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At Watchtower Security we believe that people are our greatest asset. Having a great team to back up a great service, is extremely important. From our Sales and Project team designing the camera layout, the Service team maintaining that equipment, and our Forensic Review team searching through video footage to locate events, you can rest assured that Watchtower Security is working hard to secure your property’s assets.

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Watchtower Security Forensic Review Department

When Watchtower Security was founded in 2004, we had one office, in St. Louis, MO. Today we have six offices located throughout the country and employ over 60 individuals. With offices now in New York, Connecticut, Atlanta, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Houston, alongside a nationwide network of subcontractors, we are able to respond rapidly with the great customer service quickly.

Watchtower Security Service Team - STL Office

Watchtower Security Service Team – STL Office

From the very beginning, Watchtower has been exclusive to the multifamily industry. This goes beyond just being another vendor. From serving on committees to helping with events, we take pride in the active role we play within the various multifamily associations across the country.

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Watchtower Security Sales Team

Being fully entrenched in the industry has allowed our Sales and Project team to better understand the particular needs and challenges that communities face every day. Contact us today to learn more about how we partner with communities to start addressing those challenges.

In 1942, the United States Housing Authority built Craven Terrace, a low-income residential development, in New Bern, North Carolina. Over the course of 70 plus years the development aged. From leaky roofs, collapsed sewer lines, and mold, a large portion of the units were uninhabitable.

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In 2015, Evergreen Partners Housing began restoring Craven Terrace to its former glory. Evergreen Partners built a new community center, a computer lab, a new gym and made countless upgrades to each apartment. New walls, new flooring, windows, HVAC units, are just a few of the interior upgrades that each apartment received.

Though a lot of time and effort was spent renovating and revitalizing the complex, co-owner of Evergreen Partners, Brian Poulin, said one of the main goals of this project was to increase the safety of Craven Terrace residents. To help with this effort Evergreen Partners contracted Watchtower Security to provide video surveillance services throughout the complex. Watchtower Security installed over 40 cameras throughout Craven Terrace. Those cameras, backed by a fully staffed Forensic Review Team, led to a drastic decrease in criminal activity. On police officer told Watchtower Security representatives that as soon as the cameras were installed, “Craven Terrace Cameras” was trending on social media. The officer said that it was impressive to see people warning others not to do anything illegal at Craven Terrace because of the camera system blanketing the property.

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On March 13th Evergreen Partners celebrated the completion of their two-year renovation project at Craven Terrace, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. State, county, and city representatives were in attendance at this event.

Working closely with our clients gives us a greater understanding of their respective needs, expectations, and allows us to better target the unique issues that come with each property. When incidents occur in these communities, many police officers and detectives are called to the scene. To our clients, that means that they, a high percentage of them being property managers, have quite a bit on their plate when a crime or disturbance is perpetrated.

 

Watchtower Security’s service does not stop with providing a full account of any activity on our client’s property. We also will appear in court to validate the video footage and provide a detailed account of the activity in question. Having the ability to assist law enforcement at all hours, on-site or in the courtroom, allows our clients to focus on the true management of their property knowing that everything is being taken care of.

When a utility such as power, internet, or television stop working, you typically want that fixed ASAP. At Watchtower Security, our highly trained Service Department takes “as soon as possible” to the next level. Watchtower’s Service Department’s commitment to excellence means getting things fixed immediately, often before you even knew there was an issue.

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If your cameras are powering on, but you can’t see anything of value, what good are they really doing? Things change quickly, and before you know it your cameras can become obstructed by overgrown landscaping, covered in dust, or just plain out of focus. Watchtower Security understands that having a working surveillance system means more than just the equipment powering on. It means that the equipment is operable as well as operative. That is why each day, Watchtower checks each image twice, once at night, and once during the day. If an issue is detected, the camera is flagged and a technician is assigned.

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Through a series of automated checks, daily scans of each camera’s view, and a dedicated national network of technicians, Watchtower is striving to make sure that the equipment installed at your property is not only working but is working to its full potential.

