Letter Re: Advice on Security for Unattended Retreats

Mr. Rawles:
I feel guilty about asking you this in an e-mail, since I should probably pay for consulting time to have you answer the following: I have a vacation/retreat house that is in another state, almost 600 miles from my home on the coast. I agree with your advice (that you’ve repeated gosh how many times) that someone should live at retreat year round. I tried renting it to an acquaintance that needed some “space” for a time following a divorce, but he eventually moved on. Now my retreat is vacant. All of my friends and me–including the two families that are our “bug out buddies” that will help us man the retreat if times get wild and violent–all have corporate jobs on the coast. So we can’t live there. And because of the way the retreat house is stocked, I can’t rent it out to a stranger. And I can’t have a modern burglar alarm system, since the house is off grid and there are no telephone lines for miles. What can I do to increase security so that nobody rips off all our survival supplies? There is too much for us to bury, and besides, the water table is quite high there, so underground caches are pretty much out of the question. (Our well depth is just 12 feet!) Thanx, – R.T.U.

JWR Replies: I recommend that you: 1.) Get an insurance policy for your retreat, to cover theft and fire. 2.) Install either a Smokecloak device (or something comparable, perhaps tripwire activated) in each room with an exterior door, and 3.) Install several infrared security cameras, such as those sold by Ready Made Resources. Having photographic evidence is essential to eventually apprehend burglars, and is also quite useful for substantiating insurance claims. Ideally, there should be a hidden camera facing down the length of your main approach road/driveway (so that you can catch images of vehicle, driver, and most importantly their license plate number), another camera with a view of the front door or other expected point of entry, and possibly yet another with a view of the bathroom. (Burglars tend to get nervous and use the bathroom.) OBTW, if you have a gun vault for you weapons, optics, and electronics, then be sure to bolt it securely to the floor, and if possible build it into a hidden compartment or hidden room.