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Security Blog

Monitronics Supports Local Women’s Shelter and Assistance Program on North Texas Giving Day

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At Monitronics, we make it our business to help make people safer, whether it’s in their homes or in crisis situations. We’re proud to call the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex our home, and that’s why we partner with Agape Resource and Assistance Center, based in Plano, Texas. The program’s mission is to provide critical housing and life skills that empower single women and their children to transform from homelessness, crisis and poverty to self-sustaining, fulfilling lives.

As a corporate sponsor, Monitronics has dedicated time, money and resources to the program’s shelter, helping women in dire need of safety and security to get the peace of mind they deserve. Our commitment continues on Thursday, Sept. 22 in conjunction with this year’s North Texas Giving Day.

North Texas Giving Day is the nation’s largest online donation day, organized by the Communities Foundation, a Dallas-based philanthropic organization.  In seven years, North Texas Giving Day has raised $119 million for the North Texas community.

For those interested in learning more or contributing to Agape, other businesses and residents can donate online at hope4agape.com/online-donation/.

“Security is a vital part of these women’s recovery and their abilities to overcome their violent experiences of the past,” said Stacy Young, Monitronics Director of Human Resources, who is leading the effort on Monitronics’ behalf. “Many of the affected women are victims of abuse and human trafficking, and we are determined to help them move forward. It is a shame these crimes happen in our own backyard, and I am proud of our community for coming together to help our fellow residents in need.”

Recently, Young spearheaded a donation by Monitronics, Alarm.com and Nortek of $20,000 in security hardware and monitoring to the Agape Resource and Assistance Center, including new professionally-installed, monitored security systems throughout the shelter and its three residences.

The upcoming campaign is focused on the importance of security in keeping out the “Big Bad Wolf” and fostering the recovery of the women while rebuilding their lives and the lives of their children.

“We are humbled to help the women of Agape, and to make a difference in the lives of our fellow Dallas-area residents,” said Bruce Mungiguerra, Monitronics Senior Vice President of Operations. “These women often face unimaginable struggles on a daily basis. We are grateful for the opportunity to bring safety and security back to their lives.”

Common Sense and Smart-Home Technology Help Protect Latchkey Kids

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It’s not easy being the parent of a “latchkey kid,” a child who’s left at home alone during the period after school but before Mom or Dad get home from work. It’s a time when they’re vulnerable not just to intruders, but also to the temptations that go along with having an extra little bit of freedom – even if it’s only for a couple of hours.

School’s back in session, so it’s a good time to talk about what parents can do to make sure their children remain safe – and out of trouble – while they’re home alone. Safety and security is what Monitronics does best, so (naturally) we have some ideas that will help ease everyone’s mind.

Start with the basics

It’d be nice if kids would sit quietly and waited for their parents to get home, but it just doesn’t work that way. That’s why it’s important to set ground rules. Much of it is common sense, like making sure that homework is complete before video games begin, or letting them know that certain parts of the house are off-limits when they’re alone.

But don’t be afraid to dig deeper. For example, it seems drastic to limit the number of friends who are allowed in the house after school, or even to specifically call out which “friends” aren’t welcome. But it doesn’t take long for peer pressure to build, and for mild temptations to become serious situations.

Have an honest, candid dialogue to discuss everyone’s expectations. There may be some room for compromise; don’t hesitate to meet your kids halfway, but stick to your guns.

Trust, but verify

Once the ground rules have been established, how do you know that everything is going according to plan? One easy way is through video security cameras at strategic locations throughout the house.

Everyone knows that video surveillance is a proven deterrent to burglars when no one is home. But it’s also a valuable way of keeping tabs on what’s happening when the kids are on their own. You not only make sure that the rules are being followed, but you also can be alerted to any trouble at a moment’s notice through text and email. Plus, there’s always recorded video that can help settle any disputes about what “really happened.”

Accessing live video through your smartphone doesn’t make you a spy. It doesn’t make you a distrustful parent. It makes you feel secure knowing that everything is OK.

