7 Tips to Reduce Neighborhood Crime

When you turn on the evening news, it may seem as though there is constant neighborhood crime throughout the nation. However, the FBI recently reported that crime decreased across all categories between the first half of 2020 and the first half of 2021. In their report, they show robberies falling 7.4% compared to the prior year. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that crime can make its way into any neighborhood. There are plenty of preventative measures you can take to promote safety in your neighborhood.

So, what can we do?

We can work together toward a safer community and consider getting more involved in crime prevention. As a matter of fact, throughout the 90’s, there was an average of a 30 percent decrease in burglaries nationwide due to communities getting more involved in crime prevention.

So, let’s keep it up. Check out these seven ways for more community involvement to keep it safe.

  1. Join the Town Watch (or Start One)

Join in a town watch program (or get the community involved in one). Staying in tune with the neighborhood’s regular activity and keeping streets and homes well-lit can deter any possible burglaries. When criminals see a well-marked neighborhood with town watch and security system signs, it makes them think twice before committing a crime. Town watch programs have helped communities experience a 16 and 26 percent reduction in crime compared to areas not involved in a town watch.

  1. Get to Know Your Neighbors

Whether you are going on vacation or heading to work, knowing your neighbors can provide an extra set of eyes on your house (and maybe an extra set of keys in case of emergency). People care about those they know, so getting to know your neighbors and building relationships provides that layer of community and a sense of wanting to watch out for each other.

  1. Educate Kids About Bullying

Educate kids on a safe way to help others. Encourage confidence in resolving problems peacefully and not through violence. Make it clear that you expect kids to take action if they see someone being hurt, or if they are hurt themselves. By leading by example, you can teach empathy rather than violence.

  1. Initiate a Buddy System

The buddy system is not just a system for kids. It’s less likely a criminal will approach two people instead of one vulnerable person. A buddy can be more than just a walking partner. Your buddy can also make sure that you have everything you need to be safe. Whether from a long trip or just a simple walk down the street. And, of course, a buddy can always be there to call for help in those times of emergency services.

  1. Get Involved in Local Organizations

By getting involved, neighbors become better acquainted and make the connections necessary to keep the community safe. The Bureau of Justice Assistance offers ways your community can get involved and pair with local businesses and organizations to create a safer community.

  1. Create a Favorable Rapport with Local Police Enforcement

Encourage involvement from local law enforcement in community events. Get to know who they are and what they do. By creating trust with your local law enforcement, you can communicate community concerns more effectively and build a better relationship.

  1. Stay Current with Crime Trends

Knowing what is happening in your neighborhood and those around you can help you understand the possible warning signs of impending crime. Know what is happening and report any suspicious activity to your local law enforcement. Staying up to date with the news and crime trends can help your community stay proactive and involved.

By focusing on a safer community, you can work toward protecting you, your family, and those around you from falling victim to crimes that could leave your community devastated. By getting more involved or following any other tips mentioned above, you can help lead the way in creating a safer community for everyone.

 

What Does the End of 3G Mean for Your Security System?

Carriers like AT&T and Verizon have announced their sunsetting 3G wireless networks at the beginning of 2022 and the end of 2022, respectively.

Just like 2G, the 3G network has become outdated as more wireless customers demand greater bandwidth and faster speeds. Shutting down the older network will drastically increase data capacity and speed on 4G, 5G and LTE networks.

If you are like most Americans, your cell phone no longer runs on a 3G network anyway. And many carriers are no longer activating devices on the 3G network.

But what about your security system?

What is 3G and What is the Difference Between 3G, 4G and 5G?

Before we get into how the 3G sunset could affect your security system, here’s a quick rundown of the different networks available.

The “G” stands for generation. The newer the network, the more capacity for more devices to connect to that network. Introduced in 1998, 3G and is now considered a slower network compared to the current standard 4G. As more people get access to mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) expands, as many as 24 billion devices are expected to need cellular network support by 2024. That’s where 5G comes in, offering peak capacity and latency.

Do Security Systems Run on 3G Networks?

Yes, some security systems run on cellular networks. 3G networks were the standard communication technology used in security panels starting in 2016.

