Security overload leads to apathy. How often do you hear a car alarm go off and roll your eyes hoping the owner would disable the blasted thing before the incoming headache comes a knocking?
The primary objection I have to such systems is they work too well. Every week I hear an alarm being triggered in my neighbourhood. This information overload being fired in our direction recreates the same issue we have with car alarms. People are used to hearing alarms go off so much they basically ignore when it happens. I wager most hearing their own alarm go off will simply disable it without taking a real look at their car. This is what happens when security triggers are spammed at such regular intervals: the default reaction changes from pangs of panic to complete and utter apathy.
This is the reality of our current situation, we have never been so safe in our homes and yet never have we been so unprepared for a threat actually occurring.
Case in point, my home has 4 electronic security systems. Four.
Think about that folks.
Reolink Argus 2 Battery & Solar Powered Security Camera – Amazon / Reolink.com
Securing My Own Property: Issues I’ve Run Into & Solutions
The girl and I inhabit a objectively large property, just us and 2 cats. Securing said property is a bit of conundrum, especially in light of my own personal history with home invasion (you can read my personal home invasion story here).
On that note, the core issues stem from: 1. The sheer size of the perimeter, 2. The number of entryways, and 3. The risk of information overload – which is something I have been giving a lot of thought to over the past 6 months and the reason for this article.
My home came with its own standard alarm, the usual motion detectors, sirens & code deactivation deal. This is the general approach taken when securing property both when asleep & out of the house.
The issue, as I mentioned before, is that they work too damn well. I realized a short while ago that the only security feature I liked was one that was marketed for convenience, not security.
I have an electronic doorbell outside the gate with a camera. It gives me information that is triggered manually. I know when it goes off, it’s not just a cat or a general quirk of technology.
Information allows you to make good decisions. It creates an environment where you can feel secure because you know things are in control. The issue with dumb “alarm” systems, beyond acting as a deterrent, is that the threat is never really established unless caught red-handed. It’s almost a placebo.
Say your security company calls you saying your alarm went off – how seriously would you take this warning?
Most security systems also have a way of contacting the police. Let’s say you adhere to a rigid trust in your security system and always ere on the side of caution. Statistically, false alarms will outnumber actual threats by an absurd margin and I wager that your local police department may treat future responses with far less seriousness than you would like should you actually require them.
So for me, they are a double-edge sword. Trigger happy and often wrong.
On that note, the traditional system in my home is disabled 99% of the time. I instead focused on what makes me comfortable, which is being able to take a look at my home (particularly what’s going on in my driveway) when I am away or simply lying in bed. With relatively minimal information, I can choose how to react accordingly.
You may have already clued in due to the pictures dispersed in this post; basically, to do the heavy-lifting (to get a great view of my driveway), I use a Reolink Argus 2 camera. For the sake of transparency, you should know Reolink sent me this camera.
It comes with a solar panel attached to it (more on this later). I wasn’t paid for this article, and I also own Amazon’s Blink home security system (they have a newer, slightly better system now; yet still inferior to the Reolink), have for many months. Reolink asked me to write an editorial article to feature their camera in, rather than a traditional review, but this is me, and I can’t help interjecting with my opinion, even when not asked to.
My opinion on the Reolink? It’s effectively almost the perfect system for my needs. I guessed it would be, which is why I accepted the freebie in the first place. That being said, I want you to be aware that I didn’t pay for the initial unit, but that I will be buying more myself. ;)
My Home Security Prerequisites
With that out of the way, let’s talk about my prerequisites when it comes to my home security. I suspect that my way of doing things may not be to everyone’s taste, but nonetheless here are some notes for your consideration –
I want my perimeter to be decently secure without looking like Fort Knox (the more security it looks like you have, the more intruders will wonder what you have to secure).
My locks should be a pain in the ass to pick, but normal enough looking that people don’t think I am a multi millionaire hiding a Picasso or 2.
I should have the option to add security should I wish. In my case, my front gate, as the option for additional security through a padlock (as well as the regular lock), which is something I like having even if I have yet to ever use it.
I should blend in with my neighbourhood on casual observation, but have enough dissuasion if cased that the perp would go for an easier target.
Getting to me should require obstacles of increasing difficulty for the sole purpose of buying time.
My system should be resilient to tampering.
I should be able to access a picture & video stream regardless of where I am in the world.
Fail-safes should exist within the parameters of accumulating evidence (cloud storage and physical retention of data would be ideal).
I need to be able to disable and activate it at will, remotely.
Maintenance should be close to nonexistent.
Obligatory Over-Sharing: My Thoughts on the Reolink
Again, no one asked my opinion, but I’m still going to share it.
The Reolink I was given with attached solar panel is 10 kinds of awesome. I can set triggers to be notified with various sensitivity levels, I can check in whenever I want just for peace of mind, I am in control of what to do with any information sent my way and it offers onsite storage.
I initially bought the Blink system. It’s affordable, and in all fairness it’s tiny and works very well. My little Blinks are all indoor cameras, and are to this day dotted around the house, but the Reolink being effectively offgrid means I don’t care about how much it records, how often I stream from it, etc. It just works, and quite frankly, it’s a superior platform.
The only thing I would change is the option to have cloud backup, which is the only thing the Blink “beats” it at. The Blink offers free cloud storage as standard. Sadly, the Blink’s reliance on connecting to a stupid little device instead of your core network (I have a mesh Wi-Fi network that reaches down the street) means I have relegated the Blinks to rarely accessed rooms and now depend on the Reolink for the totality of my perimeter.
