Saving money and staying safe

Last week, we told you a little more about the “free” alarm deals you see online and on TV all the time. They’re a little too good to be true for many people. But, still, we see people going for the free option over the less expensive one, over time. Lucky for you, many security companies will work with you so you can have the best of both worlds.

If you are really concerned about money, ask your security company if there are any specials or deals they are running to save a little bit of money. Usually, there is a system that is on sale or will be. Many companies also run referral programs offering cash or a gift card for a qualified referral. If the monthly monitoring fee is getting to be too much, ask the company if you can refer for free monitoring. They may already do that, but if they don’t, I’m sure they will be accommodating.

It can be hard to ask for help in monetary situations. We all know how that feels. But you have to think about your bottom line. And we firmly believe that cutting security out of your life is not the way to go. So before you cut your alarm system for good, call up security companies and ask them the best way to save money with their products. Oh, and most security systems will get you a deal on your homeowners insurance, which can save you a bundle. With a security system, you can save money AND stay safe.

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Free alarm deal – too good to be true?

If you are in the market for an alarm system, you have probably run across companies that offer a free alarm in exchange for a signed monitoring contract and an installation fee. So, you may pay only $99 to have everything up and running. It seems like a great deal: you were planning on getting an alarm anyway, the monitoring is a nominal monthly charge and you can get everything free! Unfortunately, it is not as great of a deal as it appears.

Usually, and there are exceptions, but usually, a “free” alarm isn’t free. Most of these free systems are leased to you, pending a credit check and approval by the leasing company. And leasing an alarm is not necessarily a bad thing. But if you are expecting to own your alarm, you will not. And unfortunately, your alarm company can come and take the alarm back if you choose to not renew your contract.

To make this a little clearer: imagine there are two alarm companies. One is offering a free alarm and the other is selling a comparable alarm system for $300. The first company, with the free alarm, charges $35 a month for its monitoring service. The second, with the $300 alarm, charges $25. The first company charges $99 for installation. The second installs your alarm system for free. A standard monitoring contract is 3 years, or 36 months. So let’s do some math (I know, I know, but bear with me). After your contract is up, you will have paid $1359 for your “free” alarm with the first company. With the second company, you will have spent $1200. And, you’ll own your system outright with the second company.

This is not to say all free alarm deals are bad. Obviously, they work well for some people or they wouldn’t exist. But it is important to know exactly what you are getting with the big companies’ alarm deals.

Because alarm systems are custom built for each home, they can greatly range in price: anywhere from $100 to $2000. But, if you are working with a reputable company, you will find that they will not sell you anything you don’t need or want to protect your home. And in the long run, you might save money by going with a local company.

For more information, visit Sentech at

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Salisbury crime stays strong in 2011

It is no secret that Salisbury, Md., has a little bit of a crime problem. After consistently being Maryland’s town with the most crime per capita, there is the evidence to back up Salisbury citizens’ fears. And unfortunately, the crime rates continue on a steady, upward trend.

So far in 2011, over 51 homes and businesses have been burglarized and 12 people have been robbed, according to crime statistic website SpotCrime. Overall, there have been more than 300 cases of property crime. And it has only been 2011 for 32 days.

You probably lock your doors every night before you go to bed. And that feels like a strong barrier against crime, doesn’t it? But as hard as it is to break into a locked door, it’s just as easy to break a window, which leaves your house just as vulnerable if you’d never locked the door in the first place.

Criminals do not discriminate. They go after any and every target to get what they want. And they love to see homes with holes in the security.

I bet you can think of a million reasons not to get a security system. All that hassle and trouble. And what about the cost? But it is better to be proactive than reactive. No, really. Security companies in Salisbury are always installing alarms after a crime has already been committed.

With tax refund checks rolling in, now is the perfect time to treat yourself to a gift: safety and peace of mind. Don’t let living in a county with an excess of crime keep you from living your life. Just live it with more security.

For more information, visit Sentech on the web at

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How quickly can someone break into your house?

Depending on your level of current security, a burglar could be in and out of your home in under a minute: with all of your valuables. But, as we’ve told you before, a burglar with a lot of time on his or her hands will use it. That is what law enforcement officials are seeing such a rash of break ins through garages.

As you can see in the video, it takes only mere seconds to enter your home. And many criminals are doing just that: entering through the garage. Because once they are inside your garage and close the door, they have free reign. Some burglars even use your own tools to cut into your home’s drywall and enter that way. And if no one can see them, it’s almost like they aren’t there.

For more information, visit Sentech online at

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Don’t get scammed by your customers

CBS Evening News with Katie Couric took a look this week at a problem business owners know all too well: slip and fall cases. If you haven’t heard of this, it is exactly what it sounds like. Business owners are liable for customers that are injured in their store. And some (savvy?) customers have caught on to that and are looking to cash in, in a big way.