When landlines became obsolete, there was a shift to wireless security systems that use cellular technology to relay messages. These systems were more reliable, convenient, and accessible than their landline counterparts.

Cellular security systems also do not have onsite wires, which can be tampered with by a burglar to render your security system useless.

What Does a 3G Sunset Mean for My Home Security System?

If your alarm system was installed with a 3G-compatible communicator, it will no longer work properly once carriers begin to sunset 3G networks—regardless of who your security provider is.

Although wireless carriers have published specific dates for 3G termination, this does not guarantee 3G services will be fully available until the sunset. It is common practice for carriers to reduce coverage during transition periods.

That is why it’s imperative to take action as soon as possible to avoid service disruptions.

What Can I Do to Limit Disruption to My Home Security System?

The cellular communicator on your security system will need to be replaced to operate on the new networks.

Your security provider should proactively reach out to ensure there is no lapse in service for your system. If you do not hear from them or you want to get the ball rolling on updating your system, contact your provider and ask the following questions:

  • Will the 3G sunset impact my security system?
  • When are cellular carrier changes expected to roll out in my area?
  • What is your company’s timeline and plans for customer updates?
  • Can I update my system in advance, or do I need to wait for a tiered rollout?
  • Will I be charged a service fee to upgrade my system? If so, how much?
  • Do I need to purchase new equipment, or will it be provided free of charge?
  • How can I schedule a service call to update my system, if needed?

Your home security provider should be willing and able to answer all of your questions about the impact on your system and should have a plan in place to prevent disruption.

If you want more information about how Boyd & Associates is handling the 3G sunset, just reach out. We are happy to work with you on getting your system updated.

5 Security Tips for Safe Online Shopping

E-commerce has made shopping faster and more convenient. Today, approximately 69% of Americans have made an online purchase. By 2023, the United States will have 300 million online shoppers (91 percent of the country’s population).

However, online shoppers who do not properly secure their personal data are more susceptible to cyber attacks and identity theft.

Below, we provide five tips to secure personal and financial information online and ensure safe delivery of online purchases.

  1. Buy from Credible Websites

Understand the potential risks of shopping online, such as identity theft or fraud, to properly safeguard your sensitive information.

Shop only on credible websites. Cyber attackers often pose as e-retailers to obtain personal and financial data or gain access to devices. Avoid falling victim to a cyber attack with the following precautions:

  • Avoid clicking on suspicious emails or links. Cyber attackers may use vicious malware in emails or links to obtain sensitive data, such as credit card information or social security numbers.
  • Familiarize yourself with the e-retailer’s privacy policy. Ensure your confidential information will not be disclosed or sold to a third party.
  • Read customer reviews. Research unfamiliar online retailers and be wary of particularly negative reviews, and look for suspiciously positive reviews (which may be false or unreliable).
  • Understand the e-retailer’s return policy. Be aware of proper return procedures should you be unsatisfied with a product.
  1. Connect to a Secured Network

An unsecured network could leave your personal and financial data vulnerable to attack, as it is easily accessible to cyber criminals. Be aware of online shopping risks while on the go, and use the following security tips:

  • Avoid public Wi-Fi networks. Cyber attackers may easily intercept sensitive data through an unsecured network.
  • Connect to a virtual private network (VPN) whenever possible. VPNs encrypt your data and protect sensitive information from being stolen.
  • Shop on websites that contain “https://”. Look for sites that include “https://” in the address, which indicates that data is encrypted and not accessible to cyber attackers.
  1. Use Secure Payments

Compromising personal payment information could lead to identity theft or fraudulent use. Credit cards are the safest payment method for online transactions as opposed to ATM or debit cards. This is because online shoppers are typically less liable for loss from unauthorized use. Take the following actions to secure online payments and protect financial data:

  • Continually check credit card statements for irregularities. Identify and promptly respond to any fraudulent activity. Contact your bank to see if an automatic feature that alerts you of suspicious account activity is offered.
  • Never store credit card data on your devices. Re-enter credit card information for each transaction to prevent users with access to your device from taking advantage of stored information.
  • Refrain from providing unnecessary information. Avoid supplying retailers with highly sensitive information, such as your social security number or date of birth.
  • Utilize “virtual” credit cards. Use the alternate card number provided by the issuer to protect your actual credit card information in the case of a breach.
  1. Protect Smart Devices

