Home Security and Home Invasions


June 5 , 2013

Source: howstuffswork.com and crimedoctor.com

 While it’s difficult to protect your home from professional thieves, most home burglaries are done by amateurs. These thieves are more easily thwarted if you employ some of these simple security precautions:
Burglary
  • Plan to “burglarize” yourself. You’ll discover any weaknesses in your security system that may have previously escaped your notice.

  • Lock up your home, even if you go out only for a short time. Many burglars just walk in through an unlocked door or window. 
  • Change all the locks and tumblers when you move into a new house. 
  • For the most effective alarm system, conceal all wiring. A professional burglar looks for places where he or she can disconnect the security system. 
  • Your house should appear occupied at all times. Use timers to switch lights and radios on and off when you’re not at home. 
  • If you have a faulty alarm that frequently goes off, get it fixed immediately and tell your neighbors that it’s been repaired. Many people ignore an alarm that goes off periodically. 
  • A spring-latch lock is easy prey for burglars who are “loiding” experts. Loiding is the method of slipping a plastic credit card against the latch tongue to depress it and unlock the door. A deadbolt defies any such attack. It is only vulnerable when there is enough space between the door and its frame to allow an intruder to use power tools or a hacksaw. 
  • If you lose your keys, change the locks immediately. 

Safety-Door

  • Before turning your house key over to a professional house cleaner for several hours, make sure the person is honest and reputable as well as hardworking. Check all references thoroughly. If the house cleaner is from a firm, call your local Better Business Bureau to check on the firm’s reputation. 
  • Instead of keeping a spare key in a mailbox, under the doormat, or on a nail behind the garage, wrap the key in foil — or put it in a 35mm film can — and bury it where you can easily find it if you need it. 
  • Don’t leave notes for service people or family members on the door. These act as a welcome mat for a burglar. 
  • If the entrances to your home are dark, consider installing lighting with an infrared detector. Most thieves don’t want to be observed trying to get in a door. 
  • Talk to your neighbors about any suspicious people or strange cars you notice lurking about.
  • To keep your tools from being stolen, paint the handles. Thieves avoid items that are easy to identify. 
  • Trees located near windows or shrubbery that might shield a burglar from view can be major flaws in your home-protection plan. Consider your landscaping plan in light of your protection needs. 
  • Avoid a room with a view. A view from the outside, that is.

    Stand outside your house and take notice of what you can see through the windows.

    Is your 62-inch television in plain sight from the sidewalk? Can you see your computer or other valuable electronics from the doorway?

    If you can see them, so can thieves. If possible, move valuables out of sight of the street. If you can’t, then make sure the windows are always covered.

    Ask for credentials from any sales-person who requests entry to your home. Ask that their ID be pushed under the door. Many professional burglars use this cover to check out homes. If you’re doubtful, check with the person’s office before letting him or her in.

     

  • Do not list your full name on your mailbox or your entry in the telephone book. Use only your initial and your last name. 
  • If someone comes to your door asking to use the phone to call a mechanic or the police, keep the door locked and make the call yourself. 
  • Dogs are good deterrents to burglars. Even a small, noisy dog can be effective — burglars do not like to have attention drawn to their presence. Be aware, however, that trained guard dogs do not make good pets. Obedience training and attack training are entirely different, and only the former is appropriate for a house pet.

K9

Securing Doors

  • To help burglar-proof your home, install 1-inch throw deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. 
  • A door with too much space between the door and the frame is an invitation for the burglar to use a jimmy. Reinforce the door with a panel of 3/4-inch plywood or a piece of sheet metal. 
  • If there are door hinges on the outside of your house, take down the door and reset the hinges inside. Otherwise all a thief has to do to gain entry to your home is knock out the hinge pin. 
  • You can burglar-proof your glass patio doors by setting a pipe or metal bar in the middle bottom track of the door slide. The pipe should be the same length as the track.
  • It’s easy for a burglar to pry through rot. Replace rotted door frames with new, solid wood. 
  • It’s simple for a thief to break glass panels and then reach in and open a doorknob from the inside. A door with glass panels should be either fortified, replaced, or secured with deadbolts that can only be opened with a key.

Securing Windows

  • Protect your windows with one or more good locks, an alarm system, burglar-resistant glass, or many small panes instead of one large area of glass. 
  • When installing a window lock, drip some solder on the screw heads. It will stop a burglar from unscrewing the lock after cutting a small hole in the windowpane.

