Tonight I’ll be out at Provident Security covering their home security seminar. I’ve been commissioned to provide a live blog, which will begin at around 7:00pm and if you’re attending there’s a reception ahead of time at around 6:45.
The seminar covers, with lots of pictures, exactly how burglaries occur on Vancouverâ€™s West side. More importantly, we will show you exactly what you can do (both high and low tech) to ensure that you minimize your risk of becoming a victim.
Update: Just a quick hop over the Boulevard into Kerrisdale and I’ve arrived at the Provident Security office for their home security seminar. Mike Jagger, President, is giving a quick overview of the company – explaining that they install, monitor and provide security services. The office is not-so-much your typical “office” space, it’s more of a showroom. For example, the glass is shatter-proof, there are cameras all over (ceiling, concealed etc.) even flood and carbon monoxide detectors.
Mike presents the number 156.55 which is the number of burglaries the VPD would like to get down to each year… just west of Oak Street in Vancouver – this is followed by a pie chart that shows 40% of property crime in Vancouver happens here, in the West side.
Update: We’re now being shown a National Geographic presentation about the vampire squid and its unique and amazing stealth-like capabilities. “You can’t make it physically impossible for someone to break in,” notes Mike, “but what you need to do is change your tactics – you can control perception.” … “It’s all about creating hassle.”
Old school thinking was simple go out and buy an alarm system, however nowadays every single house has a “protected by” sign, which no longer makes this a deterrent. “The bad guys have figured out how alarms work.”
Update: “It’s best to talk about how break-ins actually happen. A good thing about break-ins (especially on the West side) is that they happen in exactly the same way.” Mike goes on to add that a common misconception is that most burglaries happen at night. The reality is Monday to Friday, during the day while you’re out running errands, at work, at soccer practice etc. Another typical “story” by a burglar is showing up at your door and asking vague questions, “casing the neighbourhood.”
“If someone comes to the door, do not ignore them. Don’t OPEN the door, but don’t ignore,” notes Mike.
1) They will look to see if the house is empty 2) They will look for a way to enter the house – which is more often than not, at the front door.
“The people who come to your door are not looking to hurt people – they just need something to steal for quick cash – they’re not looking for drama.” Mike is showing examples of how people have broken through doorways to gain entry to a house – “smash the glass, reach in, open the door, and get in.” He says glass doors probably won’t get smashed, the most likely is a small pane or adjacent window panel that will allow them to gain access.
After that, “99% of the time it’s straight to the master bedroom — they will look for cash, jewelry, and stuff that can be turned into cash right away.” Mike now shows a video of a break-in (view of a driveway and front door, you can also actually find this on Provident’s blog and YouTube channel).
Update: “These guys are not master criminals, they’re looking for opportunity,” Mike says that even if you’re just hopping out to check the mail, walk the dog, go around the block, that’s when they’ll look for that opportunity.
“It’s almost like the more brazen they are, the easier they get away with things,” Mike adds that burglars who pull up a ladder to the front of the house or dress in cover-alls are sometimes missed by neighbours and people passing by so they don’t send off any human alarm bells, really.
City of Vancouver By-Law states that alarm companies are not allowed to contact the police immediately, they actually have to contact you first, “there’s a 6-10 minute delay (minimum) before the police are even aware of a break-in.” Mike explains that the reason why police response is so delayed is that 98% of calls are false alarms.
Mike explains that private businesses sell a service (alarm companies) and in order to be of any value at all, they need to rely on a government services (the police). He then brings up an old quote of something he said on the Bill Good show a few years ago, “the alarm industry is a parasite on the police.”
“Market saturation defeats the deterrent value of an alarm,” Mike also shows the 62 million hits that come up on Google if you search, “home security”.
If an alarm at a Provident-secured house goes off, they will show up (within 5 minutes) and sees if something is afoot, they will call 9-1-1 for you. The home-dispatch process here is completely automated and it takes 4 seconds to relay the alarm message to a representative’s Blackberry — they also know what type of alarm was tripped, and from where in the house.
Mike profiles a local man who is known to police and known in this area for criminal activity, “it’s not thousands of crooks running around, it’s few who do it often.”
Update: “A security alarm is not a security system.” Mike says that you need to try and “5-minute proof” again which isn’t making it impossible to steal or break-in, it’s getting set up so that “from the point at which the alarm trips, it will take 5 minutes or more for someone to get to what you value most.”
Question: “Do they usually leave through the back alley or the front door?” Mike replies that it doesn’t matter, wherever they park their car, most likely the front door.
Question: Do you notice that neighbourhood guys (panhandlers/those who look for bottles from bins) who know the area are common suspects or culprits? Mike says that most often they are helpful and keep an eye on things. “Typically the guys breaking in are different or new to the area.”
What’s protecting your protection? Mike mentions, “the Achilles heal of any alarm system is your phone system. For most, it’s right outside your house and unlocked.” Same goes for condos, these boxes could be unprotected rooms. “Security is in redundancy so we use telephone lines, radio signals, BLINK monitoring, cellular backup, and we can also monitor over the internet.” Having some combination of these is key. However, if you have VOIP phones like Vonage or Rogers home phone (digital phone), your alarm system will not work (same goes with 9-1-1). Shaw and Rogers home phones could work, but it’s not consistent.
Update: “The system needs to be separated, the keypads should be separate from control panels… …We want to make sure that if someone breaks into your house, they cannot get to your control panel — keep the siren away from the panel.” One of Mike’s main points is that “security is redundancy,” which I’m repeating not only because it’s a great point, but I’m also being cheeky by being redundant.
The presentation is complete but there is now a question and answer session, the first inquiry is about recommended brands for doors and bolts, and the conversation moves to “bump keys”. Mike has a blog post up about the ‘limited threat’ they actually pose.
Regarding cameras, “they are useful for a lot of things but they’re a tool, they’re not a deterrent.” They can be used in conjunction with alarm system or better yet, to detect patterns of movement or individuals.
There’s a question about front gates/driveway gates, and while Mike says “pushing your security perimeter out is always great,” they can sometimes be a hassle. You’d have to think about what to do for deliveries, the post man, visitors, etc.
Update: We just had a tour of the facilities upstairs and to say they’re up to code, secure, and you pretty much need a retina scan to get in (not really, but almost) you can tell that these guys take security seriously.
Check out Provident’s site for more information about their services or their blog for information, commentary and useful tips about everything in home security.