Holiday Security

Posted by Samantha Dutcher on Dec 8, 2010 3:51:00 PM

The holiday season is here, and with it comes security and safety lapses. You’ll see many common sense tips out in the news right  now to ensure your safety. Keep them in mind to prevent theft and burglaries from marring your holidays.

Some excellent home security tips to consider are:

  • When you buy new appliances, like televisions, stereos, or computers, be sure to hide or destroy the boxes. New valuables are an invitation to a burglar's already distorted senses.
  • Burglars hate light. You should replace outside perimeter lighting with motion activated lamps. These are very inexpensive these days and readily available at most hardware and electronic stores. The protection they will provide, coupled with the convenience of having a well lit area to come home to, make them a must have.
  • Don't leave a purse, wallet, or laptop on counters that can be seen from a window. This will almost always trigger a forced entry.

For more home security tips visit

Holiday security doesn’t stop at home. The Minneapolis Police Department has some great tips for holiday shopping security.

Credit Cards: Credit cards are as good as cash and clerks rarely check identification. Most credit card companies hold the owner responsible for all purchases until the card is reported lost. To prevent credit card loss:

  •  Keep your cards in a safe place.
  •  Report any card losses immediately.
  •  Take only the cards you need for shopping.
  •  Check your credit card transactions for accuracy.
  •  Keep a record of all your credit cards and phone numbers of  the credit card companies to call if they are lost or stolen.

Transporting gifts in your car: Gifts left unattended on the back seat of your car can be tempting to a thief.

  • Always lock your car.
  • Pick up major items at the end rather than the beginning of your shopping trip.
  • Lock all purchases in the trunk of your car.
  • Immediately remove all purchases from your car when you return home.
  • Consider a locker at the shopping center.

Holiday Scams: Know your charities and retailers.

  • Fake charities: if you’re asked for a donation, verify the legitimacy before giving.
  • Gift Cards: Only purchase gift cards from trusted retail outlets. Make sure gift cards have not been tampered with before buying them.
  • Scam emails and online shopping: Shop only at trusted retail websites. Do not respond to unsolicited emails or click on links in them.

For the full article, click here.

Many shoppers are now choosing to do much of their holiday shopping online, but this doesn’t eliminate the need for security! Rutgers Office of Information Technology has some helpful hints to help you stay secure online.

  • Secure your computer. Make sure your computer has the latest security updates installed. Check that your anti-virus and anti-spyware software are running properly and are receiving automatic updates from the vendor. If you haven’t already done so, install a firewall before you begin your online shopping. Upgrade your browser.
  • Upgrade your Internet browser to the most recent version available. Review the browser’s security settings. Apply the highest level of security available that still gives you the functionality you need.
  • Secure your transactions. Look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar and be sure “https” appears in the website’s address bar before making an online purchase. The "s" stands for "secure” and indicates that the communication with the webpage is encrypted. Also look for a broken key symbol indicating a non-secure connection. Some browsers can be set to warn the user if they are submitting information that is not encrypted.
  • Do not e-mail sensitive data. Never e-mail credit card or other financial/sensitive information. E-mail is like sending a postcard and other people have the potential to read it. Beware of emails requesting account or purchase information. Delete these emails. Legitimate businesses don’t solicit information through email.
  • Do not use public computers or public wireless to conduct transactions. Don’t use public computers or public wireless connections for your online shopping. Public computers could potentially contain malicious software that steals your credit card information when you place your order. Criminals could be monitoring public wireless networks for credit card numbers and other confidential information.
  • Make payments securely. Pay by credit card rather than debit card. Credit/charge card transactions are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Cardholders are typically only liable for the first $50 in unauthorized charges. If online criminals obtain your debit card information they have the potential to empty your bank account.
  • Use temporary account authorizations. Some credit card companies offer virtual or temporary credit card numbers. This service gives you a temporary account number for online transactions. These numbers are issued for a short period of time and cannot be used after that period.

If you have problems shopping online, contact the seller or site operator directly. If those attempts are not successful, you may wish to contact the following entities:

• the Attorney General's office in your state (
• your county or state consumer protection agency.
• the Better Business Bureau at:
• the Federal Trade Commission at:

To view the full article go to Hopefully these tips will help you have a safe and happy Holiday Season.

