Safety tips for Halloween from Danville Police

This is a reproduction of a Nixle post from Danville, CA Police Department. Halloween should be a time of fun and excitement–but that doesn’t mean we can every forget that Safety is #1!

(credit www.phoenix.gov)

Halloween Safety- Tips for a safe night of Trick Or Treating

  • Costumes should be the right size. Excess material around the legs or a costume that is too big could be a tripping hazard
  • Avoid using masks and use face paint where possible as masks can restrict a child’s visibility
  • Make sure all costume pieces are made of fire retardant material
  • Use reflective tape or stickers on bags or costumes
  • Carry a flash light or glow stick for lighting
  • Stay in a large group when traveling through the neighborhood. This helps increase visibility
  • Remain in well-lit areas and always use sidewalks where possible
  • Avoid cutting across yards or alleyways
  • Only cross the street in designated crosswalks and in groups
  • Do not assume right-of-way. Motorists may not see you so be sure to make eye contact with a driver before crossing the street

An adult should always accompany young children. If older children will be trick-or-treating alone, be sure to review the route with them beforehand and plan on scheduling check-in times

Be sure Trick-Or-Treaters are only visiting homes where porch lights are on and never enter a home or a car for a treat

Notify law enforcement immediately if you notice any suspicious or unlawful activity.

  • Make sure you check that your front yard and porch are well lit. Replace any burnt out bulbs and keep lights on to show that you are trick-or-treater friendly
  • Buy individually wrapped candy. No one feels comfortable letting their kids eat free floating jelly beans or candy corn
  • Be sure to move or pick up any obstacles that may create a tripping hazard such as hoses, bikes, or bulky decorations
  • If you are out and about in your vehicle, SLOW DOWN and reduce speed and distractions.

 

As always, be safe everyone!

Thanks,

The Deep Sentinel Team

Are you Being Robbed by Your Home Security Provider?

Your house is an investment, and it needs to be protected. It’s typically the largest purchase you’ll ever make.

Your family is the most valuable and precious thing in your life, and it deserves ironclad safety and security.

Most of us are willing to do whatever it takes to keep our property and loved ones out of harm’s way. To that end, the home security industry is expected to be worth $74.75 billion USD by 2023.

Surprisingly though, only 17% of American homes have a security system in place, and that’s despite the fact you’re 300% more likely to be robbed without one.

Are you in that group? If not, consider:

With an average cost of $10-50 per month for well known providers like ADT, Vivint, Brinks, and Lifeshield, it’s clear that a home security system of some sort is a worthwhile and affordable investment. After all, you can’t put a price on peace of mind.

However, if you’re in the minority and already have a system in place, you may feel like you’ve done everything possible.

But here’s the thing: you’re probably wrong.

 

The Problem With Most Providers

As we can see from the statistics above, a home security system is always better than no system at all. Even just putting up a lawn sign and a few stickers can increase the odds your home will be passed in favor of one without anything, although it’s no guarantee.

That said, if you’re paying $10-50/month for security and thinking you’re fully protected from break-ins, you’re getting robbed by your provider. That’s a bold claim, yes. But true nonetheless.

Here’s why: most systems like ADT and Ring use some combination of video recorders, signage, and/or alarms. Some may even promise 24/7 ‘monitoring’ in that monthly fee. This is great for a) possibly, maybe deterring a criminal, and b) providing video evidence of the crime after the fact.

The inherent flaw in traditional systems is that they don’t do anything until the break-in has already happened.

The alarm goes off only after a door or window sensor has been triggered and the burglar is inside your house. The cameras record as a stranger rifles through your personal belongings, but does nothing to stop him or her. The crime has not been prevented or deterred, only detected and recorded.

Better than nothing, but not what you thought you were getting when you signed a contract and had the system installed, right?

 

An Alarm Does Not Mean Help is on the Way

Here’s a typical scenario: a burglar enters via your front door and triggers an alarm.

Are the police on their way to your property? Absolutely not.

First, there’s a delay of 30 seconds or more. This is the grace period while the system allows someone to enter the security code and cancel the alarm.

Next, there’s your security provider response time, or how long it takes to notify the monitoring center that an alarm has gone off. This is typically at least 15 seconds. That brings us up to 45 seconds at the low end – and well over two minutes at the high end – since the criminal entered your home.