Watchtower Security Service Team - STL Office

Watchtower Security Service Team – STL Office

Every quarter it is recommended to perform a safety audit of your property. What exactly that means can change depending on who you talk to. We have covered it before in some of the previous posts, but having an understanding of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), can be a great resource for performing a safety audit.

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Let’s start with Natural Surveillance. The goal of Natural Surveillance is to keep intruders observed. This means that you will want to trim bushes, hedges, and trees so you are not obstructing sightlines and not providing a place for anyone to hide. This also means that you need to check the lights on your property. Dark areas of your property will allow for many hiding places for criminals to potentially lurk.

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Many properties today use something called access controls. This refers to automated entry systems usually accessed with a key fob, access card, or pin number. While these are great steps towards property safety, even if you do not have an access control system, you can employ the next principle of CPTED, Natural Access Control. Installing some landscaping to help direct foot traffic to a more controlled and visible area is a form of Natural Access Control. A lot of times a shortcut off property might already be established. Consider repairing the path and directing residents to the
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Chances are you have a fence surrounding the property. This is an example of Natural Territorial Reinforcement. Basically, this is referring to a clear boundary between public and private space. An easy way to implement some natural territorial reinforcement is to utilize signage, especially signs stating there is security/surveillance present. If you have existing signs that have seen better days, replacing and/or repairing those is a great first step. The goal here is for your residents and employees to gain a sense of ownership of the space while putting intruders on the defensive.

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Lastly, the easiest way to decrease crime is through good old-fashioned maintenance. If a property looks well maintained, criminals are less inclined to loiter and cause problems. The simplest thing to do is to remove litter. Litter, graffiti, and even things like broken windows, are all examples of signal crimes. These things are signaling to everyone that the property is not looked after and no one cares about what happens in the area. An individual is more likely to engage in criminal activity if they think they can get away with it.

 

Crime happens in all shapes and sizes, every single day. In most cases, the victim is completely unaware that anything is going to happen. We would all like to think that it won’t ever happen to us, but the reality is that we never know what might happen. A lot of the time, the difference between a crime being solved or unsolved relies heavily on the information provided to law enforcement or your security provider. Whether you are the victim or a witness, there is often a missed opportunity to identify key pieces of information. Below are some tips and tricks on what to try to look for, when witnessing or being the victim of a crime.

One of the most important things you can remember about an incident is when it happened. If you are having trouble remembering the time of the incident, look back through your call history. You might be surprised how seeing who you talked to and when might help you better understand the timeline of when the incident occurred.

Another very important thing to remember is color. Skin color, hair color, shoe color, vehicle color…try to take note of as much as possible. During an intense situation, colors may be one of the easiest things to recall.

Lastly, it might seem obvious, but taking note of both the suspect and victim is extremely helpful and often overlooked. Criminals usually do not like to be seen and will try to avoid cameras and open areas. You would be surprised how often knowing the description of the victim has helped locate the activity in question, faster than knowing the description of the suspect.

It is our sincere hope that you are never the victim of a crime. In case you ever are, we hope that these tips will be helpful.

-Brock Elmore
Forensic Review Department Manager

The holidays are in full swing! For most of us, we look forward to the parties, the time we spend with friends and the chance to visit with family. Unfortunately, criminals also look forward to the holidays, because it means you are away from your home more often than not.

This might be common sense, but make sure your doors and windows are properly secured. Believe it or not, but most break-ins are not due to forced entry, but because someone forgot to lock the door or latch a window. Also be cautious about sharing your travel plans on social media. In today’s day and age, if you post what are you up to on social media almost all of your friends are aware. Sadly a lot of the time it is not just your friends that also know what you are up to. “Social media burglaries” are a rising trend in the modern era.

Would you believe that unsecured doors are also the main cause of vehicle break-ins? Locked or not, if you leave any kind of valuables in plain sight, you are painting a target on your vehicle. Don’t leave packages, bags, keys or anything else valuable to you, in your vehicle. If you really have no choice, store those items out of sight, in your trunk.