Tags: preventions, Security, safety tips, online security, holiday

Vandalism 101

Posted by Samantha Dutcher on Nov 15, 2010 4:34:00 PM

What Is Vandalism?

The intentional destruction of property is popularly referred to as vandalism. It includes behavior such as breaking windows, slashing tires, spray painting a wall with graffiti, and destroying a computer system through the use of a computer virus. Vandalism is a malicious act and may reflect personal ill will, although the perpetrators need not know their victim to commit vandalism. The recklessness of the act imputes both intent and malice.

Because the destruction of public and private property poses a threat to society, modern statutes make vandalism a crime. The penalties upon conviction may be a fine, a jail sentence, an order to pay for repairs or replacement, or all three. In addition, a person who commits vandalism may be sued in a civil tort action for damages so that the damaged property can be repaired or replaced.

The peak period for committing relatively minor property crimes is between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one. In the United States adolescent vandalism, including the wanton destruction of schools, causes millions of dollars of damage each year. Apprehending vandals is often difficult, and the costs of repairing the damage are passed on to taxpayers, private property owners, and insurance companies. Some states hold parents financially responsible for vandalism committed by their minor children, up to specified limits. These statutes are designed to encourage parental supervision and to shift part of the cost of vandalism from the public to the individuals who are best able to supervise the children who destroyed the property.

From the Free Online Law Dictionary

Vandalism In The News:

Students at a North Texas elementary school got an unexpected holiday Wednesday, November 10, after vandals broke into their school and caused so much damage, administrators were forced to cancel classes.

Workers at Plummer Elementary in Cedar Hill ISD arrived this morning to find windows smashed, computers strewn on the front lawn, phone and power lines cut, and equipment stolen.

The damage is so extensive, school officials aren't sure when classes will resume. A decision will be made today whether Thursday classes will be held somewhere else.

At this point, police have no suspects in the crime, but are investigating.


Vandalism Prevention Tips:

1. Use good lighting in and around your business. This ensures that potential vandals are more visible and increases their chances of getting caught.

2. Use unbreakable fixtures or glass when possible.  This reduces a person's opportunities to vandalize.

3. Lock any gates, garages and external doors around your business to prevent unauthorized access. Also lock up any equipment or tools that may be easy targets for vandals.

4. Clean up any signs of vandalism as soon as they appear. This may involve repairing broken or damaged signs or equipment.

5. If you see someone committing an act of vandalism, report it to the police.


For some tips on preventing and removing graffiti check out

For information on how Securitas Mobile can help prevent vandalism on your properties contact us at or 877-686-0822


Tags: new service, vandalism, preventions, Security, safety tips

Tips for Terrorism Security

Posted by Samantha Dutcher on Nov 8, 2010 5:23:00 PM

Taken from November 2010 Security Spotlight Newsletter

Terrorism Targets

Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. Terrorists often use threats to:

  • Create fear among the public
  • Try to convince citizens that their government is powerless to prevent terrorism
  • Get immediate publicity for their causes Acts of terrorism include threats of terrorism; assassinations; hijackings; bomb scares and bombings; cyber attacks (computer-based); and the use of chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons. High-risk targets for acts of terrorism include military and civilian government facilities, international airports, large cities, and high-profile landmarks. Terrorists might also target large public gatherings, water and food supplies, chemical plants, utilities, and corporate centers. Further, terrorists are capable of spreading fear by sending explosives or chemical and biological agents through the mail.

Homeland Security Begins With Hometown Security

The Justice Department recently launched the Nationwide SAR (Suspicious Activity Reporting) Initiative—NSI—a program that sets up “fusion centers” where reports of suspicious activities made by citizens and local police are collected and analyzed. NSI establishes a uniform process for gathering and sharing information among federal, state, local and tribal agencies with the aim of detecting underlying patterns of “precursor conduct”—activities that may signal a potential terrorist attack. The public plays a large part in the NSI program. Authorities are depending upon ordinary citizens to provide the dots to connect. As Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano put it, “Homeland security begins with hometown security.” But what exactly should the public be looking for?