Garage Security

Garages present special challenges for security. Here are some tips for keeping your garage secure.

  • If you frost or cover your garage windows, burglars won’t be able to tell if your car is gone.

Sportscars

  • Keep your garage door closed and locked even when your car is not in the garage. 
  • Install a peephole in the door separating the house from the garage. If you hear suspicious sounds, you can check without opening the door. 
  • Are you worried about someone entering your house through your attached garage? If the garage door lifts on a track, a C-clamp can provide extra security since the door cannot be opened if you tighten the C-clamp on the track next to the roller.

What else?

Alarms, etc.

Burglars can’t steal what they can’t see. This simple concept is the key to a burglary protection system.

Home Invasions

One of the more frightening and potentially dangerous crimes that can occur to a family is a home invasion robbery.

A home invasion is when robbers force their way into an occupied home, apartment or hotel room to commit a robbery or other crimes.  It is particularly frightening because it violates our private space and the one place that we think of as our sanctuary.

Home invasion is like the residential form of an automobile carjacking and it’s on the rise. Like the crime of carjacking, most police agencies don’t track home invasions as a separate crime. Most police agencies and the FBI will statistically record the crime as a residential burglary or a robbery. Without the ability to track the specific crime of home invasion, little can be done to alert the public as to the frequency of occurrence in their community or devise a law enforcement plan of action to control it.

Criminal Profile

Residential burglars work mostly during the day and when a residence is more likely to be unoccupied. Most burglars work alone and tend to probe a neighborhood looking for the right residence and the right opportunity. Alarm signs and decals, bars on windows, strong locks and doors, big dogs, and alert neighbors can sometimes deter burglars. Also, burglars will avoid a confrontation and will usually flee when approached. Most burglaries do not result in violence unless the criminal is cornered and uses force to escape.

Home invasion robbers, in contrast, work more often at night and on weekends when homes are more likely to be occupied. The home invader will sometimes target the resident as well as the dwelling. The selection process may include a woman living alone, a wealthy senior citizen or a known drug dealer, for example. It is not unheard of for a robber to follow you home based on the value of the car you are driving or the jewelry you are wearing. Some home invaders might have been in your home before as a delivery person, installer or repair vendor.  Home robbers rarely work alone and rely on an overwhelming physical confrontation to gain initial control and instill fear in you. The greatest violence usually occurs during the initial sixty seconds of the confrontation and home invaders often come prepared with handcuffs, rope, duct tape, and firearms. Some in-home robbers appear to enjoy the intimidation, domination, and violence and some even claim it’s a “rush.”

Dangerous Trends

The act of committing a home invasion is escalating much like carjacking. The reason for the increase seems to follow a similar pattern. Much like automobiles, the traditional commercial targets for robbers like convenience stores and fast-food restaurants have hardened themselves against criminal attack and have reduced available cash. Technology has allowed commercial establishments to install affordable video surveillance systems, silent alarms, and other anti-crime deterrent devices.  A residence, by comparison, is now a more attractive choice.

Home invaders know that they won’t have to overcome alarm systems when the home is occupied or be worried about video cameras and silent alarms. Unlike robbing a retail store, home invaders expect privacy once inside your home and won’t have to deal with the police suddenly driving up or customers walking in. Once the offenders take control of a residence they can force the occupants to open safes, locate hidden valuables, supply keys to the family car, and PIN numbers to their ATM cards. Home invaders will try to increase their escape time by disabling the phones and sometimes will leave their victims bound or incapacitated. It is not unheard of for robbers to load up the victim’s car with valuables and drive away without anyone in the neighborhood taking notice.

Method of Operation

The most common point of attack is through the front door or garage. Sometimes the home invader will simply kick open the door and confront everyone inside. More common is when the home invaders knock on the door first or ring the bell. The home invader hopes that the occupant will simply open the door, without question, in response to their knock. Unfortunately, many people do just that.

kidnapping

Home invaders will sometimes use a ruse or impersonation to get you to open the door. They have been known to pretend to be delivering a package, flowers or lie about an accident like hitting your parked car. Once the door is opened for them, the home invaders will use an explosive amount of force and threats to gain control of the home and produce fear in the victims. Once the occupants are under control the robbers will begin to collect your valuables.