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There are a lot of great ways to try to deter crime to your home. The best is to make it look like you are home still. You might not need to go to extremes like the Home Alone movies, but you can learn a few things from Kevin McCallister. If you are going to be gone for an extended amount of time, why not leave a few lights on? You can easily plug lamps into a timer and have them automatically turn on and off. The same goes for almost every electronic appliance, such as the TV or radio.

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Lastly, if you see something, say something. Be on the lookout for idling cars, or someone “tailgating” through a locked gate or garage door at your apartment complex. Really not sure if someone is doing something suspicious or not? You can always make a report to the police via their non-emergency line, and of course, if there is an emergency never be afraid to dial 911 ASAP.

 

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!

 

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Let’s talk “hidden cameras”! The most important thing to remember is, interior surveillance cameras, or cameras in areas that people expect a high degree of privacy, places like bathrooms, changing rooms, bedrooms etc. are all places that hidden cameras are always prohibited. But what about hidden cameras in other more public areas? What are the restrictions that go along with unmarked cameras?

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In certain states the law explicitly states “the photographing, observing or overhearing events or sounds in a private place without permission is completely illegal”. In many of these states, unauthorized cameras can be charged as a felony, which can warrant prison time. But it is important to consider that technically, no laws in the United States require posted signs giving notice of hidden cameras, in a public setting. Surveillance cameras, such as nanny cams placed in homes to monitor household employees, also require no posting of signs.

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Obviously, personal security cameras on the interior of your house or apartment are perfectly legal but, when it comes to personal security cameras in public areas, it really depends on the rest of the occupants. A tenant placing security cameras outside their apartments in areas such as a hallway or a staircase can solicit opposition from other tenants and spark concerns. Instead of adding personal security cameras in public spaces, it would be better for tenants to work together to talk to landlords to get some kind of security system installed, into their community.

Designing your community’s surveillance coverage is a delicate balancing act for Watchtower Security. Careful consideration must be applied as we work to craft a balance between the needs and coverage versus the VALUE that you receive from your monthly investment. To the lay-person, the process of surveillance might appear quite simple (i.e. put cameras where needed), but in all actuality, the proper process of system design is a complex and time-consuming activity. No two properties are alike, and their surveillance needs can vary greatly. Therefore, many points of analysis must be wagered in the design process in order to bring true value to your investment.

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Many “hardware vendors” simply want to sell you the cameras, install them, and then disappear. Their chief concern is to sell you as many cameras as possible (where their markup is). They have no vested interest in the long-term outcome of whether their product helped achieve your safety and security goals.

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Additionally, these “hardware vendors” often look to keep their installation costs down while designing their coverage plans. Therefore, they do not always place cameras in the most ideal places. Instead, they do what is easiest for them to get in and out. Then, once the installation is complete and they have collected their check, they only care about future service calls for when their equipment fails outside of the warranty (if you can even get them to respond!).

When Watchtower Security designs a surveillance solution, it is not just a one-hour visit to your property. Instead, it is a very long multi-day process. Coupling this process with our years of experience in this industry, and our training from CPTED study (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design), allows us to craft a perfect balance of cost/value versus coverage for our clients.

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There are many factors to consider when thinking about adding security cameras to a multifamily community. The process is not as cut and dry as purchasing the equipment and installing it. Few people understand, or are aware of, what it takes to not only maintain a camera system but to ensure that it is a functioning asset that will assist in making the community thrive.

The following are six questions to consider before committing to installing a camera system. Without being able to answer these questions, it would be wise to reconsider what is expected from the cameras in the first place.

Is there a defined need or purpose for the camera system?

 There must be a clear objective for adding cameras, not because the property down the street did. Cameras can assist with multiple issues many property owners face, such as an abundance of criminal and nuisance activity, vendor or employee oversight, asset protection, evidence for lease violations or prosecution, or finally, as a simple deterrent. If any of these are not an issue for a given property, maybe cameras are not needed. It could be a better decision to improve other areas within the community.

What are the expectations of the camera system?

