Jim DoyleLet’s talk about a neighborhood watch. When I was very young and living in South Boston (in the projects,) there was a real Neighborhood Watch, meaning, if you were a stranger and wandered into one of the numerous courtyards, you were watched like a hawk. Everybody knew who belonged and who did not. If you were clueless enough to go into these courtyards where you didn’t belong, you would be confronted by the most feared people on earth, mothers watching over their children.

Back then, I remember each mom watching the courtyard while the others were doing chores and whatever else would take their attention, building a feeling of trust and safety within the neighborhood.

Security SavvyAfter growing up and moving, I found that this kind of neighborhood was gone for the most part. People didn’t really get involved with neighbors, there was no real unity. It’s unfortunate that people only come together when there is a major problem or the lights go out or a wicked big storm. In addition, when it’s all back to normal, people seem to retreat back into their own worlds. I have lived in some major cities, such as Boston, Detroit, Brockton and Dorchester, Massachusetts, and it seems this feeling of “mind your own business” is everyone’s mantra. I’m not suggesting people need to know your business, but people should be neighborly. It’s a good feeling when you know that when you are away, people would be looking out for you without being asked.

Security SavvyMy wife and I have lived in Athens AL going on three years, and to this day I say to her this place is amazing. People really ask you how you’re doing and mean it, they are willing to lend a hand even if you’re a stranger. Our neighbors worry if they see that our cars have not moved in a day or two. They will come over just to check. This is a great way to live, this is a Neighborhood Watch.

Now that the holidays are near, it is nice to see the square all gussied up for each holiday, and to realize that anything used as decorations is left alone so that everyone can enjoy it. Some of you have never lived in a city where you have to lock your doors, worry about decorations you may put in the yard being stolen, and being vigilant about your safety. This small town feeling needs to be protected, and the only way is to care, be neighborly, and look out for each other.

As far as the Police and Sheriff’s Departments, they are the most responsive agencies I have ever seen! They are very approachable, and really do what they say, “protect and serve.” I have had dealings with both departments and have nothing but praise. Athens should be proud. But as I always say, they can’t do it all, so it’s our city and our homes too. We need to speak up and report anything out of the ordinary so that the Police/Sheriff Departments can do their jobs.
Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!
By: Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group

Permission Marketing Caring Senior Service

Brian BlackA man’s home is his castle. We have heard this since we were young, but what does it mean? The home is where the family is safe. Let’s look at securing your home. Most people think if I live in a “good” neighborhood, they won’t have any problems with criminals. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The criminal will make an assumption that because you live in a “good” neighborhood, you have nice, expensive things. There are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of your home being a target, and you might be surprised at how inexpensive it can be.

Security SavvyThe first thing most people would notice when approaching a castle is the moat that encircled the castle. Ok, don’t dig a trench around your house, but use a barrier between your house and the criminal. Depending on your finances, you can build a fence along the perimeter of your property, or you can place shrubs at the side of the house. Don’t place your shrubs away from the house– this is a good place for criminals to hide. Plant your shrubs under windows, but not too close to doors; you don’t want to provide a place of cover for the criminal. My personal choice for the type of shrub you should use is a thorny shrub.

Your next step in protection is a monitored electronic system. These systems not only can make your home more secure, most offer other services such as fire and medical alarms. When you have one installed, make sure all of your exterior doors and windows are equipped with sensors. Don’t forget, place the security sign prominently in your yard and place the security decals on your windows. The idea behind the first two layers of protection is to discourage the criminal from wanting to enter your home.

Security SavvyNow that we have placed natural and manmade barriers to protect our home, let’s look at the home itself. First we want to look at the doors. There are many good quality doors on the market today, so when you are looking at the selection, look for the security star ratings for the door. This is where you might have to sacrifice looks for safety– it’s your choice–but you need a door with at least a 3 star rating. If you use a storm door, it needs to have a rating of 4 stars or greater. Next, you may want to look at your windows. If your house is over 10 years old, consider new energy efficient windows. These windows seem to be harder to break, but also have a tighter joint where the sashes meet, which makes it harder to open from the outside.

