Stop Those Pesky Porch Pirates: How to Beef Up Your Defence Against Package Thieves

Online shopping is a modern marvel, isn’t it? The ease, the convenience, the thrill of anticipation as you await your delivery. But alas, sometimes that excitement is swiftly replaced by disappointment when you find your doorstep bare and your packages pilfered by porch pirates.

The rise of doorstep theft has become a pressing concern, so much so that some US States have enacted laws to combat it. Opportunistic thieves lurk, eyeing unattended deliveries or even brazenly watching drivers and snatching items right after they’re dropped off. In 2023 alone, a staggering one in ten households reported falling victim to this crime, with London emerging as a hotspot for it.

While legislative measures might only be in the works across the pond, fear not! Here in the UK, we’ve got some strategies to outsmart those porch pirates and keep your precious deliveries safe and sound.

  • Parcel Tracking: Leverage the power of parcel tracking. Many courier services offer real-time tracking, allowing you to monitor your package’s journey and even reschedule delivery or choose a safe space if you won’t be home.
  • Lockers: Ever tried a locker? Companies like Amazon and EVRI offer the option to have your package delivered to a secure locker near your home, accessible only via a unique code assigned to you. It’s like having a personal vault for your deliveries.
  • Doorbell Cameras: Doorbell cameras are a game-changer in the battle against porch piracy. Imagine catching those would-be thieves red-handed, all from the comfort of your smartphone. SECOM’s smart video doorbell, for instance, keeps a vigilant eye on your doorstep with its wide field of view and built-in motion detection.
SECOM smart doorbell app
  • Home Security System: But why stop there? Investing in a comprehensive home security system is a wise move. Studies have shown that visible security measures, like CCTV cameras and motion detectors, act as a powerful deterrent against would-be intruders. Plus, with 24/7 monitoring from our ARC (alarm receiving centre), you can rest easy knowing your home is in good hands, even when you’re not there.
secom residential

So, if you’re keen to fortify your fortress against burglars and porch pirates alike, why not reach out to one of our advisors or sign up for our newsletter? With a bit of foresight and the right tools at your disposal, you can safeguard your deliveries and enjoy stress-free online shopping once more.

SECOM’s Christmas Safety Tips

While Christmas is a time for giving, it can also be a time for taking. Insurance claims for theft over the Christmas period can rocket by more than 20%. Crowded shops, large ATM withdrawals, expensive presents, being away from home for longer and the distraction of the hustle and bustle all add up to opportunities for thieves – and heartbreak for you and your family.

This year SECOM have shared some useful tips to help remind you that preparing for your safety and security is vital for the lead up to Christmas to keep your home and family safe and secure whilst you enjoy the festive season. Share this blog with your family and friends to help keep everyone safe across the country.

Out and about Christmas shopping

  • Be vigilant when withdrawing money from an ATM. Simply move on if there are any suspicious-looking individuals hanging around. Always shield the keypad with your hand to protect your PIN number.
  • If you feel the ATM isn’t working properly, press Cancel to withdraw your card and try another machine.
  • Keep your personal belongings close to your body and carry as little cash as possible. Be aware of who is around you when using your mobile phone in public places and keep valuables out of sight.
  • Doing your Christmas shopping early means less crowds and less opportunity for pickpockets.
  • Do not leave presents and bags on show in vehicles as it’s easy pickings and always park in well-lit public places.

Keep your home safe and secure this Christmas

  • Don’t leave your presents and gifts under your Christmas tree or on display. Carefully dispose of any packaging from expensive gifts.
  • With an increase in online shopping, package theft is more common. Installing a video doorbell is a great way to monitor package deliveries and also speak to unwanted visitors.
  • The best deterrent for burglaries is to invest in a smart home security system installed by professionals like us to give you peace of mind 24/7 whether you are home or away.
  • Always fit good-quality locks on doors and windows. If you go out even for a short time, make sure you lock up and always keep keys away from windows and doors.
  • If you are away for Christmas, make the house look occupied. If you have smart switches or smart lights, you can automate these to turn off and on. You can also turn on a radio.
  • If you’re going to be away for several days, ask someone you trust to empty your post box and check on your home.
  • Make sure you don’t announce your travel plans on social media. You don’t know who is watching.
  • Encourage communication with neighbors and consider forming a neighborhood watch during the holiday season. Look out for each other’s homes and report any suspicious activity.

