I have been in the market to buy a house for about a month now. This has given me the opportunity to view and visit several houses and is what first got me into paying attention to home security. It’s easy for us to go all out and make our home a modern day castle and put up cement walls and barricades but I think, without a current breakdown of the rule of law all that will do is bring unwanted attention to our home and us by the local authorities and people wanting to know what we’re trying to protect. So I think it is important to point out that what we will discuss is trying to achieve that “castle” like protection in a manner that is stealthy and does not make us a target. We also want to be able to quickly change or increase the level of security in case we do lose the rule of law.
One of the first things we should do is have a monitoring company like ADT install a security system. Some things we should consider in conjunction with the perimeter monitoring are motion detectors inside the house (sometimes there are false alarms, maybe you left a window open and armed the house as you were leaving causing the alarm to go off after you leave) to tell you if someone is actually in the house, cameras that offer remote viewing and recording and most importantly, in my opinion, panic buttons. These are important because while they can be accidentally set off, someone has to be there to push it and response time to panic button activation by law enforcement is usually faster than just a perimeter burglary alarm.
The down side to monitoring services is the cost. There are installation costs, system costs and monitoring fees. I just checked with ADT’s web-site and they’re advertising $99.00 (with $200 mail in rebate for a basic security system. I don’t know what the monthly fee is though. If you don’t want the security service there are several companies that make home camera systems that you can install yourself and will record to a DVR. I’ve seen good quality ones as low as $300. This is a one-time cost and is a good alternative.
Let’s talk about windows. The windows are probably the easiest access point to your home. All you need is a rock and access is gained. 3M makes a security film (I’ve seen it as cheap as around $50 but I would highly recommend you pay a home window tinting professional to install it) that is clear, goes on the outside of the window and makes it very hard to penetrate. It’s actually very impressive. I highly recommend that you do a youtube search for it and see for yourself.
For added security you can obviously put up window bars but that detracts from the appearance of the home and makes the neighborhood look bad in my opinion. I would buy the bars but keep them in the garage for later installation if necessary. One down side to bars is that it becomes a perfect hook and chain attachment point for a vehicle to rip off, a tactic commonly used by SWAT teams that can easily be adopted by criminal gangs in a WROL (without rule of law) situation.
One option I really like is roll down hurricane shutters. Completely seal off the windows from any type of penetration such as rocks, incendiaries, tear gas etc. . The down side is they are relatively expensive, the ones I priced were between $700 and $1300 but cheaper options may be available.
Now that we’ve talked about securing the windows let’s also look at ways to defeat the windows from even being an entry option. We want to keep people away from the windows and also the walls. Thorny plants are an obvious first choice and a good one too. Other options might be large, dense bushes. One house I saw had a planter box all the way around the front of the house. The planter box was approximately 2.5ft high. I thought about this and thought it was a good idea if you wanted ballistic protection. Sand does an amazing job of stopping bullets and it really doesn’t take a lot of it to defeat various calibers. Boxotruth.com does a good job demonstrating this, I recommend our readers check out their website. A planter box with defensive plants would be a good combination for any home but again, keep it stylish and in line with the community.
The front and back doors are the obvious next entry choice. There are several factors to consider when securing the main entry points. Then first thing I look at when looking at the front door is where can someone stand while they are at my front door? Can five or six people stack up along the side of my house or are they forced to stand directly in front of the door? I like front doors that are recessed requiring anyone coming to the front door to be in my “fatal funnel”. If you don’t have a recessed front door look at ways that you can force someone to stand in front of your door (or wherever you prefer) using plants, bushes, or a small fence lining the walk way.
Larson makes a security storm door that I find impressive. It’s their “secure elegance” model 349-20. It has a 1-5/8” thick frame, three locking points and security glass. It is available at Lowes and Home Depot for around $350-$400 I believe.
The only thing keeping your door locked is about a half inch of wood in the door frame. This is why it is so easy to kick down a door, all you have to do is make the dead bolt break through that half inch. Armor concepts makes a door/frame armor kit that is also quite impressive and economical. Doing a search on youtube I was able to find a news channel that did a “does it work” story on their product and it most definitely did work. Using a battering ram, the door failed before the EZ armor. EZ armor runs around $70-$100. I would recommend putting this on every door in the house except maybe the bathroom doors.
Doors are another thing that should be looked at, most doors are not solid. Common residential front doors are hollow fiberglass. After installing some type of frame armor replacing your door with a solid wood door or steel door should be your next priority. Home depot has steel residential doors for around $150. This is a relatively cheap upgrade if you have a hollow or fiberglass front door and they look just like the fiberglass panel doors.