There are additional steps you can take for protecting your family, but these decisions can be controversial and may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with small children. You may want to consider getting a trained watch dog to stay in your house and/or using a firearm for protection.

You may not be able to do everything that has been suggested here, but if you can only choose one thing, get the monitored security system. Not only does it help in securing your home, but most insurance companies offer discounts to the home owner because they are installed.

Be Safe and Think Safety.

By: Brian Black of Madison Security Group Greg Tucker License Commissioner

Jim Doyle
We are all looking forward to the holiday season, getting together with loved ones and close friends. People will be filling the malls, shopping for that special person and for family. Unfortunately, thieves will be “shopping,” as well, and taking advantage of people who are not aware of their surroundings. So, what can one do to keep the holidays fun for all?

  • First, do not carry any more money or charge cards than you need.
  • If using the ATM, stand close to it to block your transactions from view.
  • If possible, do not carry a purse.

If you are using a purse, please do the following:

  • Keep it close to your body, and hold on to it firmly.
  • Keep the straps short, as it will keep it close to you.

If being followed, go to an area that is busy, and has several other patrons present. If you are having lunch, place your purse under the table, not looped on the chair. Do not ever leave the purse on a restaurant table, even for a moment. Please do not ask your child to watch your purse. A child cannot stop a purse snatch. Always keep your purse closed, and beware of pickpockets. If you notice someone lurking around who seems to be looking for opportunities, report it to Security.

If you become a victim of a purse snatching, do not fight the person, as they could have a weapon. Try to get a good description of their appearance and which direction they ran. Remember, your purse is not worth your getting injured.

Security SavvyNow, as far as children who are with you while you are shopping, be on the alert for predators. I know that getting distracted while shopping is easy to do, but please keep your kids close. It only takes a moment, (especially in a crowded mall,) and they are gone.

If possible, have someone watch them while you shop, as you will feel better knowing where they are, and your shopping experience will be more enjoyable.

Make the effort to insure your shopping security and the safety of your children, and your holiday will be truly blessed.

By: Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group

Athens Shop Local

It’s sad to say, but Halloween is no longer the fun kid time of my youth. I remember dressing up as a ghost; you know, you would take an old bed sheet, throw it over your head, cut out two holes for eyes, and hope no one poked your eyes out. Or, if you were lucky, you went to the Big K and bought a costume–mine was C3PO from Star Wars. If you lived in the city, your parents would let you walk around the neighborhood with your friends, or maybe a parent walked with you, but more often, the group just walked together and no one bothered them.

Afterwards, your parents would take you to family and friends houses to trick or treat. You would get all kinds of goodies in your brown paper bag. Remember the one you spent drawing the jack-o-lantern or bats on, during art class at school? My favorite goody was the popcorn balls and caramel covered apples made by hand. You would go home and pour out your haul on the kitchen table and start to devour it. Now, those were the good old days.

Those days are long gone. Now you have to worry about every little thing, because if you don’t, Halloween could be a disaster that will haunt you the rest of your life. Hopefully, these suggestions will limit the problems you may encounter as you take your children out for a night of trick or treating.

When you are purchasing your child’s costume, remember to pick up some reflective tape to put on the costume or get a reflector bag for the candy; this will make your children more easily seen. Plan your route; only go to areas that you are familiar with. If possible, let your family and friends know when you are coming by. If you want to go walking in your neighborhood, take a flashlight and walk in well-lit areas. Never go to a house where you are not acquainted with the residents. Unlike the good old days, you can’t let your children go out by themselves. There are older kids that may want to play pranks on them, or worse yet, there could be adults that would do harm to your child. Even though you know the people you are going to visit, be careful of unwrapped treats.

If you are new to the area, you might need an alternative solution to the trick or treating activity. Let me make a suggestion; some churches and civic groups in the area will have a night of activities for the kids. This would be a good way to meet other parents with children of similar ages, and will most likely be in a safe environment for the children. In addition, these parties don’t “play up” the ghoulish, so your kids won’t get scared.

