House Burglary Prevention

john-duncanApril 2, 2007

Hello. I went through the forums and could not find anything related to burglary, so I start a new subject. I would appreciate any tips you can give on the prevention and the dealing with consequences of burglary. Here is my story (sad). We live in a country house and practically are cut off from sight of the neighbouring houses. Last month, very sadly, our house has been burgled when we were away for a week. I am not lamenting over the monetary loss of my pictures and furniture - everything was insured. But you can guess our emotinal state when things you have been putting together for years are taken! I wish those crooks have no joy with the money they get out of this. Anyhow, the Police told us that it is actually quite common for the thieves to come back and re-burgle the home if they know that there were things left in. For that end we were advised to take pictures of the valuable posessions and keep them for a record. So, keeping the long story short, I would appreciate any advice and tips on how to protect our home. Thanks a lot in advance, John Duncan, Sussex.

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So sorry. We have never had things burgled out of our house. but we have had things stolen out of our yard and had to deal with vandalism on several occasions.

I do know that here, when you know you are going away for a trip, you can inform the local law enforcement and they can keep a lookout for suspicious activity on your property while you are away if they can. You can do that in small towns around here I know.

You may want to invest in a burglary system for your own piece of mind though. We have thought about this as our house is not near anyone either and out of sight of the road like yours is.

Maybe some of your stuff will turn up. I know when my aunt and uncle were burgled, the police recovered some of the stolen jewelry from the thieves "fence".

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 1:35PM
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I'm so sorry to hear that you have suffered a burglary. I know when I was a theft victim you have such a sense of violation. There seems to be very little you can do to actually prevent a theft if someone it determined to burgle you but I did discover a great website where you can register your stolen things in a bid to get them back and it's FREE. It's called and the stolen database is searched against by auction houses, police and the art trade. I think it's linked to a database called which lets you register your valuables totally anonymously so that you have a good description and image to hand.
Good luck and I really hope that you can find your precious things.

Here is a link that might be useful: Trace global database of stolen art & antiques

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 1:47PM
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I'm very sorry to hear about what happened. The previous posters gave good advice but I, too, would worry about it happening again. Can you invest in a good alarm system? Preferably one that has a central monitoring system that notifies the police when it gets tripped.
Do you have a dog? Would you consider a guard dog to help protect your property?
Do you work outside the home? If so, even more reason to get a dog or alarm system.
Lock doors and close windows when you're out. Encourage your neighbors to be on the lookout, call the police if you are going away for an extended period of time and ask them to keep an eye out, leave your lights on timers so that they go on and off at different times of the day to give the elusion that someone is home.
I'm sorry this happened to you. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 10:12PM
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Do your best to make it less obvious you are gone. Stop paper/mail deliveries while your gone. If gone more than a week, arrange to have someone mow your lawn. See if a neighbor will park his vehicle (or maybe even one of yours) in your driveway every night. The timers on lights and TV are a very good idea.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 3:19PM
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I'm sorry that you were burglared. It happened to us about 10 years ago. Here are some things that the police told us to prevent another burglary.
Get alarm system (or at least signs that appear that the house is armed)
Leave front lights on at night.
Put motion sensitive lights in the back and side yards.
Leave a radio with a talk show on when you leave house.
Check your locks, and see if you need to add a deadbolt.
We never had a repeat. Hope you don't either.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 12:11AM
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Wow. Thank you ALL for your responses and valuable advices! Thank you. It makes me feel better that still there are decent and caring people in this world. Yes, we usually do take the usual precautions when we leave home. We notify the neighbours, and our children come in to feed the cat every day. Sadly, we don't have a dog, but we are now thinking to get one. We do have a motion sensor-light, but the police say the burglary happened early in the morning. We never installed an alarm, because actually our village has been always so peaceful. Anyway, I will now have to learn and implement all your advices. I have got a question to Lynne_melb and Allaboutart - were any of your stolen items returned? The police have told us that it sometimes happens that criminals contact the victim and offer to buy some of the items back, apparently those that they can't sell easily elsewhere. Obviously, we were advised to notify the police immediately on that. Klimkm, do you remeber how long did it take for the police to recover your aunt's posessions? Allaboutart - I looked at this website you gave me, but I do not understand the link between the two. Also, if I report the stolen items, who will look for them? Once again, THANK YOU ALL for your responses.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 7:57AM
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I do not know how long it took them to get the stuff back. I do know she was heartbroken though, because they stole her entire jewelry box. And basically only fenced the gold and silver because they knew they could get $ for that. They threw away the real pearls that were her grandmother's not knowing they were real matched ones. They only got back some stuff - not everything. And they live in a nice neighborhood that is NOT secluded at all. And they were not out of town just at work that day.
They did not have a dog or an alarm system. I believe they have an alarm now.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 10:09AM
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Sorry that you had to experience that ...

