Safety Tips When Using an ATM

ATMs offer a quick and convenient way to access your money, wherever you are. As accessible as they are, however, there are several key things to keep in mind when using an ATM in order to ensure you (and your bank account’s) safety and security.

In order to best protect your assets, try to use an ATM located inside an open business whenever possible. The public setting will help to deter any potential criminal activity. It is also best to avoid using an ATM during nighttime hours, and don’t use one if you see suspicious people around it. Don’t write your PIN number on your card, or keep it anywhere in your wallet or purse. It is also best to not make your PIN number something easily guessed, like the last four digits of your Social Security or phone number.

Always be aware of people standing behind you at the ATM, and try to make sure not to enter your PIN number in plain view. Don’t withdraw large amounts of cash at once, and always take your receipt with you. If you do find yourself in a robbery situation, don’t attempt to fight or fend it off. Take note of the robber’s likeness, and give the robber the money. Get to a safe area and call 911.With these critical safety tips, ATMs can remain a safe and convenient way to access your money.

Copper Thieves stopped cold

During the cold overnight hours last night, officers of the Armed Response Team stopped would-be copper thieves’ cold at two locations in the Albuquerque metro area. 

At one business address in the far Northeast Heights, thieves had started to disconnect the electrical service when one of our officers arrived.  The two suspects fled, but left behind their vehicle loaded with tools needed to steal copper.  Our responding officer secured the site, and contacted law enforcement for further investigation.  Bottom line, because our client had the Armed Response Team install sensors on the outdoor electrical enclosure, our monitoring center dispatched our officers before significant damage had occurred.  And, these would-be thieves have lost their vehicle and tools, hopefully leading to their apprehension.

At the other site near the balloon fiesta park, we received signals from our clients’ outdoor yard sensors.  Our officer responded quickly and found a hole in the fence.  Upon further investigation, he saw piles of metal and copper that had been staged near the fence, and then found a suspect hiding in the yard.  Our Armed Response Team officer, based on his 20 years of APD experience, knew exactly how to legally and safely detain the suspect, who was then turned over to police.

 Once again, a loss was prevented, and a suspect apprehended!  

 Who do you know that needs this type of protection?  Copper theft is running rampant, and a modest level of protection can prevent a huge loss.  If you have a business location, call us soon to explore your options to detect and prevent copper theft. 

Security Trends to Watch in 2013

Increased crime. Fewer police. A changing State of New Mexico retirement system that gives veteran cops an incentive to retire early and not stay on the job. Those don’t sound like a good combination, do they? Those three trends will come into stark relief in 2013. What does that mean for a business or homeowner? Trouble.

It’s obvious that increased crime is a bad thing. Especially property crime like burglary and metal theft. That’s when we rely on the police to ensure our safety. Where the outlooks turns grim is that law enforcement around the country, and even in New Mexico and Albuquerque, are faced with a growing shortage of officers.

In Salt Lake City, false alarm calls were draining patrol resources, comprising 12 percent of all dispatched calls. The average police response time to alarm activations was up to 40 minutes, well beyond the time when police could reasonably hope to apprehend an intruder. Over 99% of all alarm calls proved false. The result? Police and sheriff’s departments have decided not to respond to security alarms – either at all, or only when a real, live person verifies that the alarm is blasting because of an intrusion instead of the wind, an animal or malfunction. In Montgomery County, Maryland, alarm dispatches have decreased by 70% despite a more than 300% increase in alarm systems.

How did that happen? Companies like Armed Response Team have stepped into the gap left between the security alarm and the police patrol. With our immediate, in person armed response to any and all alarms, our customers know that their homes, property and businesses don’t fall through the cracks in a system where too few police have higher priorities than crooks stealing your stuff.

 Make sure you’re on the right side of this triple threat of fewer law enforcement officers and increased property crime. Find out how Armed Response Team can keep you and your family safe.

