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How to Test Your LYNX Touch Security System

Honeywell Lynx TouchYour security system is keeping your family safe every day, so it just makes sense to conduct regular tests to ensure that it’s functioning properly. Should the worst case scenario occur, you want to know that your security system will do what it’s meant to do. The best way to keep your LYNX Touch Security System performing at peak condition is to test it once a week.

Here’s a rundown of the instructions for conducting a weekly systems test:

First, you must disarm your LYNX security system and check to make sure that all of the protected doors and windows are properly closed. At this point, the system’s “READY” light will be illuminated.

On the control pad, scroll to the second page of the Home screen and select the “Tools” icon, where you’ll be prompted to enter your 4-digit Master User Code. Next, choose the “Test” icon, and then the Test screen will come up.

Now, you can choose either the “Walk Test” or the “Dialer Test” icon; if you choose to run the Dialer test, either the test will be successful immediately, or it will show you a Reporter Failure message.

If that message appears, you should call your service provider as soon as possible.

When you run the Walk test, you’ll be testing each of the protected doors and windows in your home. To do this:

Open each window or door, in turn, waiting to hear three beeps from your control panel and if it’s programmed, notification from the zone’s Voice Descriptor. Every faulted protection point that you open should be shown on your control display, and the display should clear when you close the open door or window.

If you use interior motion detectors, take a moment to walk in front of them; listen for the three beeps and the voice descriptor if you’ve programmed your system to use that. Again, the display on your control panel will clear as soon as no motion is detected.

It’s also vital that you test your smoke detectors as well. Just follow the detectors’ manufacturer’s instructions. When the detector is activated, there should be some notification on your control panel’s display screen.

As soon as you complete all the steps of the test, you can enter an Off sequence on your control panel.

Should your system be compromised at any point, be sure to contact your security service provider immediately.

If you need any assistance with your security system or if you’re ready for an upgrade, Dynamark Security of Richmond will be happy to help! Contact us today!

Five Gift Ideas for the Security Conscious Homeowner

Christmas GiftIf you are scrambling to get some last-minute holiday shopping completed but are having trouble coming up with affordable gift ideas, then we’ve got you covered.  Here are five creative and useful gift ideas for the security-conscious homeowner on your holiday shopping list.

RFID Wallet

RFID wallets are a type of wallet designed to help protect you against a form of identity theft where criminals can steal personal information including credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, and passport information simply by standing near you.

How can this happen?  Well, some credit cards, driver’s licenses, and passports use radio frequency identification chips that, when activated, transmit certain information wirelessly.  They were designed to make life easier for the user, but criminals quickly figured out that anyone with an RFID reader could activate the chips in the cards and grab the information if they were standing close enough.

RFID wallets are made using materials that block the wireless signals of these cards.  There are many brands of RFID wallets, some of which work better than others, so do your research before buying one.  Although the type of crime these wallets are designed to prevent is becoming less of a problem as credit card technology is updated, it is still a possibility, and since RFID wallets don’t cost much more than regular wallets, they could make for a nice gift for someone who needs a new wallet anyway.

Shredders

Another way that someone could steal your personal information is by going through your trash and looking for bank statements, credit card statements, bills, receipts, or other communication that you’ve thrown out and forgotten about.  Even if criminals can’t get enough information directly off a bank statement to hack into your account,  they could get enough information to target you with phishing scams.

One way to make this more difficult is to shred all your important documents before throwing them away.  Shredders designed for home use are very affordable and are carried at most office supply stores, so they could be a great last-minute gift for someone on your shopping list who doesn’t have one.

Self Defense Keychains

The first two gifts on our list might help protect the personal identity of your loved ones from criminals, but they won’t do much to protect them from physical harm if they’re confronted by a criminal in a dark parking garage or street corner.  For help with that, a self-defense keychain might come in handy.

A self-defense keychain is a regular keychain that has some sort of attachment that allows it to be used as a weapon.  It could be a stick that allows the user to swing the keys on the chain at an attacker, or even a small sprayer containing mace or pepper spray.  This is a great gift for college students, runners, or anyone who must frequently walk through hazardous or deserted areas after dark.

