cannot find a link between the lights going off and the rise in burglary as there was a level of crime when the lights were on before in this area.

The crime has reduced in this area and the police confirmed that an arrest had been made.

But the question still remains whether there is a link between the rise in burglaries and the lack of street lighting. It is a known fact that a burglar has always preferred to pick vulnerable homes that are dimly lit and certainly a lack of street lighting may help a burglar move around undetected, but if your house does not have security lighting triggered by Passive Infra-Red (PIR) detectors, you are at risk of burglary.

Other areas of Brentwood, particularly the outlying villages such as Stondon Massey and Kelvedon Hatch have not benefited from Street Lighting previously and levels of crime are no higher than the norm. What these areas benefit from are properties already set up to try to prevent crime overnight and security lighting and intruder alarms are predominant in these areas.

If the areas of Brentwood that have their street lights turned off after midnight are to remain as such, then the installation of security to reduce your risk of over-night crime must be considered a necessity. It is not worth waiting to be burgled and then ask questions when a few simple changes to your property can mean it won’t happen to you.

Let us come and check your home to make sure it is safe, secure and meets the basic requirements of your home insurance policy. Give us a call on 0844 7705128.

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Monday April 14, 2014

The benefits of an integrated security system

With the advance of both physical and electronic security systems and communications, integrating these elements together can reduce your chance of burglary & theft and bring additional benefits to users in monitoring their security system.

If your home has a ‘bells only’ intruder alarm, that is one not linked to any sort of monitoring service or the police, upgrading to a DD243 compliant system allows a home owner to have the peace of mind that it can be monitored by an external service with a link to either a confirmed key holder or the police service for an attended response to an activation.

At its basic level, integrating your ‘bells only’ intruder alarm to a dialler will at least let you know on your mobile device that your alarm has been activated.

If you have different types of security systems that are not integrated, then with the incorporation of simple trigger systems they can provide an enhanced level of security.

For example, the inclusion of external PIR detectors or external security beams or by using access control to enter a site or premises, you can trigger a number of security systems into action, be it lighting, sirens, CCTV recordings or the monitoring station.

We have linked our gate automation to trigger a recording command on CCTV systems to make sure every opening and closing command of the gate system is recorded and date & time stamped. Most CCTV systems we install are linked to an internet provision allowing you to monitor via your mobile device or remote computer.

We are currently working with one of our customers to repair his home gate automation system that was damaged by a delivery courier. It was only through the effective recording of the gate operation with the CCTV system that the Police have managed to track and find the culprit. It has also meant that the Insurance Company who is paying for the repairs can pursue getting the costs back. Our ANPR cameras are not affected by flashlights or headlights on full beam being directed at the camera, so number plates are still visible.

If you have gate automation with no CCTV coverage, think about letting us install an integrated CCTV system. If you have a ‘bells only’ intruder alarm, let us upgrade you to an enhanced system so you know when it has been activated. Linking all three elements mean you are in control and can react to an event. There is nothing worse than coming home to a problem that nobody cares about. Neighbours won’t worry, passers by won’t worry.

Let us come and check your home to make sure it is safe and secure and meets the basic requirements of your home insurance policy. Often big discounts are given by Insurers when an integrated security system is installed and operational at your home or business. Give us a call on 0844 7705128.

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Saturday February 22, 2014

CCTV Data Protection - your obligations

Do you operate or are you considering the installation of a CCTV system that will focus on individuals?

If so, you need to comply with certain requirements to make sure you meet with your legal obligations under the
Data Protection Act 1998 and any other recommendations from the Government and Authorities.

Download our data sheet detailing more details of what you need to do to comply.

Click this link

You have Legal Obligations - we can help. Call us or drop us an email.

 

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Sunday February 9, 2014

Staying safe - Personal security at home and out and about - AGE UK

AGE UK is a network of local organisations that provide advice and information for people in later life through their Age UK Advice line‚ publications and online.

Their latest publication is called 'Staying safe - Personal security at home and out and about'. It helps those over 60 understand how they can take a few simple precautions to help make themselves and their homes more secure and avoid being targeted.

The leaflet can be downloaded by clicking this link

or is available from the AGE UK website.

If you would like us to check whether your home is secure through our 75 point home security check, give us a call on 0844 7705128.

AGE UK can be contacted on Age UK Advice: 0800 169 65 65 or via their website at www.ageuk.org.uk

 

 

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Monday January 6, 2014

Do Intruder Alarms really work and how to make them more effective

Do House Alarms Really Work? Yes providing it is a good one and is fitted and maintained correctly. Remember it is part of your overall security measures for your home and should not be relied on as the single deterrent.