But with security cameras in your store, you may just prevent a nasty lawsuit, and send a criminal to jail. In fact, in 2010, there were more fraudulent reports of injuries in stores than any other year. Watch the video, have a few laughs and protect yourself-and your business-from situations like these.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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It’s an American winter wonderland!

Snow is on the ground in 49 of the 50 states. Only Florida couldn’t find snow on its shores. Even the tropics of Hawaii boasted a dusting.

Scientists do not know if this 49 state snowfall has ever happened before. But it is obviously very impressive that warm, Southern states, including Louisiana and Mississippi have a solid covering after this week’s blizzard. And the average ground covering is more than just a dusting. Eight inches is the average depth of snow on the ground. And in some places, it just keeps falling.

Here at Sentech, we are keeping warm and cozy. But we have some words of caution for those of you who are surrounded by snow.

Stay home. If you absolutely must leave, drive slowly and carefully. Double your anticipated commuting time and do not get flustered by the conditions. There are always people who are more comfortable driving in snowy conditions. Do not let them bother you. Go at your own pace and take your time.

Keep warm. In case your power goes out, put on several layers and bundle up under blankets. Centralize yourself and your family to one room in the house and close all other doors. If you have a wood burning fireplace, try to light a fire for warmth. And if you are starting to worry about the dipping temperature of your home, drive (slowly and carefully) to an open hotel or relative’s home. If that it not an option, stay put. Power companies will be working around the clock to fix the situation.

Do not panic. In snow, functionality in pretty impaired. Getting around is difficult and dangerous. But, if you panic or worry about the situation, you are going to worry yourself into a frenzy that cannot be fixed until you thaw out. Some level of concern is normal, but you can literally worry yourself to death (or at least a careless accident).

So, if you are anywhere but Hawaii, go outside, make a snowman and hope for a spike in warmer temperatures. Drink cocoa and enjoy your snow day. And dream of your next vacation of Hawaii.

Oh. And stay SAFE!

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Six things burglars hate to see

Last week we told you the things that burglars love to see in and around your home or business and how you might be vulnerable to an intruder. This week, we’re going to give you some of the things that burglars HATE to see around your home, and how that might make you safer.

First, hide everything. Think about it. If a burglar can see your brand new flat screen TV through your bay window, it’s screaming: “Take me home with you!” But if a criminal has no idea what is in your home, or even if there is anything valuable, they may pass it up in favor of a home with more valuable on display. If you go away from your home, do not make that apparent to anyone. Leave cars in the driveway. Stop your mail and other deliveries. And advertise your alarm or video camera system, if you have one.

Last week we told you to clean up the perimeter of your property and make it difficult to get into your home or yard. Let’s take that one step further. Burglars hate to look out of place or have any sort of delay. You make think a window or door screen is not much of a barrier. But the process of cutting through that one item takes time. That is time they do not want to waste. And place cacti or other prickly plants below your windows so intruders are met with an unwelcome surprise. If possible, install motion floodlights in your yard to put a spotlight on possible intruders. And even if the burglar does manage to make it inside, hide your valuables or bolt them down. If they can’t find it, they can’t take it.

Burglars hate friendly neighborhoods. They are really just concerned about getting away from the house unnoticed. If you and your neighbors communicate often, any unwelcome activity will probably be noticed. You home should also be largely and clearly addressed. Police need to respond quickly to prevent more damage from being done and potentially apprehend any suspects. But, if they can’t find your house, you’re out of luck.

Do you remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? Well that same principle can be applied to alarms as well. Obviously, we recommend that people get alarm systems in their home to be as protected as possible. However, skimping and buying a low-quality alarm is almost as bad as not having one at all. Sometimes, alarms will go off without reason. This is called a false alarm. But low-quality alarms are much more likely to have false alarms. And after a few of those, police and neighbors are not as gracious with their help.

And another thing that we mentioned last week is security cameras. Burglars absolutely hate security cameras. Several criminals will try to bypass alarm systems, if they think they can. But if they see security cameras, they will move on. Security cameras can catch their faces and body structures. Most alarms cannot. Even if you do not have external security measures in place, keep your home organized and make sure everything is in its proper place. That way, if something is disturbed, it will be easily noticed.

Now you know what burglars love AND hate to see. Take these things into consideration when you know your home is empty or vulnerable.

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Six Things Burglars Love to See

We hear it all the time: criminals are not like us. They think differently and see

the world differently. But in the rosy glow of crime, you need to know just what exactly they’re looking for when they scope out your house.

