Home security part 1

imgresOne of the important things you need to think about, when we build your house or remodel, is personal security. It is sad that we have too, but that is the reality of life. There is always someone who wants your stuff and will do what it takes to get it. The first rule to remember, is that if someone wants it bad enough, THEY WILL GET IT. But most thieves fear being caught, more than the reward of stealing your property, if the risks are large. So we need to keep the thieves out of reach of our valuables.

Sounds easy, but is it? Personally, I am not a big fan of protectores,  I find them prison like, but that is just me. I am however, a big fan of large dogs. In a previous life, I investigated hundreds of break-ins if not more. The one common link was none of them had a larger dog. A barking dog is the best defence and the larger and snarlier the better. We have 3 dogs and you would have be very brave or extremely foolish to walk into our yard. I do understand that dogs are not possible for all, but here are some principles, that apply in all cases. We do not have protectores, but we do have a perimeter defence system and a few tricks up our sleeves.

People have a natural concept of personal space. A simple example is an elevator. When you get in an elevator with strangers, I will bet you money that you keep an arms length from them, without thinking about it. Subconsciously anyone with in arms length can literally reach out and touch you, with a knife, fist or……  So over the millennia we have developed a perceived safe zone. The flip side of that is we also stay away from what we perceive as others space. A simple example of that is a grass front yard on a corner. If you live on a corner, people will cut the corner and eventually make a path that others will follow. But research has shown that even a small token fence will make people go the long way around. The question is why, but the answer is simple, our concept of personal space. We do not want to invade others defined space, without a good reason.

Personal space is very important when you think about home security. An open front or back yard has no visual boundary to would be thieves. This in itself is a visual signal to them. If they are caught inside this imaginary boundary, they will always have an excuse. “I didn’t know I was in their yard, there was no fence or any other indication.”  So you need to define what is yours and what isn’t, this is extremely important. You need to be very clear or make a clear statement, THIS IS MINE, STAY OUT. There are numerous ways to do that, but most commonly it is a fence. If you are using a fence make it one about 5 feet high or higher. A 5 foot fence is not easy to get over and there is no excuse if you are caught inside one, especially a locked one, Mexican law is pretty clear on that point. A 8 foot brick wall is even better, but they are usually reserved for back yards. But once you have the perimeter fence or wall, then what? You need to step back and think how you would get in, if you locked yourself out. Now go out and buy plants with thorns and spikes. Put the plants with thorns (bouganvillas) on the outside and let them grow. Now plant the sharp spiked ones on the inside, (henequin) is perfect. You want the plants at obvious cross over places, remembering a house is most easily attacked at night. You also want the ground  next to the wall to be rough, so that if someone does jump down, they have a good chance of breaking an ankle. But at night thieves hopefully will not see your defences, so if they try to get over your fence or wall, the thorns will get them and if they jump down on the inside, the spiky plants will impale them or they might break something.

If they do get past the fence/wall and the thorny defence, that will be the easy part. Now you need motion lights on all the walls of your house, to illuminate the inside of your property. Intruders need to be lit up and I mean lit up like daylight! Thieves are like cockroaches and hate good lights. They also hate the idea that their action may be recorded, so the next layer of your defence should be cameras. Even good fake ones will do the same job, fake or real who knows the difference? Just never tell ANYONE if they are fake, NO ONE! I do mean no one. You want everyone that comes into or looks into your yard to think you have a camera system.

Most thieves are lazy by nature and if your house looks like it is going to be hard to get into without being caught, they will most likely move on to easier pickings. But if for some reason they do decide your worth the risk, the last thing you want them to have is shelter from view. I hate front entrances that have a little alcove. That is the perfect spot to stand and pry open a door, as no one can see you unless they are standing right in front of you. A large rear yard wall does the same thing, hides an intruder from view. So the back of your house needs to be an extra hard place to break into. If you do not have dogs, then all openings need to resistant to being forced or smashed open. Sliding doors and windows need fixtures on the tracks, so they cannot be pried open. Normal doors need to be the metal skinned or thick wood variety and should have 2 locks, with one of the locks being at eye level or higher. If you really want to go all out, aluminum hurricane shutters which lock and pin securely on the inside are hard to break into without making a lot of noise and then you still have to get passed the doors. Even the stupidest of thieves knows the longer they are on someone’s property, the better the chance they are going to be caught. So if you make it a hard job, they might just pass on it.

Here are a couple of quick and easy tricks, that might cause a thief to move on. Lock your front gate and open it only as you need to. Go and buy a large plastic dog dish and a big dog toy or 2. Fill the dish with water and put it in plain view by your door, with the toy close by. A passing thief will assume you have a big dog somewhere on your property, especially if you put up several “Cuidado con el perro” signs. If you have a table on your front porch get an old paperback novel and lay it on the table like you were just reading it and stepped away for a minute and put a coffee cup next to it. Now the thief has to take the chance you are somewhere close by  and could return at any second.

Email us if you have any questions.

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