Monthly Archives: October 2012

Bad Home Security Alarm Alternatives

In conversations about home security, we often encounter people who shun alarm systems in favor of other alternatives. Some of these include relying on a firearm, a dog or even brute manpower for protection instead of an alarm system. While each of these may play a role in home security, none are as reliable or safe as an actual home security system.

Firearms

One of the most common security alarm alternatives proposed by the uninformed is a firearm. People often brag on the types of weapons stored in a home and even speak in vivid detail about what would happen to an intruder who chooses to breach a home’s security. While a firearm does have the ability protect a home’s occupants, there are a number of very serious drawbacks to relying upon a firearm as a home’s primary source of protection. A few of these are:

  • A firearm is only useful if a home is occupied at the time that a burglar breaks in.
  • A firearm is only useful if a homeowner is able to reach it before a burglar does.
  • If an intruder finds a firearm, it can be stolen or worse– used against the home’s occupants.
  • The legalities of possessing and using a firearm in the home vary from one jurisdiction to the next and may, in fact, present severe legal ramifications for a homeowner.
  • Shooting at, wounding or killing a burglar can also carry severe legal ramifications under certain circumstances.

Using a firearm for security may also present a very serious danger to other family members. Of course, a loaded firearm can cause injury or death to a child who discovers it, but using a firearm for security purposes can also lead to fatalities due to mistaken identity. In two recent, but separate incidents, homeowners mistakenly murdered their own children after assuming that a burglary was being attempted.

After receiving a phone call from his sister who lived next door and believed that a burglar was lurking around her home, Jeffrey Giuliani sprang into action. Gun in hand, Giuliani confronted a masked individual outside of his sister’s house. When the unknown person advanced toward Giuliani, he opened fire only to later discover that he’d killed his 15 year old son. In a second incident, a retired police detective, James Griffin, mistook his son, Michael Griffin, for a burglar as he entered the back door of the family’s home. The elder Griffin thought that his 48 year old son, who’d just moved into the home after falling on hard times, was inside sleeping and did not know that he’d actually gone out and was merely returning for the evening. Reacting to a perceived threat, the retired detective shot and killed his son in a case of mistaken identity.

Dog

People also often rely on dogs for a home’s security. While it is true that a barking dog may deter a burglar (which is why we sell the Rex Plus Electronic Watchdog Alarm), this is not always a guarantee. In fact, relying too heavily on a dog for security may actually put a pet at risk as the dog may be poisoned, beaten or even shot. The latter actually happened to one of our dogs when I was a little girl. Although our dog lived, it was an extremely traumatic event, which also resulted in an extremely high emergency vet bill.

Manpower

While no one wants to encounter an intruder in the home, having the strength and the ability to fight one off is good. It is not, however, enough to rely on one’s physical strength in such a dangerous situation, however. Often, burglars break into homes in order to steal items that can be traded for drugs and, as such, may be high or in a very desperate frame of mind when they enter a home. No one can predict what a person will do under these circumstances, not to mention that there may be more than one intruder present or that a burglar may be armed. Even if trained in martial arts or some other type of defensive fighting skill, physically engaging an intruder is only recommended as a last resort when no other alternatives are available.

Alarm System Vs. Alternatives

None of these so-called alternatives can compare to the effectiveness of a good home security system. In addition to the enormous room for error each one represents, these solutions are, at best, only useful once an intruder has attempted a break-in (or actually gained entry to a home). On the other hand, by itself, the presence of an alarm is often enough to deter a burglar who’d rather not risk the shrill announcement of his entry. A good security alarm system like the Visonic Power Max Pro Kit With Built-in GSM can also do things that the alternatives named cannot, such as:

  • Immediately contact a homeowner (by cell or landline) and a monitoring station whenever an intrusion has been attempted or even if a system has been tampered with.
  • Interact with X10 technology allowing homeowners to remotely control lighting, appliances and even the alarm, itself.
  • Support add-ons, such as surveillance cameras which allow a homeowner to remotely monitor a home’s interior from a smartphone or a computer with an Internet connection.

Alarm alternatives are not bad ideas, nor are they completely useless in home protection. They should not, however, be used as a primary source of protection. A good home security system is by far the best and most reliable way to ultimately protect a home.