Fire safety at Christmas

  • Make sure you don’t overload your plugs sockets, as this is the most common cause of home fires.
  • Ensure that your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and other home security alarms are in good working condition. You should replace the batteries once a year.
  • Be cautious with holiday decorations, especially those that involve lights or candles. Ensure that all decorations are placed away from flammable materials and turned off when you leave the house or go to bed.
  • If you have a Christmas tree, make sure it is well-secured to prevent accidental tipping, especially if you have pets or small children. Water the tree regularly to reduce the risk of it drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Don’t let too many cooks spoil your holiday. Avoid overcrowding the kitchen and keep flammable items away from your cooking area. Keep children out of the kitchen if possible, and watch them closely when they are present.
  • Be alert when cooking. If you’re sleepy or have consumed alcohol, set timers and don’t leave anything unattended otherwise you may ruin your Christmas dinner.
  • Be careful when frying anything. In the event of a small grease fire, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the pan and turning off the burner. Remove lid once completely cooled. Small oven fires can be put out by turning off the heat the keeping the door closed.

We hope you enjoy our Christmas safety tips. Stay safe and have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year from everyone at SECOM!

Check out our 2023 Christmas card!

Smart Home Security

From intruder alarms, CCTV and video doorbells, SECOM’s Smart Security can keep your home and your family safe this Christmas. Get in touch with us to find out more and get a free quote.

6 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe at Halloween

Halloween is a time when the supernatural comes to life, and while we embrace the spooky and the eerie, it’s crucial to ensure that your home remains safe and secure. In this guide, we’ll give you tips on how to keep your home safe during Halloween, allowing you to enjoy the holiday without any haunting concerns.

1. Secure Entry Points

To keep your home safe at Halloween, take the following precautions to secure your home’s entry points:

Lock Doors and Windows:

Ensure that all doors and windows are securely locked. It’s easy to forget in the excitement of the holiday, but this simple step can deter unwanted visitors.

Outdoor Lighting:

Well-lit entryways deter potential intruders. Consider motion-activated lights, especially for the front and back doors.

Reinforce Locks:

Upgrade your locks if necessary. Anti-snap locks provide an added layer of security.

2. Fancy Dress and Decorations Safety

Decorating your home and wearing fancy dress is a Halloween tradition, but it’s essential to do so safely to keep your home safe:

Fire Safety:

Use LED candles or lights in your decorations instead of open flames. This reduces the risk of fires, especially if you have paper or cloth decorations.

Flammable Costumes:

Many Halloween costumes are highly flammable and can easily catch fire if they come into contact with an open flame. This can be especially dangerous for children who may not be aware of the risks.

Pathway Lighting:

Illuminate walkways and driveways to prevent accidents and ensure guests can safely navigate your property. Also clear away leaves to reduce slip hazards and trim bushes for better visibility.

Secure Decorations:

Make sure all decorations are properly anchored and won’t become dangerous projectiles in strong winds.

3. Alarm Systems and Surveillance

Investing in a home security system is the best way to keep your home safe because it deters unwanted visitors. If you have a home security system, make sure it’s in good working order:

Test Your Alarm:

Verify that your security system is working correctly. Update any contact information with your monitoring service.

Surveillance Cameras:

If you have security cameras, make sure they are positioned correctly to cover key areas, including entry points and outdoor decorations.

4. Beware of Pranks

While Halloween pranks are part of the fun, they can often cross the line into vandalism, so consider these things to keep your home safe:

Outdoor Cameras:

If possible, make sure any outdoor cameras are visible, which can deter potential pranksters. Video doorbells can be a great solution to prevent pranksters from vandalising or trespassing on your property.

