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Home Security! Deciding to Spend or Not to Spend

It’s Jan 1, 2012 at 4:14am, my dog started barking like an entire gang was at my front door trying to break in.

Beagle Boys

Much like the dad in Clement Clarke Moore’s poem “Twas the night before Christmas“, I sprang out of my bed in an adrenaline pumping state ready to encounter whatever threat might exist.

As I flew to the window to see what the environment looked like outside.  After a quick scan of the well-lite front yard, I suddenly came to realize that it’s not “bad guys” breaking in (most likely they are hung over, sleeping off the alcohol they consumed during New Years Eve), but instead the intruder was of a different “four-legged” sort.  Yes the big emergency was another dog, a collared Beagle to be exact.  Now my dog (a chocolate lab), doesn’t ever bark in the middle of the night.  To be honest, I thought she couldn’t hear well.  There has been times when I’ve come downstairs, turned on the lights, then turned on the TV and our dog never even moved, let along bat an eyelid…

The entire incident made me rethink my home protection philosophy!  You see right now I don’t have much in the way of worth at home.  Most of my money is in investments and other financial vehicles that are not lying around  in my house.  When I was in college, this was especially true, but things are different now.  Kids change the equation, burglars breaking in taking possessions is one thing, but burglars breaking in and potentially harming my kids in the process is another.  So since Jan 1, I’ve been thinking about increasing security for our home.

The following are some of the steps I’m considering to enhance my Home Security:

  • Buy a shotgun and put it in a lock protected plastic case.  Actually I want to do this anyway because I would like to go skeet shooting someday.
  • Researching the services provided by ADT Security.  I probably won’t go with them but if I had more money they would definitely be a worthwhile consideration.
  • Search for an individual electronic House Security system for that isn’t tied into a service.  I will probably go with such a system instead of ADT!
  • Keep my dog.  Like I was going to get rid of her (lol).  It’s nice to know that she responds to sounds that she doesn’t recognize.
  • Consider purchasing security signs, if possible.  Sometimes just the warning is enough.
  • Creating a home monitoring solution from old computers that I still have.  Mostly these would be used to capture video of a motion detector triggered it.  I’m just playing around with this idea currently.  No solid plans.
  • Automate lights turning on and off at certain times at night to leave the impression that someone is home (this would be very useful for times when your family goes on vacation).  During the day, the turning on and off of a radio via an automated timer would be of benefit too (although not very green friendly for the environment).

Family is important, and any form of deterrent may be of benefit.  Sometimes just knowing a house is being monitored will be enough to sway crooks from attempt to break in.

Are you well protected from the Home Security perspective?



30 Responses to Home Security! Deciding to Spend or Not to Spend

    • Happy New Year to you too!

      Hmm, the “Beware of Dog” sign sounds like an interesting idea too!

      Although in my neighborhood, nobody else has such a sign.

      I should get a home alarm system.

  1. If you don’t have valuables at home, dog+shotgun is a very viable solution, and cheap if you already have the dog.

    Only one minor problem – good skeet guns are not particularly good home defense guns.

  2. We have a monitored alarm system that we turn on at night, and off in the morning. The local company was reliable enough, although they’ve been recently taken over by a larger regional company.
    Lights and signs and barky dogs do much to deter intruders. That, and keeping your doors and windows locked.
    By the way, before purchasing a firearm for home defense purposes, it might be useful to familiarize with your state’s laws laws on castle doctrine. Some states are more restrictive than others with allowing application of deadly force, even in self-defense situations.

  3. I agree, I would look to see what the home defense laws are where you live. Where I live, if you are defending yourself, you can kill a person who steps anywhere on your property without going to jail. This was actually just proven true twice recently, so thankfully everyone now knows that it’s true where I live.

    I don’t have ADT or any other commercialized system, but I have thought about it. Right now I have two dogs and we also have multiple guns.

    • I’ve heard from others that the intruder would have to enter the house before the property owner would be able to shoot him/them without going to jail.

      Two dogs and multiple guns sounds like enough of a defense 🙂

  4. I’ve been interested in purchasing automatic light timers (like the ones sold at Target) for some time now. A lady I used to pet-sit for had them, and they serve a dual purpose from what I saw. They provide evening light for your pets if you’re not home early enough to turn them on, but they also make it look like someone is home even if you’re not.

