Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How hard a target should my house be?

Regarding the letter of the previous post and some of the comments, I was left with the impression that some of you believe that I think a house should be a bunker with two foot concrete walls and welded hedgehogs and barb wire around the perimeter and that’s just not the case.
Ideally we would all have houses designed specifically for our intended purposes, both secure and tasteful, safe as a bunker but worthy of Architecture Digest. It can be done, but its expensive.
As for a realistic approach, we will often have to settle for something in between, both because of expenses and because we have to accept that little fact about living with other family members that may not think as you do, because the people around you may not see things the same way. Do you really want to pile up sandbags around your home, dig fox holes in preparation for the “golden horde” that just wont come? Knock yourself out! Then tell me what your wife had to say about it, your neighbors, your kids and their friends, if they get a hard time at school because dad is a nut case or not. And its not even about what others think, its about the pro and cons of doing so. Digging fox holes and trenches and setting military stile defensive positions is a solution for a type of problem you don’t have. Your problem isn’t getting attacked by a North Korean platoon, your problem is the burglar breaking in when you go to the supermarket or visit your parents in Florida for the weekend. Your problem is getting forced inside at gunpoint after opening the garage door.

So how much security do I need?

The short question to that and the one that I know because of lots of experience with this kind of problem is: At least better than the guy next door!!
It will all depend on the standard set by others. In Buenos Aires if you don’t have burglar bars  and a gated perimeter, there’s many neighborhoods where you’d be the only one without those.
If you live in a nice little quiet town in a safe part of the world where people barely lock their doors at all, remembering to lock the doors and setting up an alarm system that is noticeable from the outside means that any bad guy will move on to the next house which is easier to break into.
We’d all love to have the super house with the fancy security system, poured concrete walls, safe room and underground bunker to top it off. In general we have to settle for less. Still we have to remember that minimum we must achieve, our security setup must be better than the neighborhood average at the very least.
Join the forum discussion on this post!



Anonymous said...

Just making your home more difficult to break into will probably convince the Bad Guys to move on (unless you are dumb and display all kinds of toys they would want to possess anyway).

Commercial construction quality steel doors and frames, grouted into masonry jambs and head for example, those will run about $1600 for door, frame, hinges and other hardware but I think are worth it.

Try and keep hiding places away from windows and entrances and a dog roaming the premises - your odds for being left alone go way up.

millenniumfly said...

"At least better than the guy next door" is the best answer to any question I've seen in weeks!

Anonymous said...

The truth is that hardening the house works ok for the casual burglar and may convince the hardened criminal to look else where.

The truth is that in places like Mexico the $hit rolls differently.  You are sitting at your place of business, say a doctor at his practice.  Two thugs arrive and introduce themselves and ask you to get on their protection payroll.  Failure to do so, they say, will result in your kid getting kidnapped, your wife taken, or yourself held hostage.  These guys don't threaten you with a gun, but when they act, perhaps a couple of weeks later when you least expect it, it will be a team of 2 cars and about 4-6 thugs.  They will pick you up or a family member and at that point not having paid protection money will seem like a real stupid idea.  So you see, organized crime can't be fought off to easily and a hardened structure will do nothing to keep you safe.

Unfortunately, wtshtf organized crime flourishes.  Even lonesome criminals hitting establishments under protection end-up dead. It is a new order, very brutal and short of going on the defensive 100% of the time, it is only a matter time before the extortion gets to your life.


Anonymous said...

Anon 7:18 - very good points made, that is EXACTLY what happens with Mexican drug cartel gang shake downs, just pay us to leave you alone and we're good. You don't pay and you will cry.

TOR said...

It is sort of like the joke that you don't have to outrun the bear, just the slowest person you are with.

Like you said, about anything can be done and made to look nice, but it will not be cheap. Unless you are rich setting realistic expectations is important. Stopping a couple guys with basic burglary tools (flat bar, screwdriver, etc) who are trying to bump locks is doable. Stopping 6 guys with dynamic entry tools and a truck that has a winch who don't care about making noise is not realistic on most folks budget.

I think another important consideration is the good old boring OPSEC. Some security lights, a decent lock, a dog and maybe some bars on windows is enough to convince someone to go elsewhere, unless they know you have lots of stuff worth stealing. Crooks will crack any nut if thye think what is inside is worth it. What will serve as a fine deturrent for a normal small family home won't be enough for a well established professionals mansion with 2 expensive European sports cars and large gun and jewelry collections.

Anonymous said...

I have worked to have my security changes "hidden in plain sight". Security film is the perfect example. Draw no attention but harden to the limits of your budget.

Blackthorn D. Stick said...

While the comments about the Cartels and extortion are no doubt true, the question was hardening your house against burglary/break ins.
If a criminal organization wants you or your property, they're most likely going to get it. The same also applies to large numbers of looters looking for supplies.
Against the average thief, solid core doors wit a reinforced frame, good locks on the doors and windows, and some exterior lighting will go a long way to putting you way down on the hit list.
These things can also be selling points if you're ready to move somewhere else.
Burglar bars, at least in the U.S. can be a double-edged sword. Yes they will help keep the thieves out, but they can also scare off some buyers if they brliev that the bars are an indication that the it's a "bad" neighborhood.

I believe tha if the original poster had tried tonvince his parents that better locks and lighting woudl enhance the future resale value of the house, they might have been more receptive.
After that, wait a while, get a dog, install some inexpensive motion sensors tied into the exterior lights... I think you get the gist of what I'm saying.
I'm guessing from the tone of his original post that he may have been a little to overboard in the way he pitched the security improvements to his parents.