Security Tips and Tricks: Rich Merlino, MassLandlords.net
Rich Merlino gave a presentation about security tidbits at October 2015 WPOA meeting.
Rich: Moving along, the rest of our meeting is going to move pretty quickly. We’re going to talk about security. We have vacant apartments sometimes, right? Yes, okay. Hopefully not. Hopefully people stayed there just forever and paid the rent on time, right? But sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, so we have vacant apartments. We’re going to talk about a couple of things real quick that we can do with securing our buildings especially if the apartments are vacant. How does this thing work?
Doug: This is the next slide. That’s previous.
Rich: All right. I think I can handle that. All right, so I have this sign on a couple of buildings. It’s been on my list of things to do to get a camera system. I don’t actually have a camera system. What I do have is signs. Much to my surprise, when I put them up, I thought I was going to get a camera system in the next month, but this was $11, and I put them up there and everyone in the building thinks I have a camera system. They’re pretty well behaved, if you want to know the truth.
I won’t recommend just getting the signs, although it’s not a bad start. In addition to that, are some landlords cheap? I’m going to raise both of my hands [laughter]? Okay. I don’t like spending money. I much prefer to collect it, so I found out about these things. Our guy who’s going to be talking about the security system that I’ve been waiting for years to hear about this is going to cringe, so just plug your ears, Chris.
These are fake cameras, guys, okay? Did you know that before I said that? No! Why is that? Because they look like real cameras, okay? Check these things out. These little dome cameras. They light up with the red lights. These are $5 apiece. You got a four pack for $20. The one over here that was $8. It’s got wires on it and it looks pretty realistic, doesn’t it? Okay, so if you’re too cheap to get an actual camera system, which you probably might want to think about, these things are available.
This is another really cool thing. It looks like a black screen [laughter]. Just wait for the surprise though. I don't know what that is. That’s the other thing. Okay, I’m just as surprised as you are, believe me. We were talking about break-ins and trying to prevent them and things like that. So this next part – I guess we’re going to YouTube. Is this for the meeting, Doug, or you’re just getting bored and you’re going to go on YouTube [laughter]? You’ll be like, “Screw this! I’m going to watch clips from The Land Before Time. Rich is bombing this.”
Doug: For the PowerPoint slides.
Rich: Got you. Okay, so this video says it’s 5 minutes and 37 seconds. We’re going to watch probably 3-1/2 to 4 minutes of it.
[SimpliSafe Installation Video 0:03:13]
Hi, I’m Philip. In the security system. In front of me, you got [unintelligible 0:03:12] include a base station, two entry sensors, a motion sensor, a panic button, wireless keypad, an extra siren, and this really cool keychain remote.
Okay, so the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to set up the SimpliSafe base station. This tower is the brains of the system and communicates with the other wireless devices. It has an 85dB siren and a mini-cellphone which sends the alarm signal to SimpliSafe monitoring center.
In order to get started, we’re going to activate the batteries by pulling the strip, and we’re going to plug it in.
Welcome to SimpliSafe. Starting your system in test mode. When you have finished installing your sensors, you may exit test mode by pressing off.
It’s the only component in the system that’s required to be plugged in, but it does have a backup battery, which will kick in if there is a power outage and last for about 3 or 4 days.
The next component is the SimpliSafe wireless keypad. I’m going to put it by the front door so that I can easily punch in my PIN number when I come home. Again, just pull the activation strip and your keypad is activated. To install it, I’m going to remove the adhesive tape like that and simply press it against the doorjamb and your keypad is installed.
Next stop are the entry sensors. These guys can go on either a door or a window. As you can see, they’re made up of two parts: the actual sensor and a magnet. It doesn’t matter which goes in the door, which goes in the molding. In this case, we’re going to put the magnet on the door right like that and then we’re going to put the sensor right above it.
You see these marks here. This is a guideline that shows you where to put the sensor and align it with the magnet. We’re going to activate the sensor again by pulling the battery strip and we’re going to remove the adhesive backing from this. We’re going to position this right above the magnet. There are 2 inches of play allowed while these things can connect.
Now when I open the door, if the system is armed, it’s going to send a signal to the base station, which indicates that someone has triggered the alarm. Easy, right?
Now I’m going to take this second sensor and install this on the back door. By the way, these run on powerful lithium batteries, which last for about 5 years.
Next stop is the motion sensor. This is a thermal motion sensor, so it’s going to detect large bodies moving around your house, but it’s also pet friendly, so it’s not going to detect anything under 50 pounds like a cat or a small dog.