If a burglar breaks into a house with an alarm and the siren is activated - more often than not they flee the scene irrespective of whether a neighbour or the police responds or take notice - so they do work.

Having shock sensors on the windows and doors as well as internal PIR sensors will ensure the alarm sounds before entry is made.

Setting the alarm at night when you are in bed is a very good idea. Overnight burglaries are increasing where home owners are in.

A good house alarm will deter and frustrate burglars and significantly reduce the chance of being a victim of burglary.  

Quite often the installation of the main wireless control panel is on the wall close to the rear door, or sometimes in the hallway near to the front door, with the idea that it will be easy to switch on and off when you leave or enter the premises. This can render the alarm system vulnerable if the burglar broke in through the door as it cannot distinguish if it’s a burglar or the owner of the property. The incoming timer is started allowing time for the owner to switch the system off using the security number or fob, but in case it’s the burglar that can now hear the entry timer omitting from the panel and it will actually make it easy for the burglar to quickly find it and possibly damage it.

Location of the control panel in an area that cannot easily be found by an intruder makes this situation less likely to happen. Using a separate keypad near to entry / exit point to switch the system on and off is the solution.

The rear of any property is often the most vulnerable and this is where a burglar will head for. Focus your security on these areas, not only with compliant locks on the doors and windows but also with shock sensors on these doors and windows.

Remember, do not rely on an Intruder Alarm by itself. Make sure your home is secure with our 75 point home security survey. We cover both physical and electronic deterrents including lighting, locks and alarms.

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Tuesday November 26, 2013

How Burglars are using Social Media

It used to be that burglars would make use of the obituary pages of the local press to take advantage of grieving families. But now they can sit at home and plan their days and nights using social media such as Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare. They use this information to determine when your house and possessions are most vulnerable. They look at Google Street View to see just how easy it is likely to be to take your hard earned possessions.

IT IS BELIEVED THAT 75% OF BURGLARS ARE USING SOCIAL MEDIA AND MAPPING DATA TO FIND TARGETS

Social media can tell a burglar some things that make their job a whole lot easier: What you have.....Where you live.....When and how long your away from your property.

Checking into an airport lounge on FourSquare tells them just what they want to know. These searches can be saved and checked frequently for new targets and for patterns in behaviour and Facebook users with open profiles offers unprecedented levels of targeting.

If Burglars know where you live and they know where you are at a certain time, they know when you are not likely to be at home.

Meta Data contained in image files can reveal an awful lot about you. Many Camera Phones automatically include gps location data and this can be used to track a users location but most platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram remove this data from uploaded photos but not all external image hosts do. Often though whats in the photo can tell a burglar an awful lot about where you are. Your 'view from the hotel balcony' still tells a burglar your not close to home.

Typically a burglar will track a potential victim to establish patterns, this digital stalking can tell them when your away from home, for how long and just how far away you are.

Remember a burglar will want to be in and out of your house in less than 10 minutes, this is the opportunity time before it gets too risky of being caught.

If they know how far from home you are, they are more likely to spend longer in your home taking higher value items.

What can you do to limit the chance of being burgled as a result of social media data being used by a burglar?

  • Do not share location information on social media services.

  • Take a vacation from social media whilst on vacation. Avoid 'bragging' about where you are and who with.

  • Share your photos after the event.

  • Do not share your address.

  • Consider sharing with 'friends' only and not 'friends of friends'.

Still, even doing these things do not secure your home - remember prevention is better than cure.

Let us undertake a home security survey to see just how vulnerable your possessions are.

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Friday November 15, 2013

Home Security Advice

There are ten fundamental principles that crime prevention officers use when considering crime reduction strategies. You can use some of these principles to improve security in your own home or the homes of vulnerable people in your community.
 
One - Target hardening

A target is anything that an offender would want to steal or damage. It could be an object, property, person or in some cases an animal, such as a valuable pet. Here are some examples of Target Hardening:

  • fitting better doors, windows or shutters

  • window or door locks

  • alarms

  • fencing systems

  • fitting a wheel lock to a caravan/trailer.

Two - Target removal

Target Removal is: "Permanent or temporary removal of vulnerable persons or property".
Quite simply this means making sure that any object in which a potential offender might be interested is not visible.
Examples include:

  • removing radios from parked cars

  • remove or keep out of sight valuables in your car

  • keep valuable items from public view within the home

  • keeping car keys out of sight, in a pocket or draw

  • placing valuable items in a secure location

Target Removal can be quite a simple process. Simply putting the car into the garage and locking it up is a good example of target removal.
 
