Video Doorman Serves Multifamily Buildings

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Jun 182013

A recent issue of Security Sales & Integration magazine, a trade publication of the home security industry, featured a sidebar article by Larry Dolin, Founder/CEO of American Security Systems.  Click the cover to see the article.

Securty Sales & Integration Magazine cover June 2013

What is a Cyber Doorman>

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Jan 082013

As defined in Wikipedia under internet-related prefixes, Cyber- is a prefix derived from “cybernetic,” which comes from the Greek adjective κυβερνητικός meaning skilled in steering or governing (Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon). It is used in the terms cybersex, cyberspace, cyberpunk. Cybernetics is relevant to the study of systems, such as mechanical, physical, biological or cognitive and, when applied to types of human activity such as a cyber doorman, implies robotics.

The human portion of the term, “cyber doorman” or “cyberdoorman,” refers to a service professional - defined by Wikipedia as an individual hired to provide courtesy and security services at a residential building or hotel. Doormen are particularly common in urban luxury highrises. Typically, a doorman is responsible for opening doors and screening visitors and deliveries. He will often provide other courtesy services such as signing for packages and screening the entrance door.

Most NY doormen belong to the Building Service Employees Union Local 32B-32J. Doormen made 2010 salaries of about $42,000 per year plus benefits and about $8,000 in holiday season tips. Considering that it would take about 5 full time doormen to cover a building 24/7/365, that would add $210,000 plus the cost of benefits to a building’s operating cost. Of course, these costs increase with the cost of living.

Many residents desire the services of a doorman, but cannot afford the cost. Some form of cyber doorman - an installation that provides some of a doorman’s service by using electronic devices - may be the solution. Similar terms to cyberdoorman include automatic doorman, robotic doorman, remote doorman and interactive doorman. A cyberdoorman can also be available to cover shifts on days when there is no doorman coverage or can provide back-up when the live doorman leaves his station to perform other security duties. The best of these services employ three essential cyber elements:

1. A main entry door equipped with an alarmed card-access lock, two-way audio communication and a video camera. A sign usually notifies visitors that a “cyberdoorman,” “robotic doorman,” or “video doorman” is in operation. Pressing the attention button, a break-in or a door propped open generates a response from a remote security guard.

2. A series of video cameras leading from the entry door to a securely alarmed package room which is also equipped with two-way audio, video and a remote-controlled door lock. Any break-in triggers an alarm which notifies a remote security guard who can evaluate the break-in, mitigate the situation or call the police.

3. All cyber elements are connected 24/7 to a digital video recorder (DVR) which instantly records all audio and video while continually transmitting data to the central monitoring station of a secure Internet connection. The central monitoring station can contact police, building management or individual residents by phone or email.

Some of the benefits obtained by a cyber doorman include:

1. RECEPTION OF DELIVERIES IN STORAGE Whenever a package is delivered to the cyberdoorman equipped building the delivery person initiates contact with the “cyberdoorman” central monitoring station. The cyber station operator verifies the identity of the courier and opens the door. The courier is instructed to go to the storage room and is under cyber surveillance by video to the storage room door. The monitor unlocks the door to the storage room and verifies that the courier leaves the package and does not take anything from the room. The courier is then cyber monitored until leaving the building.

2. CARD ACCESS DOOR CONTROL & MANAGEMENT Cyber access control cards eliminate lost and outstanding keys. Every resident registers for a card with the cyber doorman service and if the card lost, its code will be programmed out of the system.

3. 24/7 CCTV RECORDING with a capability for central station interface, audio and visual.

4. VIDEO ESCORT By pressing an emergency button in the building lobby, a resident can enter the lobby and be “escorted” by the cyber doorman to the elevator or to their floor. The remote guard can talk, listen and view. If an intruder is present, the guard can warn the intruder that he is being watched and recorded and if necessary, authorities can be dispatched.

5. ANTI-LOITERING Cyber technology known as Video Analytics can monitor lobby and entrance cameras. If anyone stays in the lobby more than 3 minutes, central station operators are alerted and come online to ask them to leave. If the loiterers don’t leave, they are informed that the police will be dispatched. If they persist, police are called.

