Mar 042015

Funneling is a key element in a security plan. The basic idea is to force intruders to move to specific areas, places where you can have greater control over the situation. For example, if ne’er do wells are moving through your property, you don’t want them hiding behind your outbuildings. Instead, you want to force them into open areas where you can better handle them, using whatever means you feel are necessary.

Here’s how this might work. Let’s say you have a fairly large shed toward the back of your property. It is within sight of the house and you fear someone might use it as cover while scoping out the home. One option might be to place piles of brush or junk back there, heaping it up to the point where someone can’t easily hunker down.

Funneling around a Backyard Shed

Another option could be to scatter broken glass and metal on the ground, then letting the weeds and grass grow long enough to hide it. Someone who decides to hit the dirt so as to not be seen would be in for a rude awakening. In fact, their shouts might serve as a handy alarm, too.

Yet one more possibility, though it isn’t truly funneling, is to set some sort of motion sensor alarm or trip wire back there. Something that will alert you to the presence of a potential threat in that area. If the alarm is discovered, the person(s) might avoid that area, serving the purpose of putting them out in the open.

Keep in mind, though, that anything you set out in the way of traps and such might also be dangerous to you and your family if folks aren’t careful. The absolute last thing you want to do is have one of your children get hurt because they forgot about the broken glass behind the shed, y’know? Make sure every family member is made aware of any areas where you’ve laid traps or alarms.

There may also be legal issues with some forms of traps. For example, I recall at least one case where a guy had set up a shotgun in a hunting cabin in such a way that if the door was opened the gun fired. It ended up killing someone. If memory serves, the family of the intruder successfully sued the owner. I believe he also faced some criminal charges as well, though I don’t recall how that turned out for him. Suffice to say, you may want to hold off on setting out any lethal methods of funneling until and unless the rule of law ceases to exist.

Feb 252015

When creating your home defense strategies (and you ARE creating them, right?), you need to think in terms of layers, not unlike an onion. It isn’t nearly enough to just decide you’re going to go toe to toe with anyone who dares enter your home uninvited. Ideally, they’d never get that far, if you’ve planned properly.

There are at least three distinct layers to a well crafted security plan. It starts with the perimeter. This area extends from your front door to as far as your property line. Ideally, this is the area where you’ll stop most intruders. You’ll do this by working on the risk versus reward equation. You want the possible intruder to believe the risk of going further won’t be worth the reward for doing so. For example, if the appearance of your home is such that it doesn’t look like there would be much of value inside, they may pass your home completely and seek fortune elsewhere. The other option is to increase the perceived risk, such as having one or more dogs, signs indicating alarm service monitoring, and the like.

Defensive Wall

The next layer is your structure. This is your home itself. You want the strongest doors, windows, and locks you can afford. Again, you’re working on the risk versus reward. The more work involved with breaking into the home, the less desirable it will be to do so. Sufficient exterior lighting, particularly motion activated lights, go a long way toward deterring intrusions after dark. Keeping your head on a swivel as you come home and exercising good situational awareness is also important. Sometimes burglars and other nasty types will watch a home for a day or two in order to see if patterns exist as to the comings and goings. If they notice that you’re constantly on alert to possible threats, they may just decide it isn’t worth it.

The final layer is your personal space. If an intruder has gotten through your perimeter and entered your home, in my opinion at least, all bets are off. You should do anything and everything you can to defend yourself and your family. Now, with that said, state laws vary and in some areas you might not legally be able to take certain actions that might be completely legal elsewhere. It pays to do your homework and to know ahead of time what is “allowed” and what is not. More than one homeowner has found themselves on the wrong side of Johnny Law because they did something that, in the eyes of the law, went too far.

That said, learning self-defense such as a “real world” martial art, can go a long way toward defending your personal space. While it is no substitute for a good handgun and the requisite training, you may find yourself unarmed at the worst possible moment.

Take a look at your security plans. Do they cover all the layers?

Feb 192015

Despite what you may have seen in the movies, trip wires aren’t actually for tripping intruders. Well, let me rephrase that. Trip wires can be used to trip intruders, but that’s often not the primary goal of using them.

