This page is designed to give you hints about securing your home, car, phone and many other items. There is an initiative with our Police called "Secured By Design" which brings many stakeholders together to reduce crime by improving security.
Whilst the sections below are a quick reference and helpful hints, there is much more at the "Secured By Design" webside by clicking here. We really recommend that you take a look.
The latest easy to understand guidance from the Metropolitan Police can be found here. It features some very good habits worth getting into.
During the last few years, there has been an increase in catalytic converter thefts from cars and vans, due to the soaring prices of precious metals that are contained within the Catalytic converter units.
There are security devices available both online and in stores that make the theft of a catalytic convertor much harder.
Toyota produce one of the models targeted, the Prius, and have posted this blog about their “CatLoc” device. Catalytic converter - How to Protect Your Car.
If you would like to secure your vehicle, please speak to your car’s manufacturer about how this can be achieved or visit the different stores for more advice.
Vehicles today are by and large more difficult to steal than ever, unless the thief can access your key or fob to clone them. Keep your keys safe, out of view when at home, and away from your front door.
It’s not uncommon for car keys to be stolen from inside your home by thieves fishing for them with a stick and hook through the letterbox.
When not in use, keep your electronic car key in a security pouch to prevent it being scanned by thieves to open and steal your car nearby.
Fitting a Sold SecureExternal Link steering wheel, gear lever or clutch pedal security device can give your vehicle added protection. .
A lot of people are using Zoom for voice and video calls at this time. It Is free, works well but is not perfect. The press has flagged up a number of security issues with it which include:
• The calls can be passing through servers in countries that may not have the privacy standards we have.
• “Open calls” can lead to unwanted intrusions. The biggest example quoted is Singapore home teaching staff whose sessions were invaded by “lewd” attackers.
Zoom have recognised some security issues and the update was posted this week for the software. We recommend you install the patch when it comes. If you have not seen the patch it may be worth uninstalling and downloading the latest version again.
There is little you can do about the routing of zoom traffic across the internet. It is logical that companies will manage demand across geographically spread servers so that if one area is busy, they can shift the processing to one that is not. For example, if Europe gets very busy, Zoom could route calls via servers in Asia where demand will be lighter as people as asleep during peak times on the other side of the world. That is what caused the USA to be concerned about use of Chinese servers.
However, you can protect your own video calls from unwanted people joining in. I recommend you use two steps on your calls:
* Set a password for the call that only the people invited to it can use
* Use the “Waiting Room” function so you can see who is coming in and admit them. Any rogue attempts to enter can be blocked at this front door.
At a NSMRA meeting I was tasked with checking if home security cameras need to have a warning outside the property to show that people are being recorded. The reasons for this include the impact of the Data Protection requirements which most people will not have considered when buying a camera. This includes smart doorbells like Ring.
Following up on this request I contacted our local Safer Neighbourhood team and The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The findings were useful and we do have to take some care.
The key points from the Safer Neighbourhood Team were:
• CCTV can be a valuable tool and may deter some burglars but it does not stop a crime from occurring
• CCTV cannot replace the requirement for good quality physical security
• Two industry bodies accredit reputable companies who install CCTV to the British standard: the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).
• Any footage should be able to capture the head and face of a person so they can be recognised and identified. Cameras should be positioned so that they can obtain such footage but also be out of reach to prevent tampering.
• There is extensive legislation on CCTV – especially on the need to respect the privacy of neighbouring properties and the recording of public space - so seek advice from an installer to ensure any system complies with the law.
• Signage is required if practical to show that CCTV is in use
• Dummy CCTV cameras are not advisable – experienced burglars can spot them.
• There are also camera systems that have reached a Police Approved Specification providing real time CCTV coverage on sensor activation to a smartphone, tablet or laptop. See http://www.securedbydesign.com/ for more details.
Ring of Security around your Home There is a documented relationship between Ring security cameras and the UK Police force. Ring products lets you monitor every corner of your property. With a Video Doorbell at your door and Stick Up Cams around the house, you can create a Ring of Security around your entire home - https://en-uk.ring.com/
Issues can arise over the Data Protection element. You should view these two links:
In essence you are responsible for the data you are capturing. People have a legal right to ask what information you hold on them. How much you have will depend on your security package and what it captures. Basic packages can be 24 hours or less, so it is possible you are not keeping any but more expensive packages could be 30 days of captured footage. Some advanced cameras like Nest IQ include facial recognition. If you are using this function be aware of where it is stored and who could have access to it. If you are putting names to faces on that system then you are responsible for that data. You do need to know how your system is actually working. This is a brief summary, please do read those links and if you have any questions get in touch at the mail address just below.