Cyber anti-loitering removes potential muggers, drug dealers or homeless people from the lobby. Tenants report feeling safer knowing they are coming home to an entrance with no potential threats.

6. DOOR AJAR NOTIFICATION to building owner or management.

7. FORCED ENTRY DISPATCH to local police.

8. LATCHKEY KID NOTIFICATION When a latchkey kid comes home, the cyberdoorman can email the parents.

9. VITAL SIGNS MONITORING A digital video recorder (DVR) is programmed to report to its central station when it needs service, if a camera is out, or if it is disconnected or turned off.

The original Video Doorman was developed by Lawrence Dolin, CEO of American Security Systems in 2007.

Lawrence Dolin, American Security Systems CEO, conceived of and produces a cyber doorman service that has achieved wide commercial success.

Lawrence conceived the configuration of a cyberdoorman after many real estate developers and clients came to Dolin and asked if he could create a system to offer doorman services for the new condominium developments that they were building outside of Upper Manhattan where doormen were expected as a common service. These developers wanted to keep maintenance costs down for their new buildings, also wanted to provide residents a higher level of convenience, safety and service.

In 2012, Dolin patented the anti-loitering technology behind Video Doorman® Safe Lobby and to date, it is the only anti-loitering technology offered to residential buildings anywhere in the world.

Says Dolin in the July 2012 issue of The Mann Report, “My service provides equivalent safety and security as a real doorman and it does it at less than 5% of the cost of an real doorman… about $1.00 a day. An important fact to remember is that it delivers added value to the building, whether it is a rental or condo.”

Dolin’s proprietary name for his cyberdoorman service is Video Doorman®. You can learn more about Video Doorman and how easy it is to have a cyber doorman for your building by clicking here.

How to Avoid Contractor Scams after Hurricane Sandy

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Dec 052012

Thousands of homes and businesses are vulnerble to ransackers and scam artists alike.

The vast majority of contractors - security companies, plumbers, electricians, and roofers - are ethical and are committed to helping those in need in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.  However, the urgency of the situation, coupled by the desperation of the victims allows for victims to be exploited by unethical contractors - scammers - who are trying to take advantage of the situation. If you are a victim of Hurricane Sandy, don’t become a victim of thieves masquerading as contrators! Here are some tips to help you avoid hiring scam contractors.

Stop Scam - Top Tips from Expert, Larry Dolin

Larry Dolin, President, American Security Systems with Video Intercom System

Larry Dolin, President, American Security Systems has been installing and repairing security systems for decades.

The vast majority of contractors - security companies, plumbers, electricians, and roofers - are ethical and are committed to helping those in need in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.  However, the huge demand for urgent repairs creates an environment in which thieves thrive. We have reliable reports that scammers are working throughout the hurricane damage zone,  trying to take advantage you and your dire situation.  Don’t allow yourself to be outsmarted! Here are some tips to help you avoid hiring scam contractors.

1. Reputable contractors offer written estimates before they start work or ask for payment.  Be wary of contractors who offer to do work immediately by using “ballpark estimate” or verbal quote. Protect yourself by making sure the estimate is written and one that is reviewed and signed by you before work commences.  Also examine the letterhead and stationery of the contractor,  to determine if the document was professionally printed (a good sign) or run off on a home computer printer.  Companies that invest the money to make a professional presentation are usually more reliable.

2. Legitimate contractors are certified, insured and/or bonded by the state and/or town you live. Do your homework.  Call the appropriate state or local municipality to verify the contractor’s lisence number and information.

3. Use your favorite search engine by typing the name of the company followed by the words, “scam,” “complaint,” or “fraud.”  If a contractor is not legimate, there is usually some reference to his methods, made by unsatisfied customers, on the web.

3. After a disaster it is common for unscrupulous contractors to visit victims door-to-door to find business, claiming that they “just happened to be working in your neighborhood.”  They may also claim to have leftover supplies from a previous job that they will sell you at a discount.  You can easily verify such stories by asking for neighborhood references by name, address and phone number.

4. Cash-only deals are a sure sign of a high risk contractor.  Often, the cash deposit is kept and work is never started.  Reputable contractors will always begin by asking for check or credit card payments.