Personal Protection Alarms

A great compliment to a self defense keychain, a personal protection alarm is a small battery-powered device that, when activated, emits a loud noise that will get the attention of anyone in the area.  Some personal protection alarms also incorporate a panic whistle as a backup in case the battery fails.  Most of them cost less than $20 and would make a great stocking-stuffer for anyone on your holiday shopping list who is worried about their personal physical safety.

Safes and Lock Boxes

If your budget is a little larger, another great gift for security-conscious homeowners on your list is a safe or lock box.  There are many varieties of safes depending on what it is you are trying to secure (jewelry, guns, documents, etc), but the intent is the same–making it much more difficult for anyone other than intended users to gain access to whatever is inside.

When burglars break into a home, they know that they need to get in and out as quickly as possible.  They will usually just grab whatever they see that is of value and ignore everything they can’t easily carry out.  If they encounter a locked safe that is secured to the wall or floor, chances are good that whatever is inside will not be stolen in the case of a burglary.

All of the above options are great gift ideas for homeowners worried about security.  However, if you want to give a loved one the ultimate security gift, you could get them a monitored alarm system from Dynamark Security or a home security camera.  Contact our office to learn about how we can help you give the gift of security.

 

Dynamark Security Holiday Referral Bonus

Holiday Referral Bonus

Do you need some extra cash for the holidays?

Want to save money on your alarm monitoring service this month?

If so, we have the perfect offer for you!

If you refer a new customer to Dynamark Security of Richmond during the month of December 2016, we’ll give you a $100 gift card.

There’s three easy ways to make a referral:

In addition to the special referral bonus this month, we’re also giving a free month of alarm monitoring service to any customers who upgrade to wireless monitoring during the month of December.  If you haven’t yet upgraded to wireless, call our office to schedule your upgrade.

If you have already upgraded to wireless, you can still enter to win a free month or even a free year of alarm monitoring service here.

Now the only question is, what are you going to do with all the extra money you’ll have after taking advantage of these special offers?

 

Independent Investigations Expose Numerous Flaws in Popular SimpliSafe DIY Alarm System

AlertWe’ve warned you before on this blog about the dangers of using “do-it-yourself” alarm systems, and specifically the popular SimpliSafe DIY alarm system.  However, new information has come to light that makes the problem even worse than we thought.

SimpliSafe markets itself as an alternative to “traditional” alarm companies such as Dynamark Security of Richmond, which use professional installers, robust customer support, and tried and proven alarm technology.  SimpliSafe claims that all that fancy equipment and support provided by these companies simply adds unnecessary costs to the consumer, whereas their “simple” approach saves people money while still giving them the same level of protection.

We’ve always known this wasn’t true, but as it turns out the problems with the SimpliSafe DIY alarm system and others like it are far worse and more disturbing than we even imagined.  Here’s what several independent investigations uncovered about SimpliSafe and other similar DIY alarm systems.

SimpliSafe Security Systems Use Ineffective Alarms and Sirens

The National Fire Protection Association publishes basic standards that all alarm systems should meet.  These standards, contained in NFPA section 72, cover things such as the installation, location, performance, inspection, testing, and maintenance of home security systems.  A study has shown that the SimpliSafe DIY alarm system does not meet these standards, especially when it comes to the actual alarm siren.

NFPA section 72 states that alarm systems that warn of burglary in addition to other hazards such as fire or carbon monoxide poisoning should have a distinct alarm tone for each type of threat.  SimpliSafe’s system doesn’t have this capability.

So, in other words, if you have a SimpliSafe DIY alarm system and you are woken up in the middle of the night by an alarm, you won’t know whether your house is on fire or there is an intruder in your home.  Perhaps they should start selling their alarm systems with an all-in-one shotgun and fire extinguisher, so that their customers can respond appropriately to an alarm.

Of course, in order to respond to an alarm you have to actually hear it.  NFPA standards say that among other things, an alarm should be at least 15dBs louder than the ambient noise level where the bedroom in the home is located.  Once again, in this area SimpliSafe falls short according to an independent study.

SimpliSafe Equipment Cannot be Monitored by Another Alarm Monitoring Company

One of the claims SimpliSafe makes in their marketing is that they don’t lock customers into “long-term” contracts like the “nasty” traditional alarm companies do.  While it’s true that their customers can cancel alarm monitoring service at any time, what they don’t tell you is that their proprietary system doesn’t have the ability to be monitored by another alarm monitoring company ever.  If you use the SimpliSafe alarm system and you want alarm monitoring, you are stuck using their monitoring service.  The only way you could change monitoring companies would be to purchase new equipment from a different manufacturer.