See Something, Say Something

Certain kinds of activities can indicate terrorist plans are in the works, especially when they occur at or near high-profile sites or places where large numbers of people gather. The FBI urges citizens to keep an eye out for such precursor conduct—like that listed below—and to report it immediately.

Surveillance: Are you aware of anyone recording or monitoring activities, taking notes, using cameras, maps, binoculars or other observation equipment near a key facility? Deploying Assets: Have you observed abandoned vehicles, stockpiling of suspicious materials, or persons being deployed near a key facility?

Suspicious Persons: Are you aware of anyone who does not appear to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment, or near a key facility?

Suspicious Questioning: Are you aware of anyone attempting to gain information in person, by phone, mail, email or other communication method regarding a key facility or its personnel?

Acquiring Supplies: Are you aware of anyone attempting to improperly acquire explosives, weapons, ammunitions, dangerous chemicals, uniforms, badges, flight manuals, access cards or identification for a key facility, or to legally obtain items under suspicious circumstances that could be used in a terrorist act?

Dry Runs: Have you observed any behavior that appears to be preparation for terrorist activity, such as mapping out routes, playing out scenarios with other people, monitoring key facilities, timing traffic lights or traffic flow, or other suspicious activities?

Tests of Security: Are you aware of any attempts to penetrate or test physical security or procedures at a key facility or event? Recognizing and reporting precursor intelligence-gathering activities can interrupt potential terrorist events, crimes and other threats before they occur. While on the job, security officers should follow post orders for reporting suspicious activity. Otherwise, the FBI encourages citizens to contact local police, the FBI or the nearest Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) to report suspicious activity or behavior. If there is an emergency or immediate threat, call 911.

For more information on the NSI program go to

For additional resources on detecting and reporting indicators of terrorist attacks, and for guidelines on preparedness and response to terrorism threats, visit

Tags: terrorism, blogging, Security, safety tips

Crimes rates may influence where renters choose to live

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Feb 16, 2010 10:33:00 AM

According to a national survey, 96% of respondents said neighborhood crime rate influences where they choose to live.  In fact, most renters are willing to pay more for additional safety features and to live in an area where they feel safe.

Top 5 Safety Features Renters Would Pay More For:

  1. In-unit security alarm system
  2. 24/7 building security patrol guards and a doorman
  3. Security cameras on the community property
  4. Mandatory background screening for all residents
  5. Cylinder deadbolt locks on windows and doors


Unfortunately, there's not a magic formula to guarantee your personal safety or ensure that your home won't be burglarized at some point.  However, there are some things you can do to decrease your chances of becoming a victim of crime.

1. Stay Informed

A number of online resources are available to help you stay informed about what's going on in your community.  Some of my favorites include SpotCrime and EveryBlock

One advantage of SpotCrime is that it provides crime maps for cities around the world.  Not only do these maps tell you the location of the crime and what type of crime occurred, but when available, it also uses Google maps with Street View to provide you with a photograph of the exact location. 

Although limited to select US cities, EveryBlock provides a great deal more information than SpotCrime.  Not only do they have crime maps, but you can also find information on filmings, foreclosures, street closures, restaurant inspections, building permits, and property transfers. 

Visit the US Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Public Website to search for sex offenders by zip code.  From there, you will be provided with the name, home address, picture, date and location of the individual's conviction and a description of the crime.   

2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Get to know your neighbors and be aware of what's going on around you. 

3. Don't Buzz People In, Hold the Door Open for Strangers, or Prop Open Common Doors

Locked doors and security systems are there for a reason and that's to keep you safe.  Every time you hold the door for someone you don't know or prop a door open, you may be putting yourself as well as other residents in danger.

4. Look for Safety Features When Choosing an Apartment

Upper-level apartments are less likely to experience break ins than ground level units.  Make sure all doors and windows have functional locks.  Main entrances should have peep holes.  If you have a sliding glass door, be sure to put a guard at the bottom to help prevent break ins.  Make sure you know who else has master keys to the apartment.  Security cameras, background checks of tenants, security officers that patrol the property and doormen or security gates are all added security measures.