Dumb Criminals Vs Smart Homeowners

Let’s face it, dumb criminals abound. They always have and they probably always will. Fortunately, DIY home security users are able to avoid run-ins with these losers pretty easily. This is good news since, even though they usually don’t make off with much, an encounter with a dumb criminal can be costly in terms of causing damage to your property, as well as costing you time and aggravation.

The following are real-life tales involving a few of the dumbest criminals to make recent headlines, as well as our suggestions for avoiding similar criminals in the future:

A Pizza Craving For the Record Books

A thief was recently captured in Washington State while trying to buy pizza with the rare coins he stole from an employer’s garage. Dakoda Gerren and his girlfriend were hired to work around a woman’s house before finding her rare coin collection in the garage and making off with a little spare, and very valuable, change. Authorities also discovered that the pair had used the coins to pay for a movie at a local theater, as well.

As dumb as this guy was, the entire theft could have been avoided. First, the homeowner should never have stored something so valuable in a garage where others could easily find it. Items like this should be stored in a safe or at a secure off-site location. Further, she should not have allowed workers to wander around her home unsupervised.

A Litigious Lowdown Loser

In Alabama a man walked into a police department to report damage to his vehicle. Not an unusual thing to do, right? Well, the problem is that his car was damaged as he’d used it in a burglary gone wrong.

Jerry Washington tried to rob the home of Joey Buchanan, but his plan went terribly awry when Mr. Buchanan’s dad noticed Washington’s car parked outside. Instructing his son to note the vehicle’s identification number, the older man found Washington hiding in the bushes. Realizing he was busted, Washington made a run for his car, threw it in reverse and pinned the younger Mr. Buchanan between his car and another.

Later, when trying to file a report about the damage that his car sustained, he was arrested on the spot. Now, instead of facing mere robbery charges, he is also facing an attempted murder charge. Genius, right?

Luckily, Mr. Buchanan only suffered a few fractures and will be okay, but this situation could have been avoided altogether. Mind you, we’re not blaming the victim here. Rather we are suggesting a few precautions that can be taken to make sure that no one else is victimized by a dumb criminal.

For starters, never search for or go after a thief yourself. In this case, Mr. Buchanan was struck by a car, but he could have just as easily been struck by a bullet, a knife or a blunt object to the skull. Whether dealing with a dumb criminal or a genius mastermind, it is best to let police locate a thief. We advocate do-it-yourself security, not do-it-yourself pursuits.

Also, yard signs, window decals and video surveillance cameras may have served good purpose here. Washington may have bypassed Buchanan’s home had he felt it was too secure for him to enter. Clearly, he’s a bit dim-witted and probably wouldn’t have wanted to spend time trying to disable an alarm system. Even fake yard signs may have helped to deter him. Video surveillance cameras would have sent a strong signal to this would-be thief, too. Even if he had been bold enough to attempt a burglary in the sight of a camera, surveillance video would have helped identify where he was hiding, and may have captured a description of him and the make and model of his vehicle. Certainly the latter would have been better than trying to get a close up view of this info, which led to Mr. Buchanan being in a position where Washington could run him over.

The Sleepy Slimeball

In Oregon, a burglar fell asleep on the job. Literally. After entering a home via an unlocked door, rumbling through the house while searching for items to steal (and leaving a mess for the homeowner to clean up), Cristian Villarreal-Castillo decided he’d worked hard enough and that it was time for a nap. After being discovered by the home’s owner, the police politely nudged him awake and now he’ll get all of the rest he needs on the state-sponsored vacation he just earned.

This could have been avoided, of course, if Villarreal-Castillo had learned the importance of a good night’s sleep or if the homeowner had simply locked all of the doors and windows. Police also discovered items that they believe Villarreal-Castillo had stolen elsewhere, which also could have been avoided by homeowners installing an alarm system, as well as surveillance cameras.

Smart Homeowners

The best way to beat a dumb criminal is by endeavoring to become a smart homeowner. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on our homes and all of the things that we fill them with, so why don’t we spend a few hundred dollars protecting our homes and the people who live in them?

Your Stories

Have any dumb criminal stories to share? We love a good laugh as much as we look forward to learn a thing or two about how to avoid these guys. Please do us all a favor and leave your best dumb criminal stories in the comments section below.

Teaching Children About Home Security

How much do your children know about home security? Beyond locking doors and not opening them to strangers, a lot of youngsters don’t know much about protecting a home from criminals. In order for your home to be completely safe, however, it is important that children be well-versed about home security and that they know how to operate all of the equipment that you may have installed.

