According to Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department statistics, the region saw an increase in theft, burglary and vandalism in 2016. While local law enforcement works closely with community programs to eliminate the latest upswing of invasion in the rural and urban communities, residents are taking matters into their own hands.
“We’re probably twice as busy as we usually are,” says Chris Walsh, security specialist at Stone’s Security Systems Inc., of the increase in security system installations. “I would guess we’re about double the installs that we typically do.”
Stone’s provides surveillance and systems for residential and commercial locations that provide security 24/7, combining the latest technology and immediate connection to local authorities.
“In the city, (homeowners are) looking for security,” Walsh says. “Monitored systems,” especially with the latest break-ins and thefts around the area. He says homeowners are naturally looking to primarily protect their families, rather than material goods.
And, surprisingly, the quiet rural roads have seen their fair share of increased crime. “Farms have been a big one this year,” Walsh says. “They’re predominantly looking at surveillance. They’ve had a ton of theft.” In fact, he says, last summer and fall saw break-ins at a handful of farms within close proximity of each other.
Thieves are taking everything from tools and guns to electronics and livestock vaccinations.
But the company also offers fire and carbon monoxide monitoring, as well as apartment and dorm room monitoring. Stone’s strong relationship with local law enforcement and emergency personnel ensures a system that will work when homeowners need it to.
Generally, customers will approach the small team of knowledgeable Stone’s professionals because they have experienced theft personally or know of someone who has. This is especially true of farmers, Walsh says. “They’re a close-knit group, and what happens to one kind of happens to them all. They have coffee together in the mornings and talk, so if something happens to someone and a guy gets ripped off, it’ll pass down to them all.”
The Stone’s team will visit with the homeowner to find out exactly what it is they want and will visit the property to evaluate. “Some of the things we do on a site visit is walk the property - inside and out - with the homeowner,” Walsh says. “We’ll identify some areas that we feel are more vulnerable than others, and then we try to design a system that will protect accordingly.”
So, with help from an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet or computer, citizens can rest assured they’ll be taken care of with custom security.
“If they have internet … a lot of (farmers) are going after surveillance with recording ability, but also remote access where they can basically look at their cameras through their phone, laptop, iPad,” Walsh says.
A local farmer had been the target of multiple thefts in the past year in buildings on his property. After reaching out to Stone’s and having a security system installed, he was thrilled when sirens deterred thieves on a third attempt.
But scaring them off wasn’t enough for the farmer. He asked Walsh and his team to return and adjust his surveillance and silence the alarms in the buildings on his farm to catch the thieves in the act. And catch them, he did.
The fall evening break-in alerted the farmer and Walsh, and the authorities arrived shortly thereafter, arresting the thieves.
“The monitoring company will get the alarm notification and make an attempt to call the homeowner,” Walsh says. “If they don’t reach the homeowner, they’ll call the 911 center to dispatch authorities, and then attempt to call anyone else that might be on that calling list.”
Stone’s was able to take recorded evidence of the intrusion to the police to support the case. A common occurrence recently.
“We’ve helped catch vandals and burglars,” Walsh says. “We just (helped with) a hit and run because we happened to have cameras in the area.”
Walsh says people generally are very predictable and unaware of the risk they’re putting themselves in when storing and displaying items around the home. In fact the “Minnesota Nice” and accommodating North Dakotan attitudes can make communities vulnerable.
Learning about what makes a home attractive to a crook is also a great way to help ward off any potential threats. Thieves look for things that set it apart from other homes, and because people are predictable in their storage or placement of items, it’s easy for a crook to find just what he’s looking for. For example, “Every female keeps their jewelry in the top dresser drawer,” Walsh says. “If I know this, thieves know this.”
While knowing how to safely protect home and family is an important aspect of security, the products and services of Stone’s will take care of the rest.
“What we have to offer is peace of mind knowing that the house and the people inside are being protected,” Walsh says.