Regardless of which method you wish to use, please do not advertise that you are not at home on the social media, and be sure to leave some lights on.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!
Jim Doyle is still on the mend, so this week’s column is written by Brian Black, an employee of Madison Security Group.

It’s football time! Whether you go to your local high school game, Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Nashville or Atlanta, there are some things you need to do to make sure you have an enjoyable time, and not have the unexpected loss of property or injury while at the game. Much like a coach prepares his team for all situations on the football field, you need to be prepared for all situations when attending the game.

One of the first things you need to be aware of is traffic flow in and out of the stadium area. Make sure you know what roads are inbound and outbound to the stadium, and remember on game day streets that are normally two-way may become one-way streets. When you arrive and are looking for a place to park, make sure you park in a well-lit area. This will help you find your vehicle after the game. It also will provide a safer environment in which to park, since most well-lit areas will have some time of security presence, (either cameras or roving patrols.)

We all want to park as closely to the stadium as possible, and most of the time, stadiums have businesses and homes close by. You may be tempted to park in these private property areas, but be careful if you do. Most businesses do not allow game day parking and may have your vehicle towed at your expense. If you decide to park at someone’s house, there is no guarantee that the home owner will protect your property, and it is doubtful that their homeowner’s insurance will cover any damages. Make sure that you place your valuables in the trunk of your car or cover any items that you may leave in your vehicle. This way, when people look into your vehicle, it will be harder for them to know what you are leaving behind.

Ladies, if you carry a purse, when you are walking to the stadium, place the strap over your neck and carry the purse between your elbow and body. Men, place your wallet in the front pocket of your pants, and if possible, take very little cash with you. Keep your children within arm’s reach at all times, and never let them wander unattended. Walk to the stadium using well-travelled paths, and don’t go through areas that are not sufficiently lit. Be aware of those who are nearby, as you never know who is watching and waiting for you to make a mistake.

When you arrive at the stadium, keep your family close together. Use cash to make your purchases and be careful not to show your cash. Remember, not everyone at the game is there to watch the game! When you find your seat, you should still be aware of those around you, but at this point, you can sit back and enjoy the game, knowing you have done all you can do to protect your family and property. After the game, you need to be on alert again. Wait in the stands to let the crowds move out so there is less risk of getting injured as the crowds leave. If you use the same precautions leaving the stadium as when you arrived, you should have an enjoyable time without any incidents.

Jim Doyle is still on the mend, so this week’s column is written
by Brian Black, an employee of Madison Security Group.

It is the responsibility of everyone to keep children safe. We need to be aware of all the possible dangers to our own children, as well as others. As parents and guardians, we all like to think we have eyes in the back of our heads, but we don’t. Be involved even when they are someone else’s children. We have all heard the expression that it takes a village to raise a child; it also takes a village to keep a child safe.

Here are some tips to keep all children safe:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a car under any circumstances. If you see a child that is unattended, call 911.
  • Place something that you will need in the backseat so when you reach your next stop, you will be aware of a sleeping child in the backseat, and won’t risk leaving them in the car.
  • When you are travelling with more than one child, do a regular head count. It sounds silly, but think about being busy with several children. It could be easy to lose track of a child.
  • Be especially careful with children that need to be dropped off at school and daycare. Make arrangements with the school and daycare so that if the child is late for any reason, you receive a phone call.
  • Teach your children to yell, “This is not my mother/father/guardian, this person is trying to take me!” if someone they don’t know is trying to lead them away.
  • If you hear a child trying to get away from someone, please step in and speak up. I would rather let the police resolve it than risk a child being kidnapped.
  • Teach your children as young as possible to be able to recite their phone number and how to dial 911.
  • Make sure that your network of caretakers has a system of code words to use with your child so that way if someone they are not expecting tries to pick them up they know the code to use.
  • Provide a list of appropriate people to whom your child can be released from school. Provide an emergency number that can be called to confirm if the child is uneasy in any way.
  • Teach children to stay calm if they are separated from their parents. Tell them to find a store clerk, a security guard, or police officer.
  • Try to organize a safe house network for the neighborhood children that a child can go to if they are out playing or are going to and from school, and feel threatened.