Tags: safety tips, Community

Tips for a Safe and Healthy Holiday Season

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Dec 3, 2009 11:34:00 AM

The holidays are a time to celebrate, but they're also a time to pay special attention to your health and well-being to avoid season-spoiling illnesses and injuries.

Each year during the holidays, tens of thousands of Americans make a trip to hospital emergency rooms for treatment of preventable injuries and illnesses. That includes about 12,000 people with injuries related to setting up or displaying holiday decorations, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Here are some tips for staying safe and healthy -and out of the ER - during the holidays.

  • Be responsible when drinking alcohol. If you drink, do so in moderation and have a designated driver. Never drink and drive.
  • Be careful when using sharp objects to open gifts - especially those impenetrable plastic packages toys come in.
  • Take care when hanging or taking down outdoor lights. Serious injuries come from falling off roofs and ladders.
  • Use a ladder or step stool indoors - not a sofa or chair - to hang decorations, ornaments and tree toppers.
  • Don't overload electrical outlets. This could start a fire or cause a serious burn or electrical shock.
  • Don't overindulge in holiday food. Be especially careful if you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, or heart problems.

This is an excerpt from the December 2009 Security Spotlight, an informational guide for Securitas USA Clients and Employees. To read the full article, click here.

holiday safety tips

Tags: safety tips

Chicago Ranks #1 for Vacant Warehouse and Factory Space

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Nov 6, 2009 12:30:00 PM

Chicago is not only a transportation hub with numerous logistics and distribution companies, it's also the home of over 12,000 manufacturing companies directly and indirectly responsible for over 1.8 million jobs.  As the global economy changes, many manufacturing facilities are shifting their production overseas or going out of business as they continue to conduct business the way they always have.  The continuous decline of this industry has left Chicago the #1 city in the country for vacant warehouse and factory space.  According to Chicago Business Today, the Chicago area has 140 million square feet of vacant property, roughly the equivalent of all the office space in the downtown area!

With vacant properties come a plethora of issues.

  1. Theft and Vandalism - Can you think of a better place to break into than a building with no one occupying or watching it?  Neither can the burglars looking to steal any scrap metal, piping, or appliances you may have left behind.
  2. Wintertime Disasters - Freezing temperatures can lead to bursting pipes and water damage, something no one wants to deal with.
  3. Vagrants - Drug use, prostitution and squatting are all common issues for vacant property owners.  Plus, it's a great place for teenagers to throw parties!
  4. Critters and Creatures - Raccoons, bats, squirrels, cockroaches and mice need homes too, but you don't want to be their landlord.  With nobody there to kick them out, your property is the perfect place to set up shop.

Hmmm, what tipped you off that this was a vacant building?  Was it the trash all over the premises, the overgrown landscaping, real estate signs, "no trespassing" signs or the constantly empty parking lot?  While there are some things beyond your control as a property owner, there are steps you can take to decrease the likelihood that your building becomes a target.


  1. Hire a security firm like Securitas to conduct random Security Patrols of your property.  These periodic Interior and Exterior Property Inspections of the premises can be used to identify if regular maintenance such as trash removal is being taken care of and if there are any intruders on the property. 
  2. Install an alarm system.  There are a variety of products available to meet your needs including wireless systems for properties without access to electricity.
  3. Install steel window screens and doors

Tags: Foreclosure, safety tips, Security Patrols, Community

Swine Flu? No thank you.

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Aug 27, 2009 11:21:00 AM

I was standing on the train during rush hour this morning, packed in like a sardine, when the gentleman next to me sneezed.  Ughhh!  I can't blame a guy for sneezing, but when you're sharing a pole for stability with two other people, it's simply bad manners to cover your mouth, catch your sneeze in your palm, and immediately place your slobbery hand back on the pole.  I couldn't help but imagine little germs flying through the air and sticking to me, slowly infecting me and potentially chaining me to my bed with chicken soup for several days.  My train experience only reinforced the value of the antibacterial hand gel I carry in my purse.