Cameras are not the magic bullet answer to all issues a property may face. It is best to have realistic expectations of what the cameras can and will do. The property may only need general oversight. In some instances, this is enough. However, some properties with higher rates of criminal activity will benefit from the addition of cameras that can gather identification shots of vehicles or persons. In the end, a property has to decide what is sufficient for its operational needs.

What are the ideal locations for the cameras?

In a perfect world, a property could install enough cameras to cover the entire community. Of course, there are many factors that make this impossible, so a decision needs to be made as to what the areas of concern are. The most typical camera locations include parking lots, entry/exit points, common areas (playgrounds, pools, laundry facilities, and community rooms), or choke points. Choke points are created by a property design that force vehicle or pedestrian traffic to flow through a certain area. Cameras in these areas are very helpful in gathering identification shots.

What is the budget?

Money drives all business decisions, so this is probably the most important question to answer. Owners need to know that they will get what they pay for. Purchasing cheap equipment means spending more money on the back end. Camera systems are not a one-time initial investment. There are warranty issues, funds for ongoing maintenance and repair, degradation of image quality, and recording costs associated with DVRs and licensing. Finally, a camera system should be thought of as a 5-year capital expense. Many people do not think about this, but there is a shelf life for electronic equipment. Be aware that it will need to be replaced at some point and time.

 Is the property conducive for a camera system?

A property needs to have clear sight lines for surveillance to be effective. Building architecture and layout has to be considered. Landscaping can present issues. Trees need to be trimmed yearly to ensure lines of sight. Good lighting is a must. The best camera in the world is not going to be effective if it is only capturing a pitch-black parking lot. Finally, do all the buildings needing cameras have house power? If not, expect a significant bill to install it. Cameras do not work without power. It is not advised to use power from individual units, as the camera system is now at the mercy of a resident paying their bill.

 Is there anyone on site, or within the company, that can manage and administer the system?

One thing many do not consider is time cost. Does the property have someone who can perform daily health, focus, and recording checks? What happens when the equipment fails? Can the property staff correct it? Is someone available to work with the police when a video event occurs? Who will perform the video reviews? The time cost of reviewing footage is significant. When a property manager has to use half of their day reviewing hours of footage, who is leasing apartments? This assumes that they have the ability and know how to operate the equipment.

Answering these six questions can help a property decide if a camera system will be beneficial, as well as prepare them for what to expect after it is installed. Watchtower Security provides answers to all these questions within their fully managed video surveillance systems.

Cameras systems are an asset with unlimited potential, but they do require constant attention and upkeep. Before a property can realize this potential, they must be willing to do what is necessary to give the camera system a chance to be successful.

 

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When it comes to an investigation, there is no better way of assessing a crime than, video cameras. Video surveillance is always a useful task for investigators when trying to find a perpetrator or figure out more information about a situation. The most important factor when it comes to video surveillance being used in an investigation is its resolution. The most frequent issue is insufficient size or scope of the coverage (view), low resolution and low picture frequency, incorrect position of the view and inadequate lighting conditions. At Watchtower, we take the time to assess every property to check for all of these things. Watchtower has a great team of experts that know all of the logistics of having an exceptional security camera system. Watchtower chooses the camera and its quality, the camera placement, and we check the area for an acceptable network. We try to make the process of implementing a surveillance solution into an apartment complex, as easy as possible for our clients.

For most buildings, the general recommendation is: Avoid old analog CCTV cameras as the HD and megapixel resolutions offered by IP cameras available today can be up to three times better. Naturally, higher resolution gives you more details and therefore better identification of persons and objects. The advantage of digital systems is that they are virtually unlimited as to the maximum picture resolution. The maximum resolution depends only on the selected camera, recording equipment, and the network abilities. Further, the technical development in this area is advancing quickly and the performance continues to increase as well. Which is why Watchtower has no problem replacing cameras frequently. Not only are cameras replaced for being tampered with or destroyed we also replace our old cameras every few years to keep the resolution and quality as high as possible. The constant changes to technology are no problem for Watchtower, we know that being in this industry means lots of constant changes and we always strive to improve so we can deliver the best possible product to our clients.