We’re going to install it a little differently than the sensors. It has two strips on the back, which means it can snuggle right into a corner. We’re going to remove those and we’re going to activate the battery by pulling the strip and then we’re going to set it right here. This motion sensor also has a lithium battery, which lasts for 5 years. Now when it’s fixed in a corner like that, that’s going to sweep the room at an angle about 30 feet, so you’re going to have protection for 30 feet of space.
We have just two sensors to go, and we’re done. Then we can trigger the system and see it in action.
This is a SimpliSafe panic button. We’re in a bedroom, and I’m going to install this in a convenient location in case there is an emergency. We’ll do the same thing we do with the other sensors. I’m going to remove the adhesive backing, pull the battery strip, and we’re going to place this right here.
We’re not going to place it too close to the light switch in case we might hit the light by accident. Now I hope you never need a panic button but having one does provide great peace of mind.
We’re almost done. We have one more device to install. This is the extra siren. It has 105 dB of pure burglar deterrence. Imagine an intruder being greeted by a siren that’s louder than sitting front row at a rock concert. We’re going to install it the same way we install the other devices. We’re going to remove the adhesive, activate the batteries, and we’re going to put this right here like that. Now this is weatherized, which means that you can install it outside under the eave of a house.
There is one more really cool device that we’re going to use to test the system. That’s the SimpliSafe keychain remote. It has three buttons: off and away, which helps you arm and disarm the system remotely; and a panic button, which we’re going to use to test the system.
But first, I’m going to put in some earplugs. I recommend you use them, too, at home when you test the system. Everybody ready? I could have let it go for longer, but that’s okay. Can you imagine breaking into someone’s home? I wouldn’t want to stick around for that.
Hello, Philip speaking. No, my password is lucky. I’m okay. You don’t need to send anyone. Right. Thanks for calling. Bye.
[SimpliSafe Installation Video 0:07:47]
Rich: So the whole thing, we stopped it at 4 minutes and 45 seconds, that includes him on the phone, showing you the stuff in the box and explaining it, I’m pretty useless but I feel like I can probably stick stuff to a wall. How about you, guys? Okay. I’m going to stick it into somebody else’s wall just to screw with them. Why is it every time I open my closet, this alarm goes off?
He puts the adhesive on there. It’s obviously not designed to be pulled back off the wall, right? What he’s talking about is putting it in your own house. By the way, could this be useful in your own house? Could be, right? That thing, I found it on Amazon, it’s $259 and you have free shipping, so MassLandlords isn’t associated – hold on, one second. You have it?
Female Audience 1: Yeah.
Rich: Holy crap! She has it, and it’s awesome. All right, I don't know anything about it. I don’t have it yet, but it looks pretty awesome to me, too. MassLandlords isn’t affiliated with any particular product or service or anything like that. We’re just showing you this and a couple of other options just so you’re aware of it, but one idea we’re talking about vacant apartments, right?
What if you just put it on some kind of like Velcro like you know those Fast Lane transponder like the plastic Velcro? Couldn’t you put that stuff up in the vacant apartment and then collect it when you rent it, and put in a box and save it for the next one? Does anybody else think that might be a decent idea? I feel like a genius when I came up with that idea. You guys aren’t impressed.
All right, so move on to the next thing. I’ll be impressed enough for all of you, All right.
Sandra: Take it off the wall [inaudible 0:09:20].
Sandra: Is there any issue about taking some [inaudible 0:09:25] once you tape it to the wall, is there any issue about taking it off?
Rich: Sandy is asking about taking it off the wall. I don’t actually know. All I know is what’s from that video.
Male Audience 1: Yes. We [inaudible 0:09:38] other buildings and other places.
Rich: All right, see these guys are geniuses, too. I almost guarantee I do not have the answer to your question, sir. But why don’t you go ahead and give it a shot anyway.
Male Audience 2: What is the cost of the monitoring.
Rich: The cost of the monitoring? I was about to cover that. Thank you very much.
Male Audience 2: [inaudible 0:09:58]
Rich: Yes, the monitoring costs, there are no contracts. That’s one thing I want to check on. Doug and I were talking about it because we’re cheap, right? Fifty cents a day, and if you want to run it for a month while you have a vacant apartment, you want to cancel it, fine no contract. Is that accurate?
Doug: $14.99 a month.
Rich: $14.99 a month, that’s on their website. They said $0.50 a day. It sounds good like that. There are two other systems that were similar. If you will just go on Amazon or Google the stuff, it comes up. Here is a picture of one of the other ones. I don't know anything about this one other than that’s what it looks like.
These things, you can also buy online. This sign on the left that you can put on the lawn in the front. I wrote down how much this thing was. That’s an $8 sign, and apparently, some of these things, this is from a list of things that actually deter potential near-duels. The kit on the right, that signs and stickers down the bottom, does that look pretty official? Yes, the whole kit is like $20, so if you’re too cheap to actually get this security system, you can at least put up the signs that says you have one and hope for the best. These are mini-blinds. Has anybody seen this before?