If it is around holiday time (like it is right now) burglars are scoping out garbage cans for big boxes and lots of wrapping paper. They love advertising that blatantly says: “look here, I have a lot of things.” And with your decorations, big piles of trash and new valuables on display through the windows, your house is ripe for the picking. But even if it’s not the holidays, criminals are looking for signs that you are not home. For example, do not leave notes on the door for your children saying when you’ll be home. Try to avoid social media postings that market your absence to the world. And if you’re simply going out of town on a much needed vacation, stop your mail.

This may be a good time to walk around your home and look for easy access points. If it is easy to get into your home, you are giving potential burglars an open invitation to take whatever they want. Do you leave your back door unlocked? Are there windows that just don’t close right? What about overgrown shrubbery? Criminals love to hide themselves and sneak into your home. Don’t give them the opportunity.

Think about your daily routine for a moment. You probably leave the house at the same time every morning and come home at the same time every night. You may leave the garage door up once you get home and only put it down when you’re sleeping or out of the house. These habitual acts are more noticeable than you think and may lead a burglar to know your patterns. Change things up as often as possible. On days when you can change your schedule, leave work early or go in late. Throw a burglar off your tracks.

Does your neighborhood have neighborhood watch? What about attentive neighbors? If not, you may want to make an effort to start a protection program. If a criminal can drive slowly down your street without anyone noticing, you have a problem.

Do you have anything protecting your home while you’re away? Seriously. Think about mechanisms you’ve put in place to keep your home safe. Because we all know that criminals are in for the quick score: in and out as fast as possible. But if they know they have extra time, they’ll certainly use it. Usually, this slow reaction time is because you or your family members are at work or school. But it’s important to have something or someone monitoring your house even if you’re not home.

Let’s say the worst does occur. You are robbed. Your house is looted. Now what? Well, do you know what the burglar(s) look like? Do you know what was stolen? How well can you describe your stolen property? Now this isn’t something burglars have any control of. If you don’t keep track of your valuables, they’ve just gotten lucky. The best way to keep this from happening is to record your possessions. Take pictures and store those pictures in a safe deposit box or someplace safe. And if you are really concerned about your home being burglarized, keep one step ahead. Install security cameras to take the target right off your front door. When burglars see cameras, they avoid. The last thing they want is to get caught.

Don’t worry if your house isn’t quite as protected as you want. Now you know what to look for and avoid in the future.

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Happy Holidays!

It’s the time of year again when presents are finally unwrapped and we rejoice in our family and friends. Whatever you celebrate, this time of year is special. And this time next week, we’ll be hours away from 2011.

So, at Sentech, we wish you a happy and safe holiday weekend.

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Only YOU Can Prevent (Christmas Tree) Fires

Is your Christmas tree up? Isn’t it beautiful? Nothing puts people more in the holiday spirit than cheerful holiday decorations. But that majestic Douglas fir may have another idea. Every year, hundreds of home fires begin with a Christmas tree. That is quite a few considering most Christmas trees are up for less than a month. And sadly, dozens of these fires result in death.

So what exactly is causing these Christmas catastrophes? More than one third of tree related fires occur because of electrical problems. An additional 13 percent involved decorative lights. Candles caused 11 percent of home fires and the rest resulted from a heat source, such as a space heater, too close to the Christmas tree. And, unfortunately, one in every 5 tree fires is intentionally set. Most of these are related to tree disposal gone wrong.

But what can you do? First, make sure the outlets surrounding the tree are not sparking or torn. They should be solid against the wall and no wires should be visible. Do not plug your Christmas lights in if you are suspicious about the outlets. Second, make sure any heating vents and space heaters are well removed from the tree. Third, if you have a live tree, water it daily. Closer to the holidays, the tree tends to be neglected for other things. But if it begins to dry out, it is a fire waiting to happen. Keep candles as far away from the tree as possible. Never, and I mean never, put candles on your tree as decoration.

Once Christmas is done, disposal of the giant live evergreen becomes a burden. Many people just throw the tree by the side of the road for trash pickup. Others attempt to burn it themselves. But the only foolproof way to prevent a fire in or around your home is to load the tree up and take it to the dump. If you have an artificial tree, put it away in a dry space in your home.

And it’s not just Christmas tree fires to be aware of. Those beautiful holiday decorations that bring so much joy are the cause of a little trouble of their own. More than 6 thousand people are hospitalized each year because of injuries or falls associated with holiday decorations.

You may be thinking: this is a little late. My tree is already up and decorated. And common sense might tell you not to place a heater near the tree. But, thirty-six percent of tree related fires occur from December 24 to January 2. Take care this holiday season and make sure your home is fire free.

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