Monday, February 8, 2010

Leaving the house alone when going on Vacations

I’ve mentioned before several times how going on vacations is usually a great way to get your home burglarized in Argentina.
Leave for a week or two and the chances of that happening increases exponentially.
So when I told everyone I was going to Spain for a month a couple of you guys sent me emails or comments asking if this was wise. I really appreciate your concern and now that I’m back, let me tell you I left knowing very well what I was doing.
Without getting into much detail regarding what I did myself, there’s a few tips I’d like to share with you.

Alarm + Safety Door + Burglar Bars

A house without burglar bars in Argentina might as well have a sign hanging in the front door saying “please rob me, I’m the most stupid human specimen left”. Some places being better than others, at least in the suburbs of Buenos Aires don’t ask people to be sorry for you if you get robbed if you didn’t bother to install burglar bars.

Alarms are also fairly common and armored safety doors, while you see several, they aren’t as common as they should be. Most people still feel that a solid wooden door provides security and they really don’t get it how simple it is to just kick them down or force them with a crowbar. SWAT teams and criminals alike, they all know that the front door is often the best entry point and the one most overestimated in terms of gaining access to the building.

Now, these three combined provide a good level of protection if they work along with the right “software” for the family: Situational awareness, security habits, keeping the door locked, not opening the doors to strangers or when not completely sure that the person on the other side is not a threat.
But the level of security provided is one that works either when the house is occupied or when left alone for short term periods.
The burglar drives or walks around, sees your “hard” house, and goes for an easier target. Even if trying to break in, a good security door and alarm may be too much.

Your unoccupied home on the long Run

But what happens when its clear that no one is home and no one’s coming back soon? Even worse, what happens when somehow the information of your family traveling for x period of time gets to the wrong ears or a criminal finds out after doing a little bit of intelligence?
Your house my friend, is a sitting duck.

Even if you have a good security setup with motion sensor cameras, you’ll just end up with a film of the burglary.
Sometimes the alarm sends them away, or cops show up quick enough, but the damage is already done: Broken door, windows, busted burglar bars, unless someone is there to take care of things, its just going to be a matter of time before someone finishes what others started. If the house is isolated, it will usually be picked clean.

There’s only two ways in which you can be leave a home empty for long periods of time during high crime times.

1)Leave the house occupied:
Someone you trust staying at your house is usually the best thing to do. Of course this must be someone you can depend on and not just anyone, preferably a best friend or family member.
If you have a pool for example and a nice garden, maybe a friend that owns an apartment would be glad to spend some time at your place.
Combined with the existing security this is the best way to ensure your property will be there when you come back.
Showing up after a week or two abroad only to find a house picked clean, including furniture and even toilets robbed, is an all to common story around here.
Just out of pure evil sometimes they urinate or defecate on the carpet and walls ( have a relative that went through that) Imagine coming home to an broken, empty home and having to clean that up. Even worse, finding another family actually moved in, claiming someone sold or rented the house to them! Again, happens often enough.

2)Have a house in a secured location:
This is the best alternative if you can’t have someone stay at your place, but it will depend on location and its of course not something you’ll be able to change. Keep this in mind when buying real estate, offices, or second residencies.
An apartment with a good security armored door and placed right next to ( or above ) a building that has good security is a good way to go.
If you have an apartment or home that is right next to a police station, bank or some other building with tight security, combined with a hardened home, chances are that no criminal will risk breaking into it. The harder it is to brake into your home, the more noise and time will be required, and this increases the chance of getting caught.

That’s it for now guys. Keep these things in mind if you’re planning on leaving for some time. Maybe talk with friends or relatives.

Take care.



Anonymous said...

One thing about leaving your house in the care of a trusted friend: You might wind up losing a friend.

You would feel like crap if you came home and found they had been injured (or worse) during a burglary of your house.

Or, you might never trust them again if your house was burglarized while they were house-sitting for you.

Masaad Ayoob has thoughts on this in one of his books - I don't remember which one.

Just_In_Case_The_SHTF said...

You can also make arrangements with your trusted neighbors to collect your mail and newspapers, water your plants, mow your lawn, rake your leaves, and generally keep an eye on your property while you are away. Offer to do the same for your neighbors when they go away for awhile.

You can put some of your house lights on timers so they will be on in the evening. Have a front-yard light activated by a motion detector so it turns on whenever someone enters your property. But lights controlled by an optical sensor that go on at dusk and off at dawn are often a dead giveaway to burglars that the house might be vacant.

The idea is to give your house a lived-in look to someone driving or walking through your neighborhood looking for a vacant house to burglarize or take over.

Anonymous said...

Sorry that this is completely off-topic, but after seeing an article on a certain popular survival website about bugging out using a personal airplane, I just wanted to thank you for being the voice of sanity in the survival community.