Neighbourhood Watch:

Stay connected with neighbors and establish a neighborhood watch group to keep an eye on each other’s properties.

5. Hide Valuables

Don’t advertise your valuables to potential thieves:

Secure Valuables:

Lock up or keep valuable items out of site, including electronics and jewelry, to prevent temptation for burglars. Avoid hiding valuables like money and jewellery in the bedroom.

Car Security:

If you have to park your car outside, make sure it’s locked, and never leave valuables in plain sight. Make sure you park it in a well-lit area and using a steering lock is still extremely effective against car theft. If you have a driveway, consider getting gates or collapsible posts.

6. A Lone Home

If you plan to go out to trick or treat or head to a Halloween party, and leave your home unattended here are some ways to keep your home safe whilst you’re out and about:

Lock Up:

Double-check that all doors and windows are locked before you leave.

Timed Lighting:

Use timers on indoor lights to create the illusion of occupancy.

Neighbourhood Watch:

Inform trusted neighbors or friends that you’ll be away and ask them to keep an eye on your home.

Enjoy the spookiest night of the year with the peace of mind that your home is safe and secure. By following these simple precautions and safety measures, you can create a hauntingly fun and worry-free Halloween for you and your loved ones whilst you keep your home safe. Embrace the spirit of the holiday while ensuring that your home remains a sanctuary from any real-life scares.

Ensure you follow these tips all year round and be prepared rather than reactive in case a burglar strikes.

Happy Halloween!

10 Ways to Stay Safe Using ChatGPT

While AI chatbots like ChatGPT can be powerful tools, it’s essential to use them responsibly to ensure a safe and positive experience for everyone. Here are 10 ways to stay safe using ChatGPT or other AI chatbots:

1. Avoid sharing personal or sensitive information

Never share your full name, address, phone number, passwords, or any other personal or sensitive information with ChatGPT or any other AI chatbot. These platforms are not designed to handle sensitive data and could pose a risk if misused.

2. Be cautious with financial information

Do not provide any financial information, such as credit card numbers or bank account details, to ChatGPT. Similarly, be wary of any requests from the AI to share such information.

3. Recognise limitations

Remember that chatbots like ChatGPT is an AI language model and not a human. It doesn’t have personal experiences or emotions. Avoid forming emotional attachments to AI or divulging overly personal information.

4. Report inappropriate behaviour

If you encounter any offensive, harmful, or inappropriate responses from the chatbot or ChatGPT, report the issue to the platform or service provider. Feedback from users is essential to improve AI systems’ safety and performance.

5. Avoid spreading misinformation

Be cautious when using AI chatbots like ChatGPT to obtain information. It’s always better to cross-check facts from reliable sources, especially for critical decisions or sensitive topics.

6. Don’t use AI to promote hate speech or illegal activities

Avoid using AI chatbots or ChatGPT to generate content that promotes hate, violence, discrimination, or any illegal activities.

7. Set clear boundaries

Remember that you have control over the conversation. If ChatGPT or AI chatbots provide responses that make you uncomfortable, discontinue the interaction or change the subject.

8. Supervise AI usage for young people

If young people are using ChatGPT or other AI chatbots, ensure they are under adult supervision. Young users might be more susceptible to sharing personal information or engaging in risky behaviours.

9. Read and follow the platform’s guidelines

Different AI platforms may have specific usage guidelines or terms of service. Familiarise yourself with these guidelines and adhere to them.

10. Keep in mind that AI is not a substitute for professional advice

While ChatGPT and other AI chatbots can provide general information, it is not a replacement for professional advice from qualified experts, especially for medical, legal, or financial matters.

By following these safety tips, users can have a more secure and positive experience while interacting with AI chatbots like ChatGPT. Responsible usage of AI ensures that these tools continue to be valuable assets without compromising user safety or privacy.