Often, people don’t consider teaching children about home security until they reach an age of being able to stay home alone. But even when adults are at home, children should be as aware of their environment as we expect adults to be. As a parent may be working in a garage or backyard, or may be napping, or may have briefly stepped away to a neighbor’s house, children are sometimes placed in risky home security situations if they haven’t been properly instructed about this issue.

The following are a few suggestions for teaching your children the basics of home security:

Alarms

Do your children know how to operate your alarm system? Each child should know how to arm and disarm a system, as well as how to input a special code that alerts monitors of an emergency. Be sure to also instruct your children never to share your alarm code with anyone else and to never input a code while others are standing nearby. Children should be advised to always arm your system when home alone, as well as each and every time they leave the house.

Alarm Monitoring

When you cut the middleman out (and you should), alarm monitoring only costs a few dollars per month. With this option, however, make sure that children know the special code word in case an alarm is ever be triggered by accident thus causing an operator to call. Without this instruction, if your child ever accidentally triggers your alarm and police are dispatched to your home, you may be charged for the false alarm.

Can Your Children Operate Your Locks?

Make sure that your children know how to operate all of the locks in your home, including your window locks. This may sound elementary, but with the advent of high tech locks, such as biometric readers and other keyless entry systems, parents may need to spend time teaching children how to use them.

Don’t Open the Door For Anyone…Especially Someone in Distress

Instruct your children to never open your door for anyone. Often, we only instruct them not to open doors for strangers, but sometimes neighbors and other “friendly faces” are culprits waiting for the right opportunity. Also, teach your children to be particularly aware of criminals who use distress as a way to gain entrance to a home. Examples may be someone saying that they have a flat tire and need to use your telephone, or that their ball has landed over your fence. Teach your children to be firm about saying no to anyone who does not live in your home and who does not have a key to get inside.

To Answer or Not to Answer, That Is the Question

There will be mixed feelings about this one for sure. A common trick used by thieves is to knock on a front door to determine if anyone is at home. If no one answers, a thief may enter on the spot or return the next day at the same time with the assumption that homeowners are at work. For this reason, we generally advise that, without opening the front door, adults at least make their presence known. With children, however, this may not be the best approach as it may give the criminal indication that a child is home alone. Regardless as to where you stand on the question, we recommend a video intercom system and that you teach your children how to use it. If you opt for allowing a child to verbally respond to a knock, excuses like, “My dad is in the shower” may help give the impression that an adult is on the premises even if a child is actually home alone.

The Real World

Of course, we don’t want to frighten children, but we have to be realistic. Too often, we think that children cannot handle conversations about security and real-life dangers that are sometimes just beyond the front door. We have to remember, however, that it is our job as parents to prepare children for the real world and, unfortunately, this includes teaching them how to protect themselves from home intrusion.

What Do You Think?

Have you spoken to your children about home security yet? What are some of the suggestions or tips that we may have missed above? Please share your advice for our readers in the space provided below.

Personal Protection and Safety Tips

Home security is an important issue, but we don’t want you to think that it is the only type of protection that you need to be concerned about. An awareness about personal protection is also necessary and requires both foreknowledge and preparation in order to be even slightly equipped to handle some of the threats that may sneak up on you. Most personal protection and safety tips are geared toward women, but today we offer a list that is intended for use by men, women and children.

Run

One of the best safety tips that people, especially men, don’t use often enough is the ability to flee from danger. We live in a day and time where we are often confronted by people with serious anger and mental health issues. Gone are the days of fair fights or even of reasoning with an angry person looking for an outlet. With this in mind, when confronted with an aggressive person who seems intent on picking a fight, do not hesitate to back down and, if possible and necessary, literally run away. Remember the motto: Run today, live tomorrow.

Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Whether at a private residence or a public space, always determine the best escape routes from where you are positioned. Additionally, make note of any places where you might hide if you are unable to navigate your way to an exit when presented with a threat. Finally, be aware of any nearby objects which may be useful as weapons should you need to physically fight off an aggressor.

Separate Yourself From Danger

If you are ever in a public place and a fight breaks out, leave immediately. Do not concern yourself with what is going on, do not even try to assess the level of danger. Simply put, when violence is anywhere in your vicinity put as much distance between yourself and the chaos as possible.

