Friday, February 20, 2009

Home security

I posted about this in the Spanish blog and though I should start one here as well.

Think we’ve been discussing awareness and personal self defense issues enough and it would be nice to get into serious preventive security measures you guys could check and maybe try to improve this weekend.
Many of the cases of burglaries and home invasions occur because people failed at some of the points I’ll cover here.

So lets to this into the usual list, ok?

1)Security Habits

I’ve written several times about my neighbor and the violent home invasions she suffered.
Still, she keeps making the same mistakes, and keeps paying for that.
She has bushes that provide cover to would be ambushers, she has poor lighting on the front door, she comes back home vary late at night, waking everyone and making lots of noise and talking very laud.
Overall, sloppy security.

-Very basic, but most common mistake: Keep doors and windows shut.

-Don’t stay chitchatting with people in the front door, better to go talk inside. Entering and exiting the home is the most dangerous moment.

-Don’t let ANYONE into your home, until sure. Keep that door closed.
Seriously, call the cop, phone company, or whomever it is knocking and check to make sure. They’ll try to rush you. Don’t let them.
Take your time, think. If its the cops then they wont mind if you call 911, if they don’t like you making the call then hurry up doing it.
This doesn’t go just for you, your wife/husband should also fallow these security habits and the children two. Keep in mind that they are the ones more likely to make such a mistake.

-Careful on the phone and the net. Dotn give away your personal information. We’ve all seen what happened with Face book, criminals using it to profile victims. Fake phone interviews or contests may be used too.

-You obviously need to open the windows regularly to ventilate and let fresh air in, but try to do so with 2nd floor windows or windows that have bars installed, since these are potential entry points.

-Loose lips sink ships. Telling friends about trips you’ll be making ( empty home) or cars or property sold recently (money at home) can end up being commented to the wrong person or simply overheard, you never know. Better to be very cautious about what you tell to who, and if that person can control himself from telling the entire planet about it.

2) Install a home alarm.
A loud one. One that preferably calls the local cops or calls you on the cell. Motions sensors and contact magnets. Some models allow you to monitor what going on through internet, some can be connected with your smoke detector. Make sure it has a backup power supply and if you can afford it an independent cell phone connected and all kept hidden in case they cut the phone lines. Get a “panic” silent option button installed as well, in case you are being taken hostage.
This can be done in most modern alarms.
Its not hard to do yourself, but if not better get professionals install it.
“alarm” or some other sign outside will already warn would be robbers. They’ll go looking for easier targets.

3) Have a reinforced security door.
Bulletproof if you can afford it, it will be money well spent. Have a peep hole as backup to your TV camera intercom.
Many home invasions just occur by kicking the door down. Most doors cant stand a couple good kicks. Let alone a few blows with a sledge hammer or a prybar.

4) Install a high iron fence around the perimeter.
Expensive, but knowing what I know it’s one of the few things I can say is really worth it’s weight in gold when there’s serious crime problems.
If not build a 7 feet high wall, but you need a secured perimeter as your first line of defense. I’d take the time to build a brick or stone wall myself if I had to, but secure that perimeter.
Grating doors and bars on windows are also precious. Specially in windows that are somewhat concealed and a criminal could spend some time busting through it.
In most places here in Argentina, windows have bars. It’s just common sense.

5) Install motion detecting lights around the house.
These will go on when the bad guy tries to sneak in.
You guys in USA also have game cameras for filming deer I believe, that start filming when the motion detector is triggered. This is a very good idea to keep footage of any burglar or trespasser.
Make sure there’s no places like low walls or vegetation where criminals can hide and ambush you. Either fill that space with thorny bush or find some other solution, but don’t leave any dangerous spot unattended.

6)Out of sight out of mind.
Don’t leave windows wide opened showing off your 50” TV.
Curtain arent just for looks.

7)If you have lots of windows and doors to cover
, try moving the furniture around to make access more complicated. I have a small cart-thing that is full of crystal glasses and garbage like that. Make a lot of noise if moved and all that glass braking would make a lot of noise, so my wife placed it against a back door just in case.
Lamps, etc, anything that would fall when someone that doesn’t know opens the door to force his way in. It will give you time to grab your gun or they may just leave after realizing all the noise they just made.