Once notified, most providers have rules in place that require them to attempt and contact the homeowner not once, but two or three times to confirm that the alarm is in fact a break-in. This can take several minutes.

Then, and only then, will they contact the appropriate authorities. On average, it takes eight full minutes to reach this stage.

The average police response time in the United States varies depending on the location and crime-in-progress, but you’re probably looking at five minutes or more, with the majority being ten minutes plus.

Home burglaries, unfortunately, are considered low priority. Almost half – 46.9% – have a response time of 11-60 minutes.

Remember how long the average home burglary lasts? 8-10 minutes.

The takeaway? Traditional home security providers simply can’t stop a break-in. At best, they can record it and pass it on to the police, who may not show up for an hour, and clear less than 14% of break-ins because of lack of evidence.

The vaunted 24/7 monitoring that you erroneously believed meant live eyes on your home is nothing more than human intervention after and only after the crime has occurred. The criminal is already in your house.

Still feel like you’ve done everything possible for your home and family? Or are you starting to think you’re paying for a false sense of security?

You’re paying up to $50/month and hoping a sticker is enough to intimidate would-be burglars. You’re paying up to $600/year for something that is only useful to you – and even then only superficially – if you actually get robbed. That’s not money well spent.

 

A Better Way

So, if anything, a truly valuable home security system needs to prevent and deter crime more than just record it, and somehow shorten the overall response time of both the provider and police.

Those were the guiding principles in designing Deep Sentinel. Our system is different from everything else on the market.

How do we do it? Our proprietary A.I. system monitors the perimeter of your home, and identifies suspicious activity. Next, LiveSentinel agents are notified in real-time. Our highly trained agents can then engage with the suspect via real-time audio and video. This is typically enough to stop them in their tracks before they’ve gained access to your home.

If the situation warrants it, we notify police and provide real-time details on the suspect and their location.

From start to finish? 30 seconds or less. And with zero false alarms and live eyes and ears on a verified crime, police treat our calls as high priority.

That’s the Deep Sentinel difference.

So, are you being robbed by your home security provider? The short answer is ‘yes’ if you’re relying on antiquated systems and providers. They’re promising something they just can’t deliver.

Or you can get what you thought you were paying for with Deep Sentinel: prevention, deterrence, and proactive protection.

The Truth About Burglars and Dogs

Do you own a dog?

If so, your home is a little less attractive to burglars.

According to the US Department of Justice, “On average, burglarized houses are less likely to have dogs than non-burglarized houses, suggesting that dog ownership is a substantial deterrent.”

Studies conducted over the years have shown a clear pattern that dogs, regardless of size, will affect a burglar’s decision to target a home or not. Burglars are looking for the least number of obstacles in their way to conduct their crimes. While big dogs pose a natural, more physical threat, even a small barking dog can attract unwanted attention from neighbors.

This is not to say that dogs are a guarantee that your home will not be targeted. There have obviously been burglaries that have taken place in the presence of dogs (as well as humans), but it poses an unknown risk to burglars that many aren’t willing to take. A recent survey of incarcerated burglars in Oregon found family dogs were a “deal breaker” for some. And watch what happened in this recent burglary in Indianapolis, when a burglar came face to face with a 90-pound family dog. Spoiler: it didn’t go well for the burglar!

Even if your dog’s bark is worse than its bite, when it comes to protecting your home and your family in the ongoing fight against crime, every little advantage helps. And here’s a sneaky tip: Even simply putting up a sign that says “Beware of Dog” is likely to gain a burglar’s attention even if you don’t actually own a dog.

Now it should go without saying that dog ownership is a huge responsibility. Dogs are more than just home protectors. These furry friends are family companions who need attention and love. They can also be very expensive when you add up food, vet bills, etc. So do take all that into consideration if you are thinking of adding a dog to your family.

That being said, having a dog at home at all times can bring considerable peace of mind to homeowners concerned about burglaries, especially when coupled with a Deep Sentinel Smart Home Surveillance System. This one-two punch literally has teeth and could be just what your home needs to keep the bad guys away for good.

To learn more about how Deep Sentinel can help secure your home against burglars, click here.