    My parents’ community once circulated a short video from a home security system. It was 4am and it showed a kid testing the doors on a resident’s cars to see if they were unlocked. There’d been a rash of car thefts and the resident was able to circulate the video to other residents and to the sheriff’s office. It was cool to see, but I feel like video surveillance may be too costly and minimally effective for theft and safety.

    I completely agree with you though… your family is worth the added investment of whatever security features you decide to implement!

    • Yep, if it were just me, I don’t think I would consider a system, but for my family’s sake, it’s got me thinking.

      I live in a nice, friendly area, but one never knows.

    • That she does 🙂

      She totally had me fooled, I thought she was near deaf the way she ignore our sounds. But it’s good to know that if she doesn’t recognize a sounds she freaks out…

  5. We had a Brinks home security system in our previous home and I really liked it. My husband traveled a lot and the kiddos were little, and it just made me feel safer.

    Having a dog is a huge deterrent. I bet the dog realizes intrusion quicker than a home alarm does. But, peace of mind is a wonderful thing, and worth the money.

    • Based on the Brinks brand name, you would think that they would definitely do it right 🙂

      I think I would like an alarm system for the times when nobody is home (including the dog) because we are on vacation.

  6. We live in a condo and we have security patrol come by every so often. We still have problem with burglary in the common area, but none of the units have had any problem so far. Police and fire stations are also only a few blocks away.

    • I can see video systems getting more use in the future. Especially since they keep getting cheaper and cheaper.

      It’s good to know that the Police and fire stations are close by, that helps a lot I’m sure!

  7. We don’t have a gun but we do have an alarm system and our lights on timers. We live in a good area so it really is more of a deterrent. Really , if the crooks are pros, they will still get in. Having a good house insurance policy is also important.

    • Yeah, I’m not entirely crazy about the gun idea, especially with kids in the house. But I’m thinking if I have a case with a lock on it I should be okay.

      Good point about the house insurance

  8. My dog is definitely my security system. She is a Great Dane, and she barks at anyone who comes up our sidewalk. That includes dogs, but I’m willing to tolerate her need to bark at the ocassional loose dog as long as I know she will always bark at humans (and completely scare them away — she is quite big!).

    • Wow, a Great Dane is a huge dog! I can imagine that it would be a great deterrent!

      My chocolate lab is only 50 lbs, so she is quite small, but still when she acts ferocious, she looks scary 🙂

  9. Hey Don, I did a lot of research when I got a security system and there are two key points I remember:

    1- Monthly fees from all service providers are negotiatble! Check with a couple providers and then pit them against each other….they’re hungry for business.

    2- Never pay for any equipment. Even if you get extras like an upgraded control panel, you can negotiate with just about everyone to provide it for free (if you sign a contract).

    One other tidbit, I love the fact that cable operators are getting into the “wired home” and starting to offer this service. When it’s offered in my neighborhood I’ll be very interested in getting the bundle.

    • I’ve never heard of cable companies getting involved with security, but it makes sense… Why not!

      Thanks for the tips, they were great adds!!!

  10. Reminds me of the old Discovery Channel show – It Takes A Thief. The gun and dog never kept the thieves out. The gun just got stolen and the dog did nothing but bark and wag it’s tail. The cameras and alarms always seemed to keep people out though.

  11. Canada does not have the same gun culture as the U.S. so I’d have to check the legality of keeping a shotgun at home for self defense. I do believe that using the weapons is OK so long as you believe that your life or the life of another is in direct, immediate danger.

    There was a case where a farmer fired his shotgun at a fleeing criminal, and he got in trouble and jailed for 90 days because the criminal was now fleeing and thus no longer posed a direct danger.

  12. If you are going to lock up a gun, maybe get a biometric lock that will open with your fingerprint. Would make you a lot safer.

    I think there are a lot of off-the-shelf security systems that aren’t tied to monitoring companies that would work well. Also consider some driveway chimes or other motion sensors.

    Regarding a shotgun, you might want to get a home defense shotgun rather than a skeet gun (or at least one with interchangeable barrels).

  13. Whatever you decide to use to secure your shotgun, practice removing it regularly. You’d be surprised at how hard it is to get those locks open when the adrenaline is pumping through your body; you want the process to be automatic. A gun you can’t get to in time is more worthless than no gun at all because you waste precious time trying to access it.

    I think you can get a dual-purpose shotgun, unless you’re doing some super-specialized skeet shooting. It is better to have a gun that you are proficient with for the same reasons that you practice taking it out of its storage. I’d use different ammo for home defense, though:)

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