Note: It is also important to take note that, although cameras are great for spotting and helping to catch criminals, cameras also help with prevention in a complex. Taking the protective measure of having security cameras can help your property gain, new clients.

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There is increased competition in the market, with many vendors touting their ability to monitor your cameras “live” with the promise of decreasing your criminal and nuisance issues. Sounds great right? It really does until you start to think about it. I hate to burst your bubble, but live monitoring does NOT work in the Multi-Family Industry.

First, there is a time and place for “live monitoring,” but there is no time, nor place in the MF world for it. Live monitoring can only really work in certain scenarios with very defined parameters (location, setting, hours of operation, etc). For instance, a car dealership is a great place where live monitoring can make a difference. A car dealership has a very defined boundary and is only open certain days and hours. If one were to monitor the activity live, through the context of “car shopping” one could easily distinguish between “shopping” and “nefarious activities.”

So why won’t live monitoring work in the Multifamily industry?

• MISGUIDED ATTENTION – Have you ever tried watching two movies at the same time? Sure, you might be able to follow along with the major plotlines, but chances are while you are focused on a big explosion with one movie, that you’ll miss important details from the other. So while you are intently watching a potential “suspect” from one live feed, you just missed someone else kicking in a back door! This example is just with 2 “feeds,” can you imagine trying to watch all 30 of your camera feeds at the same time? Chances are you’d miss something, or zone out pretty quickly.

• ATTENTION SPAN – If you are anything like me, you check your phone rather often. Do you really think a security guard making $10-15 an hour is really going to dedicate each and every second of his shift watching your cameras? I doubt it and I’m betting he’d divert his eyes away to check FB or the score to the game very often. Multiple studies have shown that a person watching only 4 live feeds starts to lose their focus after only 20 minutes!

• COST – Going along with the point above, let’s consider what you might pay a company to watch your cameras per month, and then do some simple math dividing the total cost by the number of cameras and hours. i.e. Let’s assume you pay someone $2,000 to watch your cameras for 12 hours per day, 30 days a month. The math here says you are paying that person $5.56 per hour. Do you really think the company is paying someone an hourly wage AND making a profit off of $5.56 per hour to watch 30 cameras at the same time? Probably not…so what you’ll find is that the same person is watching your 30 cameras AND 5 or 6 similar sites at the same time in order for the company to make a profit. Now, can you imagine watching 180 camera feeds and trying to identify criminal and nuisance activities?

• CONTEXT – Does the person doing the live monitoring really know what they are looking for? Do they know the local laws and the rules of your community? I really doubt it! Furthermore, how do they know one thing from another? Is it kids horsing around, or is it a fight? Is he smoking a cigar or drugs? Is that person breaking into a car, or is their lock stuck? Even if you do know what you are looking for, it’s pretty easy to miss things. Watch this clip and then come back and tell me I’m right on this point!

Seriously, watch that clip before reading anymore…

How did you do? Don’t feel bad, as less than 15% of people ever noticed it!

• LIABILITY – This utterance of this word probably makes you and your insurance company shudder. Getting back to my previous CONTEXT examples about “is it a fight, or horseplay,” let’s assume the person watching your cameras falsely determined it to be a fight. Well, a reckless claim like this (reckless because he didn’t see the previous 15 minutes of the kids playing around) is going to lead to unnecessary calls toe the police, which ultimately may lead to slower reaction times due to numerous false alarms. Or, if a bias is proven, you may be opening yourself up to numerous legal issues from targeted races. Secondly, if live viewing is claimed or advertised to your residents (I know you are smarter than that, but a new leasing agent might let it slip out one day), your residents may be led to believe a false sense of security, which opens up numerous claims of liability for failure to protect.

While in theory watching the cameras live seems like a good idea, it really has no place in our industry. If you have this much extra money in your budget to blow, I would much rather steer you towards proven crime reduction techniques like improvements to your lighting and access controls.

