With the seasonal period now upon us, many home and business owners may leave their premises vacant for longer periods of time over the holidays. As such, the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) is advising on the benefits of installing security equipment, such as CCTV and alarm systems, in order to mitigate potential threats.
In the past, it has been suggested that seasonality can affect crime rates, with the winter months giving opportunistic thieves extended hours of darkness in which to commit their crimes. Simple preparations, therefore, can help defend against these crimes and ensure that property is kept safe not just during the winter months, but year round as well.
Paul Phillips, BSIA Technical Manager, provided advice on some of the more general considerations to be aware of: “Think about how a burglar might enter your property and how they might leave. If you have garden furniture that you have covered and moved to a safe place, does that provide an easy way to climb a wall or a place to hide behind? Could somebody use that wheelie bin to climb up to a window or even carry away your possessions?” From a technical perspective, it is also important to take into account hedges, trees or shrubs, ensuring that they have not grown to a point where they could possibly obscure the views of any CCTV in place or prevent security sensors from working.
“The next thing is to check that the security measures you have in place are working” added Paul. “Perhaps you should consider buying new equipment or upgrading; with the relative falling price of technology, something you dismissed previously might now be within your reach. For example, you might buy a system that enables you to see the view from your CCTV cameras whilst you are away from your property via a smartphone application.”
Remotely monitored CCTV via a smartphone can provide essential peace of mind and allows property owners to keep an eye on their properties whilst away. However, should any crimes occur, it is still essential to seek help from the Police to assist with the situation, as going yourself or asking a neighbour or friend for support, could result in potentially treacherous consequences. For anyone that employs detector activated remotely monitored CCTV systems, more commonly incorporated into a business premises, it is extremely important to be aware of the essential British standard BS 8418. An approved BS 8418 system not only enables the constant and efficient security monitoring of a premises, but will also provide a vital level one response from the police or another responding authority. This will deliver a benchmark level of security that can reduce insurance liability as well as decreasing the risk of theft and vandalism.
Another simple yet effective measure is having appropriate lighting; leaving areas lit, both inside and outside the property, can act as a successful deterrent to would-be thieves. Home automation systems can also be beneficial in this sense, with some having the capabilities to operate lamps and other devices within the home to give an illusion of occupancy. Having an alarm system in place is also hugely beneficial, particularly if it is monitored by an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), giving owners peace of mind that a trained respondent will be able to react accordingly to any alarm raised.
Talking on some of the technology available to help protect these properties, Carlos Rosa, Sales and Marketing Director for BSIA member Vacant Property Specialists, said: “For properties which are temporarily vacant, particularly during the more vulnerable winter months and over the seasonal period, using smart technologies are increasingly the norm as they become more sophisticated.”
“Not only can owners check their properties via CCTV on their smartphones and tablets, but there are some clever additional deterrents incorporated into security these days” he continued. “For example, an automated verbal warning can be triggered and will often startle intruders and trespassers enough to deter them from remaining on the property. Remote monitoring centres can take that a step further and commandeer the speaker system in a property and address the intruders directly.”
Ultimately, the most important factor in effective security is sourcing it from a reputable supplier who meets with the relevant British and European standards for their product or service.