Instead, the wires are meant to “trip” an alarm of some kind. For example, the wire may be strung across a hallway and attached to the pin of an alarm. When the wire is tripped, it pulls the pin and activates a siren and flashing LED light.

You can construct a very simple alarm with this principle in mind by using a small piece of cardboard and a spring clothespin. Wire up the jaws of the clothespin so that when the jaws come together, they complete the alarm’s electric circuit. Attach the clothespin to the wall adjacent to a hallway or doorway. Place the piece of cardboard between the jaws of the clothespin, preventing the circuit from being completed. Run the trip wire from cardboard and across the hallway or doorway. If the wire is tripped, it will pull the cardboard from the clothespin, completing the circuit and activating the alarm.

You can use a similar setup to alarm actual objects, too. Attach the trip wire to the cardboard and just attach the other end to the object. When the object is pulled from its location, it will pull out the cardboard.

Another variation on this theme is used outside for perimeter security. Let’s say you have an outbuilding and you want to ensure people don’t cut behind it to sneak up on your house. Pile some brush at the ends of the likely path the intruder would take. Attach your trip wires to these piles of brush in such a way that when the brush is moved out of the way, the wires will activate your alarms.

The material used for a trip wire should blend into the surroundings as best as possible. For example, don’t use a black wire over white carpeting. It should also be fairly strong. If the wire is tripped, you don’t want it to just snap and thus not activate your alarm.

If you plan on using trip wires for security, you might want to pick up a package or two of small eyebolts at the hardware store. I’ve found these work great when stringing the wire.

Feb 052015

There are many reasons why you might find yourself in need of a private detective. The first reason that often comes to mind is suspecting a spouse of infidelity but even if you’re happily married, you might have need of a detective at some point. Perhaps you’re trying to track down a childhood friend or a long lost cousin. Or, you’re trying to locate someone who owes you money. Maybe you are considering investing in a new business start up and you want to have a background check done on the people running the show.

How to Hire a Private Detective


How to Hire a Private DetectiveWhatever the reason, you suddenly find yourself seriously considering spending money on a detective. Where do you start? As with most areas of business, referrals from family or friends is often the best way to begin. Failing that, if you have an attorney with whom you regularly do business, such as real estate purchases or estate planning, give him or her a call. While they might not regularly use a detective, they probably have colleagues who do. You could also go online and do some Google searches for private detectives in your area.

Once you have a list of a few potential places to contact, do your homework. In most states, detectives must be licensed. Do an online search for your state name and “detective license” to find the appropriate website. In the states that require licensure, there should be a website where you can look up the license status of individual detectives. Check out your candidates and make sure they don’t have a ton of complaints against them or that they lost their license for some reason.

When you contact the detective, be prepared to outline for him or her what your situation is and what you are trying to accomplish. Don’t just call and ask for their rates as most detectives charge differing amounts based on the case as well as the available information. When the conversation does turn to fees, know going in that detectives aren’t cheap. Expect to pay upwards of $100-125 an hour, plus mileage and other expenses. Again though, it depends on the work being performed. For a simple missing person locate, sometimes called a skip trace, often it is just a flat fee rather than an hourly charge.

Many detectives work out of a home office so if you do need to meet in person for some reason, don’t be surprised if it is at a local coffee shop. Odds are you’ll be asked to sign a contract and pay a retainer fee up front. The way most reputable detectives work is they’ll work until the case is resolved or until the retainer has been spent. If the latter, the detective and you will sit down and figure out how much more work may be needed. If the case is resolved before the entire retainer is used up, you’ll get a check for the difference.

In many types of cases, detectives much prefer working with attorneys rather than private individuals. If your reason for needing an investigation is likely in any way to someday involve the courts, I suggest you contact an attorney first and have them retain the detective if needed. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the attorney is in the best position to determine what information will best benefit your case, thus concentrating the investigative efforts on those angles. Second, information provided to the attorney by the detective can be somewhat protected from the other side of the court case.

Finally, keep in mind that detectives are just as human as everyone else. It may turn out that they are unable to find the information you seek. Sometimes, the information just isn’t there, such as when trying to prove infidelity but the guy or gal isn’t cheating. Detectives typically don’t have access to any information that isn’t available to the average citizen. They just know where to look.

