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Can I hose my cameras to clean them, what is IP66?

Can I hose my cameras to clean them, what is IP66

Over the decades we have been installing camera systems we have seen many times that cameras get water in them and the client assumes this is a warranty claim as they are IP66 rated.

So firstly, let’s look at this rating.

IP66
Able to protect against powerful water jets.
Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
Test duration: at least 3 minutes (3 minutes of water does not create the same issues as days at a time in storm season).
Water volume: 100 litres per minute (this is at the nozzle).
Pressure: 100 kPa at distance of 3 m (this may equate to very little pressure at the camera).

This all sounds like they are quite waterproof, however these specifications are misleading, let’s look at some household pressures that put this into perspective, as you can see, these numbers are significantly above the approved limit.

A water jet cleaner, like a Gernie is around 10,000 kPa, 10,000% greater than the camera can handle.
A garden hose without a nozzle is around 250 kPa, 250% greater than the camera can handle.
A garden hose with a jet nozzle can be around 2,000 kPa, 2,000% greater than the camera can handle.

Clearly these water jets are well above the guaranteed measure.

Now to discuss wind, as we know there are many times gusts of wind reach up to and over 100kph, with around 125kph enough to start lifting or moving heavier objects. Combine this with heavy rain and you have a situation where your 100kPa is again well exceeded and your camera may get water injected around the seals or threads.

So what does this all mean you may ask, well it means that if you hose your cameras, install them directly in exposed weather, Gernie them or otherwise allow them to be wet and hit by harsh wind, they will probably get water ingress which will eventually kill them, and these issues do not form a valid warranty claim as the manufacturer’s only warranty against the IP66 specifications.

When cleaning your cameras, use a damp microfibre cloth and do not leave them wet, when installing them, even if they are weather proof, they belong under an eave unless they are in a housing or have a stronger IP rating, and remember direct sunlight will also damage your cameras and cause wear on the seals, further reducing the cameras ability to withstand the harsh Australian elements.

So to keep your cameras healthy and clean.

  1. Always mount under eaves or away from direct weather exposure
  2. Never allow water to hit them directly
  3. Clean your cameras gently with a damp microfibre cloth

If you follow the above tips, your cameras will last a lifetime and will always deliver crystal clear images like the day they were installed.

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Selecting the correct security camera when good night vision is required

Selecting the correct security camera when good night vision is required

Intro

There are so many cameras on the market, ranging from low quality diy kits to high quality installed security systems, from no name brands to reputable brands like OzSpy, HikVision, Dahua, etc., each having it’s own ranges of cameras with different features and performance. So exactly what makes a great night vision camera, or better still, are there things to look out for?

The answer is yes, there are a couple of areas to look for, one being the sensor brand and model, the other is the LED array, both of which we will cover here.

LED Array

Firstly we will discuss the LED array, which are the LED(s) around the lens or next to the lens that normally glow a soft dim red at night. These act as a flashlight for the camera and come in many shapes and sizes.

There are a few things to remember about IR, that will help you understand what to look out for and what to expect.

LED is like any other light, like a torch, or a spot light, it needs something to reflect off. Imagine you are on a boat in the middle of the ocean with a torch, if you shine it at the boat below you it will be bright, but if you shine it on the water it won’t be, and worse still if you shine it into the distance or up into the sky it will be non-existent. This tells you that the usable light only travels a short distance and needs to reflect of something light to be useful, shining into water or the distance makes it useless. Keep this in mind when placing or evaluating your IR/night vision capabilities, if your camera is facing into the distance or darkness and there is nothing to reflect off, it will be useless unless someone walks up to it.

Your LED IR may also not like dark trees, or swimming pools, or even a dark fence as it will not have a light surface to reflect off, so even if you have a reasonable quality camera, the position may affect the visible or usable night vision.

A camera inside a room or patio is amazing at night, when you place the very same camera outside in a large grassy area, it may be next to useless. This is purely because of the reflective surfaces giving the camera lots of reflected light to use.

Rule of thumb: Make sure there is something for the light to reflect off.