Small warning signs are available from the likes of Amazon and Screwfix for a under £5.
If you do capture a crime on your security cameras please do let us know and share footage as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can warn our neighbourhood. Such notifications go out immediately via Twitter so please do follow us. Please also see the feature on Neighbourwatch CCTV further down this page.
Do you have CCTV or a video doorbell with recording functionality at the address you registered on OWL? If so, and if would like to help the police with local investigations by providing access to recordings if asked. Join the brand new CCTV Watch and your camera will be privately logged on OWL. This information will NOT be visible to the public and will cover a greater area than our own. To join, please write to email@example.com with your postcode and confirm that you are happy for your camera to be registered on OWL
The latest information from OWL can be found here.
There are many “Smart” solutions available to help secure your home. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” and what you would choose to use depends on your house, appetite for complexity, budget, if you use Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple, and what you may already have installed for heating or even your TV. Not everything claiming to be “smart” works well with other devices and that can push costs up. Complexity means generally if things go wrong they are harder to fix and to operate. Hopefully the points that follow here may make things easier for you or ask a question of two you may not have already thought of.
Any product names that follow are for example only. We are not giving a specific reference for any supplier as the best fit is your choice.
What do you need?
That’s down to you and how much security you think you need. It could be an alarm, a door camera, or more deterrents. No one can tell you what you must have and we will certainly not try to do that here. A basic alarm will help your insurance and we suggest that is a minimum along with good door and window locks. Visible deterants help put off burglers.
“Smart” or not
There is no need for you to have smart technologies if you only want a basic solution. A good alarm plus door and window locks are physical devices and you can turn the alarm on before leaving home and off on arrival. There are many alarm companies and you can see the range in the area just by walking along the street as the external alarms generally carry the supplier names. Some will monitor remotely for you and will act as a conduit to the police or other services should the alarm be triggered. These services do come at a cost and each offering is again different.
If you want to do things remotely yourself then you will need some sort of smart functionality.
Protect your phone
If you do go the smart route then the odds favour the applications residing on your telephone. That increases the need for you to protect your phone which is covered here.
Internet and WiFi
For all the smart solutions you will need internet access at home. Very few solutions have 4G or 5G controllers so rely on your internet connection to send signals into and out of the house. You may not need Wi-Fi as some alarms, lights etc do not use your Wi-Fi but provide their own.
It is worth noting that if your internet goes down you will lose your access and most of your smart apps will not function. Some providers have a back up if the main link goes down but that is rare and costs extra, most people do not have it.
If you are going to put in cameras, they do use bandwidth, so make sure you have enough outgoing uplink capacity on your internet link. As streaming is consistent also check that your internet provider does not penalise you for use. One well known provider used to cut your uplink in half if you used too much as part of the “fair use” policy. Check the small print on your internet agreement!
If the devices you choose do need WiFi to run over, make sure you have a good WiFi signal around your house. There are a number of products from BT, TP-Link, Huawei, Netgear, and others that will extend your signal without needing wires and maintain a single log in. Should you be getting any interference from your neighbours WiFi there is a section on this page to help. If you want to take a look at such things Curry’s on the Ivybridge Shopping area does stock some.
If you are buying an alarm from companies like ADT or Banham you will be able to get an external alarm bell, but these are less common in the smart alarm systems. You might find this a drawback and go traditional, or need to look toward companies like Yale or Somfy for example.
Smart alarms can be controlled remotely so you can turn them on or off from anywhere, read any alarms they raise and be immediately aware if there is a problem when you are elsewhere. They can also be used with other smart products. For example, if an alarm is triggers, some smart lights can be made to flash, for warning or deterrent. Not all alarms and all lights work together on this, so it is something to consider when you make your choices of how much integration you desire.
If the internet is lost you may not know, but if an alarm company is monitoring, they may see their connection to your home go down and check it out. This is part of the services some alarm installers give and a benefit of using traditional alarm firms.
What do you already have?
What you already have in your house may define some of the items you want to use if you want them to integrate. Your may have Hive or Nest heating controls, which will put you down the route of their products for lighting or cameras as an integrated and economic solution. You may have Amazon or Apple and want products that work with Alexa or Apple Home Kit. You could have a smart TV from Sony or Philips that comes with Android built in, an Android TV box or Google Home, all of which mean you could want items that work with Google Assistant.