I also live in a rural area, but with a small group of neighbors not too far away, especially the one neighbor who keeps track of all the goings ons. :>)

When I moved here it was extremely safe, then the area started having a team of burglars who would actually come in the house while people were home ... scary. They were finally caught.

But I do have 2 large dogs who have the run of the downstairs when I am home and not home. While I know that they would love to lick everybody to death, they sound like the fiercest dogs when anyone else approaches the house. Very good burglary protection.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 2:16PM
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Yes, come to think of it, when we lived in the city we bought a dachshund for our 2-flat apartment. Little dog, very loud bark and behind the closed doors and windows, no one knew she was only 15 lbs and the friendliest thing around.

We just lost her last week... after 17 years, so sad and we miss her. Burglary prevention... impetus for us to get a new doggie.

I wonder if there are any stats anywhere on how effective dogs actually are in break-in prevention.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 5:03PM
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The only things recovered were some guns that my husband had inherited from his father.

We lived 26 miles from the big city in a suburb, and the guns were found the following day in a drug raid of an abandoned house in the big city.

Even worse, the 2 most valuable guns somehow "disappeared" from the evidence room of the big city police department. It's bad enough to be burglared, but then to have the items be "lost" by the police department is an insult.

I can't recall how long it took for us to get the remaining guns back, probably at least 3 months. Nothing else was recovered. Our local police told us that we didn't have to worry about a burglary happening right away, that the crooks would give us time to replace all the items that they stole.

We had 3 West Highland White terriers at the time and we thought that their barking would discourage burglars, but no such luck.

Luckily, the dogs weren't hurt, but they were very scared. It took a few moments before we could find them, they had run upstairs to hide. I was so relieved when I found them.

As you say, things can be replaced. However, it is strange to not feel safe in your own home anymore. We took all the precautions from our local policeman and never had another attempt.

Good luck to you.

By the way, I've been to Sussex. I used to spend a lot of time in Basingstoke for business. On weekends, my colleagues would take me around England, and we went to Brighton on one of those trips. Everything was so pretty

Klimkin, sorry to hear about your dog.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 8:11PM
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Around here we tell neighbors that we're leaving for X amount of days. We also tell them we are NOT having furniture refinished, NOT trading appliances, NOT having the interior of the home painted.

Why do we do this?

Because we have had incidences in the neighborhood where a large truck labeled as "Furniture Refinishing" or "Appliance Traders" or "Paint With Ease" pulled up to a home, loaded all of the household goods and completely emptied the home while the neighbors watched and thought it was legit.

This was a brilliant plan and it worked. So now we all alert the neighbors to call the police if any home improvement vehicles should be at our home while we're away.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 8:53AM
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We have never had problems outside of things removed from our yard (inexpensive but irritating) Doors are always secured and we just won't open the door for anyone we don't know. We have the option of asking the person their reason for being there if we are at home. I have twice volunteered to call for assistance but would not let them in to use the telphone. Also we have a tape recording announcement that is activated by the doorbell or a knock. It advises the person at the door that they are on video and please state their names, and a telephone number for us to contact them when we return. The camera is hidden so it would be difficult for anyone to remove it.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 7:16PM
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Get an alarm. Get light/tv timers so that they comeon and go off at certain times this way there is movement of light and tv talking on at times. Even get that alarm that goes down at end of driveway and the other half which is a monitor goes inside so u can hear if anyone went past it. Its called Driveay patrol. Thats what we got when our lawnmower was taken. We always knew if someone went in our back yard after. But yes cats and anything going by can set it off. Just a loud chime you hear. Good luck and sorry bout your losses.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 9:11PM
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Nothing useful to add. Just sorry that so many of you have experienced burglaries. Having an EXTREMELY nosey and interfering neighbor has its drawbacks, but I pray they NEVER move!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 3:22PM
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Here is a couple tips.