Shopping on a mobile device offers convenience for shoppers. However, it can significantly increase security risks. Properly secure your smart device to mitigate the risk of compromising personal information:

  • Download and purchase from credible retailers’ mobile applications to ensure secure transactions.
  • Install updated security software, such as antivirus or anti-spyware, on your device as it becomes available.
  • Protect your phone with a unique and complex password, PIN or pattern.
  • Use two-factor authentication to confirm your identity with at least two types of credentials. For example, your phone may require your passcode and your fingerprint to unlock, or your email may require a password and a numeric code sent to your phone.
  1. Utilize Video Surveillance Cameras

After making an online purchase, ensure your package arrives safely at your doorstep with surveillance cameras or doorbell cameras. Monitor your front door from any web-enabled device in real-time to:

  • Confirm your package arrives on time.
  • Ensure delivery workers handle items with care.
  • Ward off or identify burglars who may attempt to steal your packages.

Cyber security should not be taken lightly. Work with your trusted security provider at Boyd & Associates to properly equip your home and devices for the best cyber protection.

Research: How We’re Managing Our Home Deliveries in 2021

Have you disinfected a package delivery to protect yourself from germs lately?

You’re not alone. In fact, one in three Americans do the same, according to new research. We’re relying more on home deliveries, and we’re taking new precautions as we adapt.

According to a survey of 2,000 Americans by OnePoll, the average person now receives 10 home deliveries a month: a 60% increase from the pre-pandemic average of 6. It’s a trend that’s likely to stick.

With social distancing and shortages in stores as a root cause, we’re using home deliveries to get everything from clothing to essentials like milk and toilet paper, as well as to support local businesses. Along the way, we’re discovering extra benefits that we’ll want to keep—as well as a few new worries to navigate.

Here’s what we discovered:

We’re waking up to the benefits of home deliveries.

  • 53% of Americans have ordered a delivery to support a local business in the last year.
  • 48% say that home deliveries feel safer than shopping in stores.
  • 44% say that deliveries are more convenient.
  • 36% say the items they need are sometimes sold out in stores, or online-only.
  • 70% say that they appreciate delivery workers more than they used to.

Safety worries don’t stop at the front door.

Pre-pandemic, package theft was the main concern for online shoppers. Today’s deliveries arrive with new concerns: worries about our health, and the health of others.

  • 29 % of Americans worry about being exposed to germs at the front door
  • Two out of five now wash their hands after handling packages.
  • One third disinfect their deliveries before opening them.
  • One in six let their packages sit unopened to give germs time to die.

We’re still wary of opening the door to strangers.

Although we’re concerned about deliveries being left outside, we’re also hesitant to open our doors when they arrive.

  • 68% of Americans say they don’t open their door unless they’re certain they know who’s on the other side.
  • 35% wait until delivery drivers leave before they open the door.
  • 31% are worried about potential burglars posing as delivery drivers to case their home.
  • 41% say they don’t trust that visitors are always who they say they are.

Help is at hand.

If you’re looking for a better, safer way to manage your deliveries while protecting your home and family, look no further. Boyd & Associates has a variety of systems and tools to help you and yours feel safe and protected.  Contact us today to learn more!

How Burglars Use Social Media

Social media can tell burglars what you own, where you live, and when you’ll be away. Check out the infograph below for more information on how burglars use social media. For more information on protecting yourself with home security, call Boyd & Associates and take the first step to keeping your home and family safe.

 

 

17 Tech Resources to Entertain Kids (and Parents) Over the Holiday Break

Already wondering how you’re going to keep the kids occupied over holiday break?

We’ve put together a list of online resources to help you out. Read on to discover a blend of fun, educational, safe, and inexpensive ways to use technology to keep kids happy and sometimes even build family connectedness.

