Friday, September 26, 2008

Vandals plus thiefs and burglers equal security system

I sat the other morning and realized something pretty scary. During the past 12 months (since early October 2007) it seems we have become targets. In that time three pretty significant things have occurred requiring contact with the local police department: my beloved truck was stolen (Oct 2007), our house was burglarized (Jun 2008) and Chris's car was vandalized (Sep 2008).

Chris's car was vandalized while I was in Australia--and so it was an especially stressful time for her and it happened right in our driveway at home. Overnight. Without provocation. And they got her IPod.

Many of you know that I am still coping with the fallout from having my truck stolen from a repair shop in Glen Burnie, MD and subsequently totaled in Georgia. The replacement truck has required an inordinate number of repairs--including a new engine, and requires more repairs for an emissions related air pump. Yeah--the insurance gave me money for my old truck--but the repairs--out of pocket! And most all of the repairs are related to the care of the truck, that I could not know, prior to when I bought it.

And the house. One stormy day in June--the house was burgled and a number of items were stolen--mostly watches (including my Orioles game day watch), my laptop, my compound mitre saw, about $250 in small change, my underwater camera, and of course--we were rewarded with holes in the bedroom wall where the burglars tried to relieve us of our flat panel TV (say yes for security on the wall mount).

So--as I was thinking of all these travesties, I realized (along with a not so subtle hint from the wife) that we needed to do something--fast.

Welcome to the world of security lighting, security cameras, and a comprehensive whole house security system with monitoring from Vintage. OK--so we are going to be living in Fort Knox. I guess because we have the best in the world location: the pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow, a little rain must fall at some time. But we are taking action to protect ourselves and to hopefully preclude recurrence by ensuring adequate notification and documentation of any future travesties.

So be warned: when you are visiting, you are being monitored (and protected).

I know the police said a security system wouldn't deter pros--but what if they happen to decide to "hit" us again while Chris is "home alone?" I want her to be able to get the alarm out fast and not have to ask someone what the number for 9-1-1 is.

We've lived in our current house almost eight years, and in the not too recent past we didn't worry about even locking the doors. My how the devastating economic situation has changed things.

So to protect yourselves--what can you do?

Here is what the police have told us:

For Autos:

- hide valuables out of sight or better yet, do not keep them in the vehicle.

- park in well lit areas (like our driveway (yeah but that's secluded))

For Homes:

- Use the deadbolt--EVERY TIME!

- Ensure all doors and windows are locked.

- Make the home look alive

- Write down the serial numbers of everything you own--yes everything (watches, computers, electronics, tools. even the dog). Who knew that my DeWalt 10 inch compound mitre saw was a high theft item? Do not store the numbers on a laptop (duh!)

Security is not fun, it is becoming a necessity. Whatever the reason, right now we are clearly targets. And I know a lot about targets and don't like being one myself. Hopefully, these actions will stem the tide--which by the way is a concern because (unlike lightning) we have been told that they'll be back in six months for a return visit since the bad guys figure we'll replace what was taken by then. And insurance, while nice, does not begin to cover the true cost of being a target.

Hopefully--next year I will be able to report that Oct 2008-Sep 2009 was as quiet and boring as Mar 2001-Sep 2007 was. The difference being--I will be activating my security system every time I leave the house as well as ensuring every door and window is locked down tighter than a bank.

It is a price to pay.

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