IR Range

Next is the IR range of the camera, which is normally advertised in meters, for example with a 30m IR camera you would expect 30m night vision, but sadly this isn’t true at all, in fact you should always take off 30% or even 50% to get a more realistic usable range. This is because in testing the camera is placed in the darkness and someone walks in white overalls, at the point they completely disappear, or just start to appear is the distance factories advertise. The big issue is, crims rarely wear white overalls, and at the point of just seeing an outline is not usable.

Rule of thumb, for excellent night vision allow a drop of at least 30%, so a 30m camera, would suit a 20m area.

The Sensor

Now for the important part, the sensor, this is the CCD or CMOS electronic sensor that turns light into electronic signal and is the most crucial part of the equation. There are many brands and many models, and it is way too much for the average person to keep track off, each brand also has many models, so if you want exceptional night vision, you should stick with the SONY Starvis IMX sensor, if you want above average night vision you should stick with a SONY non Starvis IMX sensor, if you are happy with average night vision an OV or other non SONY brand will be fine.

Normally suppliers will list their great night vision cameras with names like Starvis, Starlight, Night Shot, Dark Fighter and so on, try searching in our search box at the top of the screen for Starvis and you will see our specialty night vision cameras.

We sometimes get complaints that the Starvis cameras don’t turn on the night vision and stay colour, that is because they need such little light, often they will stay full colour at night.

SONY Starvis Nigh Vision Cameras

Rule of thumb: If you want excellent night vision, stick with SONY Starvis, for good night vision stick with SONY (not starvis), for ok night vision try OV (Omnivision) or other no name brands.

DIY Kits

As specialty night vision cameras are much more expensive to manufacture, you won’t find them in DIY kits, regardless of the brand, if you are serious about your night vision, you will need to buy specialty cameras and build your own system.

Rule of thumb: Don’t expect night vision like this from a DIY kit or no name brand camera.

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How to use a mix of visible and covert cameras to nail the crims

How to use a mix of visible and covert cameras to nail the crims

When you find out there is a problem in your home or business and you decide that electronic surveillance equipment like CCTV or hidden cameras may be the answer, you are then faced with the choice, to catch or deter, or both.

In this blog we will discuss the pros and cons of each and some simple methods to improve the effectiveness of either.

The first thing to consider is that a covert camera will catch someone and a visible camera will deter someone or move the crime to a new location. Moving the crime is an important consideration as a poorly placed CCTV camera will be ineffective if the actual criminal act is not happening exactly where it is pointed.

So how can you make sure that you do both, well the best method is to funnel the criminal into a controlled location where you can catch them, this is done by placing your overt or visible security cameras in locations where you effectively push the crim into an area where they feel safe knowing there are no cameras watching them, and then nab them with a covert camera.

This can even be achieved with a dummy camera or two as well as your existing security cameras as we did in the following installation.

The bottle shop man

Some time ago we had a client who owned a bottle shop and the staff were scamming him by buying hot slabs of beer from him behind his back and selling cold six packs and pocketing the cash, this went on for years and no matter how hard the client tried, he could never catch them, and worse than that, he had no evidence as the books always balanced, however he knew there was an issue as warm slabs of beer were becoming the best seller and cold six packs never got sold anymore. He also noticed a big hit to the businesses bottom line and profits became tight.

This client already had a functioning CCTV system that was clearly installed without the thought of catching, or even reducing the crime with camera placements in very generic positions.

The client came to see us and we arranged a meeting after hours and had a look at the site, where we quickly were able to ascertain that the staff would had plenty of hidey holes where they could pocket some cash without being seen, so we recommended that we relocate his cameras to useful positions, add some new cameras with better resolution and a covert camera at chest height beside the till.

The client agreed, so we went to work and added the covert camera and new cameras after hours, and we also added a dummy camera on the other side of the till to force the staff to face the covert camera by turning their back to the dummy camera if they were to steal money.

The next day we went on site and the client announced we were upgrading the system so there was no suspicion about the new dummy camera and we completed the upgrades and left.

It was just the following day that the client called thanking us that they had the perfect shot of one of the staff members turning her back on the dummy camera and unknowingly facing the covert camera and stuffing money into her underwear. We insisted he do nothing yet and wait a week to see who else is involved.

A week later we called to check in and he told us it was perfect, he caught several staff members pocketing cash and they all fell straight into the trap we set by forcing them to face the covert camera.