Home Security AI: What Every Customer Should Know

HOME SECURITY AI

The latest innovation in home security is the addition of Artificial Intelligence — also known as “AI.” If you’ve imagined the worst concerning a futuristic-sounding technology coming into your home, you are in good company. These days, the term AI looms large in the collective imagination. Popular shows like Westworld and classic films such as 2001:  A Space Odyssey explore worlds where robots have more intelligence than humans.

Many people would perhaps agree with Conrad Gessner, a Swiss scientist, when he stated that this overwhelming abundance of data is both “confusing and harmful” for people. However, Gessner died in 1565, and his writing referred to the most terrifying technology of his time:  the printing press. Easy access to printed material created real cause for concern among many influential thinkers in the 16th century.

Will the day ever come that artificial intelligence — like the printing press — is indispensable to how we live and work? Who knows! In the meantime it’s fun to revisit some of our worst tech nightmares of the past couple of centuries, and how they became something we can’t imagine living without, today.

ELECTRICITY

In Ernest Freeburg’s book The Age of Edison, Americans in the 19th century — including the President — were somewhat terrified by the advent of electricity in homes and businesses. Along with the technology came speculation, fear, and real-world accidents to feed nightmares. In one, Freeburg describes a New York City lineman’s unfortunate demise after becoming trapped in a live wire tangle. “As comrades struggled to free his corpse, thousands of New Yorkers gazed up, watching flames shoot from the lineman’s mouth and nostrils and roast his hands and feet.”

Perhaps for that reason, Benjamin Harrison, the first President to install electrical wiring in the White House, refused to touch the switches out of fear of electrocution. White House staff were thus the sole operators of the light switches.

For years, Americans were engaged in debates about the implications of electricity, and in creating policies around its use. That was the 1890’s. Since then, In spite of our fears, Americans have grown deeply accustomed to the benefits of electricity. No more fumes, matches, or smells of gas lamps, and no more need to stay close to home and hearth at night. With electricity came the invention of nightlife, photography, and the ability to explore and play long past sundown. Even the holdouts who seek a life “off-grid” still often consider alternative electricity generation, to help simplify their existence. We cannot imagine our lives now, without the flow of electricity.

AUTOMOBILES

There’s a deep fear reflected in the term “horseless carriage.” In the 1890’s, people were very concerned by the idea of people being sole operators of the machine without the help and intelligence of horses. A carriage being driven without two minds in control? Reckless!

In England, these fears of horseless operators led to the Red Flag Act, in which all vehicles were to be led at walking pace by an operator holding a red flag. The speed limits were 2MPH in the city, and 4MPH in the country. Every driver was also required to have at least two mechanics.

Today, of course, we can’t imagine a world without interstates and the ability to move around quickly and conveniently, in automobiles, without the watch of red flag operators.

RADIO

Scientific Identity, Portrait of Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor and electrical engineer, contributed enormously to the field of wireless technology when he perfected a two-way radio transmitter in 1895. When Marconi appealed to the Italian government for funding, the Minister dismissed the concept on the spot — and referred Marconi instead to an insane asylum.

“Have I done the world good, or have I added a menace?” Marconi wrote. Later, radio technology would prove useful to his own government as well as governments around the world, and make its way into nearly every home and community, fostering an entire industry and culture around popular radio news and shows. Life as we know it without radio? Impossible.

TELEPHONES

An unconscionable intrusion on privacy, the telephone was thoroughly cut down by an editor of the New York Times. “We will soon be nothing but transparent heaps of jelly to each other” states an editorial of 1877.

With the prevalence of telephones today, we are all too familiar with the idea of that intrusion of privacy, and perhaps the Times was correct on that point. However, could we conceive of doing business and staying in touch with family and friends without the telephone? Probably not. In spite of its drawbacks, the telephone is here to stay, and we rely on it.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

The current popular fascination with Artificial Intelligence is similar to the way many reacted to new technologies in the past. People wonder — and worry — what it would be like if robots took over our work, and controlled our lives. With artificial intelligence is in its infancy, everyone is talking, and everyone has questions.