Be aware that Android TV is customised Android and though all applications will run on it some may need “side loading” and subsequent menu tweaks to make them visible. That is not for people who do not like computers.
Some products work with all the options, some with none, so it is worth checking when you research a product.
Bridge or no bridge
Smart devices like the Hive system or Hue lighting system come with a hub or bridge of their own. Lights and plugs from TP-link and LiFx for example do not, they get their instructions direct from the internet, so may can be cheaper and need less equipment in the house.
The drawback of not having a bridge/hub is if the internet goes down things stop working. Lights from Hive and Hue would work on their schedules without your internet connection as the instructions are stored in your home. TP-link and LiFx lights would remain on or off, depending on what state there were in when the internet went down.
Not everything needs a bridge, but this is a distinct advantage in having one.
Smart door bells, with a camera, are common and we have a lot in the area. You can use them to see who is at the door and catch people who may not ring. Some can react by switching on a light when someone enters your porch even if they have not rung the bell. You can view on the app on your phone or Alexa or Android device. Popular ones from Ring, Netgear and Nest are available. Some Ring’s require wiring and a chime, the Nest definitely needs wiring and power.
Until recently Ring were a doorbell only company but now, they have moved into alarms as well.
There are more types of cameras available, both internal and external, that you can count. Nest and Hive users have quality offerings but both require power, which for external or porch cameras mean you need electrical work doing. It is the same with Ring non-doorbell camera although they have a pretty obvious looking solar panal option. Long chargeable battery options from the likes of Netgear are also available. Canary, TP-Link, BT, Logitech are all also leading units.
If you wish to keep recordings for up to 30 days with some services you will find a charge per camera. Hence if you already have a heating product you may get a saving with using the same manufacturer. Internal cameras can work through glass, but the night vision is lost as the infrared light simply reflects back into the cameras as a white circle, nothing else being visible. The Logitech one which comes with a window mount but suffers the same issue.
Remember you can cover your own property but should not be pointing your camera to monitor anything outside your own space for privacy reasons.
Within our Neighbourhood Watch a number of people do volunteer to share footage in case of a crime, there are many residents not yet volunteering who do have cameras. As ever, please contact us if you’re willing to help your neighbours if we want to check if your footage caught any direct event on film, or if it was peripheral/background.
Cameras in our area have been used to catch and prosecute criminals so they have a proven use.
Smart lighting involves the turning of lights on and off, remotely or to pseudo random programs, controlling light colour or linking to other smart devices to flash alarms. For example, it is possible to set it up that Hue lights flash red if a Nest smoke detector registers a fire. They can also be triggered by motion detectors.
There are many suppliers, Hue, Hive, TP-Link, LiFx being the leaders but a check on Amazon, Homebase, most supermarkets, B&Q will provide many more.
Standard bayonet and screw bulbs are very common, smaller fittings not so. It may be that there is not a smart bulb to suitable for your light fittings. However, there are smart light switches, such as RF Lightwave, where you would control the socket and switch rather than the bulb.
LiFx also do a bulb that switches to Infrared which extends the night vision range of nearby cameras.
Smart plugs and sockets
We just mentioned being able to control light switches using Lightwave. This is an option to also control actual plug sockets. You can also by add in plugs that sit between the light plug and socket and work as controllers and timers. Again, Hive, Next, TP-Link, Yale and others do supply as multiple others via Amazon and stores.
These devices pick up motion, report it and work with other devices to trigger alarms of actions with lights, heating or cameras. Gas and Smoke Sensors
Nest, Yale and many others will supply smart smoke and air issue detectors. These will report back and raise alarms within your systems should a fire be reported.
Using Hive on Google Home you can have internal and external cameras, heating, lighting, smart plugs, motion sensors, door sensors all controllable by an Android TV or Google Assistant and also Alexa: one application, one bill. If you need an external siren then it does not exist and would need to be an alternative solution. Likewise smoke detectors would need an additional set of kit.
Your mobile telephone is a small item easy to lose or steel and no doubt often visible to others. On it theirs is the poenitentia for a goldmine of information in applications like:
• Mobile Banking
• Credit Card
• Home Security, remote alarm or camera deactivation
• Remote locks
• Your contacts
• Household account details for utilities, TV, Netflix
Everything has a value, not least of which is the pain of changing all the passwords once you have lost the phone or cancelling cards and accounts that may not be compromised. How many people properly secure their mobile phone? The answer is “too few” even though the cost of losing your phone is rising. The following suggestions may be helpful.