The lesson of this story is that by thinking about how people will act when they see a visible camera, you can move the crime into a specific controlled environment where you have a cleverly concealed covert camera and put an end to a problem that may have been plaguing you for years.

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The risks and methods of using dummy or fake cameras

The risks and methods of using dummy or fake cameras

Using Dummy or fake cameras

Many people often suggest that a great way to save money is to buy dummy cameras and rely on the art of bluff to avoid crime. This in some situations can be a good plan, however in most situations the plan is flawed due to the following issues.

The problem with the bluff tactic

If you 100% rely on fake dummy cameras to solve your security woes, you better be sure they look convincing as once the crim works out one is fake, you have lost your entire security solution and the crim will be confident there are no real cameras and that you probably don’t have an alarm as well, even if you have stickers everywhere, and if this is true, the crim will also know that they have plenty of time to go through your home or business without any fear of being caught.

The problems with dummy cameras

Firstly, there is a definite difference in the look of a $300 metal camera with the internal parts visible and a $5 plastic unit without any resemblance to a real camera, and make no mistake, the bad guys can tell as well.

You will also notice many dummy or fake cameras have blinking red light to try and convince people they are real, however real cameras do not have a red blinking light so to a trained or even slightly aware crim, this is a beacon advertising the camera is not real and in in fact a fake camera.

Normally you will also notice the lens of the dummy camera is black plastic and not even transparent, whereas the real camera has a glass lens, this is extremely obvious to anyone who has looked at a real cameras and most manufacturers of dummy cameras do this.

And finally, the cable coming out of the rear of many dummy cameras is a glossy black tube, again bearing no resemblance to a real camera.

A better solution

Rather than buying dodgy looking plastic dummy cameras from your local supermarket or auction site, contact your local security system business like OzSpy and ask if they have any broken or out of date cameras for sale that can be used as dummy cameras.

Every day we sell these at different stores as when we have faulty cameras or cameras that are old and were removed from a job, we cut the cable off and sell them for the same price as a good dummy camera, and as they are a real camera, the crims will never catch you trying to bluff them.

The ideal solution

To ensure you get the maximum protection you really do need to have some real cameras recording what is happening in your home or business, however sometimes you may not have the initial budget to buy all that you need to start with.

To make your system look as big as it needs to be, ask your security advisor when asking for a quote for some broken or old cameras that you can add to the system in the places you cannot afford to install real operational cameras.

This way you can have a small two camera installation with real evidence collection and a range of non-working cameras giving the crims the impression that you are like fort Knox and impenetrable, making them think twice about choosing your home or business as their preferred target.

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How to find IP cameras on your home or business network

How to find IP cameras on your home or business network

Introduction

Here we will go over a couple of simple steps to search your network for IP cameras. This is useful when you are adding your own, or checking if someone else has added one.

There have been times where we scan for cameras we have just added, and found cameras the clients didn’t know were there, so it’s good practice to have a quick check now and then.

http://arllc.net/findipcam/

Advanced IP scanner

If you are looking for a more powerful solution that can scan deeper into your networks and cover more ranges, then we use Advanced IP Scanner.

Firstly you will need to download it from the below link, then once it is installed away you go.

The operation is reasonably straight forward, and to check each IP address, simply add them into IE (internet explorer) as per the web based method and away you go.

The program is free and very well known so there are a lot of resources online on how to get the most out of it.

https://www.advanced-ip-scanner.com

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Things to consider when placing your cameras

Things to consider when placing your cameras

Introduction

CCTV cameras are like your eyes in many ways, they don’t like the sun, quick changes in lighting, headlights, etc., they also work in some scenarios better than others.

So we will discuss some things to consider when designing your system, specifically in relation to camera placement.

Height

Placing your cameras too low so they risk getting stolen is a concern, however placing them too high will only get the top of someone’s head, and if they are wearing a cap, they don’t even need to face down to conceal their identity.

Consider the face shot when placing your cameras.

Another consideration with height is the type of camera, for example domes look neat and are less likely to be bumped or deliberately moved as they are available in vandal resistant, however they cannot look above themselves or if they do, its not by much.

A bullet camera on the other hand can aim slightly up, allowing you greater views from low eaves. You are also less likely to get IR flash as discussed later from bullets as apposed to domes.