Instant Home Alarm

Most of us cannot afford a home alarm system and worry about
our safety. We forget about a very simple device that most of
us already own and could save our lives. Keep your car key
chain next to your bed at night. If you have a thief or other
person breaking in, click the panic button on your key chain
setting off your car honking loudly outside your house or in
your garage.

Everyone in the neighborhood will be alerted. Either the
person breaking in will be scared off or the car will keep
honking until you shut it off or the neighbors call the police
and come to your aid.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 4:12PM
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I'm sorry for your loss. I hope I never have to experience what you've been through. We did have a friend who stayed over and left his car open while parked in our driveway, only to find the next day that his radar detector was stolen. Still, made me uneasy to know that people were lurking around our property at night, but shame on him for not locking his door. He has an alarm!

I love the idea about the car key chain. We've never been robbed, fortunately. In addition to having a phone in my bedroom, I also keep my cell phone turned on next to my bed. If someone breaks in and cuts my phone line, I have my cell phone as a backup. I have a lock on my bedroom door - if I hear something I can quickly lock the door to my room and bide myself time. From now on, I will keep my car keys on my nightstand as well. Excellent suggestion.

We have motion lights on our garage, and a sensor light at our back porch - comes on at night, goes off during the daylight automatically. Sometimes a light that is on 24 hours is an indication that someone isn't home. The light-sensor fixture cost us $50.00, and looks nice too. We also have uplighting on the front of our house set on a timer. Keeps the surrounding area lit up at night.

We have dogs that bark if they hear something, but when we are out of town with the dogs, we have multiple timers set all over the house for different times. This includes the T.V. timer which comes on during the day AND night, and lights in my basement too. At night, I make sure that the t.v. is on in the bedroom along with a small light - the illusion that someone is home at night watching t.v. in bed. I usually leave the radio on during the day. If it's loud and someone is knocking, one might think that you just can't hear them at the door because of the music. I stop my mail delivery and newspaper. I do not close all my blinds. This to me is a clear indication that someone isn't home - my neighbors do this all the time. If their house was being robbed, I'd never know it. I leave my blinds open so that if I am being robbed, my neighbor can see movement in the house (I always leave one or two 25 watt lights on on the first floor of my home at night - whether I'm home or away.)

If a solicitor stops at my house, I point to my front door and ask them politely if they can please read the sign that says "no solicitors". There's no reason for them to be there, and they usually leave without question. This will also prevent those stupid flyers that they attach to your doorknob that usually ends up flying all over your property anyway. We also have a housesitter that stops by every day (we pay $14/day) to check on things.

We also tell our nearby neighbors that we will be gone, who is allowed access to our home, and we leave emergency contact info with them. This is another reason I think it's important to always maintain a neighborly relationship with those around us, even when some neighbors aren't as considerate as we'd like them to be. Neighbors are supposed to look out for eachother, and luckily most in our neighborhood already do that.

My answering machine is also not personalized. Callers will not know if I am single, married, or an entire family by hearing our message, and I do not take calls from telemarketers. I do not answer any unsolicited mailings asking about household income, family members, etc. I am on a national opt-out mailing list, a national no-call list, and I have a "no solicitors" sign clearly posted on my front door. My phone number is unlisted and unpublished. My return address on my mailing labels only say "Smith Family" or "Smith" - I do not list first names so as to avoid being targeted by someone thinking that a single woman lives at my residence. I shred almost all of my mail with personal information on it, and never, ever leave outgoing mail in my mailbox for the postman (identity theft). I do not leave empty boxes by the garbage (i.e. a new television set) for people driving by to see that the "smith" family now has a new DVD player and big screen television.