Ironically, SimpliSafe subcontracts its alarm monitoring services to a central monitoring station that is also used by many of the same “traditional” alarm companies that it attempts to vilify.  However, most traditional alarm companies—including Dynamark Security of Richmond–allow their customers to switch to a different alarm monitoring service when their contract is up.

While we believe that we have the best service in the area and have the testimonials from our customers to prove it, we want to give people the option to switch alarm monitoring services if they choose to.  SimpliSafe does not give their customers this option.  If their customers are not happy with their alarm monitoring service, they only have two choices—continue paying for the service anyway, or simply not use alarm monitoring.  That means that their alarm would be nothing more than an expensive noisemaker—it wouldn’t alert authorities when it was triggered.

The SimpliSafe DIY Alarm System is Prone to Hacking

A recent investigation by Forbes found that with $50 worth of equipment and a few hours of work, burglars could easily disable a SimpliSafe alarm system from outside a home.

The same report also found vulnerabilities to hacking in many other home security systems, including those sold by Xfinity, Comcast, and Samsung.

Notably, there were no mentions in the report of vulnerabilities in equipment manufactured by Honeywell or GE.  Dynamark Security of Richmond only uses equipment from these “traditional” players in the security business when we install an alarm system.

Their equipment has been exhaustively tested by UL and other independent agencies, unlike SimpliSafe’s equipment.  According to another investigation, only two of the components of SimpliSafe’s system had been independently tested—the wireless smoke detector and wireless carbon monoxide detector.  The rest of the equipment, including the all-important control panel, had not been tested.

The moral of the story is that sometimes things are done a certain way for a reason.  SimpliSafe has tried to portray traditional alarm companies as old-fashioned and behind the times.  However, the independent investigations cited above make it clear that the approach SimpliSafe takes to home security is simply unworkable.  There’s nothing cutting-edge about using unreliable equipment, poor customer service, and deceptive marketing practices.

Dynamark Security of Richmond has been in the home security business for 30 years, and we’re one of the top-rated alarm companies in the Richmond area.  That’s one tradition we don’t plan on abandoning any time soon.

How the Internet of Things Affects Home Security

internet of thingsRecently, a “distributed denial of service” or DDOST attack on domain name service provider Dyn grabbed headlines after major websites like Twitter, Wix, and others were taken offline.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that the “botnet”—or, in other words, a network of internet-connected devices that have been compromised by hackers—that was used in the attack was made up largely of devices that are part of the “Internet of Things”.

Since many consumers either knowingly or unknowingly own devices that are part of the “Internet of Things”, it’s important to understand the vulnerability of these devices to hacking, and how it can negatively impact home security.

What is the Internet of Things?

Before we go into greater detail, we should discuss what we mean when we talk about the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things refers to the idea that practically any device that can log onto a wi-fi network can be a part of the internet.

There was a time when the Internet was limited to just computers, but now people have televisions, DVRs, video game consoles, coffee makers and, of course, home security cameras that can connect to the Internet. All kinds of things can be a part of this network, which is why it is known as the Internet of Things.

What Internet of Things Devices are Vulnerable to Hacking?

This kind of universal interconnectivity does leave many devices in the Internet of Things vulnerable to hacking. Very often, the default passwords used by these devices are very weak, and are not changed by consumers after they purchase a device and begin using it.

Now, when it comes to hackers gaining access to things like your coffee maker or television, there aren’t any serious ramifications to your personal security or privacy.  However, it’s a different story when considering things like IP security cameras.

Hackers who gain access to an IP home security camera could have the ability to view whatever the camera is looking at.  This means that if your home security cameras are not properly set up, they could literally be turned against you.

How You Can Protect Yourself

The best way to protect yourself from hacks with your Internet of Things devices is to update them frequently. The update notices you will get for your computer, DVR or smartphone may be annoying, but they are there for a reason. Hackers are constantly trying to find vulnerabilities in computer systems, so software must be updated frequently if they are to keep anybody out. Even something as simple as rebooting your own systems regularly could go a long way towards preventing a devastating hack.