Identification shot

The key to getting the money shot is to get the face close enough so it fills about 20% of the screen, or at least enough to see the face clearly, this will ensure the police will accept it as evidence, or at very least help you identify the culprit.

Placing wide angle cameras (which make things look far away) on the front of the house and expecting to clearly make out a face on the street is unlikely in many situations, a better solution would be to have the wide angle camera watching the yard, as well as a narrower lens looking at the entrance.

Where to aim

Only you know what you want to see, however keep in mind where people are likely to enter your property and have those areas covered well, and the other areas can be covered with wide angle lenses just for a record of what happened.

For drive ways, we always use VF (vari-focal) which are adjustable or MVR which are motorised and you can zoom with your phone.

You should also consider a camera looking sideways at the front door to capture this area in great detail.

The truth about night vision

When looking at a camera you will see it’s IR rating in meters. To truly understand this, it is tested in darkness with someone in white overalls and marked as soon as the person’s outline can be seen.

This of course bears little resemblance to a burglar sneaking around in dark clothing.

These are manufacturers specifications and every brand we have ever used (which is virtually every known brand) has night vision that can be disappointing in some situations, however if night vision is really important then we recommend reducing the stated distance by at least 30% to get a better idea of what is “usable night vision footage”.

So if you really want 20 meters night vision, buy a camera that can do 30 meters and you will get a better result.

If you really need excellent night vision, ask for a specialist camera, or one that uses the SONY STARVIS sensor as these are significantly better in low light.

Weather

Although cameras are labelled IP66 Outdoor, you should always select a dry location over a wet one as when it rains and there is water on the lens, your image will be distorted, it will also get much dirtier much quicker, so under an eave or other structure is better.

Sunrise and sunset

Even though we love a good sunrise or sunset, this can play havoc with cameras, causing temporary blindness, erratic night vision, burns on the sensor normally showing as pink or other colour areas or dots, and eventual death.

To avoid this, just position them so they don’t face directly into the sun, so avoid East or West facing cameras that see the horizon.

Shadows

Your cameras have very sensitive software designed to adjust to the average brightness of your image, try and avoid positions where the camera has 50% bright and 50% shadow, in some situations the camera may seem to flash or sometimes be over bright or sometimes too dark.

Cameras can handle some shadows, but keeping this in mind will reduce the chance of any issues.

The more expensive the camera is, the less this likely would be an issue.

IR flash

Every installer will have experienced the issue where during the day, the camera looks great, at night it has either a foggy halo, white haze, low performing night vision or something blindingly white on the screen.

This can be a down pipe too close, the camera bouncing off a white fence, the camera center too close to the mount, the eave within the shot, the house wall too far in the shot.

Whichever scenario causes it, it is all the same, there is the IR night vision light, reflecting back into the camera affecting the light balance.

make sure there is no flash or bounce back and your night vision will improve.

Absolute darkness

Whilst you don’t want IR flash, you do need things to reflect the light back. If you were in the middle of the ocean and shone a torch into the darkness, it would still be dark. Cameras are the same, they have IR which is like an invisible torch, but they need something, preferably light to reflect off to brighten things up.

We see the same camera looking terrible facing into the void, but add some outdoor furniture and scene lights up. This is why some suppliers show indoor night vision shots as they always look a lot better as the IR is reflecting around the room.

Aim at each other

If possible try and make sure your cameras can see at least one other camera, this will prevent people being able to sneak up behind a camera and damage it, it will also make you feel better knowing you have a 100% perimeter cover.

Wide angles for wide areas only

Don’t fall for the trap of buying all super wide angle cameras because they see more, firstly they are almost useless for identification more than 10 meters away and also for skinny areas like the side of the house and the drive. For these areas use a 6mm lens or a VF lens so you can adjust it, you will get a much better result.

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What Makes a Great CCTV System

What makes a great security camera set-up and what to look out for with changing technology

For anyone who has ever looked at, or purchased a security camera system, you will see the industry and the technology changes at a rapid pace, like the computer industry, particularly in the last couple of years. This has not only left the buyer confused, but has also left many in the industry scrambling to keep up and still offering less than ideal solutions. We will discuss what makes a great system and what is the best value tech for small business, home security, and other smaller installations.

When thinking security cameras, the most common purpose is to catch a perpetrator, or deter theft or both. With such a simple task one would think it’s just a matter of putting some cameras up and away you go. This is rarely the case as there are many variables to consider.

