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  • How to burglar-proof your home for the holidays

    Between holiday shopping, family vacations, and reunion dinners, the holidays are a wonderful time for celebration--but they’re also a time where our homes are more vulnerable than usual. Porch package thieves lay claim to delivery boxes before we can bring them inside. Burglars eye dark windows to see who’s heading home for the holidays.

    According to a CNN report, burglaries in California jumped to 18% over their monthly average in December of 2011. This trend continues today, often made easier by the increased package drop-offs that follow shopping holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

    So, how do you burglar-proof your home for the holidays?

    Secure your packages.

    Porch package thieves are a major plague during the winter holidays. You can get around these ne’er-do-wells by changing your delivery to a pickup, investing in a smart storage box, or asking for scheduled delivery slots. When in doubt, require a signature for your delivery!

    Keep your travel plans off social media.

    This one isn’t so obvious, but you shouldn’t talk about upcoming vacations on social media, especially if you’ll be leaving your home empty for a long period of time. You may trust your friends, but friends of friends of friends--or strangers, depending on your security settings--may be able to see some of your shared posts. Social media makes it much easier for burglars to know when their victims might be out of town--and their homes might be vulnerable.

    Get a housesitter.

    During the holidays, many homebodies make a few extra bucks by working as housesitters for people leaving on family vacations. You can pay someone to keep an eye on your pets, packages, and more. Alternatively, you could ask a neighbor to look out for your home. Have them make sure any newspapers or mail are cleaned up (so it’s not obvious you’re not home), your heat is set to a reasonable temperature, and your outdoor lights and security systems are running properly.

    Install security lighting and cameras.

    One of the obvious ways to keep your home safe is with a surveillance system. A security system with outdoor lighting, motion detection, and night-vision cameras is a great investment for any family, but especially for people who travel frequently. While you’re away, you know your home is protected.

    Put up some burglar deterrents.

    Sometimes, just seeing a security camera or an alarm system sticker is enough of a deterrent to make a burglar think twice. Obviously, it’s best to actually have a system in place--and to let potential crooks know it’s there! Stickers announcing your house is protected by an alarm system, signs displaying security camera warnings, and surveillance decals all send a strong message.

    Invest in smart security.

    It may be time to get your home a holiday present of its own! Smart security systems are dominating the modern market. These systems are easy to install and maintain, and can be set, checked, or adjusted from a computer or mobile device. Think you left the heat on? Reset it from your phone! Want to check on your home? Log into the surveillance system from your laptop, and view a live video feed of your front door! Smart security is well worth the investment.

    The holidays should be a time for family celebrations and good cheer--not a time to worry about insurance claims and break-ins. With a few simple tips, you can burglar-proof your home for the holidays and celebrate the most wonderful time of the year!

  • How to deal with porch package thieves

    With the holidays approaching, online shopping is reaching its highest rates of the year--which means porch package piracy is at an all-time high. People try to make a quick buck by stealing packages from other people’s doorways, before the rightful owner even knows they’ve been delivered.

    If your neighborhood is plagued by porch pirates, you can take a few extra safety steps to ensure your packages get where they’re going--to you!

    8 Ways to Deal with Porch Package Thieves

    1. Ask for a signature. You can require your delivery only be handed over with a matching signature, and avoid packages being left unattended. This is one of the easiest ways to avoid porch piracy, and is often available for free from most shipping services. If it’s not offered as an option during checkout, give the shipping service a call to see what they can do.
    2. Invest in insurance. Sometimes, the worst happens. But to avoid losing out completely, you can pay a few extra bucks at checkout to insure your purchase with most online retailers. In the case of porch piracy, you can get your money refunded or your package resent.
    3. Pick a package pickup location. If you know you won’t be home on the day your package is due to arrive, you can choose to have it delivered to a secure pickup location like Amazon Locker. While these aren’t as convenient as a package delivered to your home, they do require an access code or physical key to gain access to packages.
    4. Invest in a camera monitoring system. Most of the time, having visible security cameras is enough of a deterrent to convince thieves to leave your porch untouched. However, if someone does decide to pilfer your packages, security camera footage can help the authorities track down the thief.
    5. Install motion-detecting lights. Like security cameras, auditory and visual alerts can act as major deterrents for thieves. Someone snooping on your porch at night might run from a bright motion detecting light, or a loud alarm.
    6. Have packages delivered to your office. If your workplace requires signatures for delivery, holds packages in a secure location, or otherwise keeps packages safer than those left on your doorstep, it may be a good idea to send your packages there instead of to your home. Alternatively, you can send them somewhere someone will be available to receive them, like a friend’s or family member’s house.
    7. Ask for scheduled delivery. Many delivery services offer scheduled delivery times, or at least windows of time that you can plan around. All it takes is a quick phone call!
    8. Get creative. We’re not saying you should rig together a bunch of iPhones, stink spray, and a glitter bomb, but that’s exactly what this guy did.

