Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reply: Security for women at home alone‏

Hi Ferfal.

We read your blog all the time and we purchased your book. Some very good advice indeed. 

As you say windows are a problem but what we've done is to make the bedroom super secure - a sort of safe room if you like. We have the switches for the alarm system in there with an emergency button you can quickly hit in times of an emergency.

This meant that cost wise we only had to secure one room and the cost was affordable. We installed the best quality security screens we could and since it was only 2 windows it was much less than the whole house. We also used tinting film to cut down the view inside and this also helps make the glass less 'breakable' or so we were told. The bedroom door was replaced and it is sold and in a good solid frame and since it's off the hallway it would be hard for anyone to get a run up to knock it down. It took my husband pushing with all his weight to test it (how else do you test the 'guarantee'?). We were lucky the bedroom is placed the way it is actually.

It might be possible for someone very determined to punch a hole through the wall from the rooms next door since they are not solid brick. We lined the vulnerable wall with another layer of plasterboard so it will take more than a few kicks to break it. Law abiding people aren't allowed guns here so I have a machete under the bed in case any holes do appear in the wall and unwelcome hands or heads poke through into the room, but I'm hoping that any bad guys will be leaving quickly when faced with an ear splitting siren and a difficult door to break down. There's not much we can do about anything they break or take before they run but next to selling up and moving into something really secure this is our next best choice we think. We also put a good collection of sensor security lights about on the outside. All this has given me peace of mind when I'm in the house alone and especially sleeping at night or even napping in the afternoon. It didn't cost an awful lot to do this since only costs were a good solid door being installed, some plasterboard, the film and 2 screens and a repaint so it might be an option for others to consider for peace of mind.


Hi Julie, thanks for sharing your experience with the rest of us.
The safe room or panic room is an interesting concept and it is a valid one as well, the idea being to retreat to a safe or more defendable position, and when criminals see its not easy to get to you they will hopefully leave.
This sure is better than no planning at all but remember you’re still vulnerable in the rest of the house, so awareness and general good security habits are important. Ideally, you want to have a good level of protection as soon as you close the front door of your home behind you but unfortunately few homes are designed or built that way any more.
See about adding storm films to the rest of the windows. Far from the security level provided by burglar bars, it does add a few more seconds for you to rush to your safe room.
Also remember to keep your cell phone there at night and a spare set of keys of the house. If you ever lock yourself there during a home invasion, you would just throw your keys to the police through the window and not risk going to the front door to open it yourself.
Take care Julie and good luck.



Anonymous said...

Some general ideas on self-defense from Sid Finster

As much fun as the macho stuff is, most criminals prefer to pick on those whom they think are defenseless.

Considering the average person's responses when they are ambushed by a robber, best to scare robbers away rather than fight whenever possible.

So make the criminal think your home is better defended than it is.

1. Get a pair of men's work or cowboy boots. Size 14. Muddy them and weather them as much as possible.

Then leave them on a sheet of newspaper outside the door. This makes it look like a great big dude is at home or may come home at any moment.

You can move the boots around from time to time if you like. Maybe leave a post-it note on the door to "Jake," the imaginary man in your life. His old Corps buddies just stopped by, call and invite them back over if you are not working all night.

2. If you live in a house with a yard, get a metal stake and a long thick metal chain and collar, the sort that is used to tie down big dogs. Stake out your dog chain, like a dog is sometimes left in the yard. Add large dog food and water bowls. Add some dog food for a more authentic touch.

If there is a dog at home, he may well be in the house.

If you wish, you may personalize your dog bowls with your imaginary dog's name. Choose a name like "Spike" or "Ghetto" and not "Fluffikins." A prominent "Beware of Dog!" sign on your entrance door does not hurt.

Why not leave a post-it for "Jake" that you and "Cujo" are out for a walk and will be back soon.

If you rent, clear the dog act with your landlord.

3. If you have a bathroom with an outside window, leave the light on, all the time. According to an experienced burglar known as "Malcolm X," robbers know that anyone can be in the bathroom at any time and for any reason. Best to leave that house alone and go for easier pickings.

russell1200 said...

The downstairs bathroom in a house is the best place of refuge in hurricanes, and storms. Probably not too bad in earth quake situations. The short wall lengths, and support from plumbing pipes means that if any one room in a house is still standing, that would be the one.

As a place of refuge? OK I guess if it is adjacent to the bedroom you sleep in. Most houses with places of refuge are large, and it may take a while for the bad guys to make their way to them. In the ones I have seen constructed, they use some sort of odd sheet rock and material (bullet proof?) combination that does not appear to take up too much space/depth. But I was just an observer, not the designer or installer.

Anonymous said...

I'm no expert, but as a bigger guy who sometimes leaves his boots outside and yet still had the house broken into, I don't think the muddy boots idea is a good one.

My friend who is about the same size and was also robbed would agree, and his dog-less dog chain wasn't fake. Word on the street is, people who can afford dogs & can leave their boots outside have money. Dogs and boots are like billboard advertisements for many people: "Here is the end of the rainbow."

A rat criminal thief is not going to care about boots or notes, like an animal they're going to be testing using other criteria like, is it quiet inside, is there any movement inside, can it be done, etc... they might even be watching beforehand. Happened to me in a parking lot full of pickup trucks and burly guys.
The criminals watched me go in so they knew who to watch out for as I came out while one looted my car. My car was the junkiest one in the lot - But - it was an easy target with the windows down. It seems to me they had to have been desperate to do this, and desperate equals unpredictable.

The one thief took off on foot walking away calmly even though he was shaking because he knew I was on to him, how-freaking-ever; I gave up the chase. Partly because I wasn't certain if he had successfully stolen anything or not, yet, and mostly because all I kept thinking was Ferfal/GTA & Co. saying, "it's not worth it, let it go, never corner a rat without a gun (or even then) just give them the money, or stuff or whatever and go the other way, and never talk to the police,... and how could I explain beating him if by chance somehow he didn't have the goods on him" or some such, so I stopped, which was difficult, mentally... so very difficult. The thief disappeared, the accomplice had stopped in a car and gave him a ride.

Anyway, the point is I think those types of guys would not be deterred by a lit bathroom light and a Be Back Soon note is a green light to pillage and dash. I could be wrong of course, you just never know what will work.

GLOCK rocks.

Anonymous said...

If that other post went through,... I should have added, where I used the word, robbed, both my friend and I have been burglarized while away from home, as well as had intruders come inside While we were home.

And this is in a low crime area overall, with low unemployment, and my friend had a big dog. I never got to hear the rest of his intruder story - that he didn't readily tell it says quite a lot - and the fact he kept the dog.

In one of my experiences, a thief had picked the lock and was surprised I was home sleeping. As he fled quickly down the stairs he actually said he didn't think anyone was home and he was out the door before I'd taken three steps.

I don't think the fact that I was bigger than him played any role in what happened. If he had been bolder & more desperate or armed, things might have worked out to my disadvantage as I was both surprised And completely unarmed at the time, meaning I could have wound up at his mercy. [I just realized, at that moment, you're a slave. Eck.]

...And it sometimes seems that's the way the ruling class wants things, for us to be at the mercy of thieves and thugs.

Catching (if that's the correct word to use) the thief by surprise was the biggest advantage I had, but I don't think that's something to rely on and could work against you.

An alarm of some type might have helped, but I just read an "expert" (somewhere) saying they're not much good at stopping the "expert" thieves & intruders. My guess is, alarms are good against stupid people, but not so much against the smarter ones, which kind do you have?

Plus, there's that whole bit of, "when seconds count, the police are only minutes away"

Hope that was helpful.

GLOCK rocks.