Prevent Holiday Theft with Tips from ART

holiday theftBurglary detectives tell us that thieves make out exceptionally well during the holidays because businesses and homeowners let their guard down. While the holidays are times of giving and good cheer, they are also prime time for bandits who rely on the disruption of our usual safety routine. Here are some ideas to ensure that the Grinch doesn’t steal your Christmas this year.

  • Thieves watch your curb on recycling day. Getting a new big screen TV, iPad or other goodies? Defeat the crooks by breaking down all electronic boxes into smaller pieces, turning them inside out or discarding them in non-clear trash bags. The point is to mask anything that identifies your recycling boxes as expensive electronics.
  • Keep your tree and gifts hidden from view of outside windows. Or, keep your curtains and blinds drawn so that peeping Toms can’t see your loot from the outside.
  • Lock all doors and windows even when leaving the home for a short period of time. Many thefts are crimes of opportunity.
  • Leave spare keys with a neighbor rather than hiding them outside. Burglars are not fooled by your hiding places.
  • Place indoor and outdoor lights on an automatic timer, or install motion activated sensors on outside lights.
  • When away from your home on a holiday vacation, or even overnight to grandmother’s house, have a neighbor or friend watch for suspicious activity and pick up your newspapers and mail.
  • Beware of strangers at your door: criminals can pose as couriers delivering gifts or as solicitors for fake charitable causes. Ask for identification or information about a charity.

Have a safe and theft-free holiday season, from all of us at ART.

Holiday Travel Tips from ART

Experts expect a robust holiday travel season this yearholiday travel, with full planes and crowded airports. With gas prices dropping across the country, more families are taking the holiday on the roads, too. About 84 million Americans say they plan to travel over the Christmas/New Year’s season this year, according to a recent American Express Travel Spending and Saving Tracker Survey.

Holidays are also prime time for crooks on the look out for opportunities to trim their own trees with gifts stolen from you. Here are some tips from ART to keep you and your family safer from thieves this holiday travel season.

  • Check the car. Don’t worry about your car leaving you stranded far away from home. Take it to your local auto shop for a quick once over, and make sure your tires are winter ready and properly inflated.
  • Pack a winter safety car kit. This includes an ice scraper, tow rope and jumper cables, sand or cat litter to aid with traction, blankets, flashlights, matches and emergency candles, first aid kit, portable radio, and non-perishable snacks, in case you do get stuck.
  • Leave an itinerary. Should the trip to grandmother’s house, whether by car, train or plane, be delayed, cancelled or rerouted, be sure that someone knows where you’re supposed to be and when. Should the unexpected happen, someone will know when to call out the cavalry.
  • That minor accident could be staged. If you are involved in a minor fender bender, do not get out of the car. Call the police, lower your window slightly and ask the other party to phone the police or follow you to the nearest public area or police station. Some criminals use an accident to get you to stop, get out of the car, and rob you. If you think the accident was staged, call 911 and drive directly to the nearest law enforcement office to report it.
  • Load, hide and unload your stuff before you arrive. By the time you pull into a hotel lot, valet queue, parking garage or any parking spot, everything you plan to leave in the car should already be well stowed and hidden. If you pack valuables in the trunk in full view, you’re broadcasting to crooks exactly where to focus their attention. Put your things in the trunk or other safe compartment before you start the trip and take out only what you’ll need immediately when you arrive.
  • Know what your insurance covers. Call your health and car insurance companies to clarify what your insurance covers when you’re away from home. Don’t get stuck with a big bill should an accident or health emergency cancel plans, either. Consider trip or travel insurance and know what it covers, like trip cancellation and interruption, medical, evacuation, baggage, and flight insurance. Supplemental policies can be added to cover identity theft or political evacuation. Insurance prices can vary dramatically with age is one of the biggest factors affecting the price.

Have a safe and happy holiday travel season!

Stay Safe On Black Friday

Holiday theftIn two days, the national day of shopping arrives. For some retailers, Black Friday even begins on Thanksgiving night. The holiday shopping season is a great time for rushing to and fro. But another element watching for opportunity to purloin your packages.