8)Bullet proof glass would be nice but it’s expensive,
storm or security window film on the other hand is pretty darn cheap and would make a nice weekend project.
The average burglar will just throw a stone or hit the window with a pipe and that’s that. The security films gives you more, time, it will confuse the robbers, not to mention, protect the people inside form shattered glass. Definitely something to look into given the low price/neat level of protection relationship.

9)Forgot to mention it in point 1). When there’s an intruder, the kids must know that they should immediately go to the master bedroom, and the wife should know at least how to fire a gun ( another handgun for the wife)
Very smart people advice to call the cops and everyone wait in the master bedroom.
I’m not that bright. I know my house very well and can move around it better than some stranger. Besides, I’m not going to wait there until the bad guys decide to come into the room and bring the gunfight to where my family is. I’d rather handle it away from them.
The important point is, your kids and wife should be in one place when your move around the house looking for the bad guys. Remember to speak out loud and verify before walking back into the master bedroom. You don’t want your wife to open fire on you.
Also, know that most walls in USA wont stop bullets, so expect them to go right through.

10) Things to keep handy next to your bed:
glasses ( if you use them, get LASIK!), a high Lumen flashlight, gun, spare gun for the wife, long gun (shotgun/short rifle) charged cell phone, and if you are clever, you’ll have body armor.
If you can't have guns get a short machete, big kitchen knife, any kind of weapon at all, but do get one. A small hatchet or axe can do a lot of damage. Blunt weapons arent ass efective, I much prefer something that cuts.

Guy, any other advice or suggestion would be welcomes.
The economy crisis will bring along higher crime rates and people would to well to prepare for that.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for this one, Ferfal. This is
exactly what we here in the states need
to know right now.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. i was going to ask that you translate this one. It was very interesting on the other blog.

Anonymous said...

Next door neighbor had their door kicked in in the middle of the day...next door neighbor in an apartment. No one heard any noise. When fortifying your doors, don't forget the doorframe!!! In the above case, we have steel fire doors but the frame is cheap pine.

Anonymous said...

Thanks ferfal This has been the most useful info Ive ever came across its real life, you know I keep one of those hand held rechargable spot lights next to my bed along with my cz 75b 9mm This light will blind the crap out of someone not to mention it will thouroghly light up a room even if I were to drop it! Just remember one thing sir, keep on keeping on I love this blog

Anonymous said...


Have you seen this?:


Sound familiar?

FerFAL said...

Thanks guys for the support.

Thanks, forgot to mention those terribly weak doorframes. Here we mostly use brick and mortar, so frames are much tougher. But a stick frame is pretty weak.
A poured concrete doorframe would be prefered if you are building your home, at least for the section where your main door will go.

Srben, yes, I saw that :)
There's this other oen that has been around for a while


Anonymous said...

Dogs? I've been somewhat lax about upgrading my home's security here in California (my front door still has glass panes, after all) but I've got 150 lbs. of killing machines walking around in my house all day long, so I'm not so worried. Anybody approaching the front door (including me) automatically gets a faceful of snapping dog teeth on the other side of that glass. :)

Anonymous said...

Dogs are ONLY good as alarms.

As proud as you seem to be about your "killing machines", all I see are two reasons youre going to get sued - especially in CA

Also, unless your dogs have Kevlar body suits, they will last all of 5 seconds in a SHTF situation.

BTW, I'm owned by a 116lb male Akita, and a 65lb female Pit Bull.
Loud barks. NO bites. Love people.

Anonymous said...

Ferfal, thanks for your many great posts. I've read way too many posts on way too many other forums from guys spouting a lot of hypothetical talk and how they have everything figured out for when TSHTF. Its great to hear someone who is actually living the life and talking from real world experience and not someone's video game fantasy.

Something I saw that I thought could be useful is a product sold by Fox labs which is a big can of pepper spray connected to a long tube and nozzle that allows you to drill a small hole in your door or door frame and then place the nozzle pointed out at the would be home invader. Potentially you could pepper spray them from the safe side of your front door. There are also Pepper spray grenades if you know someone has entered your basement.


Anonymous said...

On the topic of pepper spray, I thought you guys would like the following clips:

Sabre brand o.c. used on a celebrity. Listen all the way to the end for his take on which type of defense weapon was the most effective:


Pay particular attention to 3:18, lol :


Another good, comic example:


Norcal said...