Stay connected with interactive apps for your family

1: Messenger Kids
Being stuck at home through the holidays can get lonesome. Messenger Kids offers a safe way for kids to connect with friends and family. It’s a free video chat and messaging app with fun filters and stickers, completely controlled by parents. You approve everyone they can call or message. Now grandma can call them directly!

2: Heads Up for iPhone or Android
Get the whole family together for game night. Everyone will love this charades-esque activity.

3: Go Noodle
Motivate your little ones to move! Go Noodle’s fun videos will get them (and you) dancing, doing yoga, and more.

Take a virtual daytrip from the comfort of your home

4: Monterey Bay Aquarium
Most of us haven’t been traveling much lately, so give the kids a virtual trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Meditate to the Moon Jelly Cam, frolic with the Sea Otters, or tune in to the world of tuna, turtles, and sharks by watching the Open Sea Cam.

5: Exploratorium
A hands-on museum in San Francisco, California, that explores the world through science and art. The Exploratorium is offering online educational activities and events, plus a whole section of their website is dedicated to exploring the world using materials and tools you might already have.

6: San Diego Zoo
Let the littles explore the San Diego Zoo and connect with animals through one of their many web cams. There’s a Platypus Cam, Hippo Cam, Penguin Cam, Elephant Cam, Koala Cam, and more.

Keep young minds engaged with interactive learning

7: ABCya
Fun, educational games for kids in grades pre-K through 6, covering subjects like math, art, typing, science, and more. Access some games free or subscribe to play them all.

8: Outschool
Fun, social, and safe online classes and clubs for kids ages 3 to 18 led by passionate teachers. Classes start at $10 and cover a huge range of subjects from art to music, social studies, science and nature, life skills, and more.

9: Khan Academy
If your child needs help in a certain area or wants to learn more about their favorite subject, Khan Academy provides free, personalized education and test prep for grades K to 12.

10: Tate Kids

British art museum Tate has a website just for kids to explore art, play games, create their own masterpieces, or make digital street art. The website is moderated and checked thoroughly to ensure that all content is suitable for children under 13.

11: ABC Mouse
Educational games, activities, and videos for ages 2 through 8. Free for 30 days.

12: But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids
Kids submit questions like “Why are whales so big?” and “Why can’t kids vote?” and get answers from experts. These podcasts work well as fun and informative 28-minute distractions during road trips.

13: CBeebies
A preschool channel by the BBC, CBeebies programs encourage learning through play. The website includes clips of shows, puzzles, memory games, singalongs, and more.

Take a break from it all with family-friendly entertainment.

14: Storyline Online
Videos featuring celebrities like Wanda Sykes, Kevin Costner, Ray Romano, Angela Bassett, Rashida Jones, and Chris Pine reading children’s books.

15: PBS Kids
Kids can watch all their favorite PBS Kids shows, from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood to Odd Squad, Sesame Street, Wild Kratts, and more. They also offer fun educational games on their website or app.

16: Common Sense Media
Want to know if a particular movie/tv show/video game is appropriate for your child’s age? Check Common Sense Media—a great resource for information and reviews of all things kid-related. Get recommendations for your next family movie night.

17: Toca Boca
As it says on their website, “We make digital toys from the kid perspective.” Toca Boca offers kids fun games and apps where they can create their own little animated worlds and characters. The apps usually cost a small amount of money but have no ads or in-app purchases.

Whatever your family decides to do over the holiday break, be sure to use technology to catch all your last memories of 2020.

 

Home Security Holiday Tips: Smart Lights, Locks And Automation

The holiday season is upon us, which means your neighborhood might be undergoing its annual winter wonderland transformation. But before you go full Clark Griswold with your seasonal lights and home decorations, consider a few of our home security holiday tips. When it comes to seasonal decorations, some simple smart home automation tweaks can play a huge role in taking your festive scenery to the next level, while keeping friends and loved ones safe in the process!

SYNC YOUR HOLIDAY DECORATIONS WITH SMART PLUGS

These days holiday decorations rarely include just lights. From big inflatable lawn decorations, holiday-themed spotlights and kaleidoscope filters, it’s not uncommon to have a handful of separate wired connections running across your lawn. Simplify things a bit with outdoor smart plugs. Not only will you better protect any exposed wiring (most outdoor smart plugs offer waterproof protection), but you’ll add all of your electronic decorations to your smart home grid.

