I was the unfortunate victim of a home break-in. Luckily my wife and I were not home at the time. As someone who likes to think they are more security minded than the average person this was hard to stomach. On our garage door in the alley and the side door of our house I had a “Beware of Dog” sign even though we don’t have a dog. I also have dawn-to-dusk flood lights in the back of our house to keep our yard and garage well lit at night (they broke in during the day).
How did “they” do it?
They just threw a flat bar into our side door and threw their weight against it. Maybe they cased us and knew we were typically gone during the day and didn’t actually have a dog or maybe they just rang the doorbell and decided to break in on the spot when nobody answered. In either case, based on what they took and the condition of our house they couldn’t have spent more than five minutes in there. Grab and go. I suspect there were at least two of them because a 50″ TV was one of the stolen items.
What I Learned and Changed
*All of the mentioned items can be purchased at your local big box hardware store.*
Improve Visibility: There’s a wood fence on the side of our house that creates a sort of alleyway. Between this alleyway and the street there was an evergreen. I cut down the evergreen to create some visibility to our side door from the street.
Upgrade Door Security: I had to tear out the old door and completely replace it since they broke the door and frame up quite a bit when they broke in. If you’ve ever worked with prehung doors you know the typical pine door jamb isn’t all that sturdy. I bought a three foot steel plate that fit the width of the door frame and used my router to mortise out the door jamb. I cut an opening in the plate so the deadbolt could catch it. I used 6″ TimberLok screws to set the door frame. I tossed my old standard storm door and upgraded it to a metal security door. Other items include an enhanced deadbolt catch and doorknob reinforcer. The security door received a dual cylinder deadbolt and standard keyed knob.
Security Bars: These door bars are temporarily installed from the inside. It’s a great solution if you’re heading out of town and want to secure a garage service door or side/back door to a house.
Window Coverings: Pretty basic, but after I remodeled our basement I never got around to installing window coverings. Maybe the burglars peaked in and saw my 50″ TV, maybe they didn’t, but given how much vinyl blinds cost it’s totally worth it.
Light Timers: We now have a couple of light timers in our house that go on/off automatically every single day. I’d recommend buying one that can be programmed with a different on/off time for every day of the week.
Security Cameras: Now on to the fun part – security cameras! I’m running x2 Foscam FI8904WS units. They aren’t HD, but the images are fairly decent. They support Wifi or Ethernet although I would recommend using Ethernet if possible as it drastically improves viewing them remotely. They need external power so for some this might be a deal breaker. I’m using a paid service to store the footage rather than keep it onsite. The software support is solid and I can view the cameras via a Windows or iPhone application. They have an IR mode for at night which works fairly well in my setup. I’ve heard of others having issues with these cameras in bright light so I would try to install them under an overhang or soffit if possible. Even though they’re outdoor cameras you probably don’t want them sitting in the elements, anyway. I’ve been running them for almost a year and I’m very happy with them. They have really good uptime and rarely crash or freeze up. So far they’ve been exposed to weather from -25F to 100F.