5. Never pay for a large deposit or the entire price of a job before work is started.  A popular contractor scam is to take a deposit and then disappear.  Most legitimate contractors only bill after the work is done and done to your satisfaction.


Helfpul Links for Hurricane Victims

NYCHA Hurricane Victim News

Important Info NY HPD

MyFoxNY Free Legal Advice for Hurricane Victims

FEMA Advice for Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Tips For Retires Victims (US News):

Home and Business Security after Superstorm Sandy

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Dec 052012
Sandy devasted businesses and residences alike across three states.

Along with loss of heat and electricity, loss of personal safety and security ranks as one of the most urgent issues following the ravages of Superstorm Sandy.  All affected areas have reported two forms of theft which seek to exploit the vulnerabilities of the vicims:  Looting and Contractor Fraud.

Looting:  Recent reports detail incidents of looters invading the vacant homes and businesses of hurricane victims.  Buildings with no security systems are ripe targets for invasion and theft.  While obvious valuables - cash and jewelry - are desirable, every building is a treasure trove of construction metals like copper, brass and stainless steel, which fetch high prices at recycling depots.
But even buildings which were protected with top-flight security systems have become vulnerable because the electrical wiring, control modules and cameras have been ruined by wind and corrosive salt water.  While the appearance of a security system may make a protected, vacant building a lower priority for thieves, eventually the security systems will be examined or tested and when found to be inoperative, the protected building is no better protected than one without a security system.

Contractor Fraud:  Building owners are as much in search for reputable security companies as they are for plumbers, electricians and roofers.   The urgency imposed by a catastrophe like Superstorm Sandy drives building owners to drop their guard when seeking contractors to restore their safety and security.  Unscrupulous individuals are attracted by the vulnerability and urgency of storm victims and seek to prey on the trust of people in distress.  At such times, discipline and a firm policy for finding reputable vendors are paramount.
American Security Systems has initiated a specific team of security experts to address the needs of hurricane victims - both commercial and residential - with proven techniques that restore protection quickly and economically.  There is no reason to rely on risky vendors when one of the most trusted names in building security is ready, willing and able to respond to victims’ needs.

American Security Systems emergency response involves 5 critical steps:

1. System testing and site survey and analysis of damage incurred, immediate restoration of services if damage is minimal.
2. Discussion of options ranging from rapidly deployed perimeter protection to complete restoration and improvement of original system.
3. Preparation and delivery of a Statement of Work and contract.
4. Rapid deployment of contracted installation and maintenance services
5. Follow-up contact to assure total satisfaction

Representatives of American Security Systems carry company identification at all times, and adhere to the highest ethical practices of the industry:

1. Never offer verbal deals - always present a Statement of Work to be performed and a contract.
2. Never accept cash deposits or large downpayments for work to be performed.
3. Represent leading brands of manufactured items such as cameras, control systems and detection devices.
4. Offer accurate estimates of when the job will be completed, appear on site as agreed and continue working on installation or repair until the job is completed to the customer’s satisfaction.
5. Never sell “door-to-door.”  Representatives only appear by pre-arranged appointment.
6. Installation work is covered by Workmen’s Compensation and corporate liability insurance in excess of $1 million per installation.

Helpful Links for More Information

NYCHA Hurricane Victim News

Important Info NY HPD

MyFoxNY Free Legal Advice for Hurricane Victims

FEMA Advice for Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Tips For Retires Victims (US News):

Little Known Technology Key to Safety - Mann Report

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Nov 212012

  Little Known Technology Provides Key to Safety

The prestigious journal of real estate security, The Mann Report, recently carried an informative article on how American Security Systems has been  employing digital pattern   recognition to identify loiterers in lobbies and other public spaces in residential buildings.  Highly successful, the system requires no direct human supervision, except when loiterers are identified.  Only at that time is professional security operator notified and a foolproof action plan initiated that results in nearly immediate expulsion of offenders.

Read here, in the words of the system’s innovator, Larry Dolin, how the system works, its powerful secret and how you can obtain such services for your building.