With smart plugs, you can turn any device into a smart device. They plug directly into your outlets, almost like a power strip, which you’ll then plug any appliances directly to as well. From there, almost any appliance or device can be added to your automation network. And you’ll be able to power on and off remotely using commands via your automation app. Now you can safely and quickly power up your entire holiday scene all at once with a simple tap on your smart device.

SMART LIGHT BULBS ADD EVEN MORE OPTIONS 

Can’t decide on specific colors for your holiday light scene? No problem! Simply swap all of your old, traditional lights for smart bulbs (odds are you have plenty of burn-outs anyways!). Smart bulbs sync up with your home automation network. Which allows you to control brightness and in most cases, select between thousands of colors. Plus with LED smart lights, you’ll use much less energy than traditional halogen and incandescent light bulbs.

Your home holiday scene can look a little different every night with smart string lighting. Capture the classic holiday feel with traditional colors like red and green. Or set the stage with soft white lighting to reflect the first snowfall of the year. No matter what you’re feeling in the moment, you can always add a new layer of flare to your light decorations with smart bulbs.

SMART LOCKS MAKE HOLIDAY VISITS SIMPLE AND SAFE 

Home automation during the holidays goes far beyond the fun and convenience of syncing your lights and decorations. While this year may look slightly different in terms of travel plans and hosting guests, the holidays are usually a time for large gatherings under the same roof. And with so many people potentially going in and out of your home, it’s important for safety and security to remain a top priority.

Keyless smart locks enable anyone to easily come and go securely. You can even enable temporary codes for family members. That way you can allow access to your home for a short time, without sacrificing your long term security. And if you’re leaving the house for the holidays and you have pets or are expecting holiday packages to arrive, temporary smart lock codes make it possible for a trusted friend or family to stop by your home for a quick check-in (and ensure they lock up behind them.)

HOLIDAY HOME AUTOMATION – MUCH MORE THAN TIMERS!

It might be tempting to dismiss a lot of smart home features as unnecessary upgrades. Especially since light timers, particularly around the holidays, aren’t exactly a new innovation. But home automation adds much more than simple convenience – it completely upgrades every aspect of your home living and decorations.

Additional home automation bonuses during the holidays include: 

  • Syncing your lights and decorations with holiday-themed music and noises (put those smart speakers to work!)
  • Set the perfect holiday scene inside and out with smart light bulbs everywhere
  • Hitting the road? Set your thermostat from anywhere to protect your pipes
  • Double check your door locks remotely
  • Keep your outdoor lighting consistent to ward off any potential intruders

Smart home automation can add completely new layers of integration to your holiday decoration set-ups. Don’t be afraid to explore your options and experiment a bit. If done correctly, home automation should take a bulk of the stress out of your holiday experience!

FOR MORE SMART HOME SECURITY HOLIDAY TIPS, STICK WITH BOYD & ASSOCIATES SECURITY

If you’re looking for more ways to keep your family safe, check out our home automation services at Boyd & Associates. We offer a wide range of home security options to protect you and your family. If you’re ready to discuss our custom solutions, contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you prepare for what’s next.

 

Thanksgiving Safety Tips from Boyd & Associates

Did you know that the number of fire alarms Boyd & Associates monitoring center receives skyrockets on Thanksgiving Day, largely because of home cooking fires?

Cooking is the number one way house fires start, and the NFPA agrees, Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires. Luckily, many of the alarm signals received by our monitoring center on Thanksgiving are accidental alarms, not full-fledged fires. But with a house full of guests and a belly full of carbs, revelers often aren’t prepared to respond to their monitoring center’s outreach.

Even if Turkey Day is just a small, intimate group this year, you won’t want your holiday interrupted by a home cooking fire or even a smoke alarm.

Many Boyd & Associates customers experience this frustration around the holidays, and the people who know first-hand are the Protection Specialists in our 24-hour monitoring centers. They’ve provided tips on how to help prevent cooking fires and accidental alarms on Thanksgiving, and what to do if your smoke alarm goes off.