Firstly, you will need a system that records at a quality that is considered as evidence grade, which means that if you get a great recording of a crime, will the police accept it, will the courts accept it, and will it show clearly what the event was? This is not produced by ensuring a certain resolution as many cameras on the market have great resolution, but poor colour reproduction under certain lighting conditions which may turn a red jumper purple. Other set-ups may have a great camera that simply is mis-positioned, or worst of all a camera that simply doesn’t stack up or the recorder skips sections like many IP systems on the market.

You will also need to decide on the focus, is it to catch them or deter them, as a system built to deter crime can be very different to a system designed to catch a particular person or persons. You may decide you want both which is fine, however your security consultant may recommend a blend of overt cameras for general deterrence and a couple of covert cameras to deal with an ongoing problem. Quite often the covert cameras will be moveable so you can use them to deal with issues as the issues move around.

So now you have decided what you want to achieve, next comes all the jargon like AHD, TVI, CVI, HD-SDI, IP and CVBS when selecting the technology base. To clearly explain all the finer details, we simply won’t have the space here, however there are some basics. CVBS is old outdated analogue tech, they now use this acronym and it somehow has distanced the tech from the fact it really belongs in the tip and will never produce what you need. Another easy tech to put aside is HD-SDI, this was developed for the film industry, and even though it a great performer picture wise, it is expensive, less stable, and more difficult to find spares.

Now for IP, IP systems are built on network protocols and make no mistake, several years ago it was the go to tech as there simply was no other way to get a mega pixel image, the problem with IP is that if too much movement happens at once over several cameras, the recorder simply skips the footage to “catch up”. This makes IP a very disappointing technology for many business owners as they will be missing segments of a few seconds here and there when the cameras get too busy. IP however is the best tech for complex installations like warehouses etc. as it allows for wireless bridging and larger expandable systems. IP also has the best analytics like facial, people counting and various other business analytical add-ons.

Lastly are the front runners for small to medium businesses, and are what we at OzSpy use in most of our jobs assisting franchise systems and businesses in general. They are AHD, TVI, and CVI, all of which can produce up to 8MP over coax which allows for old analogue (CVBS) installations to be upgraded to mega pixel quality at a very low price as the old cable is reused. There is little difference in the picture quality, however AHD is an open source product so it develops faster and can also have cable runs of up to 500m or more, but is more prone to hacking and low quality manufacturing, whereas TVI is often used by higher quality suppliers.

Okay, now we have your cameras and purpose of the system decided upon, what other features or tech do you need? Well, make no mistake, the heart of any great CCTV system is the DVR (digital video recorder) or for IP the NVR (network video recorder) as this is where it all comes together.

You should look at the GUI (user interface) and see if it is intuitive, simple to use and makes sense to you. If it looks complicated, you may never actually learn how to use it and the system will get pushed aside and placed in the too hard basket. At OzSpy we constantly help businesses replace their DVRs for no other reason except it was so complicated that it was unusable to the business owner and their team. Don’t let a technician with decades of experience in CCTV assure you it’s simple, look for yourself and make sure you will be comfortable operating it.

Your DVR/NVR should also have P2P remote access. This is very important as this allows you to access your cameras from your mobile devices and remotely without opening ports in your router and firewall which in today’s cyber security age is an unacceptable risk to any business or even home.

So now you have your purpose, cameras and recorder sorted, what next?

Well there are a couple more points to ensure you get the most out of it. Make sure you use a licensed cabler as poorly run cable, or cheap cable can easily turn an amazing security camera system into an unreliable, grainy system that simply never seems to work properly.

Take on the responsibility of learning the system, ask your installers to train you and your key team members, ask for any quick guides they have and provide them to the team or have them next to the recorder. In a mission critical event, you do not want to be calling your provider and asking how to operate the unit.

And lastly, maintain your system, each month wipe the cameras, clean the cobwebs, and check that the system is operating correctly, don’t wait until an event to find out your cameras are blurry or worse your recorder stopped recording months ago and nobody noticed.

Remember, if you get the blend right, you will have an easy to use, reliable, effective security camera system that will last for years and will exceed your expectations every time you use it, that does not have to cost the earth.