Three - Remove the means to commit crime

The previous techniques are aimed at reducing the risks directly associated with the target.
Removing the Means to Commit Crime looks at the problem from a different point of view.
Removing the means to commit crime means: "Making sure that material capable of being used to help an offender commit a crime is not accessible."

  • locking up tools and gardening equipment

  • avoid keeping dust bins/wheelie bins near windows or flat roofs

  • make sure ladders are secure

Four - Reduce the payoff

Reduce the payoff means: "Reducing the gain for the criminal if a crime is committed". Examples of this include:

  • property marking to make items identifiable and therefore less valuable to the criminal

  • making sure it is obvious that property is marked. Use the labels provided.

Bear in mind that even though adequate insurance will not reduce the gain to the criminal, it will reduce the loss to the individual or organisation.
 
Five - Access control

Access control means: "Restricting access to sites, buildings or parts of sites and buildings."
There are many forms of Access control. Some of them are quite complex, but some are relatively simple. Examples include:

  • door locks (and making sure doors are shut and locked)

  • window locks (make sure windows are shut when you are out)

  • entry phones

  • combination locks

Six - Visibility / Surveillance

This principle is defined as "Making sure that offenders would be visible if they carried out a crime.". There are three types of surveillance, these are: Natural, Formal, Informal. Like all the other principles there is a range of methods and techniques that can be applied.

Natural surveillance
Involves modifying the existing surroundings to increase visibility.

It can include:

  • pruning or removing shrubbery

  • improving or installing lighting

  • changing the height of fences

  • low level dusk to dawn lights will improve natural surveillance

Formal surveillance
Uses technology to deter and identify actual or potential offenders.

Formal surveillance methods include:

  • alarm systems

  • closed circuit television (CCTV) systems

Informal surveillance
Neighbourhood Watch. This involves residents and the community being encouraged to be vigilant and knowing what to do when they see a potential risk.
 
Seven - Environmental design

  • Visibility/Surveillance

  • Target Hardening

  • street and pathway layout

  • lighting

  • Crime prevention can be built into a new housing development at the planning stage

  • doors and windows to have good quality locks

  • Planting being kept to a minimum at the front to increase surveillance

  • Estates which have an open design have increased surveillance

  • parking spaces outside each house deters possible offences by providing more surveillance of the cars

  • good street lighting and lighting outside the front door


Eight - Rule setting

Rule setting means: The introduction of legislation, by-laws and codes of conduct, which set out what is acceptable behaviour. There are many types of Rule setting, here a just a few:

  • Local by-laws, such as those limiting consumption of alcohol in public places

  • Laws enacted by Parliament

  • Neighbourhood Watch and No cold calling signs

Nine - Increase the chance of being caught

Anything that slows down an offender or increases their risk of being caught. Preventive methods are more effective if the offender risks being caught. Anything that slows down an offender or increases the chance of detection is an effective method of prevention. This means that good Target Hardening increases the time it takes to enter a building and increases the chances of being spotted.

The longer it takes to commit an offence, the more vulnerable the offender feels. Increasing the chance of an offender being caught can be achieved by:

  • proper management of CCTV systems

  • lighting that makes offenders more visible

  • making sure security equipment works properly

  • putting several preventive methods in place, which slows an offender down even further

  • alerting offenders to the fact that CCTV systems and alarms are being used

  • Communicating police alerts and wanted "posters"

Ten - Deflecting offenders

This is the final principle of crime prevention and means: Diverting the offenders and potential
offenders from committing crime. This involves agencies working with young people and offenders to influence standards, thinking and attitudes. The aim is to prevent potential offenders turning to crime.

Examples include:

  • education programmes & schools programmes

  • drug action teams

  • youth groups and organisations

  • providing training and work experience

  • This method of preventing crime is increasing and the introduction of Crime and Disorder Reduction
    Partnerships has encouraged multi-agency working. 



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Tuesday October 29, 2013

Firearms Security

Under the Firearms Rules 1998, there is a safekeeping condition attached to all firearms and this includes shotguns.

This requires guns and ammunition to be stored securely to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, unauthorised people taking or using them. Any other person who does not hold a firearm or shotgun certificate is included in the term 'unauthorised'.

So what is secure storage? Well the Home Office does not prescribe how to do this but does offer guidance and you should refer to them for specific advise if needed.

A locked gun cabinet or other similarly secure container should be used to store guns and ammunition. The police will look at the circumstances of each case and at the overall security arrangements, including the security of the premises. Above all, 'Levels' of security are applied.