Some home robbers have been known to spend hours ransacking a residence while the homeowners are bound nearby watching in terror. Some robbers have been known to eat meals, watch TV, or even take a nap. A major fear is that the robbers might commit more violence like sexual assault or even murder. Some robbers have kidnapped and forced a victim to withdraw cash from their ATM machine or take them to their small business to rob it as well.

Prevention Steps

The same tactics used to prevent daytime burglaries will go a long way to preventing forced entry home robberies. If you can delay a home invader at the point of entry then you have a chance of deterring them or have time to call the police. A solid core door, strong locks with reinforced strike plates, and reinforced window devices will stop most forced entries. See my web page on Home Security Tips for more information. Some homeowners build safe rooms inside their home to allow them to retreat or escape the violence while giving them valuable time to call the police.

The weakest home security link is the home occupant who fails to lock doors or windows or who will open the door without question at the sound of a knock. The best defense against home invasion is education and planning. Parents should hold a family meeting to discuss how to answer the door when someone knocks. Another important topic is how to act should your home or family be invaded. Once you know how home robbers work, you can effectively prevent most occurrences.

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Panic / Safe Rooms and Underground Survival Shelters


Safe rooms are the single most important means for reliably separating the home owner or employees from intruders while providing a safe place to await the arrival of police or on-site security. We can also deliver underground and survival shelters.

ABP World Group Ltd. deliver one of the safest and advanced panic room / safe rooms available today. – World Wide.

The simplest safe room is simply a closet with the hollow-core door replaced with an exterior-grade solid-core door that has a deadbolt and longer hinge screws and strike-plate screws to resist battering. Sometimes, the ceiling is reinforced, or gated, to prevent easy access from the attic or from an overhead crawlspace.

More expensive safe rooms, such as those constructed for celebrities and executives, have walls and a door reinforced with sheets of steel, Kevlar, or bullet-resistant fibreglass. The hinges and strike plate are often reinforced with long screws. Some safe rooms may also have a externally-vented ventilation systems and a separate telephone connection. They might also connect to an escape shaft.

Safe rooms in the basement can be built with concrete walls, a building technique that is normally not possible on the upper floors of wood-framed structures unless there is substantial structural reinforcement to the building.

Safe rooms may contain communications equipment, such as a cellular telephone, land-line telephone or an amateur radio transceiver, so that law enforcement authorities can be contacted. There may also be a monitor for external security cameras and an alarm system. In basic safe rooms, a peephole in the door may be used for a similar purpose. Safe rooms are typically stocked with basic emergency and survival items such as a flashlight, blankets, a first-aid kit, water, packaged food, self-defence tools, firearms, a gas mask, and a simple portable toilet.

Contact us today for a safe room talk.

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Panic Rooms – How a Panic Room Works


Source: Howstuffworks.com

When you hear the words “panic room,” you might think of the 2002 flick in which Jodie Foster hides in a fortified room in a Manhattan town house. Foster’s character has a bevy of surveillance equipment and supplies, but thieves terrorize her and attack the room until she is forced to come out and confront them.

But panic rooms are generally less dangerous and exciting than they sound. For one, they’re usually called “safe rooms,” which makes them seem a little less dramatic. We can also trace their origins much further back than any Jodie Foster movie. Medieval feudal lords, for example, used safe rooms as protection from siege. But how close does Hollywood come to capturing a real panic room?

Today’s panic rooms can be extremely high-tech. Most security experts say that with basic communication equipment, occupants should have to hole up in the room for only an hour or two in case of a home invasion.

To understand the panic room, we have to understand why people want them. The most advanced fortresses come with hefty price tags, so only the wealthy can typically afford them. But in the wake of increased terror alerts and weather-related catastrophes in the United States, basic panic rooms are becoming more popular. They’re constructed of weather-resistant materials and are stocked with gas masks and potassium iodine tablets to protect against biological and nuclear attacks. And some manufacturers claim their rooms can accommodate families for an extended stay — even as long as a month.

Besides basic provisions and a good lock, panic rooms can include any number of features, from a battery of artillery to a fully stocked wet bar. But details are hard to come by — because people are paying for privacy, most panic-room builders are unwilling to disclose much information. In this article we will enter the panic room. We’ll explore what real panic rooms are like and how they came into existence. Should you get one? Where do you get one? And what makes them safer than any other room in your home?