Preparing for the Upcoming Flu Season

Nothing says 2009 like the Swine Flu, so it's no surprise my colleagues at Securitas have responded to client and employee concerns with this month's Security Spotlight, titled "Preparing for the Upcoming Flu Season".  The article discusses the flu pandemic, preparedness planning, how to receive the most current and accurate information should an influenza pandemic take place, flu-like symptoms and preventative measures.  According to Security Spotlight, "The most fundamental ways to limit the spread of germs and help lessen the impact of seasonal or pandemic flu are to wash your hands often and practice respiratory etiquette (cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, elbow or sleeve-not your hands)." I may start handing out this month's issue of Security Spotlight on the train. Click here to read the full article.






Tags: Security Trend Alert, safety tips

Top 10 Safety Tips for Businesses on a Budget

Posted by Angela Bertolo on Jun 10, 2009 6:09:00 PM

As a business owner or facility manager, you want to do everything you can to decrease the likelihood of your business being burglarized or vandalized.  While there are different way to protect your properties using security guards, patrols and technology, many companies often find themselves operating on a limited budget.  Here is a list of things you can do promote safety within your workplace without breaking the bank.

  1. Perform "final" interior and exterior facility checks prior to leaving.
  2. Turn off small electrical appliances (personal computers if applicable).
  3. Lock or secure vaults, safes, files, and confidential records and data.
  4. Ensure all employees working during non business hours are aware of alarm system procedures and have emergency contact telephone numbers.
  5. Light the inside and outside of your business, especially around doors and windows.
  6. Remove cash and leave register drawers open.
  7. Arm your alarm system.
  8. Have a response team in place in case of an event.
  9. Spend a few minutes with your insurance agent to make sure you have adequate insurance in effect in event of a theft or incident.
  10. Make sure "employee only" doors are kept locked to restrict unauthorized access.

Click here to schedule a free security assessment and learn how to improve the security at your facility.

Tags: safety tips

Think Safety, Work Safely - 6 Elements of a Good Safety Attitude

Posted by Angela Bertolo on May 28, 2009 11:24:00 AM

Promoting a safe environment and preventing injury in the workplace is a top priority for all employers.  Securitas's latest Security Spotlight article, "Think Safety, Work Safely", discusses the importance of taking a proactive rather than reactive approach toward safety training.  It discusses ways to avoid slips and falls and implement a safety program within your company.  Security patrols and ongoing training for security personnel and employees are just a couple examples of how to get started. 

The article also highlights 6 fundamental elements of a good safety attitude that can direct safer work habits.

  • Awareness: Pay attention. Stay alert to the possible hazards in your work environment so that you can take steps to correct or guard against them.
  • Focus: Concentrate on the task(s) at hand. Distractions, boredom or fatigue can lead to accidents and other safety hazards.
  • Strength: Have the strength to do the right thing even when it's easier not to. Follow safety procedures and post orders completely, every time.
  • Patience: Take the time to do things correctly every time - like always buckling your seatbelt, even on quick trips. There are no shortcuts to safety.
  • Responsibility: Take responsiblity for a safe work environment to benefit yourself and others.
  • Thought: Stop to think before you act. Accidents are not always the result of bad luck. They occur when someone decides - consciously or not - to take a chance. Be smart and avoid taking unnecessary risks.

To read the complete article, visit Think Safety, Work Safely.

Tags: safety tips

10 Tips to Protect Your Home While You're on Vacation

Posted by Angela Bertolo on May 13, 2009 1:20:00 PM

Summer is approaching, school is almost out and you're ready for a vacation.  Before you pack your bags and head out the door, take a minute to consider some of these quick tips to protect your home while you're away.

  1. Purchase an automatic timer for your lights, radio and television.  You want your home to appear occupied.
  2. Purchase a home alarm system and let the alarm service know you will be out of town.
  3. Make sure entrances, driveways and garage areas are well lit (sensor lighting).
  4. Ask a neighbor to watch over your home and park a vehicle in the driveway from time to time.
  5. Leave word about when you're leaving, when you'll return and how you can be reached in an emergency.
  6. Remember to have mail and newspaper deliveries stopped.
  7. Secure sliding glass doors with commercially available bars or locks or put a wooden bar in the door track.
  8. Make sure windows, especially at ground level, have good locks.
  9. Don't keep spare keys under door mats or in flower pots.  Instead, leave them with a trusted neighbor.
  10. Photograph valuables as record for insurance purposes.

Tags: safety tips