Jan 282015

Once more the realm of movies and novels, it seems more and more often we’re hearing news reports about people being taken hostage for one reason or another. While thankfully the odds of it happening to you are likely fairly low, if you do find yourself in that situation there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Hostage Situation Survival Tips

First, avoid doing anything that calls attention to yourself. Stay calm, keep quiet, and do what you’re told. You want to blend into the crowd as much as possible. This may not always be possible, of course, particularly if there are only a few of you taken hostage. Avoid making eye contact with the attackers. What you want to avoid is becoming the target of the hostage taker’s anger.

If you are armed, I would caution you against taking offensive action against the attackers. Unless you are absolutely certain you know what you’re doing, such as you’ve trained in SWAT or Delta Force tactics, you will likely end up making a bad situation far worse. Forget about the Hollywood nonsense.

That said, if an opportunity to escape presents itself and you are certain you can pull it off safely, it is an option worth considering. I would caution you, though, to be aware of the possibility of danger coming not just from the attackers but the authorities outside who might not be expecting you to come running outside.

Pay attention to your surroundings and to what’s happening. Make a mental note of how many attackers there are, where they are situated, what they look like, things they say, all that good stuff. It might turn out that you’re able to escape or perhaps you end up released. In either case, the authorities will want and need as much information as you’re able to provide.

Should a team be sent in to rescue you and the other hostages, I doubt you’ll have any warning. If/when it happens, hit the floor, shut your eyes, and cover your ears. Whatever you do, don’t jump up and start hollering. That just makes you a target for the attackers as well as a potential victim of friendly fire. Get down and stay there. Soon, you’ll likely be grabbed by one of the rescuers and dragged away.

If the situation becomes prolonged, you may notice some of the hostages, perhaps even yourself, sympathizing with the attackers. This is called Stockholm Syndrome and is rather common in situations like that. Watch for it and fight against it as best you can.

Being taken hostage isn’t a very common threat, even today. But, these situations are happening more and more often. Keep the above tips in mind should you become a victim.

Jan 192015

Ideally, every dog should be loved and cared for by its owner, and that includes vaccinations, spaying and neutering, proper nutrition, walking them regularly on a leash, etc.

However, many dogs are abused, abandoned and become strays due to irresponsible dog ownership. In some locations, the situation has become a growing concern.

Stray dogs are a reality, and some of these dogs can be dangerous, no matter the breed. Furthermore, in some states there are no leash laws. Dogs are free to roam without any repercussions to the owners.

Millions of adults and children are bitten or mauled by dangerous dogs every year. Dog pepper spray is one defense humans have against threat or injury from a dog attack.

Dog Pepper SpraysDog pepper sprays contains a pepper mist. More specifically, an ingredient such as OC (oleoresin capsicum) is typically used. Reputable makers produce products that are considered safe and humane for use as a dog repellent.

The spray can shoot for a number of feet, up to as much as 10 feet with some products, and is shot in quick bursts. This means that a person does not have to be up-close-and-personal with a dog, risking even more danger, in order to use the spray. Often these products come with belt clips or keychain attachments for easy access.

Despite its intended target – a dangerous dog – humans must be careful when using the product. If you are forced to use pepper spray on a windy day, it’s important that you take care.

It is possible for the spray to hit the user if the weather is windy. Just as when the spray hits a dog, you will experience similar effects if you accidentally get pepper spray into your eyes, nose, etc.

There are a variety of reasons to use a dog pepper spray:

1. Professionals, such mail carriers, carry them for protection.

Although postal carriers will not randomly spray dogs for no good reason, they carry pepper spray for their safety. If a dog owner has failed to secure their dog, and a mail carrier is reasonably feeling he or she is about to be attacked, they have a right to use the spray. Other professionals, who risk dog injury or attack, will proceed in the same fashion.

2. Runners and walkers, who travel through areas inhabited by stray dogs, may choose dog pepper spray.

People who use running outside as their form of exercise face a number of dangers. One of them is traffic. But another one is a stray dog, particularly if the person chooses to run at night.

A runner can stop running, or they can shout at the dog to make it go away. They can also climb a tree if they are faced with a very vicious dog.