How to set yourself up for safe cooking on Thanksgiving

It only takes a few simple steps and a little mindfulness to prepare.

Just in case your monitored smoke alarms are triggered, Boyd & Associates customers should have these two pieces of information memorized or accessible:

  • Your Verbal Alarm Password (if you have one) – this is the single word you will give Boyd & Associates to verify your identity on the phone.
  • Your Master Panel Code – this is the numeric code you will need to disarm your system at the panel.

If possible, give several people you trust access as well. If you’re pulling a 12-lb turkey out of your blazing hot oven, you’ll appreciate the extra hands.

Additional prep should include:

  • Clean any grease, dust, or food particles from your oven and stove top.
  • Make sure you have a non-expired, properly inspected handheld fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Program the phone number for Boyd & Associates monitoring center (800. 381. 2693) into your phone so you’ll immediately know it’s us if we call. This number is exclusively used by our monitoring team, so you can also use it to notify us of an accidental alarm or return a call from one of our Protection Specialists.
  • Speaking of calls from Boyd & Associates, make sure your emergency contact list for Boyd & Associates is correct.
  • Test your smoke detectors to ensure that they are in working order.

How to prevent home cooking fires

The number one factor in home cooking fires is leaving your cooking food unattended. While everyone wants to spend time with guests on Thanksgiving, it’s important not to abandon an active kitchen. If possible, bring some of the socializing into the kitchen with you. Here are more tips to help prevent unintentional home cooking fires.

  • Keep kids at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Make sure all towels, potholders, flammable utensils, and other items are kept away from the stove top. Long sleeves, loose clothing, and long hair can also pose a fire risk.
  • Double-check the burners when you turn a new one on or off.
  • Don’t cook sleepy or while drinking. If you were up all night basting the turkey — or started celebrating early — give yourself a break and avoid the stove.
  • When cooking with grease, keep a lid nearby in case you need to smother a fire.
  • Turn your pan handles inward so you are less likely to knock it off the stove.

How to respond to a smoke alarm

First things first: If your smoke alarm goes off, start by determining whether there is a fire. This may sound obvious, but even if you’re pretty sure, play it safe and double-check. Your top priority is always getting yourself and your guests out of the house safely.

Next, know the drill. There is always a chance you’ll accidentally trigger your smoke alarm while cooking a big meal, no matter how careful you are. Smoke detectors sounding off when there’s no emergency can be frustrating but knowing what comes next will make it much easier to respond.

If there is an accidental alarm, you can temporarily silence your Boyd & Associates smoke detector by entering your numeric passcode and disarming your system. Remember, if there is still too much smoke, it may sound again. To lessen the chance of a false alarm while cooking large meals, try the following:

  • Clean your smoke detector regularly to eliminate dust and dirt build-up.
  • Keep a close eye on your food while cooking.
  • Crack open a window before you start cooking.
  • Set up a fan near your smoke detector.
  • Use a smoke detector cover, which can be found at a hardware store or online.

We’re here to help

If you do experience a fire or medical emergency on Thanksgiving, remember: Boyd & Associates is here for you 24/7, and that includes holidays! In an emergency, you can always activate the fire or medical panic on your control panel, and Boyd & Associates monitoring center will respond quickly.

Don’t have a Boyd & Associates professionally monitored fire alarm system? Call us today to speak with one of our security experts.

Halloween Home Safety Tips: A Trick Or A Treat?

Halloween is right around the corner. For some, this holiday signifies a day greater than Christmas. The elaborate face painting and collaborative costumes make it a fun way to commemorate this spooky holiday. What isn’t so fun is having to make an insurance claim or clean up the damage from some Halloween vandalism or pranks gone awry. Here are some harrowing Halloween stats:

  1. On average, crimes related to theft away from home jump by 21% on Halloween
  2. Insurance claims for theft inside the home are approximately 60% higher due to Halloween shenanigans
  3. Claims related to vandalism raise by 19% because of Halloween mischief
  4. On Halloween night, car theft increases by about 5%
  5. Halloween had the highest average number of insurance claims for any day of the year.