Craig Mitchell
Director OzSpy Pty Ltd
www.ozspy.com.au

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Is a Security Alarm System right for you

Is a Security Alarm System right for your situation?

Security alarms are a deterrent and may limit the amount of property stolen or damaged in a burglary event. For decades security alarms have been the most commonly used form of home security, however in recent years home security camera systems have become increasingly popular due to modern technology and affordability.

The cost of installing an alarm system can be relatively expensive depending upon the existing wiring configuration of your home. Most security systems will activate a local alarm when an armed zone is tripped, but not all will dial-out to a security firm. There are additional costs of alarm monitoring services for this service.

First you need to determine whether you want both external and internal areas covered by a security alarm as most alarms are designed for internal use. If you only need internal intrusion monitoring (you live in an apartment for example) an alarm system may be perfectly adequate.

Before deciding on an alarm system you should consider the following questions:

  1. Do you want a security alarm system that you can self-install?
  2. Do you need a back-to-base monitoring service for the alarm?
  3. Do you have pets or other animals that could set off motion detectors?
  4. Do you want a security alarm system that will dial-out to a security firm or your cell phone when intrusion is detected?
  5. Do you want a security alarm system that will sound a local alarm only when intrusion is detected?
  6. Do you need a back-up system in case the power goes out?

Advantages of Security Alarms

Home security alarms can be an effective deterrent to unwanted intrusions. Amateur or opportunistic thieves in particular may be scared off by the unwanted attention an alarm might attract and find another target once they become aware that there is an alarm system in the home.

If they are not aware that your home is alarmed and unwittingly set off an alarm during a home intrusion they are less likely to hang around. More importantly they will probably flee without most of your valuable possessions.

Disadvantages of Security Alarms

Professional criminals know that even if they do activate an alarm they probably still have enough time to grab the most valuable items and get out before someone comes to investigate.

An alarm will do nothing to stop an opportunistic thief from entering your home and snatching purses, wallets and other valuables while you are in another room or out in the back yard because you won’t have the alarm switched on.

A security alarm probably won’t help protect your car, boat or other outside possessions from being stolen or damaged.

If you do become a burglary victim there will be little, if any way for police to identify and track down the intruders and convict them.

An alarm can also be a hassle – having to turn it on every time you leave the house and then remembering to turn it off as soon as you open the door upon your arrival home is a bug bear for some people. Also an alarm system can easily be triggered accidently with pets and children being the main culprits.

Types of Security Alarm Systems

The first decision you need to make with an alarm system is whether to choose a hard wired (fully installed) system or a wireless system.

A hard wired system is usually more effective, however it will also come at a greater price due to installation costs. With a wireless system key components of your home security system are battery-powered and communicate with a monitor device inside your home.

A wireless alarm system is easy to install and will save you money on installation costs. A wireless alarm system is also portable, meaning that you can take it with you when you move. For people who rent or move house regularly, a wireless alarm system is ideal because they can easily pack up a wireless system and set it up again in their next residence.

One issue to be aware of with a wireless alarm is that the signal can be disrupted by other household interference so you need to be careful with placement.

Regardless of what you decide upon it is important to understand that a security system is no substitute for a lack of basic security awareness at home. Being careless or carefree with basic security procedures all but invites opportunistic thieves.

For example, leaving valuables and keys etc. in full view from outside of the house with windows open and doors unlocked when you are in another part of the house is not a good practice.

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What Crims Don’t Want You To Know

What the criminals don’t want you to know about protecting your home and your possessions

The Real Cost of Burglary

One of the easiest crimes to prevent — burglary — is also one of the most common. In the time it takes you to read just this article up to a dozen burglaries will have been committed against home owners somewhere in Australia. If it happens at your home, you lose more than a few possessions.

A break-in, even when you’re not there, has a major impact on you and your family’s sense of safety and well-being.

For most people, burglary is distressing. For some, it means the loss of precious possessions or items with sentimental value that can’t be replaced. For others, it means the loss that comes from being uninsured or under insured, or the inconvenience and time involved with making a claim and waiting while goods are replaced.

Many victims of burglary say that the biggest impact is the sense of violation – of someone invading their personal, private space, their home. It has nothing to do with material or financial loss, and it’s not the same thing as feeling insecure or vulnerable which also happens.

