I recently had a scare when a neighbor was burglarized. Why he picked his house and not mine was more a case of increased odds in my favor (in my opinion), as opposed to simply dumb luck. Over the years, I have taken certain steps to better secure my home and give me a better “security blanket” to wrap myself in.
This recent event, however, has caused me to re-evaluate the overall security of my house. In doing so, I went “back to the basics” and re-affirmed what I have learned along my path to “lazy security”. Granted, the term “lazy security” does not conjure up thoughts a being snuggled in a nice warm blanket of security, but I will give you some ideas that you can do around your house that will not only make you feel a bit better, it will help deter possible thieves from focusing on your house. Also, once implemented, these “lazy” features are a system of “set it and forget it”.
I am in no way an expert on security, mind you. I simply would like to regurgitate (and possibly reinforce) certain things I have learned along the way.
1. Install a home security system – you would be amazed how generally easy it is for the DIYer to install a home security system in your house. After it is installed, make SURE you set it up for remote monitoring. Most people don’t realize that If you install a security system yourself, you can utilize services like Alarm Relay to monitor your house for as little as $9 a month. Even better, if you add smoke alarms to it, that is included in the monthly monitoring fee. And lastly, if you install a security system, ADVERTISE that fact! Add stickers to your windows, put a stake in your front yard, and if your side yard or back yard faces a street, add a sign there as well. The sign alone will cause the majority of thieves to keep walking by. Websites are out there that cater to the DIYer that will help you choose a security system based upon your needs, and then help you to install that system in your house. People are out there and are willing to help you for FREE. Home security systems with wireless window and door sensors can be installed by the DIYer for way under $1k (closer to $700). You will also experience significant savings over time ($9/month as opposed to $30/month – a savings of over $250 per year) and you have a hi-end security system that blows away the typical ADT $100 alarm system. In 3 years the alarm will have paid for itself. Once you have picked out an alarm, the helpful members at DIY Alarm Forum can give you the knowledge to need to properly install it.
2. Install cameras – these days, it’s surprising how simple it is to install a security camera system in your house. It’s basically a DVR (similar to what you use to record TV) that records the streams coming from the cameras you install around your house which then allows you to play it back. Plug in a USB thumb drive and you can easily download the video and playback on a PC. The DVRs also generally come with software that let you log into the DVR from your laptop or desktop and view live as well as pre-recorded footage. Even cooler, some DVRs have software for your Android phone or iPhone, and you can show off to your friends how you can view who is at your front door from anywhere in the world. Once the cameras have been installed, the unit runs itself – you never have to touch it again, unless you need to review the recordings. And lastly, as with 1 above, ADVERTISE that you have video surveillance. Put up a sign that let’s people know that you are recording your premises 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can install a fairly sophisticated system in your house with 6 cameras for way under $1k (probably closer to $750). This is a project that can easily be completed on a day off from work.
3. Get a safe – if you have things in your house that you need to protect, get a safe. Not just any safe, a safe that is water and fire proof. Then, BOLT THE SAFE to the floor. Once the safe is installed, organize important documents and put them there. Once done, you never have to think about this again.
4. Keep gates locked – if you have gates to your yard, lock them. Why wouldn’t you? Granted, these are not Fort Knox quality locks, but they provide a certain level of security, right?
5. Off-site backup – what if your house is compromised and your laptop is stolen. Do you keep an offsite backup of your data? If not, do you at least perform regular backups of photos and files and burn them to a thumb drive or a portable drive? Once you’ve done this, you can leave the drive in the safe that you installed (you listened to my advice, right?). My suggestion then would be to set up a recurring task in Astrid to remind you to connect the drive to your network at certain intervals to keep the backup current. If you want to truly backup your data off-premises, websites like Mozy or Carbonite can assist you with plans that run around $50-60 per year. The services will install apps on your PC which will then automatically back up data for you.
6. Motion sensors outside your house – these will trigger lights to come on when motion is detected. These can compliment the security cameras you installed. Home Automation software can do things like this for you as well (look for my articles on Homeseer).
7. Smoke Alarms – everyone has smoke alarms in their house (right?) – but if you install an alarm with the ability to monitor the smoke alarms, a fire in your house when you are not home will trigger a call to your local fire department. What’s the sense of having a smoke alarm go off if you are not home to hear it?
All of the things I have listed above are projects that once completed, require very little maintenance and provide you with a significant level of security and let people know that you are serious about protecting your assets and your family. 99.9% of thieves will simply pass you by so as to avoid the headache of trying to overcome obstacles.
What are some of the easy and simple steps taken around your house to increase the level of security?