The garage is the largest and potentially weakest entry point to your home. I highly suggest that every precaution you take on your front door, you also take those same precautions to the door that connects your house to your garage. Every time we make an improvement in one area of the house we focus our enemies’ objective to another point. If you took every precaution we talked about the only thing left would be the garage. Depending on how much you want to harden your home, you can get bracing kits designed for hurricanes that go on your garage door and use it for home fortification instead. It’s not really practical unless it’s a WROL situation though.
The last thing we’ll talk about in this segment is lighting. While lights physically do nothing to keep people from breaking into your house they’re an excellent deterrent. My only recommendation for lighting is that they are at a minimum, motion activated and solar/battery operated so they work when the power is out.
You are only limited by your imagination with ways to secure your home. At the core we want to keep people from ever making it to the house, we want to keep them away from the doors and windows and even the walls. Next week we will talk about the outer ring. There’s more to the outer ring than just a fence..
Regarding the 3M covering, one thing they do not say on their website is this material is used to protect sensitive sites. They have thicker coverings that are up to 11 mil thick. If you want go a step further then you put it on the inside to double the thickness. You will be amazed as what it will stop. One caveat it is only as strong as the window frame so plan accordingly.
I like the planter box idea. It has a number of uses. Here in the desert, prickly pear cactus, or other edible varieties could be planted for food and protection.
The lock and latch system on the Larson Security Storm door is contrary to safe opening panic latches.
I had a Larson Security Storm door installed in September, 2015. The door was examined and purchased from Lowe’s. I was y impressed when the salesman showed me that the door could be locked by raising the handle, engaging two latches on the vertical edge of the door which went into the door jamb, securing the door. You merely needed to lower the handle and open the door to disengage.
However, upon installation, I found that the handle inside is connected directly to the handle outside. Therefore the “locked’ door can be opened from the outside. To securely lock the door, you must lift the handle then engage the small deadbolt below the handle. Then neither the interior nor the exterior handle will open the door.
This is a dangerous arrangement in a panic situation. Panic handles, which should be installed in any household containing children and the elderly should be of the type to release all locking mechanisms from the inside with the “opening” motion of one handle. (Think motel room deadbolt/handle style lock)
I worked in a field where deadbolts and key type deadbolts were known to cause deaths in fires, or any situation in which an individual attempts to exit through a deadbolt style locked door.
What makes this door much more dangerous in my opinion is the fact the deadbolt is so small and engineered too close to the jam when properly installed. (see photo)
I contacted Larson and spoke with a supervisor there. She advised I should have inspected the door more closely before buying it. Attempting to have her understand the gravity of the engineering design of the door, her suggestion was to modify or remove portions of the jamb which would allow better access to the deadbolt.
I am disappointed in the 21st century a manufacturer apparently has so little consideration for safety in their design.
A couple thoughts:
1) Your property line should be the second of four rings, not the first of three. Your outermost ring is the neighborhood watch you’ve organized, getting everyone together for barbecues to get to know each other, creating a neighborhood phone list, agreeing to report suspicious individuals who might be casing houses. In some cases gating the road in, or similar. Also in this ring is the location where you’ve chosen to live in the first place, minimizing the odds of being targeted. See local PD for comparative neighborhood crime stats.
2) Check out the “ring” doorbell. Whenever someone rings your front doorbell, it forwards video and audio to your phone. Person won’t even know you’re not home.
3) Can’t believe we haven’t mentioned dogs yet. Hugely simple and effective way to make a badguy target the house two doors down instead of yours.
Hi JohnDoe, thanks for the reply. In understanding the 3 ring concept it’s important to understand that we’re talking about physical barriers. Ideally, your home would not even be “a ring.” Your home would be at the center of 3 rings of increasingly difficult barriers. Unfortunately, very few people have the real estate and resources to achieve this. So, it’s also important to remember this was written in the context of the average home, in an average neighborhood.
I don’t disagree with getting to know your neighbors and having a neighborhood watch, but that is not a “physical barrier.” A neighborhood watch could play a role in an overall security posture, but they shouldn’t be relied upon in place of physical barriers. People get tired, lose motivation, have ulterior motives, etc. approach with caution.
I have seen the ring doorbell. Looks like a great piece of equipment. It was not in existence when this article was written.
Dogs. Dogs are great, but I put them in the same category as a neighborhood watch. Not a physical barrier, but definitely a piece of a comprehensive security posture.
Thanks for stopping by.