Also, know when to power your devices down. Many modern electronics are all but designed to stay on and connected to the Internet of Things at all times, but there is always a way to shut them down. In other words, don’t keep it plugged in if you’re not currently using it.

Finally, when it comes to IP home security cameras, purchase them through a professional security company like Dynamark Security of Richmond rather than trying to “do it yourself”.  We’ll be able to set up the cameras properly in a way that all but eliminates the possibility of hacking.  After all, your home security system is supposed to give you peace of mind, not cause you to wonder who might be watching you through your own security cameras!

Dynamark Security is Hiring!

now hiring

Dynamark Security of Richmond is looking for a hard-working, motivated employee to join the best home security team in the area.

We have an immediate job opening for an experienced alarm security system sales person.

Compensation for the position is based on the applicant’s experience and is competitive for the industry, and includes a benefits package.

We are seeking a candidate that is interested in a long-term career in the alarm industry, not someone who is just looking for short-term employment or seasonal work.

Applicants must have experience selling security alarm and camera systems.

Fill out the form below to begin the application process.

Employment Inquiry

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Three Reasons You Should Have a Monitored Alarm System Before Purchasing Security Cameras

security cameraLately, we’ve seen a large spike in demand for home security cameras.  We get many phone calls from people interested in getting a camera installed, or who have questions about the various types of cameras and how much they cost.

While we’re very excited to see that people are taking home security seriously, there is one problem about the current camera craze: many of the people asking about home security cameras don’t have a monitored alarm system.   They don’t understand that security cameras are meant to compliment an alarm system, not replace it.  Here are three reasons you should have a monitored alarm system before purchasing security cameras.

#1: Burglars can steal the DVR containing your security camera footage

A security camera without a home security system is actually not a deterrent at all, for the simple reason that after gaining access to a property, a burglar can steal the hard drive containing any footage recorded by the camera.  Talk about adding insult to injury—not only will all your valuables be gone, but your new security camera will be nothing more than an expensive brick.

You won’t have any record of the crime, and since many burglary cases go unsolved, the chances of police catching the crook without any visual evidence is extremely low.  In other words, you’ll probably never see your stolen property again.

#2: Security cameras can only record what they can see

Another reason that surveillance cameras aren’t a great stand-alone security solution is that they can only record what they can see.  In other words, if burglars are wearing a mask of some kind, if they disable or cover up the cameras, or if they simply avoid walking in front of them, they won’t do much good.

Of course, you can put the cameras in discreet locations so that thieves won’t see them…but that begs the question of whether you’re trying to catch burglars or keep them out of your home altogether.  After all, if a burglar doesn’t know that a property is protected by security cameras, they won’t be much of a deterrent.

#3: Security cameras don’t summon law enforcement

The biggest reason home security cameras should only be used as a compliment to a monitored alarm system is that they don’t actually summon help if a break-in occurs.  On the other hand, a monitored alarm system will alert local law enforcement when a sensor is triggered.

Burglars aren’t stupid.  They know that if they break in to a home with a monitored alarm system, the cops will be there shortly—not to mention a loud alarm will go off alerting the neighbors and anyone else in the area.  From the standpoint of a burglar, this means they’ll be able to spend less time in the house, meaning they’ll be able to steal less stuff.  Thus, they’re more likely to move on to another house without an alarm.

Hence, the real value in a monitored alarm system is the deterrent factor.  When cameras are used with a monitored alarm system, it increases the deterrent factor because it sends the message that the property owner has multiple layers of defense and takes security very seriously.  Security cameras by themselves, on the other hand, do little if anything to deter would-be burglars.

We’re not suggesting there is no value in home security cameras.  They definitely add a layer of protection to your home, and are useful for other things (like keeping an eye on the baby sitter).  Just make sure that before you even think about getting a camera, you first invest in a monitored alarm system.

Five Back to School Security Tips Your Family Should Be Aware Of

back to school security tips

With Labor Day now behind us, schools in the Richmond area  are back in session, which means many families are once again adjusting to new schedules and routines.  Some young children are going to school for the first time, and others are starting at a new school.  Regardless, the changes in your family’s routine also mean new security challenges.  Here’s a few back to school security tips you might want to review with your kids to make sure that they stay safe during the school year.