American Security Systems article in Security Systems News

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Jun 142012

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American Security stoked about fire business

New contracts, strategic hiring and a parts-and-smarts approach help the NYC company grow its fire division


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y.—American Security Systems recently announced new developments for its fast-growing fire division, including winning a New York City Housing Authority contract to service 231 community and day care centers and other buildings in the city’s five boroughs.

The company, based here, also has hired industry veteran Shia Tauber as senior sales engineer. Tauber has 25 years of experience, and his areas of expertise include electrical and fire industry design, project management and IT, the company said.

“He’s very, very strong with parts and smarts,” American CEO Larry Dolin told Security Systems News.

He said that’s important because the 32-year-old diversified company’s fire division—which started just seven years ago—takes that approach to fire. “We’ve signed up some hotel projects we traditionally wouldn’t have had, but it’s parts and smarts and it’s because we brought in much more experienced people [such as Tauber],” Dolin said.

American is one of New York City’s largest independent security and life safety providers. It has 80 employees and 8,000 accounts, about 4,200 of them monitored, and generally contracts with electrical contractors on fire jobs. “They do the install and we do the programing, the termination, the head end, and then it goes into our central station [American uses Statewide Monitoring for third-party monitoring], and we get the testing and the inspection and service contract,” Dolin said. “The beautiful part of that is, while we’re working essentially for the electrician, the customer is ours at the end of the road.”

He said the fire division is growing “at least 100 percent a year now.”

Dolin, who founded American in 1980, said the decision to get into fire came relatively recently for the company. Although American offered central station monitoring for fire for years, “we had been very reluctant to get into the fire business because of the engineering” and other requirements dictated by fire codes, he said.

But he said he realized about seven years ago “there’s one thing about fire: It’s coded and it’s going to be a constant.” Customers, he said, “have to have it. They have no choice.”

Now, he said, the fire division makes up about 25 percent of American’s business. “Our two fastest-growing divisions are that and our Video Doorman division,” Dolin said.

Ken Gould, American’s president, told SSN last year that his aim was to grow the fire business to 35 percent within two years.

The company recently won a contract to do the fire monitoring and service for all New York City Housing Authority day care and community centers in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. “It will help us with recurring revenue,” Dolin said.

American was involved in the founding of the New York Fire Alarm Association about four years ago, he said. Jeffrey Siegel, director of American’s life safety division, recently was elected president of the association, Dolin said.

“[The association] is growing in membership and has meetings and trainings, but really most important is that we are very closely aligned with the New York City fire department and the fire chiefs and involved with improving rules and regulations and improving relationships between the alarm security and life safety vendors and the fire department,” Dolin said.

American said it is an authorized strategic partner with several fire alarm manufacturers, including Gamewell-FCI by Honeywell and Vigilant by Edwards.

An Invitation from the CEO

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Apr 052012

Letter from the CEO

Larry Dolin, CEO, American Security Systems Inc.

Dear friends of American Security Systems

Visit us at the upcoming Cooperator Show 4/17 at the Hilton booth #130, and the ABO Show at the Javits Center booth #937 and learn about Video Doorman®  Safe Lobby.

We’re off to a good start for 2012, with sales up over 20%, most of it coming from new security systems initiatives.

·    Video Doorman and Safe Lobby Systems.  We’ve just completed our 65th system, with another 15 under contract.  Property owners, managers and condo boards recognize the value of these systems, both in terms of safety and convenience.  We were recognized by the Mann Report as the “only” remote doorman service to consider, because of our security features.

·    New York City Fire Codes.  We are actively involved in New York City fire codes, and are very proud that American has become the first company approved by FDNY for the service and maintenance of NYC fire alarm systems.  Our Director of Life Safety, Jeff Siegel, was just elected President of the New York Fire Alarm Association.  This association was founded several years ago to bring FDNY and fire alarm professionals together to serve the public.

·    “Parts and Smarts”.  An area of our business that is growing by leaps and founds.  We contract with an electrical contractor to help design, specify, and supply low voltage security and fire alarm systems for construction sites.  The electrician does the install, we terminate, program, train and warranty the systems for the end user.  Much of this growth is attributable to our addition of “Shia” Tauber, who recently joined American Security Systems as a Senior Sales Engineer.  He comes with 25 years experience in the business, and no one knows fire system designs and code more than he does.