Purpose of Panic Rooms

Think of a panic room as a vault for people. In a country of gated communities, panic rooms are designed to be the ultimate in security. They range from simple rooms with reinforced doors to elaborate mini-fortresses that protect their occupants against biological and nuclear attacks, hurricanestornadoes and home invasions. High-end panic rooms, made with the most advanced materials, are more like luxury dens than bleak storm cellars.

Most panic rooms have keyless entry for extra security.

Because of the Jodie Foster movie, many people associate panic rooms with home invasions, but this is actually not their most common purpose. As we mentioned, rooms built to withstand hurricane- and tornado-force winds have become more popular. These panic rooms are usually ground-floor closets or bathrooms whose foundations have been reinforced with steel and concrete.

Many people who build panic rooms are trying to protect things, not people. Panic rooms can hide computer hard drives or permanently house artwork, rare books and other collections. You can make your panic room into a custom-designed safe that stores your delicate artwork in an airtight, climate-controlled environment. Your computer files can be safely hidden but accessible via an exterior generator.

Depending on how much safety you want and money you have, panic rooms have a wide range of safety features. You can reinforce a closet and throw in a few emergency supplies or build a house within your house.

Walls

A panic room, at the most basic level, is a box with an opening. So all six sides of the box — walls, ceiling and floor — must be fortified. You can reinforce a closet with plywood if you want a storm shelter, but it won’t provide protection from invaders. The next step up is chicken wire or steel mesh, and blastproof Kevlar panels provide the ultimate protection. A cement-reinforced foundation can provide a stable base, and a steel ceiling, with optional Kevlar panels, will thwart invaders from bottom to top.

Most builders of modern panic rooms rely on lightweight Kevlar and plastics, allowing them to more easily build panic rooms on second floors — off of the master bedroom, for instance. However, the ground floor is still the safest place for protection against natural catastrophes like hurricanes and tornadoes.

Entry
Panic rooms are designed to hide their occupants, so one of the best defenses is the invisible entrance. Bookcase entries and hidden pocket doors are popular choices.

The door is the one weak point of the fortified box, so its reinforcements are critical. Even if your walls aren’t reinforced with steel, you might want to splurge on a solid steel door. Mortise locks, which are built into rather than attached to the door, provide another level of security, as do steel hinges and bolts. Steel doorjambs make it impossible for an intruder to kick in the door. High-end panic rooms often have keypad-controlled electromagnetic locks, which use magnetic forces to maintain the bond between a frame-mounted magnet and door-mounted hardware.

Most panic rooms do not have standard keys because they can be misplaced or fall into the wrong hands. Instead, doors might feature interior deadbolts, combination keypads or retinal or fingerprint-scanning devices.

Panic Room Features

Communication
It’s a good idea to leave a cell phone or ham radio in your panic room in case you need to communicate with the outside world. But if your panic room is too isolated or reinforced for reliable cell phone service, you can always install a buried phone line, an intercom system or an alarm button directly connected to a police or security team.

You’ll also want to keep your communication secret from intruders. Soundproofing the panic room prevents an intruder from hearing your conversations with law enforcement. And if the invaders do discover that you’re in the room, they won’t be able to taunt you verbally.

Surveillance
You might remember that Jodie Foster’s panic room had a wall of monitors that dramatically displayed each corner of the house. The typical panic room — if it does have surveillance — has one monitor connected to a number of hidden cameras. High-end panic rooms can also utilize heat-sensing cameras, so if the home is attacked at night, you can covertly check out who’s in the house.

Power
Most panic rooms are powered by generators. You have to be careful about ventilation, though, and always be mindful of carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators must be self-contained in the panic rooms, which necessitates more room — and more money. In the most basic panic rooms, battery-powered or hand-cranked lights and phones may be sufficient.

Air circulation
The most elaborate and expensive panic rooms are airtight, temperature- and humidity-controlled chambers. They can have separate air-filtration systems that protect from biohazards, and dummy vents to throw off invaders. And as a last resort, high-end panic rooms can include oxygen masks.

Plumbing 

Again, depending on how much you want to spend, plumbing can be as basic as a portable toilet — or you can install separate plumbing and a septic tank. Of course, you’ll want to stock the room with water(a gallon per person per day is a general guideline).