Not long ago, I was with a group of people at a club in Las Vegas when a fight broke out on the dance floor. Everyone in my group had the same immediate reaction…we hightailed it out without a word between us. In fact, we’d entered through a block’s worth of scaffolding (there’s always construction in Vegas, right?) and, instead of leaving the same way that we came, I suggested that we head in the opposite direction of our hotel lest we be trapped under the scaffolding should the rest of the club decide to create a stampede while trying to flee. I can’t tell you what the result of the melee was or even what started it. What I can tell you, however, is that we made it out safely and I’m here to tell you about it today.

Carry Protection

Laws vary from state to state, but most of them allow people to carry mace or pepper spray for protection. Be advised, however, that these items are only effective if you can reach them within a second or two of a threat. Also, there is danger in spraying yourself and becoming temporarily disabled if they are not used correctly. We recommend using StreetWise Designer Pink Camo Pepper Spray and keeping it on a keychain in your front pocket or in your hand if you are in a crowded place where you do not feel safe. Ditto for times when you may be walking alone at night or in a deserted area. If used correctly, pepper spray can afford you a couple of minutes to flee an attacker.

Those of you who have purchased the Mayday Deluxe Emergency Backpack Kit may even want to carry the whistle that is included in that pack with you at all times. In the event that you are faced with a threat, a loud noise will often cause a human or animal to flee. A loud whistle may also help search and rescue teams locate you faster if you are in a disaster situation.

Don’t Interfere in Fights

Never ever interfere in someone else’s fight. Few of us are able to stand by and watch someone be bullied or beaten, and it is often instinct that drives us to butt in and attempt to rescue someone. That instinct, however, can get you in a lot of trouble. Do not be caught off guard by these feelings.  Instead, be aware that they are likely to well up under certain circumstances, but keep your wits about you and decide now that you will call the police, instead. Report as many details as possible, such as a full physical description, the precise location of the altercation and any other pertinent information that will help police locate the individuals fighting.

A special note to men reading this, while it is admirable that you would want to get involved to stop a woman from being attacked, please refrain as much as possible from becoming physically involved and try to use this tip, instead. Only become involved if it is a life or death situation and there is no other chance for you to save someone and, even then, try calmly talking to an aggressor first in order to prevent a situation from escalating.

Sound Off

What are some of your best personal protection and safety tips? Have you ever been faced with danger from an aggressive person? How did you handle yourself and what did you learn from that situation?

Safe Room Supplies

Safe Room Supplies

Now that you’ve created a safe room in your home, we have a few suggestions to share about what you should put in it. We hope that you’re never faced with a home invasion, but we also hope that if you do have to use your safe room that you won’t have to wait inside of it for more than 30 minutes before help arrives. If you’re caught in a situation where you must stay inside of the room for longer,  however, we want you to be prepared to do so. The following is a list of items that should be safely packed away inside of your safe room just in case you ever have to spend more than a few hours there.

Food and Water

Assume that, in a worst case scenario, you’ll be in the safe room for 24 hours and prepare accordingly. Consider items like jerky, canned tuna, nuts and dried fruit or Mayday Industries Food Bars to help sustain you overnight. Remember to prepare for pets, family members with special diets, as well as babies who may need infant formula. Try to also have enough water stowed away for every member of your family. One gallon per family member should suffice.

Eating Utensils

A can opener, knives, forks, spoons, cups, bowls and plates should all be stored in your safe room. This doesn’t mean that you have to have move your kitchen into your safe room, but a small box or basket filled with paper goods will work.

Blankets and Warm Clothing

Every family member in your home should have a blanket and pillow stored in the safe room. Warm clothing and loose-fitted clothing may also come in handy. Remember to also include a supply of diapers for very young children.

Footwear

Since you may have to run into your safe room during the middle of the night with bare feet, always have an extra pair of shoes stored there, just in case. This will also make it easier in the event that you have to climb out of a window, run or fight an attacker. On pair of shoes with a durable sole for each family member in the home is advised.

Medications

If you or a member of your household must rely on daily prescription medications, be sure to have an additional supply stored in your safe room. This same rule applies for any animals in your household that may end up in the room with you. In addition to prescription medications, a small first-aid kit, pain relievers and allergy medications are also advisable.

Eyeglasses

If you wear prescription eyeglasses, be sure to have an extra pair stored in your safe room. You may need these to read the numbers on your cellphone, to watch surveillance video or for any number of other tasks. Few people will remember to grab a pair of glasses before fleeing to a safe room, so don’t assume that you’ll be one of them.

