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How to keep your home safe from burglars

ESL Solutions duo Stan Koustas and Manos Maroudis offer Neos Kosmos' readers some invaluable tips

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(R) Stan Koustas with his best man and business partner Manos Maroudis. Photo: Vlad Savin

09 August 2017

In spite of the measures different Victorian governments have taken, over the course of four years Victoria Police statistics show a 30 per cent increase in crime.

Harsher penalties and more officers on patrol have hardly deterred criminals with 189,000 robberies and thefts taking place during the financial year 2016-2017. The attempted robbery numbers are even higher.

In fact, it is this type of crime that is increasing in Victoria in comparison to other Australian states with house break-ins at the top of the list, with the typical owner suffering a loss of at least $3,000 in stolen goods or property damage.

Depending on the deductible elements of their insurance policy, victims of burglary likely have to pay to replace any losses, but for a small investment it is possible to make one's home less appealing to burglars in the first place.

"You can make it tough for them!" says IT and security expert Stan Koustas, of Melbourne-based company ESL Solutions, explaining that the first step in home crime prevention is to eliminate opportunity.

"Most people worry about night-time security, though most burglaries actually occur during daylight hours when most people are at work, school, or running errands. It's important to take precautions during the day, at night, and any time you leave the house to ensure your home stays secure. It's pretty much up to you to cut those chances."

Stan who has been working in IT for over 25 years, has chosen to venture into security systems motivated by his own personal experiences and those of his loved ones.

"When I was younger we were robbed seven times over a period of five years," he says.

"Each time we knew who it was but nothing would be done about it because back then there was no CCTV and if there was, it was too expensive and not as effective. The second we got an alarm system, we stopped getting robbed. It cost an arm and a leg at the time but we never got robbed again."

ESL Solutions has been around for a year, founded last August by Stan Koustas and his best man Manos Maroudis. The duo has been working together for almost 20 years.

"Although we have another partner jumping in soon, ESL for us is more of a family business; a Greek business," Stan stresses.

"Everything we have done up until now; everything we have accomplished in terms of reputation has all been word of mouth, mainly through the Greek community."

"People are recommending us. That's how we build our relationship with the customers. It started mainly from individuals and we have gone from setting up emails to putting in place backup solutions for major enterprises requiring managed services."

Stan and Manos know how to take care of everything from your iPhone to your laptop; your home to your company. They use only an Australian manufacturer and tested brands with protection and guarantees.

"Whatever the technology requirements you need we have you covered."

"We don't just specialise in alarms and cameras, backup, recovery, maintenance, and network engineering . . . we also do callback services. This is important not only for businesses, but especially for elderly people living alone," Manos adds.

"We have so many elderly people from the Greek community. They feel safe because they know us and we speak the language, we understand the situation and we'll go to theirs and help them out, explain things and whatnot. If we can offer services like that to people but also peace of mind and even if it means getting called back to help them figure things out it's good." 

ESL get some lonely customers through DutchCare, a not-for-profit community organisation in Frankston, which takes care of elders. Funds are generated through the organisation's activities and are reinvested in facilities and services for their residents – current and future arranging quality accommodation and services.

"For people that are able to take care of themselves but are on their own at this age, securing their home from theft can be very challenging," Stan says.

"They can easily become a target as burglars monitor homes to check if there are CCTV systems, how many people live in a house, ages, when people go to work and so on."

According to Stan and Manos, not only the wealthy are in danger; it is the poor and lower to middle class citizens that are more at risk. People with disabilities or older generations too, given that in most cases they face health or mobility issues.

"There is this lady, Niki, that we got through DutchCare. She is in her 80s and recently lost her husband. She is on her own and there was no-one to monitor [her]," they say.

"So we set up a complete CCTV system for her which is very easy to use. We guided her through everything and she's managing just fine. Niki can take care of herself and with this additional sense of security her life and mood had improved significantly."

"However," Stan laughs, "she calls me for other stuff and I still go there as she is just around the corner. Stuff like 'Come change the light bulb or the batteries in my remote control.' I go 'Alright, yiayia' and I do it. It's not part of the actual services list though!"

Even though they are often called by elders or their children to install security systems, it is younger families and career-driven individuals that need them the most.

"Everyone is scared. I'd say more the younger people," Stan explains. "It depends on the area, too but say you've worked years to build a home for yourself and/or your new family and you get robbed or watch a neighbour's house get broken into."

"Burglars are so very methodical nowadays. They do their research and target homes without an alarm, cameras or a dog, let's face it."

"The price for a CCTV security system plus alarm has dropped to ⅓ of what it used to be three years ago so it is very affordable. There are more manufacturers and demand, but at the same time the quality of equipment and [number of] camera pixels has gone up."

Indeed, up until three years ago, a decent security system for a two-bedroom home would cost a family over $3,000 while now the price is just over $1,000 depending on how many cameras the owner wishes to install.

"About a year ago, one morning round 10am a friend's 18-year-old daughter was alone at home sleeping. She heard a noise and woke up," Stan recalls.

"Although half asleep she quickly realised that it wasn't one of her parents tidying up in the next room. She noticed from the opening of her door that an unknown man had entered her home. Thankfully the man just wanted to steal and wasn't violent or was too slow to react so she managed to make a run for it and escape. He stole some valuables and left but no-one really knows what could have gone down if he had become aware of her presence before she did. No-one. She got lucky."

"The next day, her parents installed a security system and cameras around the house. Luck does not knock on your door twice."

You can call Stan on 1300 482 288 or head to eslsolutions.com.au for more.

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