Of course, all of my windows are secured with locks. My milk chute is now covered with glass block. I have japanese barberry's planted in front of the two basement windows that don't have glass block (barberry's have thorns all over them), and my garage windows are covered with bolted down shutters (bolted from the inside). I also keep our storm doors locked in addition to the interior doors whenever possible. I never leave my garage door opener in my car when I'm getting my car serviced - I've read that with some openers, they can open it up and get the serial number or code from the inside of the unit, and then they have access to your garage. This may not be possible in newer units, I'm not sure, but ours is old.

While this isn't a guarantee that we won't be robbed, I think they are reliable deterrents.

We do keep our most valuable items (i.e. expensive jewelry) in a safety deposit box. Like you, our Uncle has taken pictures of every room in their house to document all of their valuables, and they keep those photos in a safety deposit box. [BTW - a safety deposit box in a credit union can cost you $25/year (depending on the size), whereas the cost at a major bank could be $25/month. Huge difference.] But, taking pictures will also help you if your house ever burns down and you have to remember every single item that you must claim through your insurance policy. I've also taken a picture of everything that I keep in my wallet, including a copy of my drivers license. If my wallet is ever stolen, I will have a copy at home to reference so I know what creditors to call.

Our entire back yard is enclosed with a fence, with shrubbery / trees along the fence line. Not an easy in-out access for someone who is trying to come and go quickly, as the trees are staggered and planted closely together. They'd have to get through the trees and then climb the fence - not an easy task.

We were thinking of moving out to the country, and I've thought of this same scenario. We've considered an alarm, as well as a Rottweiler. The Rottweiler is a definite if we are out in the middle of nowhere, but obviously that's not feasible for everyone.

A little more than house burglary but also to do with safety, I was told, though I don't know if this is true, that the worldwide 9-1-1 code is 112. That is, if you are ever out of the country, dialing 112 should connect you with the nearest emergency center, if one is available. Again, I don't know if this is true, but I have it programmed in my cell phone anyway.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 1:51AM
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John, one more thing (as if I haven't written enough already!) - if you are afraid of them returning, you should look into purchasing a "hidden cam". Google hidden cams and there is a wealth of info and products out there that look like typical household items with hidden cameras - wouldn't it be interesting to catch them on camera!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 1:53AM
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Where did you purchase the tape recording announcement from?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 1:58AM
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As someone who has also learned a lesson the hard way I would like to pass on the following advice.
If you do store your valuables in a locked fireproof security box, hide it in the attic or in the basement somwehere. It was among the things stolen from my house and was kept in a master bedroom closet. I conveniently stored all of my valuables in box secured by the world's cheapest lock that was easily smashed and emptied.
If someone wants to break in bad enough, they will. But once inside, make your true valuables as difficult to find as possible. The only two areas in my house that weren't ransacked were kitchen cabinets and the linen closet.
I would also recommend an alarm. My window locks, dead bolts, and steel doors were all broken. Don't let these simple things lull you into a false sense of security.
Others have shared some great tips and items I will add to help prevent another incident.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 8:53AM
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A year ago I had to pull out the bottom drawer of one of my kitchen cabinets, near the sink. Something had fallen out of the top drawer and got jammed behind all the drawers.
After pulling the drawer completely, I discovered there was a large deadspace under the drawer that is several inches high and the full width of the drawer and depth of the kitchen countertop. Great new hiding spot! I have been keeping jewelry and other papers in there for a year. You would never know this space was there. Plus, it is relatively easy to get to when I need it by completely removing the drawer. Getting the drawer back in is also easy as there are rolling gliders.
I also keep 2 old pair of boots and 2 old coats in my closet for hiding items in the pockets. These are coats and boots that I will never wear, I keep them solely for the purpose of storing items in the pockets. No worries about my accidently wearing them and forgetting I have valuables in the pockets of boots; they are too out of style for me to wear ever again!
Just my personal tips of where to store some valuables in your home.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 11:29AM
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Amy, I understand what you are saying about the locks, but I do think locks are a good deterrent. I think the first concern of any thief is time. If deterrents are going to slow them from getting into your home, that's all the better. Either way, like you said, if someone really wants to get in your house, they will, regardless of the lengths you have gone to safeguard your property. But let me tell you, getting an alarm is not a safeguard either.