Battery-powered lighting

Even if your room has electrical lighting, do not rely on this as your sole lighting source. An intruder may interrupt power in your home or any number of events could render your primary lighting source as useless. Instead, be prepared by having battery-powered lighting, such as a lantern or a lamp, already inside of your safe room.

Spare batteries

While we’re on the subject of battery powered devices, be sure to always have additional batteries stored in your safe room. This goes for DC batteries, as well as additional cell phone batteries.

Fire Extinquisher

You should have several of these in your home already and one should definitely be stored in your safe room. We recommend the Mayday First Alert 5BC Fire Extinguisher, which is lightweight, easy to store and easy to use.

Toys and Books

If you have young children, be sure to store age-appropriate toys and books inside of your safe room. Toys shouldn’t be those that your child plays with on a daily basis (since they likely will not be in the safe room when needed), but similar toys that your child likes and that will help her to relax should be stored. Avoid things like action-packed video games or books with suspenseful themes as these may cause anxiety levels to heighten. Also, avoid toys that make a lot of noise.

Drills

We also want to advise you to hold regular drills with your family members at impromptu times in order to determine how long it takes to get inside of the safe room, secure it and make a phone call from within. Remember, that this is a simulated event, so do not call the police during a run-through, but do use your dedicated safe room phone to call a friend or a family member just so that you know the quality of the reception that you are able to get on the phone after the safe room’s doors are locked.

If you haven’t already done so, we strongly encourage you to read our previous blog posts on Tips For Creating a DIY Safe Room, What Should I Put in My Bug Out Bag, and Disaster and Emergency Preparedness. Also, be sure to read our free guide entitled SECURITY BREACH: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You for information and advice on how to handle yourself during a home invasion robbery.

What’s In Your Safe Room?

Do you have a safe room? What did we forget to add to our list? Please take a moment to let our readers know what supplies you recommend to be kept inside of a safe room.

Tips for Creating a DIY Safe Room

Recently, we provided you with useful information on surviving a home invasion robbery. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use this information, but we discourage the ‘that will never happen to me’ mentality and prefer that you to be prepared for such scenarios just in case. Today, we’d like to arm you with a few detailed tips for creating a safe hiding space in your home just in case an intruder enters while you are inside.

Panic Room, Safe Room…What’s the Difference?

Before we go any further, we want you to understand that the following tips are not for a ‘panic room’, but are strictly intended for a ‘safe room’. The difference you ask? Well, we define a panic room as a place for refuge in the event of a broad-scale emergency, such as a nuclear attack, a terrorist attack or something similar. Such rooms should be bullet-proof, weatherproof and properly ventilated to prevent fumes from entering, as well as provide enough air supply for long term residence, if needed. A safe room, on the other hand, is intended as a temporary safe space in the event your home is ever broken into while you or your family members are inside. While it can share elements of a panic room, extreme measures like bullet-proofing and building a complex ventilation system are purely optional. Keep in mind that the average burglar is not as sophisticated as most t.v. villains and will unlikely put forth too much effort to extract you from a safe room.

Most Rooms Can Double As Do-It-Yourself Safe Rooms

Many have seen the movie Panic Room (starring Jodie Foster) and have an idea that such a space costs a lot of money to construct. While it is true that a similar room probably would cost a pretty penny, much less is required to create a safe room in your house. (Note, also, that the room in that movie is an actual panic room and not merely a safe room.) A bathroom, spare bedroom, basement, attic space or even a closet can easily double as a safe room.

A Room With a View? No.

The most ideal space useful in creating a safe room is a room with no windows. If you don’t have such a room in your home, one with the fewest windows or even with very small windows will suffice. Securing any windows with security shutters and guarding them with surveillance cameras is also advisable.

Barriers to Entry

Every safe room should be secured with a sturdy door and a door jamb that will not allow the door to be easily pushed or kicked in. Steel doors, heavy wooden doors or solid core doors will generally do for this purpose. Doors should also be equipped with one or more access control devices, too. We recommend a biometric reader like the Adel Biometric Fingerprint Door Lock for this purpose since such devices are only operable by you and your family members.

Communication Tools

Keeping a fully-charged cellphone is always recommended for a safe room. This phone should not be used for everyday purposes, but should be a device that is always kept inside of the safe room and only used for emergency purposes. We also recommend that you check the phone monthly to make sure that it is in working order. In addition to this, consider also keeping a dedicated landline inside of the room as a backup in case your cellphone is not getting a full signal at the time that you need it.