Make sure your kids know how to use your home alarm system.

If your children will be arriving home to an empty house after school, it’s important that they understand how to disarm and arm your home security system.  Of course, teach them that if they arrive home and find signs of a potential break-in, under no circumstances should they go into the house.

It’s also important that they understand what to do if the alarm starts going off while they are at home alone.  If your system has different alarms for burglary, smoke, and carbon monoxide, teach your kids what each alarm sounds like so they know the difference and can respond appropriately.

Use your alarm system to protect kids from themselves

Let’s face it—while you want to trust your kids to always make good decisions and do the right thing, we know that doesn’t always happen.  Luckily, some feature of your alarm system can help you protect your kids from their own carelessness (or help keep them honest).

For example, wireless alarm systems can send you a notification when a child comes home from school and punches in their alarm code.  You can even set up a different code for each child if you want.  This way you’ll know that they arrived home from school safely.  Some systems with keyless door locks can automatically lock the doors after a child arrives home just in case they forget to do so.

A home security system can also help you keep kids safe while they are at home.  Security cameras can help you monitor who is coming and going, and extra security in sensitive areas of the home (like gun safes or liquor cabinets) can help remove temptations.

Know your child’s routine

Of course, having a security system that notifies you when your child arrives home won’t help much if you don’t know what time they’re supposed to arrive home.  Between after school activities and last-minute changes of plans, sometimes this is easier said than done.  Make sure that you know your child’s schedule and that they understand the need to clearly communicate any changes to their schedule ahead of time.

Review safety plan for traveling to and from school

If your child walks or rides a bicycle to school, make sure that the route they take is safe.  Pedestrian injury is a leading cause of accidental death among children ages 5-14, so be sure they understand the importance of paying attention to traffic, avoiding the use of handheld devices or earbuds while walking on busy streets, and wearing proper safety gear while riding a bicycle.  Also make sure that they know never to accept rides from anyone that you haven’t specifically approved, even if they know the person.

Discuss social media and online security

While home security systems can help keep your kids safe, locked doors can’t protect them from online predators who might attempt to lure them out of the house.  Have a discussion with your kids about the dangers of accepting friend requests on social media from people they don’t know, and make sure they understand the tactics used by online predators.

Of course, the underlying theme with all of these back to school security tips is to maintain good communication about security with your family.  A good start would be to have a family security briefing at the start of every school year so that everyone is on the same page and understands their responsibilities.  This will help get the school year off to a good start as far as home security is concerned.  Now, if you could just get your kids to do their homework…

Home Security Risks Posed by Garage Doors

Garage DoorsGarage doors present one of the largest access points in a home–and one of the most vulnerable. They are an easy target for burglars. In fact almost 10% of all break-ins start in the garage, according to an article on This Old House.

Here is an overview of problems you need to look out for and ways to increase the security of the doors connected to your garage.

Access Door Between the Home and the Garage

Treat the access door like an exterior door. Use a deadbolt lock and make sure the doorframe is strong. Your goal is to make security on this door as tight as it is on your front door.

Install a wide-angle peephole in your access door. That way you can easily check what’s going on in the garage if you hear unexpected noises.

Your Service Door

The service door is the one you walk through to get into the garage from the outside. Make sure it has a deadbolt on it, as well as a heavy-duty strike plate. Treat it like any other exterior door on your home.  If you have a home alarm system, consider putting sensors on this door in addition to the door between your house and garage.

Attached and Unattached Garages

Once intruders get into an attached garage, they can get into the rest of your house. In the garage, they can’t be seen by your neighbors. It’s the perfect cover.

Even if the burglar gets into a detached garage, he can steal what you have stored there. According to Angie’s List, the garage is one of the major depositories of expensive power tools, garden equipment, outdoor gear, car accessories and even appliances.

 Check the Windows

 Most garages have windows, some even on the garage door itself. This lets thieves see what is inside. It’s a good idea to put translucent film over the windows or even sheer fabric curtains. These let in light but prevent a clear view of the interior.

Close the Garage Door

It is all too common for homeowners to leave the garage door up. It can be convenient if you’re running errands or doing odd jobs around the house, but it presents an open invitation to thieves.

A good way to remind yourself that the door is up is to invest in a garage door monitor. This has a sensor that is connected to the door and a monitoring unit that stays in the house. It lets you easily check if the door is up or down.