However, a runner can feel safer by clipping a small can of dog pepper spray to their running clothes in case it’s needed. A person should not have to give up running due to the number of stray dogs in a neighborhood. The use of the spray gives a runner the freedom to continue to enjoy the activity.

Another example of a person who may choose to carry the spray is people who frequently walk rather than drive or ride a bike. For example, if you walk home from work every day, but you are forced to walk through an area that is frequented by a stray dog or dogs, the spray would be a handy tool for you to carry with you.

There have been complaints about the use of these sprays. Although the makers assure that the products are not harmful to dogs, they do have an effect on dogs that some people oppose.

When a canine pepper spray is used on an animal, the mist enters the eyes and mucous membranes. There is pain and swelling as a result of the contact. However, these effects only last for about an hour. Nevertheless, an hour of pain for a dog is too much for those who oppose these products.

Dog pepper spray can be found here.

Jan 152015

Extreme weather conditions can cause a world of problems for those who aren’t prepared to cope with what it brings. Severe cold weather can strip our homes of their ability to keep us warm and safe from the elements, especially when it isn’t properly weatherized and equipped with plenty of supplies and insulation. But subzero temperatures aren’t only effective in dropping the mercury in your thermometer – it can also severely reduce how effective you can defend your home against burglars and predators.

How the Winter Can Expose Your Household

Winterproof Prep for Home SecurityWhile it might not be obvious at first, freezing temperatures can alter our daily routines in ways that drastically reduces our safety. For example:

  • Broken windows or weathered doors due to the elements can provide easier ways to trespass into your home
  • Accumulating snow and frost can provide an inconvenient footprint for criminals to determine when a home is absent
  • In the event of frozen pipes, acquiring water can be a daily struggle that leaves members of your household vulnerable
  • Damage to gardens and crops means a less sustainable house, resulting in more frequent supply runs which expose your property
  • Excessive and long periods of cold can cause home security equipment to malfunction either due to power failure or by obscuring their ability to detect criminals if not prepared and maintained

Given these problems, how can we reduce the probability that winter will get in the way of being able to defend ourselves from those who’d rather prey than prep?

Home Modifications for Your Winter Preps

To nip the most obvious way that winter weather can expose your home, which is due to broken or damaged windows and doors, applying some minor upgrades and putting on the elbow grease can go a long way.

Technologies such as home security equipment can help you realize when an entry to your home is compromised whether by a burglar or mother nature – but for when physical resistance is more important than mere detection, these improvements are fundamental ways to limit how your home can be accessed for when you’re not available to defend it yourself.

While windows can be boarded for a quick and foolproof solution, this also reduces sunlight exposure and natural lighting – both of which are commodities in freezing temperatures and power outage situations. Instead, apply shatterproof window films to windows (or install more sturdy theft-proof varieties if your budget allows it.) However, applying films in advance of the winter season is crucial since window films installed within three days of freezing temperatures can cause the adhesive in it to crystallize.

Doors are even more problematic than windows during cold weather. Cold weather can interfere with the function of electronic locks (such as garage doors). It makes more standard locking mechanisms brittle and weaker to brute force entry. In fact, many burglars use compressed air in warmer seasons to make these locks easier to smash open. It can also freeze your doors shut, especially given that we tend to insulate our doors extra tight during these seasons. Without airflow from outside, doors tend to freeze over more readily.

To take care of freezing doors and locks, apply WD-40 along the edges of these entrances to discourage moisture from developing and freezing up throughout the day. Taking care to apply WD-40 to any locks on your doors and gates which are susceptible to breakage will also make them more reliable against lock picking or bumping since finding a grip becomes far harder.

Fortifying Your Premises

One of the greatest risks presented by long-term blizzard conditions is that power outages can render many of your security measures – such as electrical equipment – useless when not equipped with an auxiliary generator. If you have the funds and means to support this kind of system during long conditions, the following steps can still assist your home safety precautions. Of course, it is pertinent to use some traditional methods in case of electrical issues. Storing documents, jewelry, and other valuables in a safe is highly recommended.

