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.

Armed Response Team Merges With Select Security Systems

Armed Response Team is proud to announce that it has merged with Select Security Systems, another Albuquerque-area home and commercial security company. The name remains the same, and Select Security Systems staff in sales, technical and administrative support will continue to service its current customers under the new company name.

 “I was impressed by the ART model, and saw the value in enhanced service to our customers. We’re excited about the opportunity to offer Select Security Systems customers an even higher level of security service with ART,” says Michael Caldwell, President of Select Security Systems. Caldwell will remain with ART in a sales, customer support and product development capacity.

Bringing Select Security Systems expertise and staff into the company means that soon, ART will be adding fire alarm and suppression systems installation and monitoring to its service menu for businesses. ART remains the only Albuquerque dedicated to installing, monitoring, and most importantly, providing an immediate, armed in-person response to burglar alarms – both commercial and residential.

Watch for more about fire suppression and alarm systems, soon.

Fall Check Up & Safety Tips

Fall back and change smoke detector batteriesNext weekend is the end of Daylight Savings, so don’t forget to change your clocks. We use this trick to remember which way to adjust: Spring forward, Fall back.

Speaking of changing the clocks, don’t forget the clock in your alarm panel, too. If you need any help with that, let us know. Changing the clocks is a great time to take a few minutes and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well. These devices could save your life if a fire occurs or carbon monoxide levels rise when you’re at home.

But what about when you’re not at home, or if smoke has already incapacitated you? ART can install smoke and heat detectors that communicate directly to the fire department – whether or not you hear the blast. Yes, these systems continue to have a loud blast to alert you when you’re home. The advantage is that with these automatic devices, there’s no need to dial 911. We can even tie these systems in to your existing alarm system.

While we’re alerting you to safety issues, October is National Cyber Safety Month. You’re viewing this through an internet or cellular device, which opens you up to the risk of potential hackers. In fact, from personal computers, smartphones, and tablets, e-book readers, to working, shopping, and social networking, almost every aspect of our daily lives touches the digital world. Did you know that even when we are not actively using these devices, they are connected to the Internet? And consider just how much information is carried through cyberspace: financial transactions, transportation systems, healthcare records, emergency response systems, personal communications, and more.

And here’s a reminder about scams that have morphed from email to internet devices, too. You probably know this already, but we hope you send this along to someone who might not. Because there are still people every day who read these appeals, and fall for them.

No one is going to receive a large sum of money from a dead Nigerian politician, win a huge lottery from being “randomly selected from a database of email addresses,” make big money from “passive residual income a few hours each day working out of your home,” or has instantly won a (fill in the blank) store gift card. Stay safe online and on your phone, by reporting these emails/texts and never be embarrassed to admit to law enforcement that you were duped.

We encourage you to visit www.staysafeonline.org for more on how to secure your devices and the networks they use.

Meet the ART Staff: Evelyn Marquez

Evelyn MarquezCongratulations to Evelyn Marquez! Evelyn was recently promoted to Customer Service Lead at ART. She’ll be heading up our customer service team as of November 1, including responding to phone calls, scheduling technicians for customer appointments, and doing reminder calls to customers about those appointments.

One of the aspects of customer care that Evelyn excels at it answering technical issues. She has great phone skills and thrives on handling lots of calls – everything from simple issues like forgotten alarm codes, to stickier issues like troubleshooting systems.

We believe strongly in training at ART. You already know about our extensive training and certification that our officers attend each year. The other members of our team go through other forms of education to keep them at the top of their fields. Evelyn has undergone customer service and sales training so that she is even better able to answer your questions and help you with any issues with your system.

Please give a big welcome to Evelyn in her new role! And call her at 505-237-2278 with any questions.

Metal Theft Losses Frustrating NM Insurers

IIANM logoArmed Response Team CEO Dave Meurer recently gave a presentation to the Independent Insurance Agents of NM at their statewide convention. The topic was the massive increase in metal theft, and the resulting payout of claims by insurance companies.

The statistics were astounding, even to us, who keep tabs on this increasing problem. National numbers show an 81% increase in metal theft in just three years! Everyone in the room was frustrated with the problem, which hits companies,  the insurers and consumers where it hurts – their wallets.

Unfortunately, New Mexico ranks highly both in the number of claims per capita, but also ranks #3 in the number of questionable claims per capita. Questionable claims means that insurers believe the claim may contain some element of fraud. Add in the slow response of police times to even the highest priority calls (and security alarms are not the highest priority), and companies and insurers are facing a real problem.

Why was ART asked to talk to this group? Because we’ve figured out how to get out in front of this issue and prevent the theft before it happens. Not only did we talk about the several kinds of sensors on panels we install that detect motion and tie into an existing alarm system, we talked about the latest technology – Videofied. Videofied, as we’ve discussed before, is the cleanest system to install because it’s independent of your existing set up. Videofied gives the best level of insight because we actually see what’s occurring, while it’s happening, via a 10-second video clip sent to our monitoring station.

Our booth at the trade show that followed the IIANM presentation was hopping with key brokers and insurers continuing the discussion of how everyone could benefit from the latest in metal theft technology. Videofied was at the top of their to do list for sure.

 

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.

ART Saves Business From Copper Theft Loss

Copper TheftHere’s a post in which we toot our own horn about how ART is the solution to copper theft.

A few weeks ago, our central monitoring station received a 1 a.m. power outage signal at a client’s business. Our officer responded quickly, interrupting a copper thief before he could make off with the copper wires connecting the business to the electrical grid. Not much damage had been done, yet.

The suspect fled. Our officer contacted police and stayed with the tools and rolls of wire the perpetrator had already taken from surrounding businesses. Because of ART’s immediate response, no further harm came to our client’s business. Unfortunately, the other businesses in the area suffered much greater losses.

All the pieces were in place for our client:

  • An ART system that alerted us when power was lost.
  • An immediate response from our trained, armed officers.
  • Our officer made a good witness for the police, describing him and securing the area for fingerprints and other physical evidence.

But the businesses adjacent to our client’s are worse off because they had no protection. Their losses are so much greater. If any of the businesses that were hit that night had the new Videofied system, there would have been a 10 second video clip of the crook, too.

ART and Videofied can be a preventative option to the copper theft problem. Videofied is already deployed with some clients. They’re seeing good results, including peace of mind knowing that we’re able to stop crime before it happens, and provide evidence to prosecute criminals if it does occur.

To find out more about how Videofied and ART can protect your business from the epidemic of copper theft, call (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.