Supplies
This is where people can get a little crazy, depending on how much they’re willing to spend. The supplies are what help the occupants survive an attack — like food, water and first aid equipment.

Supplies for the über-wealthy can go way beyond the basics — to keep the masters of the house preoccupied with thoughts other than who’s stealing the good silverware, panic rooms can become luxurious dens with beds, wet bars and entertainment systems. Some owners even build two panic rooms: one for the parents and one for the kids. High-end panic rooms often include items like chemical washbasins — to rinse off biohazards — and gas masks.

Weapons
If you built your panic room to protect your family from hurricanes, stocking the room with weapons will probably not be a priority. But if you think you might have to defend your estate from armed terrorists, you’ll probably want an arsenal. Pepper spray comes in on the low end, and the sky is pretty much the limit on the high end: You can arm each member of the household with a gun, for example, or install high-voltage stun devices under the carpet in case an intruder makes it into the room.

Panic Room Construction and Costs

The easiest and most cost-effective way to install a panic room is during construction of a new home. You can work with an architect specializing in secure facilities or bring in a security firm during the blueprint stage. You’ll probably want to tell as few people as possible about the panic room, so the designer often does not tell the contractor about it. It might be called a “mechanical room” on the blueprint, and then you’d bring in a security team after the contractors leave. You’ll want to have the architectural and security firms sign confidentiality agreements to protect the secret room.

In existing homes, bathrooms, closets and wine cellars often get made over into panic rooms. A security firm can advise you on how to fortify a particular room so that it is easily accessible to you but not to intruders. Some companies also mass-produce personal safe rooms.

The big decisions depend on the purpose of the panic room. If you’re worried about safety from intruders, most experts say the room needs to hold long enough for the police to arrive, usually 30 minutes to a couple of hours. For protection from weather-related catastrophes, placement is the most important factor. The ground floor or basement is safest against a tornado, but high ground offers better protection against floods. Supplies and stability are critical.

For safety from nuclear or biological attacks, long-term protection is necessary. The Department of Justice Emergency Preparedness manual states, “Ten square feet of floor space per person will provide sufficient air to prevent the buildup of carbon dioxide for up to five hours”

. If you want to be able to hide out for even longer, check out fallout shelters: One German company, ABC Guard, claims it has made a portable fallout shelter that can house seven people for up to a month.

Panic Room Costs
Panic rooms are pretty expensive, but since they are mostly marketed to the very wealthy, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Construction of a high-end panic room typically starts at $50,000 and can reach beyond $500,000, depending on amenities.

On the low end, converting a closet or extra room into a panic room usually starts around $3,000. Plywood reinforcements for a closet cost about $2,500, and bullet-resistant electronic doors start at $22,000. Add another $3,000 to $10,000 if it’s professionally designed.

According to one estimate on Bankrate.com, adding bullet-resistant Kevlar, a dedicated phone line, backup generator and keyless entry to an existing room can cost $40,000 to $60,000.

Panic Room Popularity

Panic rooms are mostly for high-level executives, politicians and celebrities, although corporations do install them to protect execs from disgruntled employees.

According to some estimates, nearly every new mansion in Los Angeles has a panic room, as do many Manhattan executive suites and town houses. Others say the panic room is mostly an urban legend. The exact numbers are difficult to pin down because the point of the panic room is to be a secret hideout. In fact, most homeowners will not show the room to a buyer until the home is already in escrow — or they tear down the room before selling.

Since Sept. 11, more middle-income families have been investing in panic rooms. And abuse victims are increasingly utilizing panic rooms instead of fleeing their homes (see sidebar).

FEMA is encouraging people to share their ideas for weather-resistant panic rooms. Additionally, the agency — along with some cities and school districts — is considering safe rooms in hurricane-prone areas to protect emergency responders and to store important documents.

Internationally, panic rooms have grown in popularity. Embassies have used safe rooms for at least 25 years to protect government officials and important documents during attacks. Since the 1980s, every U.S. embassy has had a panic room with bullet-resistant glass. In Israel, all new buildings and apartments have been required since 1992 to include bullet- and fire-resistant rooms. In Mexico, where kidnappings for ransom are common, many people use safe rooms as an alternative (or an addition) to bodyguards.

Need a safe room? contact us today.

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