After an Intruder Incident-What Are the Smart Choices to Be More Secure?
Taking things serious, but not too seriousRecently right when I came home through my front door an intruder dashed out my open back door. No losses, but still what an awful feeling. Somehow they got in without breaking in and so it seems likely with a key that was misplaced or duplicated. I was lucky they quickly fled and avoided confrontation. Big win for them and myself as far as I can figure. It was a tense moment, and one of the very few times I ever had a gun in hand over a possible imminent danger. I had written about the incident in a comment or two last Friday.
But what next? Time for a top to bottom safety/security review.
Changing locks? Sure, easy, in fact I’m sitting here waiting for the guy as I write this Page. That’s also an upgrade going in. Home Depot store brand is not what I want at this time. If one is willing to go north of $150 per deadbolt, there are lots of options. The same options that are used in government secure rooms. Medeco is a big brand. Ultimate Lock looks interesting. If you don’t mind needed two keys you can upgrade your deadbolt and leave the knob alone. That is very convenient when you want to let someone in like a plumber cable guy or friend. You just leave the bolt unlocked and give out a copy of your knob key only. Fire safety! Do not key the inside on a deadbolt, just the outside. They call that “single” cylinder. The inside is a lever you can turn so you can get out fast. If that’s a lock and you don’t have a key you may perish.
Get a wired monitored alarm system installed? Honestly as a customer of big brand security monitoring at work I am unimpressed with any service the average middle class family could afford. And that is after a rather intrusive installation. Plus I want in the loop. Situation awareness is the keystone to good decisions in an emergency. Big brands are not as innovative as the start ups. Fans and sales reps of Bay Alarm or ADT may disagree with me.
The internet of things is growing. Imperfect, not as hack proof as we might want. That having been admitted what new tech might work? Secure wireless devices and a VPN might work well.
So what about literally keeping an eye on my home as I wish? Before I looked around online I was thinking Bluetooth/web cameras are sharp and very affordable. Zone or grid based motion detection and face detection with those cams are no longer new features for video software. In theory cameras can replace motion detectors and glass break detectors and door sensors. 1080 resolution and a camera that has a night vision capable sensor makes up for long nights in or away from home. The thing with cameras though is who watches? Human attention span is too short. The software must alert us and or our security monitoring company. What looks simple up front turns out to need a whole chain of hardware, software and human attention to work well. Plus, well what of our own privacy? Not all of us want cameras inside.
But if you do Nest/Dropcam has pulled all of this together. They are perhaps better known for their smart home style intelligent thermostat. But the other interesting safety device they offer is a good smoke and CO alarm. Why depend on old tech like most of us have wired in? That won’t alert your cell phone to let you know something is up while you are at work. Nest will.
Cameras inside creep you out? Especially wireless ones? I hear ya loud and clear. All these choices are very personal. So what if someone built a modern tech based set of sensors and a communication hub to specifically monitor windows opening, glass breaking or a door swinging open? Hardware all over the place. Everywhere someone could get in.
Simplisafe has systems that are small medium, large and expandable. For a couple or few hundred dollars you are set. Monitoring costs either $15 a month or $25 for a more sophisticated app that works with your cell phone. An extra ten dollars to keep you in the loop looks like a worthwhile feature. Sometimes we want to know if that broken window was a bad guy breaking in or an errant baseball from a kid.
If Simplisafe would let me add a camera or three I could control I would have ordered it already. They say they will roll that feature out soon, but no date announced.
Window bars. Ugh. The in home arrest look. The “trap you in a fire” accident waiting to happen. I don’t like them. But that’s an option for some of us as long as you get the kind that you can open from the inside in a smoky room with a fire growing.
What else? Flee if you can, hide if you can’t flee fight only if you must. We all need that go plan and maybe a go bag. Where and how we will flee to from danger if we can. Given good alarms, we are likely to have time to get away. Family, friends and next door neighbors should know your go plan and you theirs. Your go bag should have money, perhaps a credit card or two, ID, a change of clothes, extra keys to home, cars etc. Think of what you want if you suddenly are being hosted by the Red Cross after a fire or into a hotel on ten minutes evac notice. What will you want as essentials?
What about weapons? I really hope that if the readers look carefully they will see that with some cash and effort spent, they may not still feel a need. Maybe that alarm and your windows are secure enough and a gun is just more than what you need. It’s a little confusing. On one hand almost anything you can pick up could be a last resort weapon of defense. More realistically, every kind of weapon requires training and practice and money to be spent. Less lethal/non lethal or just deadly when used, it’s a big job to become competent and skilled. If you can not commit to the training and practice the weapon becomes a terrible choice. You must address the risks of accident or mistake.
Martial arts? Again a little confusing. A big guy can get lucky and knock a bad guy out with a wild punch or a club. Or an old guy can get lucky with a tire iron. Or he might fail. Years of hard training are what brings skills up to the task. Then the skill fades with any lack of practice or frankly with age. I’m in my fifties. I’d hate to have to fight my own younger prime years self or a big attacker. I have a better chance than some but yikes it’s still nothing like what you see on TV.
You may have noticed I’m laying out options and not naming my own choices other than vaguely. My exact choices are closely held. I want to share what’s best for your home choices. You don’t need mine, my home, mindset and training may be very different than yours. I don’t have children, or a dog. I can grab my handgun put its fast safe box in the trunk and go practice at my own range on any Saturday for no fee. Most folks don’t have that advantage. Keeping a place as safe as possible is very different from building a paranoid prepper fortress. You can’t set it up so people get trapped inside in a fire. Remember threats vary. Criminal is not necessarily the most likely. Fires, floods and gas leaks all can hurt us. Kids make dumb mistakes, heck so do adults.
I guess my bottom line here is for you to think it all through. Have a plan. Stay safe. I hope some of this is helpful to prevent a property loss or worse for someone. Any bad ideas I forgot to point out, any good ideas I forgot are welcome in the comments.