But burglaries don’t have to happen. There are a lot of things you can do to boost home security and make your house burglary-resistant.

What Do Burglars Look For?

A West Australian study into the minds of convicted home burglars was undertaken to understand their mindset and uncover the methods they use to gain entry. It produced some amazing information and provides a great insight into the things you should and shouldn’t do in and around your home.

Following is a summary of findings and the observations of the researchers:

  • Most burglaries are opportunistic. “We were very surprised at just how easy it was for them to get in.”
  • One of the most common strategies involved simply walking in through open doors and windows. “Sixty-six percent said they walked past a house, saw an open door or window; therefore they got in.”
  • “They looked for keys under mats, under the fake rocks by front doors, just inside the garage, and they had easy access to people’s accommodation.”
  • Thieves look for access points into the house or back garden, and fences were no deterrence. “We were again surprised when they said they quite liked the high walls and fences because it gave them somewhere to hide.”
  • Leaving lights and radios on late at night was a sure way to signal that no-one’s home. “Most people at night turn their lights off or just have a night light on. They called it the oldest trick in the book.”
  • On the other hand, a dog was a good way to move a burglar on to an easier target. “It didn’t have to be a guard dog or a big dog. It was a dog that attracts attention to their activities. “So a small yappy dog can be just as effective as having a Doberman in the back garden.
  • Most robberies take place during the day and where there’s little activity. Thieves are deterred by seeing people and neighbours, especially in the street.
  • Burglars are changing their strategies to take advantage of the digital age. Social media is being added to the burglar’s tool kit. Young people in particular are posting the exciting news about holidays. “Me and my friends, we’re all going” they post. It’s an advertisement that you’re not in your house.
  • Christmas is traditionally a time when robberies increase. “There’s a few things to be wary of here.” People like to show off their decorations, allowing a full view of the interior. “(People) see the goods under the tree and they see the purse on the kitchen bench.
  • “What was one of the surprises was that about 46 per cent said that if the door was open and they could see something they wanted and they were pretty sure they wouldn’t be detected, they would go in…even if someone was home.” The keyword is undetected. “So they’re not wanting to commit violent home robberies or break in.”
  • Christmas parties mean open doors for guests to come and go. “Particularly with people smoking outside and not inside.”
  • As well, people are not as vigilant about strangers, believing that they may be friends of friends. “That’s when they (the burglars) have been coming in and taking goods. If they think they can get into a house and mingle, then they would do that too.”

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Quick Home Security Check list

Is your home a target for criminals?

Are your trees and shrubs trimmed so it’s hard for burglars to hide? – Yes/No

Do you have a dog? – Yes/No

Do you have locks and deadbolts or deadlocks fitted? – Yes/No

Do you have security screens on your doors and windows? – Yes/No

Does your door have a peep-hole or a video intercom? – Yes/No

Do your windows have key-locks or security devices? – Yes/No

Does your house have an automatic light timer or sensor lights? – Yes/No

Are the entrances to your home well lit? – Yes/No

Is the garage or shed kept locked? – Yes/No

Are your tools and ladders stored away securely? – Yes/No

Is the meter box locked? – Yes/No

Do you keep gates closed and locked? – Yes/No

Do you have a fence to prevent intruders from getting to the back of your house away from street view? – Yes/No

Is your home fitted with security cameras? – Yes/No

Is your home fitted with an alarm system? – Yes/No

Do you have window stickers letting burglars know you have a security cameras or an alarm system? – Yes/No

Is there a phone extension in the bedroom with emergency numbers handy? – Yes/No

Do you keep money and valuables out of view from outside the house? – Yes/No

Are your contents and valuables engraved or marked for easy identification? – Yes/No

Have your recorded the serial numbers? – Yes/No

If your answer is “yes” to all or most of the above questions, well done! This means that you are vigilant about home security and you have dramatically reduced your chances of being a victim of burglary. We suggest you consider the questions that you have answered “no” to and make an assessment on how much more effective (if any) your overall protection would be by rectifying those aspects as well.

If your answer is “no” to many of the above questions your home and possessions are a soft target for thieves.  The good news is that if you start acting now on each of the security weaknesses that this list has identified you can be out of the soft target category in no time and you will be able to enjoy considerably greater peace of mind.

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