 

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“Watchtower has truly been a blessing for our company. The product is amazing and has been successful in assisting the police with evidence they needed when unfortunate events have taken place. It is also a great closing tool and truly gives our residents and staff a sense of comfort knowing an extra eye is always watching from the sky. My favorite part of this company, however, is the level of service given by their team at all times. Every time we call with a question or request, it is responded to promptly and professionally. This is a partnership I truly appreciate!”  – Regional Director, National Multifamily Management Company and a Watchtower Security Client

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When was the last time you were able to say something similar about another company? At Watchtower Security we strive to be a true partner with your business.  Instead of selling you overpriced and unwarrantied equipment, we provide a service.  Your security system is designed around your specific needs, any maintenance or service of the equipment is free of charge, and any time an incident does take place you can simply contact the Forensic Review Department to find out what happened, and provide the evidence to prove it.


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Why should you consider a surveillance system from Watchtower Security:

  • They can provide evidence when needed—Need an accurate and unbiased account of an event on your property? You will be hard-pressed to find a more reliable source than a video recording. With other systems, you either have to monitor the cameras or sift through hours of video.  By having Watchtower Security as your security partner, you can save time and remove any liability caused by live monitoring.
  • They make tenants feel safer—In this day and age, security and safety are major requirements for prospective tenants.  In fact, according to the National Crime Prevention Council, renters are up to 85% more likely to experience a burglary than a homeowner. It should be no surprise that most potential renters would be willing to pay more for an amenity such as video surveillance.
  • They act as a deterrent—Would you want to be seen while doing something wrong?  Criminals do not either.  By utilizing surveillance cameras on your property, you are essentially announcing to criminals that someone is watching.
  • Turnkey Solution—Watchtower Security offers a turnkey, comprehensive solution that provides real measurable results. A low monthly investment covers the cost of cameras, maintenance, and forensic reviews of any and all footage from your community. No longer will your staff have to look through hours of video footage. With the ability to request an unlimited number of forensic reviews, you never have to worry about the nature of the event. Feel confident that our entire team will be there when you need us most.
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With Watchtower as your security partner, together we can offer peace of mind to residents and staff alike!

spyingCameras and video surveillance have been praised as both a crime fighting tool and a powerful crime deterrent but they have also been criticized as an intruder into our personal lives. With cameras in parking lots, businesses, ATM’s, and even streetlights, nowadays it is almost impossible to avoid cameras.

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This begs the question, is all of this legal in the Multifamily world? In short, yes. Regulations may differ from state to state, however, in the majority United States, it is illegal to record video of someone/take their picture when they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, when you are walking through common areas of an apartment complex, driving on a public street, or entering a place of business, you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy. However, you do have an expectation of privacy when you are in a bathroom, locker room or you own residence. So while you can definitely use security cameras in parking lots/garages, vehicle gates, entrance ways, and common areas, you should make sure that those cameras are not able to view anything inside someone’s unit.

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Do you need to inform the residents or post signs? There are currently no laws stating that in a public area you are required to inform someone of video surveillance. (The same cannot be said for recording audio, but that is for another post in the future.) Not having to post signs or inform people may be perfectly within your rights, however, signs might actually help. Numerous studies have found that signs can actually help deter crime.

Whichever side of the privacy debate you may land on, properly utilized surveillance can be a huge benefit to your property!

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When you think about surveillance, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Chances are you thought of a criminal act or the need to be protected from harm. While a common use for surveillance is to help to protect, have you thought about how else surveillance could be a benefit to you?

 

A few weeks ago a client of ours was missing a rent check. The tenant claimed they dropped it off at the leasing office, but the check was nowhere to be found. How would you react in that situation? Would you believe the tenant, or would you assume that they were covering up the fact that they didn’t pay the rent? What if the roles were reversed and you were the tenant? How would you react to someone questioning your integrity by being suspicious if you did in fact pay?  Luckily there was a solution to this dilemma that did not involve the possibility of losing a tenant; this property has Watchtower Security cameras. The property manager simply contacted the Forensic Review Department at Watchtower Security, and they began an investigation to determine if the tenant did, in fact, leave an envelope and if so what happened to it.