    If, unfortunately, your package does get pirated from your porch, there are a few steps you can take to recoup your losses. At the very least, you should file a report with the local police station, and give any information you have about the thieves. If your motion-detecting cameras caught a face, car, license plate, or any other information, you should share this with investigators so they can work to catch the thieves.

    You can also file a claim for the package under your home insurance--and always keep your receipts! Many home insurance companies offer coverage for deliveries up to a certain amount. However, to successfully file a claim, you may need proof of your purchase, its monetary value, and the circumstances surrounding the theft.

    With the proper precautions, you can keep your home porch pirate-proof for the holiday season and beyond.

  • What are the differences between home security systems?

    Did you know that there are almost three burglaries every minute in the United States? That’s one every 23 seconds, or 3,757 burglaries a day! 

    If you’re looking to beat the statistics, it’s time to invest in a home security system. But which system is right for you? Like many safety products, home security systems vary in their price, efficiency, and coverage.

    What security system is right for me? 

    There are four main types of security system that we offer at Sterling Security Store: hardwire or wireless alarm systems, and monitored or unmonitored systems. Depending on your budget and needs, you may find yourself mixing and matching security systems. 

    For example, many of our clients invest in a wired alarm system along with a surveillance system. The wired system goes off if a door is forced open, while the surveillance system keeps a camera’s eye on a high-risk spot, like the garage or back door.

    1. Hardwire Alarm Systems

    Hardwire alarm systems use a low-voltage electrical current to automatically monitor sensors distributed throughout your home or business. As your standard burglar alarms, these systems typically keep an eye on doors or windows with small electrical sensors that communicate with a central panel. 

    These sensors can be “tripped” through motion detection or a disruption in the electrical circuit. For example, if a window shatters, the sensor could pick up the glass breaking. Alternatively, the closed door could act as a “closed” circuit (connecting the sensor to the control panel). When that door opens, the circuit is broken, and the sensor is tripped. 

    If a sensor is tripped, the sensor communicates the issue to the central control panel, which raises the alarm. Most of these alarms can be turned off with a code or other security feature--and when the burglar doesn’t know the code, he’s in trouble! 

    1. Wireless Alarm Systems

    Wireless alarm systems function much like hardwire systems, but without the need for lengthy electrical circuits or wires. Many of these systems communicate through Internet or cellular communicators, giving these systems a much wider range of communication than traditional wired systems. 

    When a wireless sensor is tripped, it sends a signal over the airwaves to the central control panel. If it’s a false alarm, homeowners can turn it off with a keypad code. When this happens, the control panel communicates wirelessly with the sensors, putting the system on alert again. 

    1. Monitored Systems

    When we say a system is “monitored” or “unmonitored,” these are features of an alarm system, usually in addition to its wireless or hardwired capabilities. A monitored system, like the DSC Impassa Wireless Security System, communicates with an outside security system whenever the sensors are tripped. The control panel sends a signal to a central monitoring station, where a security employee can investigate the alarm. Representatives call the homeowners to get a security code during a false alarm, or can call the police, an ambulance, or the fire department if needed. 

    These systems are especially useful for homeowners who work in an office, travel frequently, or otherwise spend a lot of time out of the house. Homes are automatically protected, and a security team constantly monitors the alerts a control panel sends in. 

    1. Unmonitored (or Self-Monitoring) Systems

    Simply put, unmonitored or self-monitoring systems don’t come with the added benefit of an outside security monitoring station. An unmonitored system doesn’t automatically call the police or a security station, but raises the alarm (literally!) with auditory or visual cues. These could be flashing lights, a spotlight that tracks motion, a loud klaxon, or another obvious signal. 

    Unmonitored systems are often popular because they’re usually cheaper than monitored systems. However, unmonitored systems come with major drawbacks. Because they don’t automatically notify someone to check on your home, they rely on your physical presence (or your neighbors’) to respond to an alarm and dispatch help yourself. 

    Many unmonitored systems get around this by offering online or cellular controls (for example, the alarm goes off and you get an alert about it on your cell phone). However, if you miss the alert, have bad reception, or are otherwise unable to respond, your home stays unprotected until you can figure out the proper response. 

    When it comes down to it, the best security system is the one that protects YOUR home as effectively as possible. 

    What works best for your home may not be as effective for your neighbor, and vice versa. If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch with our team at 951-444-7011. Let us know the basics of the home or business you’re looking to protect, and we’ll help you find a system -- or systems -- that’s perfect for you. 

