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Burglar Hacks: How to discourage prowlers

Occasionally when I chat with folks — especially strangers — I’m reminded that living in a central-city neighborhood poses certain risks that those in middle-class suburbs escape. Truth to tell, most of the time I don’t dwell on the dangers presented by the meth colonies directly to the north and to the west of us. My house is secured, I have a barking dog, and I’m armed to the teeth, so…well…make my day. 😀

Today, though, in response to a Quora query, I was led to articulate the steps I’ve taken to secure my home. These are strategies most of us can use and, with the exception of the security doors and the drill-resistant deadbolts, modestly priced. And none of them include owning a shotgun or a baseball bat…

Assuming you live in a place you own, as opposed to a rental…

  1. Install motion-sensitive light fixtures outside all the doors.
  2. Also install, motion-sensitive floodlights that will light up each of the exterior walls. Place these up under the eaves, where a prowler can’t easily reach them to unscrew the bulbs.
  3. Install good-quality steel security doors on all exterior doors, and equip these with tamper-resistant, drill-resistant locks such as Schlage or Medeco.
  4. Equip exterior doors and windows with “screamer” alarms that you can set to squeal if the door or window is opened (this assumes you’re not fond of whole-house burglar alarm systems).
  5. Or, if you don’t mind the expense and nuisance, call a burglar alarm company and sign up to have them alarm every entrance and send you a bill once a month.
  6. Attach timers to a few lights and a radio inside your home. Set these to go on and off at various times (for example, to make it look like you have moved from the living room to a bedroom or family room). Leave the radio playing just loud enough to be heard through a closed window…but put it on a timer, too, because most burglars are smart enough to know you don’t have the radio blatting 24/7.
  7. Get a dog with a gawdawful bark, if you’ll be around enough to take care of it. If you’re unable to care for a dog adequately or don’t want the expense, then try this sort of thing: The 5 Best Barking Dog Alarms Reviews for 2019 (Expert Advice)

Some of these, such as #4, #6, and #7’s barking dog alarm gadget, apply to rentals, too. Also, you can get motion-sensitive light-bulbs, so if your apartment has porch lights, in theory you could replace the regular bulbs with these — I’ve found they don’t work very well, so personally would not spend the money on them. But nothing ventured…

4 thoughts on “Burglar Hacks: How to discourage prowlers”

  1. I actually have a motion-activated LED light bulb in my porch light fixture by my front door – it works really well!

    • That’s good! We (“we” being the electricians and the old lady) tried one in a new back porch fixture, and it just didn’t work. We figured it would be cheaper to buy the non-motion-sensitive fixture with motion-sensitive bulbs…but alas, that was a FAIL. 😀

      Could be the fixture’s design…maybe it blocks whatever the bulb needs to “see” to make it come on.

  2. Hahaha, I’d go for the whole-house alarm system really. Nice tips you’ve got there, I’ll make sure to put them in consideration. I’m just wondering how much would it cost to install this, roughly?


    • LOL! I did install a whole-house alarm system. Hated it. First off, it’s a nuisance, fiddling with that thing every time you come and go. Second, the company’s owner was a fruitcake who made an obnoxious nuisance of himself. Soon as the contract ran out, I canceled it. And third, a whole-house system that connects with both the police and the alarm company is not cheap: around $250 to $350 for installation plus about $35/month ($420/year) for the service fee.

      As for intalling all the doodads described above, it would depend on the products’ quality and whether you can do the installation yourself or need to hire craftsmen. The Medeco locks probably should be installed by a locksmith. Installing a security door looks suspiciously like a PITA and so that might best be done by someone with some experience with the task. The basic cost of purchasing these things, exclusive of the dog:

      MS light fix $60 to $180 deco type, 1-3
      fllood 35 to 60 industrial type
      Schlage 55 to 35 plus extra keys
      Medeco 135 to 145 satin finish residential
      Steel door 325 to 350 apiece, plus install
      Screamers 13 to 13 box of six
      light timer 10 to 20 at plug
      total: $633 to $803

      That’s exclusive of locksmith’s, electrician’s, and carpenter’s fees. My house has aluminum wiring, and so I always hire an electrician to install and fiddle with fixtures, no matter how small the job, because aluminum wiring is potentially unsafe.

      As for the dog: the cost is $$$$$$$$$$$. You can get an adult, obedience-trained German shepherd at the German-shepherd rescue here for about $350; much cheaper of course, at your local dog pound or humane society. That’s just the start: over the animal’s lifetime, vet bills, food, training, insurance, and various other costs really add up. I figured I spent $40,000 on my German shepherd and greyhound over their 12-year lifetime, adding in the cost of a vehicle large enough to carry them around. Even if you subtract, say, 30 grand for the Toyota Sienna (not counting its maintenance), that still leaves around 10 grand for food, training, and veterinary bills over 12 years. Given that the German shepherd chased out an intruder, da*n near killed a sh!thead coming in the back gate, and no doubt repelled a number of threats of which I never became aware, I’d say 40 grand was a bargain.

      P.S.: All that of course doesn’t include the cost of a pistol or shotgun and any permit or extra insurance that entails.

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