Focus first on your fencing and gated entrances. Fortunately, winter can make this first barrier to your house more difficult to scale depending on the materials and construction of your home. Metal, vinyl, and PVC-treated wood fences become slicker with freezing temperatures, though be warned that they can also crack and become brittle if you don’t apply protective coatings. If your fence stands several feet high and is gated with a locking mechanism, your property instantly becomes less tantalizing to predators.

The next way you can deter crooks from your property is by maintaining it and keeping it well lit. A house which is buried in snow appears more viable to criminals, since this either indicates your home is unoccupied or inadequately geared (and therefore more vulnerable.) While spending the effort to plow your yard might seem trivial as warmth becomes scarce, attempt to at least clear paths, windows, and entrances during peak hours of warmth to provide your property a presence.

If you have a renewable auxiliary generator for your outdoor lighting, motion sensing floodlights can be your solution for keeping your home lit, it can be easy to program your lighting to an automatic schedule.

But if a power source is not available, this can be far more difficult to sustain – but an effort should be made when possible. Oil lanterns, rechargeable flashlights, and campfire locations are all great ways to keep your property lit. However, always take caution with fire safety and know the risks of dangerous gasses that fire can create in enclosed spaces.

Cassandra Stevens is interested in making home security look stylish, she loves dogs and winter sports.

Jan 132015

The security of your home or household should at no time be compromised. This particularly refers to the front door. For the ultimate well-being of our families, security should be a top priority consideration. With the alarming rate at which crime is growing, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Investing in door security is one of the ways in which you are not only assured of your house’s security but also that of your family members. With an extra door lock or any other security element, door security can easily be enforced. Mechanical protection is offered by fitting a basic door lock. However, without a sufficiently strong door, the locks can just be rendered useless.

Security for your Doors

One way to ensure door security is through the installation of door bars. Basically, these are metallic components that are made of carbon steel and are reinforced with a heavy tempered gauge. The length of these bars can vary depending on the door’s width and height. For optimal security, the door bars can be integrated with the home alarm system. Through this, slight tampering with the bar can trigger an alarm to notify the homeowner of a possibly unwanted intruder. When not in use, the heavy duty brackets can be allowed to swing behind the door. To put the bar in place, you just have to swing it forward to put it in place.

Door Security

Door security can also be enhanced with the installation of door chains. Door chains usually come in very diverse models but most of them are fixed to the door frame and door using several screws. These kind of security enhancing equipment are not meant to completely deter people from accessing your house. They give an individual the opportunity to open the door ajar and view the visitor. This means that you do not have to struggle trying to look through your upstairs window to see the person at your door. If the chain is not strengthened with the right material, it can be easily broken.

Door security can also be enhanced with the installation of door viewers. Before letting a visitor into your house, there is always the urge to confirm his or her identity. This can be easily achieved with door viewers. They can compose high definition cameras or large convex mirrors that make it possible for you to view your doorstep from inside your house. A door viewer should be installed where it can only be viewed by the homeowner.

Electric door openers can also be used to achieve optimal door security. These are equipment that have been the pinnacle of door security technology. Unlike other cases where you have to open a door manually, these gadgets provide an automated system to open your door. With a press of a button, you can open or close the door. Unlike other door security enforcement equipment that are installed in the inside, electric door openers are installed on the outside. They are a very common in large commercial and apartment buildings.

Jan 072015

Like many people, I enjoy traveling but I don’t. I like getting away for a while, visiting new places and such. But, I don’t like being away from home and I for darn sure don’t like exposing myself to possible theft and such when staying in hotels.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to stack the odds in your favor when staying at a hotel. First, whenever possible, do some homework ahead of time and choose a hotel that is part of a well known chain or, at the least, has several great reviews. While they might be a little pricier than the smaller outfits, you can usually get a decent rate using one or another of the popular travel websites. Sticking with well known hotels can go a long way toward avoiding potential trouble.

Staying Safe when Traveling

Once you get to your room, keep the door closed and locked at all times. Engage the deadbolt as well as the little lever deal toward the top of the door. Obviously, you can’t use these locks when you leave the room but they’ll help protect you from intruders when you’re inside.