  • Introducing a new update to the Concord 5" TouchScreen

    Convenient home security, plus a whole lot more


    Interlogix® is excited to announce the release of the new Concord® 5" Touchscreen, which is now compatible with Concord panel version 4.82 due to a firmware patching mechanism. The new Concord 5” Touchscreen also offers a selectable User Interface, which matches the Alarm.com interactive services mobile application in color, style and icons, simplifying the experience for dealers and end -users alike. The Touchscreen’s NEW part number is 60-924-3-C4TS5-2 and any orders of the previous touchscreen can/should be converted to this new part.


    Powered by Alarm.com, Concord products are deeply integrated to provide end users with advanced interactive services that can be managed locally via the panel or remotely via the Alarm.com mobile application or web-based portal. The Concord 5" Touchscreen is compatible with the 600-1053-XT-LTE-xx modems using the latest version of firmware (187e).


    The Concord 5" Touchscreen supports comprehensive system programming and is compatible with Concord 4 versions 4.5 and above (600-1021-95R). This version of the Concord 5” Touchscreen includes a patching mechanism and will query the panel’s firmware once connected. If it identifies the panel’s firmware version as version 4.82, the Touchscreen will update the panel’s firmware to a version which fixes a known issue that can occur when combined with the older version of the Touchscreen.

  • How to best capture a license plate on your home surveillance system

    One of the most popular requests we receive at Sterling Home Security is a system that will effectively capture license plate numbers. Burglaries, home invasions, and vandalism often come with a suspicious vehicle used to commit the deed. However, capturing a clear enough image of a license plate to get an accurate number reading is surprisingly difficult. 

    This is one of the more challenging aspects of home security: Where should you place a camera to best capture a moving vehicle? How many cameras do you need to do the job? And if you do get the image, how do you guarantee it isn’t grainy or whited out with glare? 

    These tips will help you set up a home surveillance system with the best chances of capturing a license plate. 

    Why is it so tough to capture a license plate on a home security system?

    First of all, license plates come attached to a moving vehicle. Depending on its speed, it can be exceedingly difficult to get a clear image of a moving car. Luckily, a car moving through a residential area likely won’t be breaking highway speed limits, but the velocity does complicate things. 

    Similarly, the time of day plays a role in image capture. The best HD camera during the day may struggle to get a clear picture at night if it isn’t equipped with night-vision features. Likewise, the glare from headlights can reflect off the lens, causing significant glare that covers or disrupts a license plate image. 

    Many homeowners fall into a common trap when it comes to license plate surveillance, in that they rely on one camera to do the job of three or four. In the worst cases, we’ve heard stories of head-on, glare-free image captures that still don’t show clear license plate numbers simply because the camera’s resolution wasn’t high enough. 

    So, what are the best camera features to capture a license plate?

    To begin with, the best camera system for capturing license plates is one that includes multiple cameras, at multiple angles, all with high enough resolution to guarantee a crystal-clear image at any time of day. 

    To capture a license plate effectively, choose a camera system with:

    • Image resolution over 1080p. Generally, when it comes to surveillance systems, the higher the resolution, the better. Especially when you’re dealing with moving targets, it can be easy for an image to go grainy at lower resolutions. Your best bet is a resolution over 1080p. 
    • Night and day vision capabilities. Most people may think that burglaries only occur at night, but many home invasions take place during the day while the residents are out at work or running errands. Your camera system should include equipment ready to record at night and during the day.
    • Motion-capture capabilities. It is often easier to pull license plate numbers from a few seconds of moving film than from a single photograph. A surveillance system that turns on in response to motion--such as when a car pulls into your driveway--can capture the critical moments that help identify a criminal. 
    • Glare reduction. This is one of the most important features to look for when trying to capture license plates on a security camera. At night and during the day, glare from headlights, sun bouncing off metal, or other reflective issues can distort or completely ruin an otherwise perfect license plate capture. Some night vision cameras use a backlight to reduce glare, while some HD-resolution cameras are designed to tune out glare by auto-focusing. 

    Where should I place my cameras for the best results?

    In general, you should use a system with two or more cameras placed at strategic locations. You want the angle of your image to capture the front (or back) license plate at a relatively head-on angle, but not at such a direct angle that the headlights reflect back and cause tons of glare. 

    Image caption: Image credit: Backstreet Surveillance

    An easy way to test out your camera angles is to drive your own vehicle down your street, up and down your driveway, and anywhere else covered by your surveillance system. Check the footage or images to see how clear your own license plate is, at multiple times of day. If you’re struggling with glare, adjust your camera angles and try again. With some trial and error, you’ll find the right angles to capture vehicle license plates at any time of day. 