Security starts at the door

Video also extends to the front door, with video doorbells like SkyBell HD. You can see who’s at the front door any time of day, which is especially important when your kids are home alone. You can get an alert on your smartphone, check out the video, and even speak to the person remotely. It’s a simple but powerful security tool.

Ultimately, though, the most important thing is knowing they arrived home safely. SkyBell (which can track visitors even when they don’t ring the doorbell) can play an important role, but you can also get real-time alerts through smart-home door locks. Plus, if they accidentally get locked out, you can let them in with a swipe of your finger.

Those are just a few of the ways that you can help make your kids safer when you can’t be home. Call Monitronics today and we’ll give you some more ideas.

Top 5 Causes of Avoidable False Alarms

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False alarms are more than just an inconvenience for homeowners. They have a huge ripple effect: Not only do they take up valuable resources for security monitoring stations such as Monitronics’ Alarm Response Center, but they often unnecessarily engage first responders, and may even result in substantial fines that are often dictated by local ordinances. They often de-sensitize first responders, who often take a more relaxed attitude toward homes that have had repeated false alarms.

The most important thing to know about false alarms is that most are easily avoidable. All it takes is a little common sense to virtually eliminate many conditions that tend to trigger false alarms.

Let’s take a look at the top five causes of avoidable false alarms:

1. User Error and Improper Training

A home security system is only as effective as the person who controls it. User error and improper training create two negative effects: Not only is the system not properly armed, it can also result in false alarms. The best way to avoid these kinds of false alarms is to insist that the technician who installs your system takes the time to train you how to use it. For Monitronics’ network of authorized dealers, training and documentation are the bedrock of outstanding customer service.

Ask plenty of questions when your system is being installed. Remember that there is no question that doesn’t deserve a good answer. If there’s something you do not understand in the weeks and months following installation, call your provider and ask for help. Monitronics customer service extends to friendly, knowledgeable professionals in our call center. They can help make sure you understand how your system works and how to avoid false alarms.

Finally, make sure everyone in your household understands how to operate the home security system, and also is aware of any passcodes or other information that can stop the false alarm before it gets started.

2. Improper Installation and Poor Equipment

It’s particularly frustrating when a false alarm occurs through no fault of your own. It’s often a result of shoddy installation or cheap equipment. One advantage of a professionally installed system is that your technician knows the right way to set your system up, and can also make suggestions about ways to position video cameras, motion sensors and other devices to help avoid false alarms.

Reputable alarm companies also offer top brands such as Alarm.com, Honeywell, 2Gig and others. It’s true that you get what you pay for, although you don’t always have to pay a small fortune. If you’re not comfortable ask about your options.

3. Pets in the Home

When pets are in the home, it’s good to consider effective placement of motion sensors. Many motion sensors also are pet-sensitive, with technology that doesn’t register pets under a certain size (usually 50 or 60 lbs.). Insist on pet-sensitive motion detectors.

4. Loose Fitting Doors and Windows

Doors and windows are designed to fit snugly in their frames to minimize drafts. A loose door or wobbly window can create unintentional vibration, triggering an alarm by breaking the connection between the two halves of the associated sensor. You can avoid false alarms of this nature by routinely checking your windows and doors.

5. Outdated Equipment

No piece of home security equipment will last forever. If your system is outdated, it may become less effective. Think about updating your system to the latest, most reliable equipment. It doesn’t cost as much as you think, and it not only can help avoid false alarms, but also give you the latest home security and home automation functionality. An upgrade may be just what you need.

Here’s a bonus idea: Municipalities frequently enact ordinances with fines designed to encourage alarm system owners to make sure they address the false alarm issue. Learn more about the local ordinances in your area, and then make sure your home alarm system keeps the chance of false alarms to a minimum. The last thing you need is for first responders to ignore a genuine alarm because of past false alarms.

