I received a call two nights ago that my wife's 70 year old aunt's home had been burglarized. Nobody was hurt, only a few hundred dollars of cash was stolen and I was able to repair the damaged door jamb in about half an hour's time, but it left me wondering what precautions should be taken to ward off intruders and protect yourself or your possessions. Do security systems that monitor doors, windows and motion provide the most bang for the buck? If so, is it worth the extra money to have it ring into an agency as opposed to a local alarm? What about cameras? Motion detectors wired to lighting or sirens? And along with all that, what programs or discounts are available to seniors? I'm trying to come up with an affordable, effective and common sense plan. Any thoughts or suggestions?
I think this probably is a very "it depends" situation. I'm in my 60s and live alone in a metropolitan area. I lived in apartments/condos for many years and was nervous when I bought a house because there were so many more ways to get in. I got an alarm system before I moved in and a vigilant-but-not-aggressive dog after I moved in.
My house already had an alarm system when I bought it and after I did some research I decided to replace it rather than pay the exorbitant fee the large national company wanted to turn it back on. For me it was more than worth it to pay $2000 up front for wiring instead of taking one of the "free wiring" deals. In 10 years I've probably made back the difference in monitoring fees. I use a local company, I know the installers (they don't subcontract like many of the big companies do) and they use a shared monitoring service so there's good coverage. After I had a bad fall and hospitalization, I got my company to bring out a medical alert thing that they wired into the alarm system.
The "ring into an agency" part only costs a few hundred a year. For me it's worth it. If she's in a rural area she might also want to consider having some kind of "safe room" where she can go until someone arrives.
I don't have cameras or intercom. I may be adding a couple of cameras soon, but that's because of some vandalism that probably is the work of one particular neighbor. They're a little "in your face" for my taste, but YMMV.
We have been in the same suburban house for 31 years (beginning 1984). As in the book Jane Jacobs, "The Life and Death of Great American Cities" - we rely upon long-term neighbors (especially three across the street) to keep eyes on our place.
The problem with relying on neighbors, assuming you're living in a place that has neighbors who are home a lot and will watch the house for you, is that sometimes they're the people who are breaking in. I've known several people that happened to. And even if your neighbors are great, they go out sometimes too and thieves can wait for that. I have some great, involved neighbors, but I can't expect them to always be watching.
One of our rural neighbors has a shotgun leaning in sight at his front door. He also has a big dog.
Being friendly with neighbors is also a good policy. If possible have a friend or relative stay at her place when she goes away for any period.
Don't leave the car out when home so that others know when you come and go. Make the outward appearance look lived in by automatically turning on various lights and possibly radios or TV's.
These things are not expensive.
An update: The burglars had been doing this kind of thing for about the past 2 years and working in 2 counties. They have been arrested and are facing trial in the arresting county. As soon as that case is is finished they will be sent to the other county to be tried again. My wife's aunt got most of her stuff back with the exception of the cash.
As for selecting a means of security, it definitely depends on the situation. Much of what would work on our condo in FL would be worthless on our farm in rural OH.
Jerry, I have to disagree with your neighbor who leaves a shotgun in sight for many reasons, not the least of which is that firearms are one of the most targeted things to steal. I'd prefer they didn't know if I'm armed or not. Sort of like Clint Eastwood when he asked, "Are you feeling lucky, punk?" Other than that, all the actions you listed are good common sense actions that make sense regardless of where you live.
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