    Questions? Not sure where to get started? Contact us today to learn more about our security systems and find the right one for your home. 

  • 7 Reasons Your Home Needs A Security System

    It’s a horror story right out of movies and television: coming home from work, vacation, or a night out to discover your front door hanging open, drawers and closets torn open, and valuables long gone. 

    Now picture this: instead of this awful end to your day, you receive a movement alert on your phone during your morning meeting. You check your surveillance cameras from your phone and see nothing amiss. When your alarm company calls to check in, you agree a quick police visit is the safest option. By lunchtime, the officers confirm -- if anyone did stop by your house, they couldn’t get in.

    A home alarm system protects homes and families from intrusions and burglaries, but that’s not its only purpose! From fire protection to lowered electric bills, here are seven reasons your home needs a security system: 

    1. Protect your family and personal property. Burglary is anyone’s worst nightmare. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, homes without a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized. At the same time, only 17% of homes had a security system as of 2015. A home security system protects your family and belongings from the threat of a home invasion. 
    2. Prevent crime in your neighborhood. Many home security systems come with stickers, signs, or other visual cues that a home is now protected. Often, all it takes is a quick glance at one of these signs for a burglar to think twice about targeting a home. If your home is equipped with visible security cameras, window stickers highlighting the alarm system, and a sign detailing your protection, that may be all a sketchy someone needs to leave the neighborhood. Plus, in the event that something does happen to a neighbor, your security system may have license plate footage, a picture of the suspect, or other evidence that helps catch the crook! 
    3. Keep an eye on the kids. Finding a babysitter is one of the major stresses of date night, especially if it’s the first time you’ve worked with a nanny or left the kids home on their own. Nanny cams and other internal security systems let you keep an eye on the kids without snooping, guaranteeing bedtimes are met, doors are locked, and homework is done. (We’ll let that second bowl of ice cream slide, though.) 
    4. Lower your electric bill. The first instinct might be to think that a home security system will cost you in electric expenses. However, many integrated security systems connect with your lights, appliances, and AC or heating. When you’re on the go, you can double-check to make sure you turned off that overhead light, or lower the AC in an empty house when you’re on vacation. Over time, that extra bit of monitoring adds up to significant electric savings! 
    5. Save on home insurance. Many home insurance companies offer discounts to premiums if you install a home security system. Think about it--your security system helps out the insurance company, too! Committing to this extra layer of safety makes your home more secure, and your insurance company’s job a little easier. Enjoy those extra savings!  
    6. Protect your home from the unexpected. Deaths from house fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, or medical emergencies do not have to be the norm. Installing smoke alarms, gas detectors, and communication systems in your home reduce the risk of death or injury related to these emergency situations. For people living with serious illnesses or medical conditions, personal security systems and communicators can act as a link between someone who lives alone and the outside world, guaranteeing that someone is always looking out for your best interest. 
    7. Enjoy peace of mind from anywhere in the world. Gone are the days of asking neighbors to keep an eye on your house! If you’re heading out for a vacation or business trip, a home security system helps you monitor the goings-on inside and around your home from anywhere in the world. Instead of worrying about that finicky lock on your screen door, you can rest easy at night knowing your home is protected and secure. 

    Sterling Security offers a wide range of home protection services to suit any budget. In the earliest days of home surveillance, security systems were bulky, expensive, and difficult to use, requiring an expert’s installation and constant monitoring. Today, a few hundred dollars (or less!) can find you a trusted security system you can set up yourself, monitor online or from a mobile device, and rely on day after day. 

    7 Reasons Your Home Needs A Security System Ready to get started? Head over to our shop to learn more about the perfect home security products for you. 

  • Interlogix to cease operations on the UltraSync, IFS, Simon and other lines

    UTC’s Interlogix division, makers of an array of residential/commercial security products, notified its employees and dealers that it is proceeding with a "winding down" of business in the United States and Canada, and will no longer manufacture new products at the end of 2019.

    In a statement released on Friday:

    "Following a thorough review of our security portfolio, we have decided to wind down the Interlogix U.S. and Canada businesses in order to focus on growth opportunities in our other fire and security businesses."


    "While we may be winding down Interlogix, we are committed to ensuring that our dealers have the products necessary to support their business during this transition."


    "Interlogix expects to manufacture and sell products through the end of 2019. We will continue to provide customer service in the areas of technical support, product fulfillment, and warranty obligations as prescribed in our warranty policies. Our dealers will be able to purchase, install, register, and service our products with the complete confidence that we will stand behind you through 2020 and beyond."


    "We are working closely with our distributors to ensure that you have the product necessary for your customers during this transition period. Given our significant installed base, we anticipate increased demand at this time and will build and fulfill orders in the order in which they are received."

     

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