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Yay Panda!

tafnaj in austinhomeowner


So, I consider myself to be a tech/customer service professional, who has recently went to work for a local locksmith here in Austin. Over the last 3 months I have learned more about the security (or lack thereof) that todays standard deadbolts/doorknobs provide than I thought I ever would. View this video on bump keys if you need proof.

Really, I had always known that standard locks should really only be your first line of defense, but what do you guys think? Do you think it is worth about $90 per cylinder to have the "unpickable" locks that are on the market, or just go with the mainstream and get a security system?


IMO, locks have always just been something to slow down casual intruders or get them to go next door - they won't keep out a determined intruder. Alarm systems are pretty easy to knock out too, by breaking the phone line (alarm companies say they'll detect this. They lie). I had a girlfriend who sold security systems for a living and her general advice to friends was just to put up signs instead of paying for a system.

I'd say a big dog or alert neighbors are the best bet... one evening just before I closed on it, I was looking in through my (empty) new house's windows. A neighbor came over to say hello, with a baseball bat in his hand :)

Nice! That is a neighbor I think I would like! Someone who sees something fishy and investigates with a weapon in tow.
Just to let you know, there are now alarm systems that don't transmit over the phone line. We don't have an actual land line and have no intention of putting one in, so we have a wireless alarm system that transmits from upstairs. Even if the thief knew where the transmitter was and sprinted right to it, the alarm would still have transmitted to our alarm company already.
That's a good point, I'd forgotten about that!
I think you have to look at what type of criminal you need your locks/system to stop.

First you have your common buglar. These are the guys who will most often break out a window in the back to gain entry. Sure there is the slight chance they'll try to pick the lock, but it's a very slim chance. Most often this type of criminal can be encouraged to look elsewhere by just keeping your home well lit, as they prefer to creep in the shadows to avoid detection. Security system signs certainly drive them away.

Second you have your determined burglar. These are the guys who already have a good idea what is in your home, and they have targeted your home in particular. You aren't just another house on the block. For this type of criminal, a high end lock is no help, as they'll either break out a window, or kick in a door. (lock attaches door to doorjam, it's just wood) Since they know what you have, they don't care much about alarm systems, as they'll be in and out before anyone can respond. So signs won't help, having an actual system with a loud audible alarm MIGHT. It will serve to limit the time they spend in your home, and if you happen to be there, this would be a very good thing.

Lastly you have the professional burglar. For these guys, there is no such thing as an un-pickable lock. The security system isn't of much concern either, as they know how to take them out. The only real defense against the pro is to not look like a target. Don't put pictures of your $20k theater room on the internet for example.

So....$90 a lock is only a good idea for the locksmith selling you the lock.
Silly panda.

And no, it's not worth it, at least on my house. They'd just break the window. For that matter, anyone who has windows on the first story shouldn't bother for that reason.
For what it's worth, security systems will monitor windows against breakage and can include motion sensors. Not that they're any help if you have a cat...
get a dog
I absolutely agree with the posters who mention getting a dog. They are the biggest deterrent to most burglars (and home-invasion/rapist-type criminals). I have read quite a few articles about this, and time and again, former burglars mention that dogs are simply too big of a risk, and they'll keep going until they find a quieter house. I suppose that for the high-end criminals, there really is no deterrent. They could shoot the dogs. But the majority of burglaries/home-invasions in Austin, I'd be willing to bet, are made by the low- to mid-range type of criminals.

I have 4 dogs, and (maybe foolishly) feel really, really safe.

Just my .02...
There are also alarms that sound like big 'ol mean barking dogs if someone is near your door or something (I think that's how it works). I was thinking about getting one as a back up dog. <grin>
for when you and your dogs are at the park?
If those were the only two options, I would say it depends on how long you plan on keeping said house, due to cost over time factors.
As other posters have pointed out though, the mechanical dog and putting signs in your yard are actually quite effective and cost efficient over a return to time ratio.

July 2009

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