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It turns out that the tenant was telling the truth, he left the envelope between the leasing office doors. Unfortunately, the maintenance men did not see it when they opened the doors, and the envelope fell to the ground. A few minutes later while they were picking up trash, the envelope was discarded. Thanks to the Forensic Review Department of Watchtower Security, this property did not have to chance losing a resident, and now both the property and the resident has the peace of mind that the rent payment was not stolen.

 

There are a lot of great ways to utilize surveillance to increase your property’s ROI and NOI. From vendor compliance, seeing when your staff arrives and leaves, to keeping an eye on the rent drop box. What are some uses that you could find for surveillance on your property?

We had an awesome bust last week that I wanted to share, so help me out here and sing the COPS theme song, “Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What Ya Gonna Do…” This is a great example of a true PARTNERSHIP between the owner/management company, police, and Watchtower Security.

Two Friday’s ago, we were installing our services on a new site in Kansas City, and we were not scheduled to complete the install until the following Monday. Our Lead Installer, Brian Harmeyer, was talking to the owner and their general contractor about possibly getting everything up and running sooner, as theft from the job site had been increasing during their rehab. So, Brian and the team stayed late (even with the impending #icepocalypse looming) each night in order to get ahead. Long story short, they finished with the install late on Friday and our amazing home office in St. Louis, helped to get things recording right away. Thankfully, our efforts paid off. I received a call the next day from the general contractor telling me how all of their hot water heaters had been stolen from a building!

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So, even though we weren’t officially up and running (post installation, we have a lot of back-end work and testing to complete before turning it over), the Review Department Manager (Rian Flamenco) backdoor-ed his way into the files and was able to perform a forensic video review. And knowing Watchtower, you probably know how it plays out from here…BUSTED! We provided conclusive evidence of two males breaking and entering, grand theft, etc, while providing the vehicle make/model and license plate.

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We quickly sent our forensic review over to the property manager as well as the police, and what transpired next was some awesome work by the Kansas City Police Department. After receiving the information, KCPD ran the plates and determined that the suspect car was not stolen, so they decided to swing by this nice young man’s house. And wouldn’t you know it, as they were pulling into the driveway, this “model citizen” just so happened to be unloading some hot water heaters from his car! Needless to say, he was immediately arrested and charged with a myriad of crimes. To recap, within 2 hours of receiving the footage, KCPD had arrested this individual. That is some amazing police work!

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We’ve got to say thanks to the owners/property management group for their trust in Watchtower, one dumb criminal, and the ever amazing KCPD. Working together we’ve helped get this punk off the streets.

 

Clayton P. Burnett

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Happy New Year! It is a new year and everyone is making New Year’s Resolutions. Grandiose resolutions like losing weight, getting in shape, or saving money are great to strive for, but why not add something to that list that is not only easy attainable but will also help to keep your property safe and prevent unnecessary expenses? Preventive Maintenance around your property is a perfect way to limit unforeseen expenses and increase the property’s curb appeal. Weekly, monthly and even seasonal general upkeep goals will help to ensure ideal living conditions and even help stop accidents before they start.

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The easiest place to start is on the exterior. The outside of your property is the first thing that potential renters see, and we all know how important first impressions are. A few weeks ago we talked about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, and one of the most important parts of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design is maintenance. By eliminating signal crimes like litter, large items in the dumpster, and broken windows, you are not only increasing curb appeal, you are also signaling to the public that this area is being taken care of regularly. A property that has a visibly active maintenance crew will make criminals think twice before taking a chance on being seen.

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In addition to checking the exterior of the buildings, while on your rounds you should also perform a simple landscape and lighting audits. Ask yourself, do you feel safer in the dark or in a well-lit room? What about if you were in an open area or a place with lots of cover? Well, criminals feel the same way you do and will shy away from a well-lit area, and open spaces that provide little concealment. Make sure to trim your bushes, shrubs, and trees so they are not blocking windows or creating possible unsafe areas.