In closing, being aware and using common sense is still the best way to keep everyone safe.
By: Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group Jim Doyle is still on the mend, so this week’s column is courtesy of ARA Content.

This is one of several crockpot recipes that I will write about over the next several months. I’ve never really been a crockpot kinda girl. The most action my pot has ever seen is at Christmas when I break out the barbecue sauce and those little cocktail wieners! Well, all of that has changed…

My mom recently joined a crockpot recipe club online and she has gotten some really good recipes from them. And better yet, she has cooked them too. Everything from crockpot bread to meatloaf (which by the way was superb Mom!)

This week I want to share the turkey chili. Again, I have never really been a turkey kind of girl, only at Thanksgiving. But this was so good I just had to share it with you.

Hope you enjoy…Let me know if you try it. Send your questions to shelleysdesk@gmail.com



by Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group – Jim Doyle is still on the mend, so this week’s column is courtesy of ARA Content.

(ARA) – It’s time to start back to- college planning, buying school supplies and preparing for move-in day at campuses around the country. Students will be living independently, meeting new friends and enjoying all that the college experience has to offer. However, young adults on their own – many for the first time – can be unfamiliar with personal safety risks, often sharing too much information and exposing themselves to a variety of security threats, including theft.

“College is a wonderful rite of passage full of important learning experiences both academic and social,” says Rebecca Smith, vice president, marketing for Master Lock. “For students to get the most out of their time on campus and in the classroom, they must be aware of various safety risks they face and take the necessary precautions to safeguard not only their possessions, but themselves, as well.”

Here’s a list of 10 tips that college students should keep in mind as they move to campus (parents: slip this into your students’ luggage.):

* Stay in touch. Share your class schedule with family and friends and arrange regular calls while walking to and from class. This way, your loved ones know you’re going to class and that you’re safe.

* Secure the perimeter. You wouldn’t just leave the front door to your house open, would you? It works the same way on campus. Never let someone into your residence hall you don’t know and never prop doors open.

* Lock it up. Whether you’re simply headed to the shower or down the hall to a friend’s room, lock your door every time you leave to keep all of your valuables safe when you’re away. Consider purchasing individual locking devices for expensive electronics like your laptop, such as the Master Lock SafeSpace Laptop Computer Lock. With one laptop stolen every 53 seconds, according to a Gartner Group study, this visual theft deterrent can help protect your investment.

* Be safe online. In today’s digital age it’s too easy to share personal information online. Avoid updates on any websites that share your location or personal information and make sure your settings are private. Store your online user names, passwords, bank account and other confidential info at masterlockvault.com. This digital safe deposit box is free, secure, and convenient to use 24/7 via smart phone app or website.

* Keep track of keys. With one to open your mailbox, another for your residence hall and yet another for your room, it’s tough to keep track of all of your keys, but also very important. If you lose a set, report it to your residence hall representative immediately to ensure your safety and the security of the building.

* Lock and check your car. Be sure to always lock your car and never leave any valuables in plain view. Remember to also check on it from time to time.

* Map it out. Take time to familiarize yourself with the campus. You should know where emergency phones are located, the best-lit paths to take and the safest ways to get around during both the day and night. Be aware and observant of your surroundings. Check out the services your campus offers such as evening and late night walking escorts and other safe transportation systems.

* Protect your stuff. Whether studying in the library or eating in the union, it’s tempting to run to the bathroom or grab a quick snack while leaving your laptop, identification, smartphone or keys on the table. Consider investing in a portable mini-safe like the Master Lock 5900D SafeSpace that can help keep valuables safe when unattended.