LEVEL 1

This is generally applicable to most cases and is usually met with a suitable gun cabinet or a gun clamp where only one fireman is held. Other considerations to achieve just level 1 are low crime rates for the area and if outer doors and windows are fitted with suitable locking devices.

LEVEL 2

This is applicable if the crime rate for the area is higher, or where a number of firearms are being held. The extra security needed will be locks and intruder alarms compliant to current EN and BS standards. You may need to split the firearms across multiple gun cabinets.

:LEVEL 3

This is where the risk is deemed the greatest. Multiple hardened cabinets will be needed and an intruder alarm will be needed covering the specific area the firearms are being stored.

GUN CABINETS are widely available and we can source and install these for you. We only supply gun cabinets compliant to the latest EN and BS standards. Specifically:

  • the sheet steel should be at least 14 swg (2mm thick), seam welding throughout, or formed by bend construction.

  • internal hinges should be used.

  • lock mechanisms should be internally fixed and 5 lever BS compliant.

  • full length side hinged cabinets must have two locks at one third and two thirds.

  • it can contain a separate lockable cabinet for the ammunition.

We install gun cabinets to the brick or block fabric of the building on a wall in a room with no external access, not a garage or other outside building. The load bearing strength of the floor is also taking into consideration.

Above all, you need to seek advice from your local police firearms licensing department.
 

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Commercial Metal Theft

Many commercial premises have high value metals within the fabric of the building.
In addition to the construction many businesses utilize stainless steel shelving, ducts and other metals which command high prices.
Metal stolen relating to commercial premises:

Lead flashings and sheet used for roofing
Earth cables
Mains cable
Air conditioning units and pipe work
Shelving and containers
Food processing machinery and storage.
Heating and water copper pipe work
Hot water cylinders and boilers.
Commercial premises which house a number of commercial vans are also recognized as a risk and are dealt with under Catalytic converter and fuel thefts

Options to consider that will deter and prevent metal theft include:

Promoting staff awareness of loiterers and strangers wondering through vehicle parking areas and challenge any suspicious behaviour. This does not need to be confrontational and can be a simple offer of assistance
Replacing existing metal on buildings with non metal substitutes and displaying signage adverting that non metal replacements have been fitted.
Fitting good quality strong perimeter fencing will deter the occasional/opportunistic thief and it should slow down the more organized thieves so that your other security measures such as monitored CCTV can respond. Fencing on its own in a remote location will be vulnerable to attack if not supported by some form of surveillance and monitoring.
Prevent offenders from carrying out reconnaissance with controlled pedestrian and vehicle access to the premises, a reception point, restricting movement around the site and a visitor badge registration system.
Installing signage does highlight the security measures you have put in place and adds to the deterrent factor. Signs help deter thieves and remove potential excuses for being in a restricted access area or carrying out a specific action.
Disposing of any unwanted items as soon as possible especially if they have a scrap value.
Not allowing storage of items in the compound to block surveillance or alarm beams.
Ensure if there are any metals present on the external fabric of the building they are disguised and are out of general view where ever possible.
Fitting security covers and grilles to protect external semi precious metal fittings and pipe work.
Securing ladders or anything which could be improvised to assist with climbing.
Frequent compound checks to remove tools or potential improvised tools which may allow access to buildings.
Metals once stolen are generally heavy to transport, so ensure trolleys, barrows and any improvised carrying device are secured from unauthorized use.
Compounds which contain desirable items to the opportunist thief may require alarm coverage. Movement indicator beams can cover large areas and give protection to the yard contents, vehicles and the fabric of the building.
Promoting the use of monitored surveillance where an operator could see a prowler and challenge them via a remote public address system.
Fit carefully designed dusk to dawn security lighting making compounds visible to passers by without creating glare complimented by movement activated sensor lighting to highlight the presence of intruders. Lighting improvements need to compliment any CCTV system and both surveys should be done in conjunction with one another.
Consider property marking your metal to make it identifiable. Purpose made commercial property marking products are available on the market for the most desirable metals while low value metals could be overtly marked by painting or applying a highly recognizable coloured finish. Metals can be stamped or engraved to improve identification. Make sure when permanently marking property, that whatever you intend to do, it does not invalidate any warranty or guarantees.

 

 

 

 

 

Using Web Information to Burgle your home

Is there a link between Burglary and no street lighting

The benefits of an integrated security system

CCTV Data Protection - your obligations

Staying Safe at home - AGE UK

Do intruder alarms really work?

How Burglars are using social media

Home Security Advice

Firearms Security

 

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info@affinitysecurity.co.uk

 

call us on

0844 7705128

 

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