Alarm System

Of course, all safe rooms should also be equipped with an alarm system. Placing an alarm panel inside of your safe room is what we recommend. You may also want to consider installing a wireless alarm system in order to prevent wire tampering and, by all means, make sure that your system is professionally monitored. Remember that you can save money by dealing directly with a monitoring company instead of signing a lengthy (and expensive) contract with a third-party security company.

Surveillance Tactics

Placing surveillance cameras at key places throughout your home will help you monitor the whereabouts of an intruder if you should ever have to barricade yourself inside of a safe room. Where you place cameras is entirely up to you, but we recommend a multi-channel system allowing you to place a camera at your safe room’s entrance (so that you can see if an intruder is trying to break into your safe space) as well as at all of your exterior doors and windows. Your system’s monitor should also be present inside of your safe room so that you can watch safely from within. It is very important, however, that you remain inside of your safe room until the police arrive even if you watch an intruder’s departure via your surveillance system.

More Information

FEMA offers free information on creating panic rooms and some of the same information can be useful in creating a safe room. Remember that you can self-install most of the devices recommended for use in a panic or safe room and, if purchased through our website, our tech team is always available to you for installation and troubleshooting assistance. Also, bear in mind that the creation of a safe room can be a long-term project. With the basics in place (making the room immediately functional in case you need to use it before it is completely finished), you can take your time layering your security devices needed to optimize the room’s safety and effectiveness.

Ideas Welcome

Have any of you ever constructed or used a safe room before? As always, we’d love to hear your input below.

 

The Types of Criminals Most Likely to Enter an Occupied Home

In recent news reports and here on this blog, you’ve probably heard about criminals who enter a house while its occupants are at home. Often, this means entering in the middle of the night when homeowners are sleeping and at their most vulnerable. Essentially, there are three types of criminals who commit these kinds of crimes and we thought we’d spend a few minutes discussing them just so that you know who they are and can do your best to try to avoid them.

The “Accidental” Home Invader

Now, I don’t mean accidental as in not meaning to break into a home, but rather that this type of intruder usually doesn’t realize that anyone is at home when he makes his entry. This guy is as likely to be just as surprised as the homeowner is when the truth is discovered. I’ve even shared my own story before of burglars breaking into my home (before I knew much about home security) and being surprised by my son walking in on them.

Often times, these sort of burglars are teenagers, transients, drug abusers or some other sort of petty criminal who is not looking for a confrontation. In fact, this type of criminal will often run away without attempting to harm a homeowner at all. Some, however, may fear being identified and may threaten bodily harm. It is hard to say exactly how this type of criminal will react to being discovered, but if you’d like to learn more about what to do in such a situation, we encourage you to read our guide on the subject entitled, SECURITY BREACH: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You.

The Predator

One of the most frightening type of criminals is the one who intentionally targets his victim. This person may be a sexual predator, a person targeting a big score or may even be part of a ring of criminals who seek out particular targets. These types also tend to be a bit more sophisticated in their planning and will often watch a home for a period of time before breaking into it simply to gauge the homeowner’s daily routines, become familiar with a home’s floorplan or even work to figure out how to bypass a security system.

In cases of intentional home invasion crimes, criminals will often partner with one or more other criminals in order to get the job done. Whether acting alone or in groups of two or more, predators usually come equipped with tools useful in subduing a homeowner and are prepared for a physical confrontation. It is also not unusual for this type of intruder to be armed with a weapon. Criminals in this category are often very aggressive and use fear and physical power to force a homeowner to submit to their demands.

These types of criminals tend to be rather particular in choosing their victims. Women who live alone or who are at home for long periods of time alone are often targeted for these sorts of crimes. Unfortunately, so are elderly people who live alone. Wealthy people or people who are perceived to have expensive household items are also frequently targeted by these sorts of criminals.

While other burglars prefer to work on weekdays during daylight hours when homeowners are more likely to be away, these aggressive intruders are known for working at night and on weekends.

The Crazed Criminal

The most unpredictable type of home invader is the one who is mentally impaired. Drug abusers and people with certifiable and aggressive mental conditions sometimes fit into this category. While some drug abusers will run away, others may be so high as to not realize the danger that they are in or the harm they are causing to others. More than a decade ago, a friend of a friend of mine was murdered in her home, along with a family member, by a person fitting this description. It wasn’t until the effects of the drug this person was on wore off that he realized that he’d mistakenly killed his one time good friend and her loved one.