If you live in Milwaukee, police don't even come to your home anymore when the alarm is tripped. What the alarm company does is call you when the alarm goes off, and if you aren't available they call your backup contact. They arrange for you or one of your contacts to go to your home and check things out. If you arrive and it was a false alarm, nothing is done. If you arrive and find that there was a burglary or attempted burglary, only then do they call the police. Unfortunately, police in the big city have greater things to do with their time than to run to every alarm that is set off. Sad, but true. So, by the time you get to your house, the theives have already come and gone. If you want to talk about a false sense of security, there you go. And if you live out in the country in the middle of nowhere, who is going to hear an alarm? We can hardly hear our friends alarm going off when we are standing outside their house- it's an old house, built and insulated well, so an alarm is really just another deterrent in most cases. Honestly, I think dogs are probably one of the best deterrents.

Cearab, I too try to think of ingenuis places to store my valuables. Luckily, we're doing some remodeling and found a great place to hide an in-wall industrial strength safe.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 3:24PM
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A couple more links that might be useful.

Top 10 Ways to Hide Your Valuables at Home

Protecting Vehicle License Plate, Registration Tabs From Theft

Vehicle License Plate Safety Tips

Protect your vehicle license plates and the registration tabs. Numerous license tabs are being stolen and resold because proof of insurance is required in order to apply for current registration.

Check your license plate occasionally to ensure your current year license tab is attached. If you have a build up of past year tabs remove them prior to adding the current year.

Once you attach the current sticker - slice an X or diagonal lines, with a sharp razor blade, through the year tab so the sticker will not come apart in one piece. A sturdy metal frame bolted to the license plate will discourage thieves from cutting the corner off your license plate in order to steal the year sticker. Be aware of people loitering near the rear of vehicles.

I don't leave my registration in my car. I've read about unscrupulous parking lot attendants/valet parking who, if they have the registration, will make a copy of your key and send someone to the house to burglarize it while you are attending an event or other function. Better to keep your registration in your wallet/purse.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 12:18PM
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One time I was doing the plumbing in a new house and the homeowner asked me to make up a 8" section of 4" diameter PVC pipe with a cap on one end and a thread adapter and cleanout plug on the other end, then he had me attach it to a wallstud in his utility room so that the cleanout plug was easily accessible at about eye level. Later the wall was sheet rocked and there was that cleanout plug sticking out of the wall. I thought it was odd by what the heck, its his house not mine.

About five years later I was sitting in the local coffee shop and he came in and we got to talking. I told him I was still curios what that pipe was for? He says, simple, thats my wall safe. Who would ever think to open a sewer cleanout to look for my valuables?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 7:38AM
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Many years ago when I was single I got a job which entailed fairly regular travel. Small valuables I couldn't or didn't want to take with me were stored in the bottom of a box of feminine hygene products. Passed this on to a friend and she did the same thing. Couple of months later her apartment was burglarized while she was gone for a week-end. Everything was ransacked, dumped, turned over, etc. - except for that handy little box!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 10:19PM
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By all means do follow the suggestions you're getting here and on the home safety websites. They can help reduce the chances that your home will be broken into. The main idea behind alarms and such is to make your home a little less appealing than other targets. You can't make it burglar-proof unless you're willing to live in a fortress with bars over the windows and doors. But you can make your home less tempting.