The reality, according to Statsbot, is more complicated, and much less exciting than the terror created by HAL-9000 in 2001. In actuality, we are very far from robot-controlled homes, but we are perfecting a very narrow category of AI (called simply “Narrow AI” or sometimes “weak” AI). Narrow AI is the most prevalent in use today, and it already exists on your smartphone, or perhaps in your home if you utilize a smart home hub. Narrow AI devices are taught simple automation tasks, and how to process new data for defined purposes.

HAL’s level of fictional technology would require machines to be able to process data in incredibly complex ways, but we’re just not there yet. For an example, watch two Amazon Echos having a conversation, to understand the limitations of Narrow AI.

Narrow AI is Here, and You Probably Already Rely on It

If you like to use a ride service, public transit, a voice-activated assistant to check the weather on your phone, you are already relying on Narrow AI. When you look up a destination using Google Maps, AI technology will let you know the fastest route, and if there is traffic. When you ask Siri for the weather, and fully expect a pretty accurate prediction, you’ve just used Narrow AI.

Home Security and AI

The convenience of knowing the fastest route to your destination, or get a reasonably accurate prediction of weather is something many people rely on. Likewise, Deep Sentinel believes that AI will become a standard feature that consumers will rely upon in home security.

Deep Sentinel engineers have equipped the security Hub with AI which can interpret incoming alerts, and filter out ones which are inconsequential. For example, when a squirrel decides to run along the front porch, or the leaves start falling from the trees — your Deep Sentinel system will stay quiet.

If, however, the system detects behavior associated with criminal activity, an alert will be sent immediately to the Sentinels and to the customer. This means your alerts truly mean something, and you have little risk of tuning them out. This also means that law enforcement takes your alert seriously, and sends real time response.

The AI assist helps the detection and alert process go much more quickly, accurately, and helps cut down on alerts as well as improve safety. Deep Sentinel’s law enforcement advisers tell us that time is an advantage in a home invasion. If police can be notified within seconds of an invasion, they have a much better chance at catching the criminals in the act. Most importantly, if police are only called when they are truly needed, their resources are spent wisely.

Deep Sentinel has worked from the beginning to design home security AI into its system. More than an add-on feature or afterthought, the Deep Sentinel AI system has been purposefully designed from the beginning with privacy and home security as its top priorities, ultimately working toward the goal of true peace of mind and privacy.

Wireless Security Cameras | When Catching Criminals Goes Viral

From Cat Videos to… Home Invasion Footage

No one expected the popularity of cat videos, but it’s easy to understand why everyone loves watching cute creatures. Lately, another viral video craze has erupted on the internet, but it’s the opposite of cute:  users are uploading footage of criminals caught on home security cameras. For the first time in home security history (and human history) we are able to gawk, react, and rate criminals online. One man in Seattle successfully scared would-be criminals away from his porch, and the news story has nearly 3 million hits on YouTube.

There is a useful element to this. Home security camera users are also finding that being able to widely share the footage of the criminal is helping achieve justice, if the intruder gets away without being caught or interrupted.

Doorbell Ditch, With a Twist

The popular kids’ game of running up to your neighbor’s home and ringing the bell is thrilling because you have to get out of sight before you get caught. The reward is watching the person answer the door from your hiding spot. Rarely do we return once the game has been played, because we don’t want to get reprimanded by the person living there.

When it’s a real home invasion, however, the game is played differently.

One popular doorbell security camera caught footage of a masked man visiting the front door of a Connecticut family’s home several nights in a row, running off before he broke in. Each time he returned to try again, the family grew more alarmed. The family was on vacation, but they circulated the video to police and local news stations. The wider community was made aware of the incident, and the criminal was caught in the act when he returned to the house another night.

Another incident where a circulated doorbell video helped achieve justice happened in San Diego, when a homeowner was able to converse with a friendly stranger on his porch via the doorbell cam. The stranger appeared to be confused about the address, but the homeowner felt something was fishy, and sent his footage to the police. It turned out the police had been searching for the man, who was wanted for 19 home burglaries in the area. The footage helped police track down the criminal and arrest him.

Beyond the Doorbell, Inside the Home, Around the World

Although many criminals attempt to enter via the front door, truly savvy criminals will try to outsmart these devices and enter through other weak points, with a burglary well-planned in advance. A family in Paekakariki, New Zealand never thought they were vulnerable. They lived in a rural area, and had invested in a serious, technologically advanced camera system in their home.