Never open the door unless you know for certain who is on the other side. If you called for room service or something, the person knocking on the door should have on a name tag. If you don’t know who the person is or why they’d be knocking on the door, leave it locked and call the front desk.

Door Wedge AlarmThere are a few different types of alarms you can bring with you as well, if you’d like. One of the simplest consists of a device you place on the floor up against the door. If the door is opened, it slides across the alarm, activating it. There are also alarms that can be hung from the door knob and are activated by motion.

Personally, if I’m staying multiple nights at a hotel, I avoid having housekeeping come in and make the beds and such. I’m fine making my own bed and I typically have plenty of towels already. The fewer the number of people accessing my room, the better. While that door hanger informing housekeeping to keep moving won’t prevent them from coming inside when you’re not there, it can’t hurt.

Try to keep all valuables out of sight. Don’t lay out all of your jewelry on the dresser top, for example. Personally, I rarely ever use dresser drawers and such in a hotel room. Doing so just increases the chances I’m going to forget and leave something behind. When I’m traveling, I truly live out of my suitcase. Everything gets stored in it, with the exception of dirty laundry. All of that goes into a plastic bag that will get packed just before I leave.

Any time you leave your room, make sure you have your key card with you, of course. Don’t flash it around when you’re out and about. What I do is keep it in my wallet, which lessens the chance I’m going to accidentally drop it somewhere in my travels. If you do find you’ve lost your card, notify the hotel immediately so they can reprogram the system, rendering that card useless.

Using just a little common sense along with some basic security tactics will ensure you have a great vacation.

Dec 262014

With somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million burglaries happening in the United States each year, you likely want to take some measures to prevent it from happening to you. Fortunately, there are a number of things that are cheap and easy that can put the odds in your favor. See, the thing is, burglars are lazy. They don’t want to screw around with alarm systems, heavy duty locks, and other such preventative measures. They want to get in and get out as quickly as they can. Any obstacles you can put in their way will increase the chances they’ll just move on to an easier target.

Easy Ways to Prevent a Burglary

Home Security SystemIf you don’t have an alarm system, fake it. Purchase or even print up on your computer at home stickers you can place on windows, advertising one or another alarm company. This simple measure might be all it takes to keep someone from wanting to risk a break in at your home.

Install good locks on all doors and windows. Deadbolts should extend at least one full inch into the door frame when they are locked. Generally speaking, the cheaper the lock’s price, the lower the quality. In other words, don’t just buy what’s on sale but spend a few bucks more to get something that is going to do some good.

While you’re at the store looking at door locks, pick up a small package of 3 inch long wood screws. When you get home, open your front door and examine the hinges. You’ll see three screws going into the door and three screws going into the door frame, right? Typically, these screws are rather short and don’t dig into the frame very far. Replace them one at a time with the longer wood screws. If you go one by one, you won’t have to deal with completely rehanging the door. The longer screws will go past the thin door frame and dig into the studs, making for a much more secure entry point to your home.

Dogs as a deterrentWhether you have a dog or not, place an empty food dish somewhere easily seen from the back door to your home. Why the back door? Well, burglars tend to favor entry points that are away from prying eyes. By placing the dog dish near the door that is away from the street, you increase the odds it will be seen by the burglar. Over and over, studies have shown that crooks tend to avoid homes where they believe one or more dogs may be present.

Signs that say things like, “My home is protected by Smith & Wesson” are cute and all but really, all they accomplish is informing the burglar you likely have firearms in the home. Firearms are highly prized among burglars as they often can be sold quickly and for decent amounts of cash. Rather than encouraging a burglar to go elsewhere, all you’ve done is increase the temptation to see if your gun safe is unlocked.

Install motion sensor lights above or very near each and every entry point to your home. Again, crooks don’t want to be seen. Test these lights regularly to ensure they are working properly and that the bulbs haven’t burnt out.

Clear bushes and shrubs away from doors and windows. They can provide concealment for thieves. If you simply must have some greenery, choose thorny plants such as Hawthorne. If you’ve ever encountered that plant before, you know well just how nasty it can be.

Take a walk around your home and look at it from an outsider’s point of view. Imagine if you were tasked with breaking into the house. What vulnerabilities do you see and how can you overcome them?