Rich: I hope you’re not too cheap to put this up in the windows. If people can’t look in the windows and see there’s no furniture and no appliances, they’re not going to know it’s a vacant apartment. These are $7 at Wal-Mart. Everybody has bought these things before. We’ll file that under the column of no-brainer, but it’s in here anyway.
This seems like a no-brainer but I really did not realize how effective these were at stopping break-ins. Apparently not being a thief, I really didn’t know that much about it, but it’s pretty easy just to get into a regular doorknob lock. I guess some people are nodding their heads; either they’re locksmiths or burglars but thank you for corroborating the story anyway. These deadbolts apparently are really effective at stopping people from breaking in and they are relatively inexpensive. Isn’t that true? There’s not too much involved.
Everybody has seen one of these before, right? A timer. The oldest trick in the book is when you go on vacation, what do you do with this thing? You hook it up to the lights, right? You can do that in a vacant apartment. I don't think a lot of us necessarily think of that in a vacant apartment like we do when go on a vacation, right, so we can connect those dots.
Another thing you could do is you probably have one of these things sticking around your house, right? Who has a radio? Okay, hook that up to the timer. Have the radio come on at night. It sounds like something is going on in there.
This thing is really cool. Does anybody know what this is? One person. This is a fake TV, guys. Check this out. This is $23.99 on Amazon. We don’t work for Amazon, by the way. But this thing, you can hook up to the timer as well. You can have a power shift. You can have the lights come on, the radio come on, this thing come on. You get all kinds of stuff happen. It’s going to look like a party is going on in there, all right. This thing not only does it make the sounds. It flashes the lights of the TV. If you were to look through your mini-blinds into the vacant apartment, it would look like the flickering of a television. How cool is that?
All right, so that’s – are these things useful and affordable so far?
Rich: Hopefully, right. Okay. This is a fence [laughter]. Useful, yes, affordable. We’re kind of getting away from – this is not $23.99 on Amazon. But again it kind of looks like a no-brainer, but I guess thieves don’t like to steal your plasma TV and have to hop the fence with it. I guess they go somewhere else.
You could also patrol the place or hire somebody to do it [laughter]. Maybe not that guy.
There really is not a replacement for knowing what’s going on at your property. Isn’t that true?
Rich: Okay. you can do all the stuff and we probably should do some or maybe all these things, but actually being there. Look, it’s pretty easy to swing by the apartment during the day, collect the rent, do whatever you need to do, right? How many of us go there at 10 o’clock at night? Most landlords do not go visit their property at 10 o’clock at night. They have no idea what’s going on there at night.
You don't know if there’s a collection, if there’s some sort of gathering taking place in front of your building and drugs are being sold and stuff like that unless somebody tell us. Isn’t that true? So it’s really important to keep in mind maybe just pick one day a month and just go to the place at 10 o’clock at night or hire somebody to do it. You will have a lot more idea of what’s going on at your property.
You can also bribe people who live in the building. If somebody gave me a chocolate ice cream cone, I’ll probably tell them whatever they wanted to know what was going on there. But ask people. “Hey, listen, if something suspicious is going on, let me know.”
If you can have a snitch in every building you have, does anybody have somebody that calls them like every day? Okay. The upside is these people love to give you information. True or false?
Rich: Love it.
Sandra: At 5 o’clock in the morning.
Rich: At 5 o’clock in the morning, okay. My snitches are not nearly as ambitious as yours, okay [laughter]. But at the crack of noon, when mine are ready to start the day, my phone comes a-ringing [laughter]. It’s not all their information is necessarily accurate, right? It kind of comes with the territory, but they can’t wait to tell you something.
If you tell them they’re doing a great job and how much you appreciate it, they’re going to keep doing it for you. That way, you don’t have to be there all the time. People are going to tell you what’s going on. A lot of the stuff is stuff that we know.
Particularly now, there are a couple of topics that this group loves to talk about. One is pot and the other one is pimple. Look, if you have a pothead in your building, you don’t even need to give the ice cream cone. You just give him a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. He’ll keep an eye out on the place and he’s already paranoid [laughter]. He’s already looking around for intruders anyway, okay.
The last suggestion I have, this was actually a suggestion I found online was to keep – I’m not going to do this and I don't know if we’re going to recommend it – actually keep a dog in the property such a pit bull. Some of you are going to get this, and you’re going to think it’s hilarious; the rest of you have no idea why this picture is up here [laughter] to have a dog protecting the premises. Probably not as easy as the $23 fake TV, right?
That concludes our laundry list of little tips and tricks that might be useful. Was that worth hearing about?
Audience: Yes [applause].