How to Survive a Home Invasion

For tips on surviving a home invasion, read SECURITY BREACH: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You. Also, take a few minutes to search our archives for previous blog posts on this subject. Your best bet in surviving a crime like this is to be prepared with as much knowledge and information as you can…and, of course, as many security devices as possible.

By far, the best way to survive a home invasion is to prevent one from happening in the first place. To do so, we recommend a solid home security system, which, at the very least, includes a monitored alarm system, security lighting and surveillance cameras. You may also want to consider keeping a panic button like the DSC wireless WS4938 single-button personal panic button within close range to your bed and have one or two others stashed around your home, too, just in case.

What’s Your Take?

Have you ever been the victim of a home invasion? What do you know about the person or people who committed this crime against you? If we missed any useful information about the types of criminals who commit home invasions, please do us a favor and let us know in the comments section below.

5 Ways to Prevent a Home Invasion

Recent news accounts of burglars breaking into homes while residents are inside have a lot of people very concerned. Understandably so, since these types of crimes often result in bodily harm or worse. Keeping your valuables safe is one thing, but what about keeping your family safe from criminals so brazen as to enter your home while you’re there?

According to 2010 CNN article, the people most often targeted for home invasion crimes are wealthy homeowners, single women who live alone and senior citizens. Being a member of one of these demographics does not automatically make you a target, but if you are listed in one of these groups we want you to pay extra special attention to the tips that we’re about to share with you. At the same time, even if you’re not a member of one of these groups, you simply can’t afford to think that such a crime can never happen to you.

Of course, we’d prefer to help you avoid a home invasion robbery altogether, if possible. The following are a few tips on how to do so. When you’re done, be sure to hit our comments section and let us know what you think or add your own tips for our readers to consider.

Keep Your Alarm System Armed

Most of you reading this already have an alarm system or are here because you’re on the verge of purchasing one. Alarms are a great way to keep intruders out, but, unfortunately, some people only arm them when they leave home. In order to avoid a home invasion robbery, however, it is important to develop a habit of arming your alarm even when you are inside of the house. This may seem like a hassle at first, but once you’ve done it for a few days it becomes a habit. Of all of the advice we can give you on preventing a home invasion robbery, this is one of the best tidbits we offer.

Use Multiple Deterrents

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about layering your home security and there’s a good reason for this since most burglars are of the lazy, opportunistic sort who’d rather bypass a home that looks too difficult to break  into. So, instead of merely relying on an alarm system, also make sure you’ve installed things like glass break sensors, surveillance cameras, alarm stickers and placards, and motion-activated outdoor lighting. Think of each component of your system as a barrier to entry for thieves. The object here is to have as many barriers as possible so that if a thief is smart or lucky enough to bypass one, he’s faced with too many more for it to be worth his while.

Create Strong Barriers to Entry

Creating the strongest barriers to entry possible helps in keeping intruders out. The best way to do this is to keep all of your doors and windows locked with heavy-duty, bump-proof locks or even a device such as the Keypout Lock Bumping/Dead Bolt Protector. Don’t forget that this bit of advice includes doors leading to attached garages and enclosed patios, too. Also, make sure that your doors, themselves, as well as your door jambs, are sturdy enough not to give into being kicked or pushed open by force.

Do Not Open Your Door for Strangers

Some of you haven’t considered this bit of advice since you were children, but it’s still useful in keeping intruders outside of your home. One way to avoid this is to use a video intercom system which will allow you to see and communicate with unexpected visitors without actually approaching your front door. A common tactic used in burglaries is to knock on a door on a weekday to determine if anyone is home or not. When no one answers, a criminal may break into a home then and there or return on another day at around the same time. The assumption being, of course, that the home’s occupants are at work. With this in mind, we don’t recommend ignoring a knock at your door, but would prefer to see you use precaution by installing a video intercom system, instead.

Another common tactic in home invasions are for criminals to work in pairs or groups. Often, one person will knock on the front door and, while the home’s occupant is distracted, an accomplice will break into a back door. Keep this in mind and always keep your alarm armed.

Secured Community

While no community is completely safe from crime, if you are shopping for a new home, consider one in a secured community. Gated communities, those under video surveillance or buildings with a doorman often work as excellent security layers in keeping criminals out. Of course, we don’t expect you to pick up and move on the advice of this blog, but if you are planning a move in the future, keep this advice in mind before making your final decision on where to settle.