Insurance companies see an uptick in claims the day after Halloween. As is evidenced by the numbers, there is a spike in crimes related to vandalism, property crime, and mischief. While these are vague categories, one trend emerges: Your property is typically the target.

To avoid becoming part of these statistics, you can take a few extra precautionary measures to get your home ready for trick-or-treaters, and to prepare for the less desirable tricksters. Here are some Halloween home safety tips for this coming Fright night.

  1. Choose your trick-or-treating venue or neighborhood wisely
  2. Take steps to protect your vehicle
  3. Lock all doors, in your home and your car
  4. Provide plenty of lighting for walkways
  5. Keep valuables out of plain sight
  6. Make your trick-or-treaters visible
  7. Avoid distractions while driving or walking on Halloween night

Vanquish Vehicle Vandals

The trick: 5% increase in car theft, two times more likely to fall victim to car vandalism
The treat: Preventing vandalism and costly insurance claims for vehicle damage

According to the Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI), your vehicle is almost twice as likely to get vandalized on Halloween night. And we aren’t talking about a simple egging or a smattering of toilet paper. The same study cites “The average cost per claim was $1,528…” Needless to say, most damage requires more than a light cleaning.

A report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) illustrates that vandalism is not the only damage you are likely to see on Halloween. There is also a 5 percent increase in car theft on the last day of October.

To help avoid a massive mess or a missing car on the first brisk day of November, try out our Halloween tips:

  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Choose trick-or-treating neighborhoods wisely
  • Don’t leave valuables in plain sight
  • Lock the doors, roll up windows, and set your alarm
  • Park in the garage
  • Hand out candy in the driveway or with your car in direct sight
  • Park in a populated area

Preventing Property Pranks

The trick: Theft inside the home goes up by 60%
The treat: Keeping your loved ones and valuables protected from pranksters

According to an article posted by USA Today, there is a significant increase in burglaries and theft from homes on Halloween. The articles states that “Insurance claims due to theft inside the home go up by a whopping 60%.” Normally, a largely populated area is your friend when it comes to burglary prevention. But with such a large influx of children carting pumpkin buckets, it can be easy to drop your guard.

Whether your neighborhood is booming with costumed characters or relatively quiet, there are a few precautions you can take to help protect your home. Try out these Halloween safety tips:

  • Provide plenty of lighting: Carefully placed lighting makes it easier to see those who approach your home. Well-lit walkways are also important for ensuring little ones get to and from your home safely.
  • Place Halloween decorations carefully: Avoid excess extension cords or obstacles that could make it difficult to walk to and from your home.
  • Keep unsupervised points of entry locked up tight: Many homeowners believe that they won’t fall victim to theft or burglary because they are sitting on their front porch. Don’t neglect other openings an opportunistic thief might take advantage of.
  • Leave valuables out of plain sight: Don’t leave easy targets in plain view of any visitors or mischievous opportunists.
  • Make your house seem occupied, even if it’s not: If you plan to take your little ones out scouring for candy, leave your lights on inside (and maybe a TV) to make it seem like someone is home. Also, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of neighbors who will be home to keep an eye on your property.
  • Hand out candy from your driveway or garage: Setting up camp in a well-lit garage reduces the amount of obstacles a trick-or-treater needs to overcome to reach candy. As an added bonus, welcoming visitors from the garage gives you a wide view of all who come searching for goodies.

Caring For Your Costumed Kiddos

The trick: Malicious mischief (and other types of vandalism) jump 19% on Halloween
The treat: Ensuring your kids have a spooky, but safe, Halloween experience

If you are leading the charge of carting the kiddos around for candy, you’ll want to prepare for personal safety. These Halloween tips can help you hone your protective parent skills:

  • As with cars and homes—light em up!: Find creative ways to integrate lighting, glow bracelets or reflective jewelry into your child’s costume.
  • Design costumes with care: Make sure your child has comfortable footwear and free movement to avoid falls. This also includes face paint instead of masks to promote visibility.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings: Avoid distractions when driving and keep your eye out for any suspicious people or situations.
  • Travel in packs: Traveling in groups makes you more visible and less likely to be targeted by pranksters.
  • Avoid walking on roads: Stick to sidewalks and paths when making your way from house to house.
  • Don’t go inside anyone’s home to retrieve your goodies: Stick to the front stoop, rather than stepping inside someone’s home.
  • Trust your instincts: Yes, Halloween is supposed to have an air of spookiness, but don’t go to any homes that give you the creeps. Stick to trusted, well-lit houses.