The best thing I can say about the Reolink: it just works.
No need for further ad glib when talking about a security system.
Your Home Security Pre-Requisites?
How do you secure your perimeter and have you also felt information overload? Discuss!
Here in the UK I use the “Ring” doorbell system.
Seems to have worked well so far but you do tend to ignore it by the time the 10th cat has gone by and alerted the sensor.
Thomas Xavier says
Aye, thats the issue at the end of the day. I have multiple settings for my reolink with various levels of trigger intensity/sensitivity. Seems to solve that particular problem.
In my neck of the woods in the middle of the u.s. the lowerfloor windows – never – have bars on them, unless the house is in a very low class, high crime, ghetto type area of a city. Which leads me to think I might need to change my perception of Europe a bit and that perhaps most of continental Europe is similar to a very low class, high crime ghetto type area here.
Thomas Xavier says
Europe as a whole is the safest continent and Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world. You have to remember that the old world is called the old world for a reason- a lot of properties are more than 100 years old and back then, police response time was not a thing.
We also had invasion, wars, dictatorships etc. Portugal was under a dictatorship until 1974. Not so long ago, this has an impact on how people see property and security. Nothing to do with class.
You should visit Europe!
Sam L. says
I suspect it depends on where you are. Where I’ve lived for 30+ years, I’ve not seen them, but it’s a small town, and not near a big city.
Ken Boyd says
I totally agrer and we have both. A large german shepherd with a big bark. Looks fearsome but is a total sweetie. We also have a little 30lb mutt that barks like crazy. They have proven effective.
I also say to make good friends with your neighbours. We keep each other safe.
there’s no point in fancy locks if you’ve got glass in any door or window. Burglars just trigger the alarm, and go wait an hour somewhere else. If nobody shows up, they know that they are free to do whatever they want. I refuse to pay big money for a house. it’s just a place to lay my head. Also, 1/10th oz gold coins and gemstones are very easily hidden and will survive a fire and thus, attract no attention and need no guarding. If you buy them at 10-20% over what pawn shops pay, you wont get hurt (much) if you ever have to sell them, and you might even turn a big profit, now and then.
Thomas Xavier says
Aye, in continental Europe (certainly my neighbourhood), lowerfloor windows always have bars on them. Is this not common stateside?
Ive lived in 5 states, 3 cities, and a dozen small towns. Ive seen bars on windows only a few times, ever. Its so rare.
Now I do have a friend on Facebook who put them on. He posted one day he heard a noise downstairs and as he came down them he saw a 16 or so year old in his house from the waist up lifting his Xbox One off his entertainment center. The manchild was squeezed under the bars. The guy froze for a moment, so did my friend. Then the kid slipped out and ran. Never found.
Thomas Xavier says
Interesting, I guess its more of a Southern European thing- everyone here seems to have them! That story is almost comical- he must have been incredibly thin to squeeze under, eek.
and if the grid goes down…none of those perky little 21st century millionaire makers, will do SQUAT. I guess for now though….if it’s cheap, effective and reliable…that’s what I opt for….fancy names aside
Thomas Xavier says
Yeah, resiliency is important- the reolink is effectively offgrid (onboard storage with solar panel to power the camera), but its a good point. I do wonder how often potential thieves would actually try to do electronic interference or if that is just hollywood being hollywood…
I have lived on the same dead end street for 40 years so I will list the reality and then tell you what I do.
1. most home burglaries are committed by young males who are truant from school.
2. the guy near the corner has been repeatedly burglarized because he leaves his garage open when he takes his car out and leaves home.
3. my immediate next door neighbor has been repeatedly burglarized because he has a clearly defective backyard gate that he leaves open all the time.
4. the lady who lives at the end of the dead end had an elaborate security system that she neglected to turn on when she did her usual, predictable run from home in her car. She was in the practice of paying people in cash for services, going into a certain portion of her home to retrieve cash. So, some day workers monitored, waited for her to leave, came in and took the cash and overlooked the gun and the jewelry in the next room.
5. when two different homeowners wanted to provide the police with Ring device videos of a young, male stranger going door to door before a burglary, the cops did not come and get the videos and simply told the women to bring in the tapes – no follow up.
What do I do?
1. signs (which stop no one)
2. a fake system (stops no one)
3. commercially installed gates with two different deadbolt systems – one requires a key from both sides. the second is a key from the outside and button push from the insided.
4. the same dual deadbolt set up on three bedrooms with solid doors. this means if a person gets into one room, the person can not go to other parts of the house. very useful when you go on vacation.
5. light motion detectors (just deter, doesn’t stop anyone)
6. three obscured game trail cameras in the backyard – only for the purpose of identifying an intruder and taking retribution when the police/courts fail to do so.
7. sometimes a defensive small dog stays overnight.
8. the garage is used for storage and there is steel door on the side.
9. the front screen door is perforated steel with two deadbolt locks.
10. yes, my car was burglarized before I started a practice of daily cleanout of the interior and locking the car every time I got out of it at home.
Thomas Xavier says
As always, a super informative breakdown- curious though, are garages safe? My garage door feels relatively flimsy (i have never tried breaking one but based on how thin the metal is…). I really like having the internal doors secured independently too- definitely a great way to slow a perp down- something i will do myself too.
First section, point 5 is ludicrous- if they have evidence- why not go after the perp? seems like an easy win. eugh.
Simon Forrester says
I don’t think you can beat a yappy dog when it comes to alerting you to intruders! Or a large one for removing intruders!
Thomas Xavier says
My neighbour has an Alaskan Malamute- definitely an intimidating sight!