·     New York City Housing Authority.  American has been installing and servicing systems for this client for over 15 years.  In addition to supporting intercom and telephone entry systems throughout the boroughs, we have been assigned service and monitoring contracts for community and day care fire systems.

·    IP Camera Systems.  The CCTV business is rapidly evolving from analog systems to IP/megapixel.  As a result, we’ve become authorized dealers for Avigilon, Panasonic, and Geovision IP systems, recently completing installations for Amtrak, NY Yacht Club, Air Sea Packing, and We Recycle.

With best regards,


Larry Dolin, CEO
American Security Systems, Inc.

Interactive Security Systems

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Apr 052012

Mann Report Volume 1 Issue 2

“Hey!  Hands Off That Woman!”

It’s Possible With New Interactive Security Systems
By Lawrence Dolin, American Security Systems Inc.

So … let’s say you own and/or manage an existing multi-family residential building or are developing a new building and are thinking about the security needs to protect residents and your property assets.  There are many security considerations and systems to evaluate.

In addition to an intercom system, preferably video intercom, you consider installing an access control system at the entry doors to limit entry access to residents and authorized personnel.  This will eliminate the security risks of using keys which are the number one security risk to multi-family buildings.  Also, you’re thinking about a CCTV security camera system for the building perimeter, and especially the lobby entrance to record events.  This makes sense, because 95% of apartment building crime begins at the front entry. If the entry is safe then the building is safer overall.

All good! But did you stop and consider exactly how security systems work?

No, I don’t suppose you did!

Well, there are two important safety considerations to these and other security systems … the first is 1) Deterrence and the second is 2) Identification.

Deterrence works by displaying cameras and signs that indicate the property is under video surveillance to deter bad behavior and crime.  It’s psychological.

Generally, it is effective, but history has shown many believe no one is watching and people can do whatever they want.  They just don’t care.

The second consideration is identification of the perpetrator.  Identification is forensic.  It’s a post event analysis of the video from the CCTV cameras to hopefully identify who was responsible for the crime or bad behavior.  But it’s after the fact.

Here again, generally effective, but there are those who just do not care or cannot be identified.

So what’s the solution?

There’s new technology that brings systems “alive” to deliver real time proactive surveillance.

Interactive Is The Future
The advent of the internet and new video analytics protocol has enabled the development of a new security paradigm.  It’s the new sheriff.

It’s proactive and interactive surveillance that can prevent loitering and crimes at the front entry lobby by stopping it before it occurs and it can offer owners other benefits … less turnover, higher rental rates.

The Video Doorman Safe Lobby Security System is an innovative example of the “new sheriff” that monitors lobby entries 24/7 with video analytics that trigger a central station operator response when loitering occurs or a front door is forced open or left ajar.  The operator comes on live through speakers in the lobby to warn loiterers that they are being watched and videotaped and must leave or police will be dispatched.

Just like a guard, they will advise a criminal who is mugging a woman to stop and tell them the police will be there in minutes.

How It Works
The systems integrates a card reader and front door contact with cameras, speaker/microphone in the lobby and elevator.  It is linked to a high quality Digital Video Recorder equipped with Video Analytics connected to a high speed IT line and 24 hour UL certified Central Station operators that proactively prevent loitering in the lobby.

What It Does
·    Delivers a safe lobby and entrance area
·    Prevents loitering or soliciting prevention
·    Alerts Central Station operators of loitering
·    Alerts operators to door ajar
·    Enables operators to provide Latch Key Child notification to parents

What Are The Key Elements?

The system starts with a vandal proof exterior Video Doorman card reader tied into the front door.  Tenants use fob/cards to enter the building.  If desired, a camera and speaker/microphone can be added to surveil the exterior entrance.

An internet A/V signal travels over a high speed internet connection to a 24-hour UL certified Central Station.  Operators are trained to handle video monitoring calls and will dispatch authorities and notify owners when necessary.

High resolution cameras and speaker/microphones allow Central Station operators to interact and monitor the entrance of the building and the lobby.

Proprietary video analytics monitor lobby and entrance cameras and alert trained Central Station operators to warn intruders and prevent loitering.