More Information

Speaking to your local law enforcement authorities will give you further insight on the types of burglaries that have taken place in your area recently. We’ve also developed a guide entitled, SECURITY BREACH: A Burglar Is in the House and So Are You, to offer you tips on what to do if you find yourself in such a situation. Remember, to bookmark this post and share all of the security information that you gather with friends and loved ones, as well.

Your Tips Are Welcome

Have you ever been the victim of a home invasion? What did you do to survive such a frightening crime? We always look forward to your comments and hope that you’ll share a few below.

I’ve Installed My Own Alarm System. Now What?

First, congratulations on taking a first step towards better home security. Having an alarm system is a very good way of deterring burglars and protecting your family. You have a better chance of avoiding a break-in, however, if you consider this as the first installment of a larger system that you can build to defend your home and your family.

The Importance of Layering

We often refer to layering when we speak of home security. This is because we want you to know that it often takes several different devices to make sure that a burglar is not able to gain access to your home. By creating multiple barriers and deterrents, you significantly lower your chances of becoming a victim of burglary and home invasion crimes.

Consider layering in this manner: Your outer layer should be positioned to deter criminals from approaching your home. A second layer should consist of measures used to detect an intruder. And, finally, a third layer should be put into place in order to alert you and the authorities of possible dangers to your home and safety.

Multiple Layering Options

Now, because we mention three layers, don’t think that we are suggesting that you merely need three security devices. Your options for the equipment needed to accomplish these layers may vary and may even overlap. It is possible that you may be able to accomplish optimal security with two or three devices, or you may need more. You also have several different devices and models to choose from. Let’s take a closer look at some of these for just a moment.

Your Alarm System’s Layer

You already have an alarm system, so let’s begin right where you are. An alarm system can be considered as part of a deterrent layer, as well as an alert layer. This is because, upon seeing that an alarm system is in place, most burglars won’t be interested in venturing further with an attempt to break into your home. Of course, having window decals, lawn signs and placards that advertise your alarm’s presence helps, so these items should all be included in your deterrent layer, as well.

Remember, however, that a lot of burglars are drug addicts who are looking for an easy score and may not be as attentive to obvious signs of an alarm system. Or, a burglar may not have a drug habit, but may still be determined to break into your home by attempting to disable your alarm system especially if it’s believed that high-priced valuables are inside. Hopefully, you’ve installed your system in such a way as to prevent tampering as much as possible and, in either of these scenarios, your alarm will sound loudly enough to stop a would-be thief in his tracks and cause him to flee, instead. Used in this way, an alarm system can also be considered as part of your alert layer since it will alert you and your neighbors about a crime in progress. To make sure that your alarm is able to help secure your home to the utmost, it is also important that you have door and window sensors installed, as well as glass breaks and motion detection sensors.

Alarm Monitoring

In addition to your alarm system, consider investing in alarm monitoring. Such contributes to your detection and alert layers in terms of keeping your home and family safe. Having already installed a do-it-yourself alarm system, there is no need for you to pay inflated prices for alarm monitoring (as is typically the case for homeowners who lease or purchase an alarm and have it installed by a third-party security vendor). Instead, you can deal directly with a monitoring company and receive monitoring service for less than $9 per month.

In fact, since you just installed an alarm, monitoring would be your most logical next step as it ensures that the authorities will be properly alerted in the event that your home is broken into or even if an attempt at a break-in is made. Should you not be able to reach a telephone to call for help, it is nice to know that a team of professionals are monitoring your alarm and are there to assist in your rescue when you need them the most.

Strengthening Your Detection Layer

To strengthen your detection layer, consider installing devices that will give you an advantage over criminals who seek to gain access to your home. Examples of these types of devices include security cameras and video intercom systems. Not only will you be able to see and hear what is going on in and around your property from a safe distance, but a recording can also be shared with law enforcement officials should the need for such ever arise.

So, now that you’ve taken that critical first step in installing a new alarm system, do not ignore the fact that you can always do more to increase your home’s security. Review our home security checklist to assess your security strengths and weaknesses, and endeavor to create the safest environment that you can for yourself and for your family. As you know, do-it-yourself security systems are not terribly difficult to install and self-installations are far more economical than hiring someone else to do the job.