You can also install an automatic door closer. This will close the door for you, even if you aren’t home.

Lock the Roll-Up Garage Door

If you are using an overhead door that you open and shut manually, be sure to install a lock on it. If you go out of town and don’t have a manual lock, use a c-clamp on each side of the door track. This works like a lock because it fits tightly on the track, effectively locking it.

Make sure the mechanical parts of your roll-up door are in good working condition. If you see rust and corrosion, get it fixed. Poor maintenance makes it easier to break in, even if it is shut and locked.

Security Lighting

Consider a motion-activated light on the front of your garage. Criminals hate bright lights. Proper lighting is often enough to send the bad guys trolling other neighborhoods.

Be Careful with Your Remote Opener

Remotes that sit on your car dashboard, visor or in the glove compartment make it easy for a thief to gain access to your garage. It’s better to invest in a remote opener that fits on your keychain. That way it stays on your person, not in the car.

By following these precautions, you can quickly and inexpensively beef up the security of your garage door, access door and service door. Stay safe and don’t make it easy for home invaders to get in through your garage.

 

The Five Most Commonly Stolen Items During a Burglary

Most Commonly Stolen ItemsAs a homeowner, it’s natural to think of expensive jewelry and flat screens as some of the most commonly stolen items in a home burglary. It is also natural to think that this kind of theft occurs when you are away from your home or when you are asleep. These assumptions are not entirely wrong, but with burglaries taking place every 13.0 seconds in the United States, some of these criminal activities are more likely to be purely optimistic and therefore, small items such as phones are likely to be the stolen.

The first step to safeguarding your valuables is to know which of your valuable are likely to be stolen during a home intrusion. This article will look at some of the most commonly stolen items stolen during a home burglary, according to FBI statistics as of 2012:

1)  Currency or cash

Everyone wants money, even burglars! Well, cash tops the list of one of the most ‘sought after’ and stolen items during a home invasion, because it is easy to carry when compared to heavy electronics. Cash can also be easily spent without a trace and has no need for being pawned.

2)  Electronics

Electronics such as tablets, cameras, smartphones and laptops are expensive and portable items, making them number two on this list of commonly stolen items in a home invasion.  Electronics are also some of the items that are easy to pawn, and difficult to trace and recover (unless you have a serial number of the item stolen). Some ‘courageous’ burglars may go for large electronics such as flat screen TVs.

3)  Firearms

A five-year (2005 to 2010) research from the Bureau of Justice, revealed that about 172,000 guns were reported stolen every year. Firearms are desirable as they are portable to a burglar; and they can fetch a “good price” on the black market, hence making guns number three in this list.

4)  Jewelry

“Jewelry is not only a girl’s best friend but also a burglar’s as well.” Jewelry, including gold watches, diamond rings, ruby earrings and more are highly valuable, easy to sell to a pawn shop, not to mention portable, hence one of a burglar’s favorite items to steal.

5)  Medications

There is a massive black market for prescription drugs such as anti-depressants and painkillers; it is, therefore, no surprise that medicine makes this list. Medication is also easy to carry and untraceable.

Now that you have an idea of some of the most stolen items during a home burglary, you should probably take measures to ensure that you do not lose any of the above valuables. These actions include:

•    Home Safe

Consider keeping some of the most stolen items such as cash and jewelry in a home safe. A typical burglary incident will usually last a few minutes; therefore chances of a thief penetrating a home safe are slim. Consider getting a non- portable safe, otherwise, a burglar may simply carry it with them.

•    Keep valuables out of sight

To avoid opportunistic burglary incidences try and keep your portable electronics such as laptops out of sight away from windows.

•    Invest in your security

Prevention is said to be better than cure, so to prevent a home invasion incident consider investing in your security, by having a reliable security system installed. FBI statistics indicate that there are more than 2.5 million home intrusions committed each year, and only about 17% of the homes in the U.S have a home security system. These statistics indicate that if more homeowners were to invest in a home security system, then burglary incidences would probably reduce drastically.

Knowledge of some of the most commonly stolen items during a home burglary can help you prevent your valuable form being stolen during such incidences; because you can take the necessary preventive measures such as installing a home security system, which helps reduce the chances of a home intrusion.