These are obvious but there are obvious combinations of numbers that are easy to type many people use. Such as “1111” or “1212”. Do not use one! Try not to have a 4-digit password, more digits are more secure.
Do not keep the code for this, or any application, on a post-it with the phone.
Back Up Your Phone
Too few people regularly backup their PCs and even less back up their mobile phones, despite the amount of applications and data there is on there. The big mobile companies like Samsung, Huawei, Apple, LG, Sony and Motorola all have applications for your PC that back up and synchronise the information and files on them. They are either USB, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enabled and should be done regularly. If you have a network storage device from the likes of Western Digital it is possible to back up your phone automatically when you connect to your home Wi-Fi.
Backup does not take much effort once you have set it up and will save you considerably more if you lose the phone.
Use facial or thumbprint recognition.
This will be on most mid-market and above modern phones and they do come with a passcode backup. They are not difficult to set up, particularly the thumbprint, and will limit the ability of a third party to get into your phone. They are not fool proof as the recent Samsung Galaxy issues showed any other person’s thumb print worked so if you try it, do test it.
Internet, Malware, Spyware Protection on Your Phone
Your phone browser can be just as vulnerable as your PC or desktop browsers. Adding a security level to your phone, using the likes of Norton or McAfee is recommended. Your phone can carry a trojan or virus into your home just as easily as a malicious site you browse from within it. There are many software options to protect your phone for Android and iOS but do check them first and do not just download one from your Appstore without researching it.
These software services can do things like track the phone if lost, take a photo of anyone who has tried the passcode wrongly several times and send you their picture and location by mail, even wipe the phone remotely to remove you data.
There are options not to store any website passwords on your phone by using a password store or vault. The passwords can be stored in an encrypted location accessed using a single code or thumbprint so that if the phone is lost then access to data from it is retracted. Good banking ad financial applications can offer the thumbprint as verification and should be used if your phone has a secure working option for it. As ever, test these before using them blindly.
Strong passwords for Android and Apple master accounts
Android and IOS phones do link to master accounts in Google and Apple. It is important to ensure strong passwords on these accounts as they cross multiple devices you own. Windows phone users have a similar link but as Microsoft has ceased this as a product it is worth considering changing should anyone still have a Windows based telephone. It will also apply to IOS and Android users who have Microsoft Office applications on their phones.
This may not be a big expense. For example, users of BT fibre broadband will get McAfree Internet services free for a number of devices, including Android phones. McAfee services can be downloaded for free for Apple phones of later generations.
Always lock your bike even if it’s in your shed. Better still, lock it to an immovable item.
Buy the best lock you can afford. Make these Gold standard locks if possible.
There are a lot of locks on the market: cable, u-locks, chain locks but the most important thing to remember when buying a lock is its grading. Locks are sold in grades Gold, Silver and Bronze with Gold being the ultimate standard.
Lock the frame and both wheels to a purpose built cycle parking stand.
Make the locks and bike hard to manoeuvre. Secure your bike as close to the stand as possible.
Do not leave any slack chain or lock on the ground, this gives a thief a base to work on.
Take parts that are easy to remove with you. For example, saddles and wheels. Alternatively, use locking skewers, which can increase security by securing the bike's components to the frame permanently, making it difficult for thieves to steal parts such as saddle or wheels. Lock your bike at recognised secure cycle parking.
It should be well lit and covered by CCTV, overlooked by buildings and with plenty of passers-by.
If your bicycle is stolen report the theft to the Police by phoning 101 or online https://www.met.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/
Give the full details of your bicycle: Make, Model, Colour and Groupset.
Questions have been asked of us about the flying of drones, particularly if close to property. To help a copy of the "Drone Code" can be found here. The rules regarding permissions will change on December 31st 2020, details can be found here. Pilots with appropriate "permissions" will be able to fly closer to buildings on commercial work.
Using the term “Drone” can be misleading. The law applies to all “Unmanned Air Vehicles” (UAVs) so will equally apply to model aircraft users.
Our area has restrictions due to Heathrow’s proximity, Royal Parks and the RFU Stadium.
The maximum height is reduced by 50%, making it a ceiling 60 metres above ground level, approximately 200 feet.
Stadiums have specific no fly areas around them, as do Royal Parks. Always check the rules for where you are.