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The same goes for your property’s lighting. Take a drive through at night, at least once a month. Are there dark places where additional lighting might help, are there lights that are burnt out or broken? Unfortunately, these questions cannot be answered during the day while the lights are off, but that little extra effort will go a long way.

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Philanthropy literally means the love of mankind, and this is definitely the season for it. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you know that we are in the middle of the holiday season. During this time of year, donating money, time, food, and services to people we don’t know personally is as central a tradition as giving boxes with ribbons and bows to family and friends.

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Making financial contributions, or volunteering this time of year is absolutely wonderful, but at Watchtower Security we take philanthropy a little further. One of our core focuses is to make a positive change in all the communities we partner with. We believe that when you partner with a community for their security needs, reducing crime is just not enough, one needs to truly make lasting positive change.

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With that belief in mind, in 2014, Watchtower Security helped to establish and continues to support, Towers of Excellence. Towers of Excellence was created with the intention of empowering and inspiring today’s youth, to be tomorrow’s leaders. Through mentorship programs, at-risk youths are assisted in discovering a successful path to high school, college and beyond.

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Towers of Excellence is now entering its 2nd year at the Catalyst Circle Rock school and has already welcomed a new class of young and eager students the program. In addition to doubling the class size this year, Towers of Excellence has also added two new mentors to the program. Everyone at Watchtower Security could not be more proud of how Towers of Excellence continues to grow and make a positive lasting impact.

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Donating and volunteering during the holidays is a great thing, but it is important to remember that the needs of these organizations, and your community as a whole, last throughout the year. This coming year, challenge yourself to continue the spirit of the holidays, every day in 2017.

For more information about Towers of Excellence, please visit http://www.towersofexcellence.org/.

 

Happy Holidays from everyone at Watchtower Security!

 

 

The holiday season is in full swing. Lights and decorations are being hung with care, gifts are being purchased, and people are traveling to be with their loved ones. Unfortunately, merriment isn’t the only thing holiday season brings; theft, crime, home accidents increase this time of year. My intention is not to scare you, because with just a little forethought you and your residents can have a safe and fun holiday season. With that in mind here are some safety tips that you can share with your residents.

If you are going away for the holidays, there are a lot of ways to try to keep you and your belongings safe. The biggest way is to not tip off criminals. This means not posting on social media that you are going back home for a week. You should, however, tip off the police. It is possible that they will go out of their way to drive down your street while on patrol.

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You can also stop your mail and/or newspaper. A clear sign that someone hasn’t been around in a while, is mail and newspapers stacking up. If you don’t have someone picking it up for you, or it being held at the post office, then you essentially are putting a sign on your door that no one is home.

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Along that same line of thought, keep your curtains the same way they always are when you are away. If you normally have them open, but all of the sudden they are closed for a few days, you could be tipping off a would be criminal that you are not around. The same thing with your lights inside your apartment. You might think that you should keep them on all the time to make it look like someone is home. However, what it really is doing is raising your electricity bill and looking very suspicious that your lights are on at 4am. Your best bet is to get a timer. That way the light turns on and off at regular times, making it look like someone is home.

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If you are staying home for the holidays, you are more than likely going to decorate. One of the biggest decorations of the season is the Christmas tree. A few years ago, having a fake tree was very popular. You could have them up in a few minutes, and when the season is over you can easily store it away for next year. However, real trees are becoming popular again. While they look and smell great, they can be quite hazardous. If your residents do get a real tree, make sure they are aware of how to take care of it. The most important tip is to make sure that it is watered often. A dry evergreen tree is excellent kindling. Also, keep open flames, such as a candle, away from the tree as well. Candle-related fires are most common during the holidays.

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Most people enjoy decorating. While decorating their unit is great, residents shouldn’t attempt to decorate the outside of the building. Not only is this extremely dangerous to the resident, it also opens up the property to a lot of liability. Not everyone does celebrate the holidays, so the decision of decorating should be up to the management of the property.

However you celebrate, everyone at Watchtower Security hopes that the holiday season is a festive and safe one for you and your residents!

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