5)    24/7 RECORDING
Video Doorman uses the most advanced, professional Digital Video Recorder.  It provides 24/7 real time, high-resolution video recording, and on-call 2-way remote audio/video.  24/7 Vital Signs Monitoring instantly reports any system malfunction.

Think about interactive security for your buildings to make them safer and provide less turnover.

Larry Dolin, CEO, American Security Systems Inc.

Larry Dolin, CEO, American Security Systems Inc.

Lawrence T. Dolin, CEO
American Security Systems Inc.
5044 50th Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101
Tel: 718.784.2880

Larry Dolin in The Mann Report

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Mar 162012
Larry Dolin with new video intercom installationLarry Dolin, President of American Security Systems, demonstrates his company’s installation of a video intercom.


A Mann Report Management Article

by Lawrence Dolin


Most apartment and condominium buildings are reasonably secure and safe.  However, you should be aware of and periodically review the security and safety of your apartment and apartment building.

In rental buildings, the building owner and management are responsible for security.  In condominiums, suite security is typically an owner concern and the condominium corporation is responsible for common areas – including exterior doors and windows and corridor doors to individual apartments.  Your best defense is to know about and use the security and safety features in your building and surrounding spaces.  Be alert and prevent dangerous situations before they occur.  Remember, when dealing with security, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.

Many methods are used to keep apartments and apartment buildings secure from trespassing, theft and vandalism.  Security devices, access controlled entrances, CCTV, and interactive systems (with a central station) and well-lit common spaces all contribute to a secure building.

Security Responsibility

The landlord or the condominium corporation (often through a property manager) is usually responsible for building security.  Typically this involves:
•    ensuring that security systems meet or exceed security requirements for apartment buildings;
•    ensuring that security systems provide reasonable protection for all residents – in their apartments and in common areas, such as parking garages and elevators;
•    conducting regular inspections to spot and fix security problems;
•    dealing with complaints about dangerous situations, suspicious activities or broken security items.

Building Entry System

The front door entry intercom system of most apartment buildings allows a resident to remotely let guests into the building.  These systems are only effective if the front door locking system functions and intruders cannot take advantage of an open door to enter the building.

When you activate the front door entry system, make sure you know who is asking to come in and remind them to close the door behind them.  Would-be intruders will sometimes buzz different apartments until someone lets them in.  Always be sure that you know the person before you let them into the apartment building.  If you are unsure, don’t let them in.  A video intercom is always preferable to audio only.

95% of apartment building crime begins at the front entry

Many apartment building managers and owners recognize that front lobby safety is critical to ensuring security for their building.  They have installed access control and CCTV systems that prevent loitering in their lobbies and notify them if front entry doors are forced open or left ajar.  New systems, such as the Video Doorman  Safe Lobby System, are now available that can perform these functions on a proactive basis using monitoring services and the internet.

Elevator Security

•    Always look and see who is in the elevator before entering.  If you feel uncomfortable, do not enter the elevator.  Wait for the next one.
•    Stand beside the control panel in the elevator and know how to use the emergency alarm button.
•    If a suspicious person enters the elevator, leave before the door closes.

Parking Garage Security

•    If possible, use the parking garage during periods of high use when others are around.

•    Watch for suspicious persons as you enter the parking garage.  Drive back out if you are concerned.
•    Park near exit doors or the elevator foyer, if possible.
•    Park in well-lit areas.
•    Walk in the center of the garage.
•    Ask building management to install security cameras and emergency call alarm stations to improve security and personal safety.

Building Security

Report burned-out and broken lights in common areas, such as corridors, stairwells, garbage rooms, laundry areas, parking garages and outdoor areas.  If your building is equipped with security cameras or alarm stations, make sure you know where they are and how to use them in emergencies.  Report any suspicious or unfamiliar people loitering inside or outside the building to the building management.

Neighborhood Security

The safety of the neighborhood has an effect on your building’s security.  To find out if your building and neighborhood are safe, contact your local police department at its non-emergency number.  Many police departments have websites with information about criminal incidents.  Police departments will review your building’s security.  Get involved with a neighborhood watch-type program or start one yourself.