State-of-the-art technology, social media can provide home protection

Crime fighting has been taken to the next level thanks to the latest and greatest in technology. From doorbells connected to a phone that can be viewed from a desk far way, to home security video that captures criminals stealing packages from doorsteps, state-of-the-art technology is helping to fight crime.

Sergeant Eric Miles in Shreveport Police Department’s Property Crimes Investigations Bureau explained several things homeowners can do to deter crime in their area.

Most are aware of the obvious choices, such as lighting, motion sensors, video surveillance, dogs, and alarms as deterrents, but Sergeant Miles strongly recommend that folks get to know the neighbors living around them in order to easily identify suspicious activity.

“When residents observe something out of the ordinary, even if they struggle with whether or not their observations constitute criminal activity, they need to immediately report such activity to the police,” says Sergeant Miles. “In addition, residents should eliminate clutter and obstructions around the curtilage of their homes, to include anything that would obscure the vision of others from seeing doors and windows where forced entry can be made, or things that would offer the criminal element a place to hide.”

Sergeant Miles also recommends that residents be vigilant in securing their homes and belongings by locking all doors and windows when away, closing window coverings at night, and securing items that might be left out in the yard, or beneath a carport.

One point Sergeant Miles made, which is sometimes forgotten by homeowners, is to not advertise newer, expensive purchases, such as a TV, by setting the box out beside the trash can.

Community Liaison Officers (CLO) are assigned to each district throughout the city. According to Sgt. Miles, these officers typically spend more time building relationships with those living and working in the police districts in which they serve, and are available to help neighbors establish Neighborhood Watch programs, which can also aid in deterring residential burglaries.

Benjamin Simmons, owner of Shreveport Security Systems, has been in the business of home security his entire life as a second generation installer.

“Most home burglaries are ones of convenience,” Simmons explained. “The harder we can make it for someone to break in, the better off you are. The easiest and most obvious thing to do, that too many people forget about, is simply locking doors.”

Simmons says he is currently seeing most customers asking for a system upgrade that can interact with their smartphone, or one that has the ability to peek in on a camera system while away from home.

Several neighborhoods in Shreveport have been banding together to fight crime. James Richard is one of the administrators of the Broadmoor Neighbors in Shreveport Facebook group.

“One of the most amazing things these neighborhood groups have provided is direct communication with the Shreveport Police Department via the Community Liaison Officers (CLO’s). These officers have Facebook accounts and can be tagged in posts when needed,” he mentioned.

Posting information on the neighborhood groups with thousands of members needs to be factual and considerate. Richard pointed out, not every situation is appropriate for social media and posters should weigh their options to respect their neighbors and be a considerate member of the group.

Several neighborhoods have also started a group text or message thread to alert their neighbors of suspicious activity. What started as a banding together has turned into a major positive with street parties and better neighbor relations.

Molly McInnis, South Highlands resident and neighbor appointed block captain for her street, uses a Group Me app thread with the neighbors to alert each other about any out of the ordinary activity on their street. They also use this thread to plan their block parties, even earning the National Night Out District 5 top spot.

“Our Community Liaison Officer recommend knowing neighbors and having contact information,” said McInnis, “The app pushes information with everyone on our block on the group text.”

Chelsey Broyles, resident and neighborhood advocate for the Pierremont neighborhood, helped to organize her group, even planning formal meetings with guest speakers. Constantly updating the directory and spreadsheet, the project Broyles developed two years ago is an efficient way to alert neighbors using the Group Me app since thousands are on the large Facebook pages for the neighborhoods, and social media is not the proper platform to alter neighbors quickly.

“Knowing your neighbors and gathering together helps to have that comfort level,” explained Broyles, “We have quarterly gatherings which is also important to be a voice for positive change and help others have a conduit to engage on a higher level.”

Tom Arceneaux, Highland advocate and resident, recommends contacting the CLO to report suspicious activity because the police department will be able to document activity and determine patrol routes based on the reports. Just posting on a neighborhood Facebook page does not alert the police, he says.

“I have personally called a number of times and found them responsive and prompt,” said Arceneaux.

Arceneaux says he would rather see the social media interaction enhance the neighborhood with positivity, and for those that are disgruntled to try and remember it creates a one sided impression of the neighborhood, and could even deter homebuyers.

What started as a way to alert each other and band together has helped to form neighborhood bonds and fostering stronger community relationships.

Source:http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/marketplace/2017/09/02/state-art-technology-social-media-can-provide-home-protection/105118758/