They had been questioning the need for it after a year of no incidents, but one day, that changed. The homeowner witnessed thieves in his home from his vehicle. When one of the thieves noticed the security camera, she jumped and fled.

The homeowner was able to call the police from his vehicle, and describe the criminals as he watched them. Police arrived on the scene 15 minutes later. They reported they felt confident the footage would provide them necessary information to find the burglars. The Paekakariki family felt the cameras had more than paid for themselves, in restored peace of mind.

6 Home Security Measures to Take After a Loved One’s Death

Home security should be the last thing on your mind after the death of a loved one. You are grieving, in shock and full of sadness and reminiscences about the life of the deceased. But the horrific reality is that predatory burglars are out there who specialize in violating the privacy of mourning families. These heartless crooks take advantage of people being too distracted by their loss to focus on home security.

A Tale of Tragedy Compounded By a Heartless Burglary

One of the hardest deaths for a human being to endure is the death of their child. That did not stop the burglars who viciously compounded the tragic loss of a Walnut Creek CA family. Heartless thieves smashed windows and kicked in a door at the family’s home while they were burying their son. Why didn’t anyone hear them and call the police? The entire community had been stunned by the accidental drowning death of the bright 16-year-old high school student. Hundreds of people, including the family’s neighbors, attended the funeral. No one was around to hear the break-in. The thieves counted on that.

Dazed by their sudden unexpected loss and uplifted by the outpouring of sympathy and support, home security was not on the family’s mind. The thieves counted on that too. The family and their remaining child returned home after the funeral to find their home burglarized. The break-in occurred between 10 am and 12:30 pm. The crooks stole the grieving family’s computers, television and jewelry.

Funeral Burglars Target Mourning Families

The heinous practice of “funeral burglars” targeting mourning families for home burglaries is unfortunately a nationwide occurrence. During a recent year, the website Vice counted at least 50 cases in 15 different states. Sometimes it is the homes of next of kin that are burglarized. Sometimes, especially in the case of the passing of an elderly person, it is the home of the deceased. Recently in Fairview Heights IL, an elderly World War II veteran’s Purple Heart award was stolen along with other items when his home was burglarized during his funeral.

“I’m at a loss for words, I just can’t conceive with anybody doing this,” said a family friend outraged by the lack of respect for the family and for veterans.

In some instances, families already grieving from loss are so traumatized by burglary that they move out of the house.

Obituary Announcements Provide Burglars with Information

Police say the thieves find families to rob by using obituaries. These published announcements often reveal the deceased’s full name, their hometown, and the date and time of the funeral. Using additional sources, funeral burglars use the deceased’s name to pinpoint their home address.

Some sophisticated criminals have their home computers set up to notify them of online obituary announcements in the area. Others rely on simpler methods. When police in Smithville MO arrested a 35-year-old man suspected of ransacking eight local homes while the occupants were attending family funerals, they found a hand-written note listing dates and times gleaned from obituary notices copied from the local newspaper.

The challenge is how to inform friends and neighbors who would want to come to someone’s funeral without exposing your home or the home of a lost loved one to risk.

Take Steps Now to Protect Your Home From “Funeral Burglars”

Making funeral arrangements is difficult. Unfortunately, it is important to also consider home security as part of the plans. Here are some options for steps you can take:

  1. Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to forgo the funeral and housesit for you instead.
  2. Install a home security system and make sure to turn it on before you leave the house. And make sure it is not a system that relies on your phone. You will not be checking your phone during a loved one’s funeral.
  3. Hold a private burial or cremation ceremony. Publish an announcement of a memorial service only after the deceased’s home has been emptied and rented or sold.
  4. State clearly in an obituary that funeral services have already been held.
  5. Use a website like Lotsa Helping Hands to help you screen who gets information.
  6. Discuss your concerns with the funeral home and insist on no specifics be given about the funeral in any online or print media obituary. People who care will contact you.

If possible, make home security planning part of any pre-needs funeral discussion you have with family and friends about death and dying. Consider it an act of kindness to protect your loved ones from being burglarized during a difficult time when they will be very vulnerable.