Whether or not you’ll be one of one of the thousands searching for bargains, here are some quick tips to keep you, your vehicle and your packages safe from the sticky fingers of holiday Grinches.

  • Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand other things, stay alert to your surroundings.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. If you must, keep cash in your front pocket. Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.
  • Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused. Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
  • Put your packages in the trunk of your car. No one wants to return from shopping to find car windows smashed and their presents stolen.
  • Wallet and purse are prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit. Pay attention.
  • Stolen purses can mean stolen house and car keys. Use separate car and house keys rings. Don’t put your keys in your purse – use a pocket. Never keep your garage door opener on your key ring, either.
  • Use a lockout code on your cell phone. Cell phone theft is way up, and thieves have figured out how to deactivate the GPS locators so you/your cell company can’t find it.

Finally, beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, con artists may try to distract you with the intention of taking your money or belongings. This includes those pesky door-to-door solicitors. So it bears repeating that, with it getting darker earlier (thanks time change), DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR unless you know who is on the other side.

Don’t let the Grinches steal your holiday. Stay safe, from all of us at Armed Response Team.

Fight Crime, Get a Free Month of Service

burglarIt’s no secret that crime is up. Especially property crime. Factor in the police and sheriff’s departments saying they don’t have enough cops and can’t recruit the right people to help protect the community. What do you get? A recipe for stress and worry.

There’s a bright side, though. ART customers have already shined a spotlight on safety. They know that their families, homes and businesses are safer because of ART’s immediate in person armed response to their alarm calls. Any calls – even those caused by the wind, animals or technology glitches (which fortunately don’t happen very often – and we guarantee no false alarm fines, ever).

So pat yourself on the back, and feel proud of yourself. You’ve taken steps to ensure you’re not at risk. ART and its certified law enforcement officers are the first line of defense around your property.

And here’s the even better part. You could get a free month of service from ART. Yep, simply refer someone to ART – a friend, family member, coworker, neighbor. When that person becomes a customer (be sure to remind them to give your name as the referral), you get a month’s service credited to your account. If you’re a pre-paid customer, your credit is extended for a month.

There’s no limit to the number of people you can refer or the number of free months you can earn. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone were as secure as you are?

Q&A with Roy Torres, ART Officer

Roy Torres, ART Officer

Roy Torres, ready for action

Our responding officers are the heart of Armed Response Team’s exceptional customer service. But rather than us telling you that, we thought we’d let one of our veteran officers share his story. Here’s our conversation with Roy Torres, ART Officer.

ART: How long have you been with Armed Response Team?

RT: Since shortly after the founding of the business, in September 2005.

ART: What did you do before you came to ART?

RT: I was a 20+ year veteran of the Albuquerque Police Department. I worked in Field Services, taking general calls – everything from shoplifting to homicide.

ART: How did you find out about ART?

RT: Two other officers I knew helped create the business, because of lengthy times for police to respond to burglar alarms. They saw a need to fill in the gap with an immediate, in person response. I was contacted by them and asked if I’d like to join the team.

ART: What appealed to you about working for ART?

RT: I had actually retired for 6 months and travelled a bit before I joined ART. I was only 38 when I retired, and liked the idea of the team concept – having 8-15 officers to work closely with. I also liked the very specific duties ART officers have. We go straight to the alarm call when it comes in. There’s nothing to distract us from the call – no drunk drivers, no domestic calls, or other calls that would take us away from the alarm call. We’re providing a service and catching bad guys.

ART: What’s the best thing about your job?

RT: I get to do what I was trained to do – provide customer service and catch bad guys. It’s rewarding for me to make the customer feel happy, secure and safe. Another thing is that it’s not an open-ended job – we see resolution with each call.

ART: Anything else you like about working at ART?

RT: Responding officers don’t troubleshoot alarm calls. The experienced, professional alarm technicians do that. But in the police department, you could get called out the same false alarms all the time, with no resolution. We guarantee no false alarm fines, because the techs really know their stuff.

ART: Tell us about the hiring process for officers at ART.

