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Letter Re: Security for Unattended Retreats

Hello Jim,
Todd’s article [on Friday, November 23rd] was a good discussion on the all encompassing aspects of your retreat. It has been some time since security has been discussed on the blog, namely security systems. Here are some things that could, (should) alert you to a detrimental event at your intended retreat when you do not live there.
Have a security system wired into you future retreat, motor home, CONEX [1], outbuilding, etc… I would venture a cost range from $300-to-$2,000 to cover your structure from basic to very well covered. Monitoring varies and will likely run around a Dollar a day.

There are countless options that provide “extra sets of eyes and ears” at your retreat during life as we know it. There are many companies that will give you support so you can install your own system. They will likely cash sale you the necessary wire and components. Then you can have them come out and connect it to a monitoring service that will call anyone you decide either before or after calling the authorities, it is customizable. If you would like it to call a trusted neighbor, your pager, or your own phone, it is possible.

If your retreat is already built, you can go with wireless sensors that have great range and extremely simple to install. A huge piece of mind can be offered by adding moisture sensors and temperature sensors to your system that will along with fire, contact you and the monitoring service can tell you that your heat source has failed, smoke is detected, water is detected, and so forth. All without having to compromise a key to your retreat and the password to your alarm.

You can add different user passwords so you can tell whom has been there and when. It is amazing what is available. Don’t forget the weakest link which is the hard-line to the property. Vandal proof it, or better yet, discuss underground thru foundation service. This is available, you just have to ask and possibly bear the risk of having to pay the phone companies technicians to come in and troubleshoot future line problems rather than it be on their dime when the demark point is outside the structure. If you don’t want the possibility of having the technician inside your structure, then harden the wire with stout metal pipe where it is above ground, possibly make a hardened sheet that protects the demark point from impact or bolt cutters. Details will have to be worked out with your utility company. At the very least this will add considerable work and noise to attempt to terminate your phone line.

If you have multiple structures on your property, don’t forget to bury an underground high speed Cat 5 telephone line and it’s a good idea to throw in a low voltage and coax line in the trench for interconnectivity of your buildings. This will allow you to monitor the structures with only one system, (if large enough), and only pay one monitoring fee. If someone attempts to break in to your garage, you can have the sensor chirp in your home so you can investigate on your own rather than wait for the authorities should you deem it necessary and safe to do so.
As a last reassurance, add a set of security cameras. Many companies offer cameras that only tape when motion or heat is detected. Get with your local “techie” and ask him how to view your property real time and/or review your recording device over the Internet so you can look for odd or awkward behavior. At least you have the opportunity to apprehend the bad guys and possibly recover some of your stuff should you choose to do so. Or, at least you can know who or whom you can trust if you decide to “keep quiet” about your loss.
Peace of mind for about the cost of a nice rifle and magazines. I think that it is worth it. – The Wanderer