Does anyone have any suggestions for where to buy a secure front door? We are sitting with windows for doors! I looked at Home Depot but did not see anything secure there. Grateful for any ideas. I did find one manufacturer of "hurricane" doors which are guaranteed to withstand the force of a hurricane. Is this what we need to put on our houses? Thank you in advance--

Norcal said...

Here is one manufacturer of security doors:


Anonymous said...

1) I don't like security systems -- they and security companies lure you into dropping your guard by giving you the ILLUSION of security. In reality, there are ways to bypass many of them. An unpleasant surprise when you get home.

2) I don't want to discuss details on the internet, but magnetic contact switches, for example, can be detected with a stud finder or compass and compromised with a strong magnet (holds switch closed while door with security magnet is opened.) There are special contact switches made which can't be compromised in this matter. They have an internal switch on a seesaw balance beam which will close an alarm switch if subjected to any magnetic field other than the one for which they are precisely calibrated.

3) Any security system is rigid -- not intelligent and not adaptive -- and hence vulnerable to attack. I'm not saying to not get one -- they are better than nothing -- but don't think they are infallible and try to learn something about their shortcoming so that you can distinguish between a good security company and one that's just taking your money.

4) Plus, if you get a security system, be sure that each sensor has a resistor where it connects to the two wires leading to the alarm box --so that someone can't simply bridge the two wires with a short (allowing a sensor to go off without the alarm box recognizing it.) Also, don't use the security system's standard resistor --thieves can find out what it is and use one to short the connecting wires. Rather, split the resistence up into two resistors -- put one resistor at where the two wires connect to the alarm box and put the other resistor at where the sensor connects to the two wires.

5) A good dog --trained to NOT accept food from strangers -- is better if kept behind closed doors. In difficult times, of course, it can be tough finding food for the dog-- although a good little lapdog like Paris Hilton's chilahua is just as good as a Rottweiler when sounding an alarm.

A dog and security system together give multiple layers of detection -- but the security system has to allow you to turn off interior motion sensors in areas where the dog is roaming at night.

6) Another thing to be aware of is that lots of lockpicking info is available on the internet. There are some locks made (Medeco, Abloy, etc ) which are essentially impossible to pick. Ever the average lock can be made much harder to pick by having the locksmith install special pins.

7) Finally, look at the ENTIRE perimeter around your house. Our cheap stick frame houses in the USA have walls which can be cut through with an axe no matter how strong your front door is. Sliding deck doors can be lifted up out of their frames. And some thieves come in through the ROOF /Attic --which bypasses first floor alarms.

Anonymous said...

A number of security companies do the business equivalent of selling a condom with a hole in it. May be a small hole -- may work some of the time. But when it fails -- uh oh.

And some companies do the equivalent of selling a condom with SEVERAL holes in it.

Anonymous said...

Amen to what Don Williams said. We recently got scammed by a security company, they installed an all-in-one system that was a total joke, and they even forgot the line-seizure jack...and this was after we had seen one crook after another come in and give us estimates, and we finally thought we found an honest security company.

So screw it, now were doing our research, we've figured out how to buy the equipment online and use a separate monitoring company on a month to month basis. We've downloaded all the manuals, we know what we're getting into and we'll take it gradually, but even version 1 will have redundancies and decoys built-in. If you can wire speakers, you can wire up a security system; the irony is the last tech we had in our home could barely do that.

The bottom line is a security company LOSES money for every extra minute they're in your home beyond the bare minimum. I don't care what they say or what you pay them, at the end of the day if there's an incident they simply point to the fine print on page 8 of the contract and say "sorry, not our fault."

You need to make the security and safety of family your new hobby, and a custom burglar alarm that only YOU have setup and designed is one very important element. At the end of the day you have nobody else to blame but yourself, therefore you have nobody else to trust but yourself. Ignorance is no excuse!

maxidor said...

Useful good info thanks, I am from a home security company in South Africa where security and all those issues are one of the major factors in everyday living. We have to take these things very seriously as its a life and death matter. For some more good ideas and to see what we use in South Africa check out our site. www.maxidor.com

Keep up the blogging