Staying safe means you can gather more goodies. Practice our smart Halloween tips to help protect those things that matter the most.

From all of us at Boyd & Associates, have a safe and happy Halloween!

 

 

 

Small Business Security Checklist

Most small businesses work with a tight budget and profit margin. This makes it even more important for small businesses to protect their company. Here is a quick checklist to make sure your small business is protected and to help prevent unnecessary losses.

PHYSICAL SECURITY

It is not always obvious what you can do to improve building security. That is why a building security checklist should be part of every small business, to make sure your store is protected from all angles.

Here are a few things you should consider as part of your security checklist. Depending on your store’s location and layout, you should add more to this list:

EXTERIOR DOORS AND WINDOWS

  • Exterior doors are locked and are made of solid hardwood or metal.
  • All entry points have a sturdy deadbolt lock and the keys to the lock are with a trusted manager or employee, not stored under a doormat or in a mailbox.
  • Consider using keyless entry. Not only is it a secure way to keep your business safe it also helps you identify who is opening or closing the store.
  • If there is any glass close to or near your doors, it is reinforced so it cannot be shattered.
  • Every window that can be opened has a lock or is securely pinned.

OUTDOOR SECURITY

  • Shrubs or bushes near your business are trimmed so there is no place for someone to hide.
  • Back or side entrances are well lit with bright working lights. Floodlights are used appropriately to ensure effective illumination around your building.
  • Outdoor lights are enabled using a timer or a motion sensor, no matter if the business is open or not.
  • The building or office number is clearly displayed and viewable from the street so first responders can easily locate your company if anything does happen.

INTERIOR SECURITY

  • Exit signs are properly lit.
  • Fire extinguishers are inspected and charged.
  • Emergency exits are accessible and not blocked.

SECURITY MONITORING

  • Surveillance cameras are operating properly and there are no dead zones (areas that are not being recorded) in your store.
  • Footage is recorded and stored properly offsite and archived at least once a month.

CYBER SECURITY

Your physical security checklist keeps your office or storefront safe, but if you are like most companies, the most valuable things you have are stored on your computers and shared networks. Customer’s personal information, billing details, and private information are just as important to protect as your physical store, and they deserve their own cyber security checklist:

MULTI-LEVEL SECURITY

  • A firewall is installed on your network.
  • Antivirus software is set up on all devices connected to the network and a password is required for access.

NETWORK OPERATIONS

  • All firewalls, virus protection, or other forms of computer security software are updated at least once a week.
  • Operating system updates are installed as soon as they are available.
  • Key programs and applications, like web browsers or content management systems, are updated weekly.
  • A record including users and their network permissions is updated at least once a month.
  • Use separate guest and corporate networks.

MOBILE DEVICES

  • Identify all devices that touch your network, and who the owners of those devices are.
  • Clarify security elements with devices that have access to your network.

PASSWORDS

  • Change passwords at least once a month and never reuse them.
  • Require passwords to be strong with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols, rather than weak passwords that are easily guessable or short.
  • Implement multi-factor authentication to allow extra account protection.
  • Require password changes when data breaches occur.
  • Require different passwords for every account and program, even if used by the same employee.

BOYD & ASSOCIATES HELPS SMALL BUSINESSES

Small business security does not need to be complicated. At Boyd & Associates, we offer automation options to make securing your business a breeze. We even offer services such as video verification with live operators standing by to notify police the moment any suspicious activity occurs and, smart business automation that sends notifications right to your phone.

Tackling small business security by yourself should not have to feel overwhelming. Secure your business with Boyd & Associates and find out how we can help your business be safe from both physical and cyber threats.