And if it will help your peace of mind, the police told me the same thing: the theives are likely to come back for more. I didn't sleep for nights on end; but it never happened. I put in an alarm (along with the exterior signage and door stickers) and talked to my neighbors. I also took other steps such as lights on timers. No one came back, and I've not had to go through that nightmare again.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 12:07PM
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We're about to build in a secluded area off a road that has had several police reports over the years (I keep the road and town in a google news search so I am notified when there are houses for sale and police reports). First thing I'm going to do is to buy a crossbow and target and also ask my family to do some target practice with their guns. We'll post some signs warning people to call ahead as target practice is ongoing. Hopefully that will help deter those who don't want to risk being a pincushion. A few strategic arrows all the way through a tree or sign will look nice I think.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 8:12AM
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When I have to leave for the day, I post a note on the front door saying, for example, "John-Just went to the store. I'll be right back. Mack"
Works great 'cause there are 2 men's names that I'm sure a would-be robber wouldn't want to encounter;also-they don't know when I left or when I'll be back and I don't think they'd want to risk my coming home in the middle of their job.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 9:37AM
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I use an old phone as anti burglary system.
It uses the motion sensor of the phone and as soon as the door is opened asks for the password. If the correct password is not provided within 15 seconds I receive a phone call.
Have a look:

Here is a link that might be useful: Home security alarm

    Bookmark   December 26, 2012 at 10:28AM
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Old post, but Cool idea with the phone. Alarm systems don't have to be THAT expensive, especially if you're handy. There are lots of DIY stores online, and lots of fora for advice.

You can self-monitor if you choose, whilst a monitoring service is ideal, a lot of people are reticent to take on yet another monthly expense. DSC systems can be set up to call your phone, but there are even better options, especially if you don't have a home phone. The Eyez-on internet module is my preferred option, you can have full control over your Ademco or DSC alarm system remotely, and works with a smart phone. This particular item (as far as I know) is better than the ones DSC and Ademco offer themselves:

You can also get a 'fake tv' that uses much less power, but is quite convincing: (I've seen other variations on the same idea, but this one produced the most hits when I looked it up)

Here is a link that might be useful: Fake TV

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 12:57PM
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Just read all the things Kimcoco does, and I really have to comment.

Personally, if I had to live like that I would move tomorrow. You've erected a fortress, not a home. To me, that's not living, that's existing!

I live in a place where nobody locks their doors. Many of us forget and leave the keys in the car overnight. During winter I can take my dog for a walk at night and have no concerns. I smell the wood smoke in the air and know everybody is safe at home by the hearth. I'm not gonna get mugged.

Now I do have a safe for my guns, so our valuable papers and things are in that. But that's in case of fire, not a burglar.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:36AM
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I missed the idea of the fake sewer cleanout as a safe - that's awesome. Not fireproof, but otherwise brilliant.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 12:23AM
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I realize the post is going on 6 years old but I had to comment on Kimcos precautions also. I think she has some kind of a phobia!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 3:51PM
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Very sorry to hear about what you have gone through. It is awful when someone robs you. It leaves us with a sense of remorse that if we had taken proper measures in the past we could have escaped this. Also the very thoughts about your stolen valuables keep haunting you for days. The best one can do to prevent this is installing a home security system. A Home security system which includes an alarm and a video relay, which is connected to your smartphone for a two way communication and video footage of your front and garage door for surveillance sake, is definitely better than informing cops or neighbors that you are away and that they need to keep an eye on your house. Other things like fake TV , sensor garden lights ,and a big barking dog helps too. But nothing does a better job than a security system. Make sure the alarms have a high pitch sound capable of waking the neighbors. This could give the bad guy a tough time for escape. You can also ask a friend or relative to be around ( in case you are away for days) and collect all the mails and newspapers from the porch , so that the house does not have an unoccupied look.

Here is a link that might be useful: Some information about home security systems

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 2:33AM
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Make the house looked lived in - leave an interior light on (doesn't have to be on a timer necessarily), and leave a radio on, loud enough to be heard as you stand by the front door. Put some used looking boots next to the front door and have the landscaper move them occassionally. Also have friendly neighbors and a dog in the yard if possible. We owned a house in New Zealand and were'nt there except on vacation each year, never had a problem, even though burglary is the top crime problem over there.

Recommended reading, for the real story from the burglars side: You Can't Win by Jack Black. The only thing that stopped them cold was a dog.

Oh, and you can also use our best method - don't have anything worth stealing! Nobody wants old computers, old tv's, old appliances like ours, they're not worth anything at the pawn shop or swap meets!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 1:57PM
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