* Know your numbers. Keep all important emergency phone numbers stored in your phone and at least one other place like the Master Lock Vault (in case your phone is also stolen). This includes campus security and the telephone numbers to your bank and credit card company. Should you have your wallet stolen or be put in a risky situation, you will have all the contact information you need. Also, sign up for your school alert system to be notified of emergency situations on campus via text, email or phone.

* Phone a friend. Regardless of time of day, when heading out across campus, find a friend who is also headed your way. Safety in numbers should never be discounted. For more advice on campus safety and security, visit www.masterlock.com.

Anti-Theft Procedures
1. Use an inexpensive crosscut shredder to destroy old tax returns, bank statements, utility bills, loan records, credit card statements and other records that contain personal information.

2. Blank forms can easily be altered by identity thieves using chemical and computer technology. Shred those blank cash advance “convenience” checks often included in monthly credit card statements.

3. Have your Social Security # removed from all utility / medical / charge accounts and your driver’s license. Ask to be assigned a random ID number instead.

4. Leave your original Social Security card at home in a safe place. Do NOT carry it in your purse or wallet.

5. Opt out of those pre-approved credit offers you get in your mailbox. Call and ask to have your name & address removed from their mailing lists.

6. Never leave outgoing mail in an unlocked home mailbox. Account numbers and bank routing information are printed on your checks and can be easily copied. Plus, the “Pay to the order of “line can be altered by identity thieves using available computer technology.

Check Your Credit

1. Order a copy of your personal credit report annually from major credit bureaus: EQUIFAX (800) 685-1111, EXPERIAN (888) 397-3742, TRANS UNION (800) 888- 4213. Once you receive copies, check each one to be sure that all activity listed is correct.

2.Do NOT sign a new credit card. Using a permanent fine point marker, write “C.I.D.” in the signature line. By doing so, you are asking every sales person to “See my ID” so they check personal identification before processing a retail transaction.

3.Immediately check for YOUR NAME on the credit card that’s returned to you after each transaction…especially in restaurants and bars. Never simply pick up the credit card and receipt copy and store them in your wallet or pocket.

4.Pay close attention to bank, credit card, and debit card statements. Report any suspicious entry promptly in order to be protected by your bank or credit card company regulations.

1 out of every 10 people that have been violated by identity theft know that person. Again stay aware and be safe.
By: Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group

by Jim Doyle, owner of Madison Security Group

The gas station, it used to be the place just to get gas and have the oil changed, maybe have your windows washed. Now gas stations have turned into mini shopping, marts. With the convenience of being able to pick up just about anything at the gas station, the trouble can quickly start. Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe while visiting the gas marts.

  • Always turn off your engine before you begin refueling your car
  • Don’t talk on you cell phone while refueling your car
  • Never smoke, or light matches or lighters while refueling
  • Avoid getting in and out of the car while refueling
  • Static explosions and fires are very real danger
  • Avoid spills by not topping off the tank
  • Transporting and storage of gasoline can be very dangerous if you do not use the proper precautions.
  • Only use containers approved for gasoline storage. Do not use old containers that have been laying around such as glass bottles, plastic milk containers or soda bottles.
  • Keep gasoline out of reach of children
  • Keep all containers tightly closed
  • Never mix gasoline with diesel fuel or kerosene
  • Do not use gasoline in kerosene lamps or heaters
  • Store gasoline in a separate building from the house, such as a storage shed
  • Allow engines such as a lawn mower to cool before refueling
  • Make sure that if you are working with gasoline that the area that you are in is well ventilated. Inhaling fumes from gasoline can result in a trip to the emergency room.
  • If you do need to buy something from of one of the mini-mart stores that are now also a part of most gas stations, here are some tips to keep a theft or tragedy from happening.
  • Never leave your car running for any reason at a gas pump
  • Never leave your car running or with the keys in it while you run in the store
  • Never leave your children in the car alone
  • Never use a non-approved container for gas (Glass/Plastic bottle)
  • If you see someone smoking near the pumps, say something
  • Try to be polite to other patrons. I have seen arguments start over the smallest problem.