How to Stay Secure in 6 Easy Steps

We’ve all experienced it — you see the Nextdoor post about break ins around your neighborhood, or the broken glass outside the business down the street from yours. There is some suspicious activity going on around you, and while this can be a scary thought, there are some simple things you can do to help prevent your business or home from becoming the next target. We chatted with our team of local experts to come up with some practical security tips.

Invest in a security system. The whole purpose of a security system is to help should your property ever be targeted for theft, vandalism or other suspicious behavior, right? According to the FBI’s annual crime report, there were more than 1.5 million burglaries in the U.S. in 2016. The good news? That number is down over 25% from what it was in 2012. In a study at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology from 2012, 60% of criminals surveyed said that an alarm presence would cause them to seek an alternative building. And if they discovered an alarm while attempting a burglary, more than half commented that they would vacate the property immediately.

Display your security company’s signs and stickers. This one goes hand in hand with investing in a security system. The same study from North Carolina noted that signs of increased security — like alarm stickers and signs from your security company, or surveillance cameras — were a deterrent when placed in windows, doors or yards where people can see them.

Keep your property well lit. Having good lighting, paired with keeping any bushes or trees near windows trimmed, can also discourage targeting due to lack of a convenient hiding place. No one wants the spotlight on them when they are up to something dubious, after all. According to a survey done by KGW last year of 86 inmates serving time for burglary in Oregon, homes with large bushes or trees and blind spots are ideal targets. Things like motion activated lights and 360 degree lighting coverage leave intruders nowhere to hide.

Know your neighbors. Make it a point to get to know the neighbors on your street. Better yet, form a neighborhood watch to keep an eye on the block and alert police if anything suspicious is happening. It also doesn’t hurt to give a trusted neighbor your contact information in case they see something odd happening around your property.

Consider video surveillance. Installing video cameras, motion activated cameras and video doorbells are all great ways to get an idea of what is happening on your property quickly, whether through a monitoring center like ours or through a convenient App on your phone. And researchers in that same UNC 2012 study found that nearly 40% of those involved with property theft said seeing a security camera would factor into their decision to go somewhere else.

Make sure you have an emergency contact list. One of the most forgotten security items is also one of the easiest! Make sure to update your emergency contact list for your alarm system on a regular basis, in case there is ever a situation when you don’t answer your phone when your alarm system is activated.

How To Reduce False Alarms

Keeping false alarm incidents low is high on our priority list in our Central Monitoring Station. As a result, we are implementing many false alarm reduction initiatives. We work with clients who may have a high number of false alarms to reduce or eliminate those issues.


  • Provide adequate training for all system users before they use the system. Do a test to make sure they are comfortable with the features and functions of the system.
  • Don’t forget that if you are going to actually set off the alarm, call our Central Monitoring Station first. Do periodic refresher training sessions.
  • Make sure all users know how to arm and disarm the system and know what to do if they come up with a problem with the security system.


  • It’s very important that you only give out keys and alarm codes to necessary people.
  • We suggest you have separate codes for each person. Don’t remove someone’s code without letting them know.
  • Have separate codes for your babysitter, cleaning service, or dog walker, etc, it will help to have better identification control on each. Train them on how to use the system. Do a couple of tests to assure they are comfortable with the system and procedures.
  • Keep your list of key holders and non-responders up to date by calling us if you have a temporary employee, house sitter, or anyone who has a key and will be using the system even for a short period of time.

Internal Devices

  • If you have motion detectors, make sure there are no balloons, drapes, or signs that may move in front of them and cause a false alarm. Be especially aware of forced air heating/cooling vents and ceiling fans. Detectors will report false alarms if you have placed incorrectly near one of the vents or fans.
  • Do a perimeter check every time before you arm the system. Make sure all doors and windows are locked to prevent them from being opened during the night and causing a false alarm.


  • Don’t hesitate to call us if you think your system is not working properly and schedule an inspection.
  • Replace old alarm systems with more up to date equipment. Keeping your security system updated is a big part of your security systems efficiency.

When There is an Alarm

  • Make sure everyone knows the procedures for calling to cancel a false alarm. Have the phone number to our Central Monitoring Station near the phone, or somewhere handy.
  • Instruct all users to disarm the alarm system as soon as they cause a false alarm. If they do not have the disarm code, or they have problems disarming the system, have them call us right away. Remember they will need to have their password to cancel the alarm signal with us.

Communicate With Us

  • Communicate with us when you will be traveling. Let us know when you are leaving when you are coming back and who, if anyone, should be in your home during that time.
  • It’s very important that you notify us if you have work being done on your phone line or if your power is going to be down.

About First Response

First Response patrols hundreds of accounts, responding to over 6,500 locations, monitoring thousands of accounts and employing over 230 people throughout the Northwest. Our company has been recognized many years in a row by the Portland Business Journal as one of the Fastest Growing 100 Privately Owned Business in Oregon.

7 Common Myths About Home Burglary

Chances are pretty good that you, like most Americans, believe some misconceptions about burglaries. Television programs, movies, and even video games do much to shape what we think is true. Unfortunately, though, this leads us to draw some wrong conclusions—and those assumptions can put us in danger.

 You probably do not need to worry about a burglary.

Wrong. Everyone should be concerned and aware of the possibility. In fact, the United States leads the world in the number of burglaries —with four occurring every minute. According to the FBI 2012 Crime report, we can expect one in every thirty-six homes in the United States to be burglarized this year.

65% of burglaries happen between 6 am and 6pm, while most people are at work.

Thieves get in from the back of the structure.

Wrong. National crime statistics show that 33 percent of intruders enter the home through the front door, and may target a home specifically because of the type of front door, such as a hollow core. Even more concerning many gain entrance through an unlocked door!

Burglaries happen while you are at home asleep.

Wrong. While that may be common in the movies, in real life thieves try to avoid burglarizing a home while people are home. 65% of burglaries happen between 6 am and 6pm, while most people are at work.

A Neighborhood Watch program alone is enough to deter or catch crime.

A neighborhood watch or even an eagle-eyed neighbor is great to have but not enough to rely on. The average burglary lasts only 8 minutes. If an intruder is spotted, chances are good that it will not be timely enough to get the criminals caught in the act.

A locked window is enough to deter crime.

In window entry crimes, 61% of them involve breaking the pane.

Home alarms are most helpful in alerting, not deterring crime.

Wrong. A recent study performed by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology found that most criminals try to determine if a home has a home security alarm system before attempting to gain access. In fact, a vast majority of convicted burglars say that they intentionally avoided homes with security systems. Equally important, if an alarm sounded, they admitted to leaving, quickly and immediately.

Home Alarm Systems are not affordable.

The truth is, you probably spend more on coffee in a month than it costs to protect your home. Further, according to the most recent crime statistics provided by the FBI, the average loss of a burglary is around $2,000, which exceeds the price of a basic security system. And that does not factor in the additional cost of raised home insurance premiums or the emotional damage caused by crime.

If you have any questions about home alarm security systems, call First Response today (800)207-5301.

About First Response Inc.

Headquartered in Beaverton, First Response Inc. is the largest privately owned security company in Oregon. Our commitment to “A Higher Standard” enables us to deliver the client service we believe you deserve.