Effects of Burglary Can Go Far Beyond Material Loss into PTSD

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Anyone who has been a victim of a burglary or home invasion can tell you that the worst part of the experience is not the material loss. It is the feeling that your privacy and security have been invaded. Victims of burglary, home invasion and other crimes can suffer tremendous and long-lasting psychological damage. In some cases, the damage may require professional intervention.

A typical first reaction to burglary or home invasion tends to be shock, and disbelief that something like this could happen. Some victims even try to work out scenarios in their own minds to explain that what they are witnessing is not really what it is. For example, you might wonder if the neighborhood kids broke your back door window rather than first considering that your home might have been burglarized.

Once the shock begins to wear off, victims often become angry and fearful. They realize they have been victimized once, and it is just a short step to living in fear that the perpetrator of the original crime will return for a second shot. Crime experts say that fear and anger can be long-term responses.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

For some people, the stress and fear that comes with being a crime victim eventually translate into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While PTSD became part of the public consciousness following the first Gulf War in the early 1990s, doctors had already known about it for quite a while. That’s because war veterans are not the only ones who often suffer from the disorder.

Any kind of traumatic event that causes extreme levels of shock and fear can lead to PTSD. Experts are now saying that burglary, home invasion and other crimes can be triggers of the disorder. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, a person suffering from PTSD can exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Sleeping disorders, including insomnia and nightmares.
  • Flashbacks relating to the original event.
  • Anxiety, tension, and irritability.
  • Mood swings that can include angry outbursts.
  • Self-imposed reclusiveness and isolation.
  • Strong feelings of estrangement or detachment.
  • Moderate to severe memory loss.

The symptoms of PTSD are severe enough that a person suffering from the disorder should seek professional help. Not all victims of burglary, home invasion and other crimes will develop the disorder, but keep an eye out for the symptoms of PTSD if you or someone you know has been victimized by a traumatic crime.

Recovering from the Trauma

Victims of traumatic crimes like burglary and home invasion need plenty of support in order to recover. That support begins almost immediately after the traumatic event and carries through the conclusion of the criminal justice process, and beyond if necessary. Some crime victims may need additional support even after their cases are closed.

Fortunately, counselors and medical professionals are well trained to help victims get their lives back on track. Seek professional help if you are suffering from trauma as the result of a burglary or home invasion.

Don’t wait to be a victim before protecting yourself and your family with monitored home security. While no home security system is 100 percent crime-proof, monitored home security is a very strong deterrent that can go a long way toward preventing victimization – and the potential traumatization – of you and your family.

Learn More About Neighborhood Crime with our Interactive Report

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It’s understood that buying a home is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. That’s why smart buyers consider a lengthy list of factors – everything from the age and condition of the home to the quality of the school district – before making an offer.

Buyers who want to dig deeper will learn more about the neighborhood, and not just what it looks like while they’re driving through it. Appearances can sometimes be deceiving, and that’s where we can help.

Monitronics offers a useful tool that looks below the surface by examining neighborhood crime reports. It’s our way of showing that we care about your safety and security, even when you’re beyond the reach of your home security system.

Using data from CrimeReports.com, we put together an up-to-date interactive map showing crimes that relate to the neighborhood around any given address, or in a particular ZIP code. Even if you’re already living in an area, it’s wise to understand any potential threats not just to homes, but to your kids who hang out with their friends down the street.

It’s a comprehensive list that shows not just residential and commercial property crimes such as burglary, or breaking and entering, but also:

  • Assaults (with or without a deadly weapon).
  • Weapons and drug offenses.
  • Robberies and theft, including vehicles that are stolen or broken into.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Sexual assault, as well as the location of registered sex offenders.

The list also includes the enforcement side of the equation, mapping out instances of proactive policing such as pedestrian stops and vehicle stops.

Understanding crime in your neighborhood isn’t just a great way to learn more about the home you want to move into, or the one you already live in. It’s not just about home security either. It’s figuring out how to protect yourself and your loved ones once you step out the front door.