RT: ART gets the best of the best from the Albuquerque Police Department, because of their background in law enforcement. Of course, new officers have to be committed to the team concept. The hiring team has input on new hires, too. We know that we’re not here to lay around, but to do a job and be in law enforcement mode. As officers, we know where the other officers came from, too, so we trust each other.

All ART officers are certified law enforcement officers, and keep their training and certifications active. Customers trust us because of our extensive training, and that’s priceless. We can feel that when we speak to the customer.

ART: What are other benefits of keeping your law enforcement certifications active?

RT: There are many benefits. First, we keep in contact with current APD officers so that at calls, the police feel a camaraderie with ART officers. And we are able to keep in touch with retired officers if we have openings for new ART officers. We have confidence that all ART officers are properly trained, not overzealous or inexperienced.

Have a question for an ART officer? Want to find out more about ART’s armed, in person and immediate response? Call us at 505-237-2278 or email.

Got Security? Not with Comcast and Verizon

got security?Remember that post about Comcast’s home monitoring service? Well, security industry providers in Massachusetts are fighting back against cable and telecom companies selling “security services” in their state. They claim companies like Comcast and Verizon are endangering the public by not being licensed for the security alarm work.

The trend of cable and phone companies bundling security with internet and telephone services is disturbing. Certainly, these new services are sexy – they come with high tech gadgets or tap into a home or business owner’s smart phone or tablet capacity. But if you look at them from the security side – the actual practice of keeping your home or business safe from intruders and theft – the services fall far short.

Why? Let’s start with Comcast’s Xfinity Security.

  • You need a smart phone or mobile computing device. Without a mobile device, you won’t be able to take full advantage of Xfinity’s features.
  • The PC-based security system transmits information over the Internet – like locking and unlocking doors. Hackers could gain access to your home information.
  • Key fob option to open doors is an invitation to thieves to steal your keys and your stuff.
  • The contract has a long term – 3 years, with an early termination fee.
  • Customer service? Good luck.
  • No immediate, armed and in-person response to alarms.

What about Verizon?

  • Verizon’s Home Monitoring Systems isn’t an alarm. Who’s monitoring? You are, not a central monitoring company.
  • You have to install your own monitoring system. If the technology doesn’t work, you’re out of luck. You have to fix it yourself.
  • Lock or unlock doors remotely – like an engraved invitation to hackers and thieves.
  • You must be a Verizon broadband subscriber. Don’t want their other services? Too bad.
  • Got bugs? Verizon does.
  • Got interference? You might, because Verizon uses a radio-frequency-based home automation network, subject to interference.

Need we say more? Do it yourself security is never as good as professionally installed and monitored equipment and services. Companies like Comcast and Verizon have no business being in the security business.

Cities Ditch Police, ART Picks Up Slack

A reCamden NJ ditching policecent national news story highlights the growing phenomenon of cities and towns across the country downsizing and even ditching their police forces. Camden, NJ, considered one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S., is laying off entire police department because of budget woes.

The Major Cities Police Chiefs Association, a group representing the nation’s 63 largest police departments, found last year that 70 percent were facing budget cuts that have resulted in reduction of service. Often, one of the first public services to go is response to security alarms.

As cities continue to struggle and services are reduced, everyone is making due with less. Even in New Mexico, the City of Las Cruces is considering an ordinance in reaction to high false alarm rate – more than 99 percent of alarm calls reported there last year. Police said the cost to send public safety personnel to respond to those false alarms is an estimated $307,000 a year.

No one could have predicted the economic downturn that has brought the trend into stark relief. With the increase in burglary and property crimes, a reduced response by police is not what customers want.

We at ART recognized the warning signs more than eight years ago, when a group of Albuquerque police officers founded the company. Our customers know that ART’s certified officers providing an immediate, armed and in-person response to any and all alarm calls. If an actual intrusion has occurred, ART officers call police immediately, providing a verified response to the alarm signal.

For more on ART’s immediate, armed and in-person response, call (505) 237-2278 or email us. Your safety is what matters with us.