If you’ve been a reader of SurvivalBlog.com for any length of time, you’ve surely seen the term Operational Security and the acronym OPSEC. And just as often, you’ve seen the term retreat security. These two go hand-in-hand. Together, they can make your surroundings as safe and secure as possible. Sometimes, depending on your location, this might be simple. But other times, it takes a lot more work to make your surroundings as safe and secure as you possibly can. Every once in a while, I have to remind myself to maintain both OPSEC as well as retreat security.
More than half my life, I’ve been involved in either public or private law enforcement. One position I held for about a year was, private alarms. On the day shift, I installed both silent and not-too-silent arms, most were in businesses, but some were in private homes. On the night shift, I answered those alarms. Silent alarms were connected to a central station, at the business I worked at, and whenever an alarm was tripped, it notified the person at the central alarm station, and they would radio whomever was on duty, and we would respond to those alarms. Sad to say, at that time, I worked in the Chicago, Illinois area, and the Chicago Police Department were very slow to respond to silent alarms, if they responded at all. Many times, when the CPD arrived, they would “secure” the outside of the business, while I went in alone, to do a building search. Anyone in law enforcement will tell you that, it is nearly impossible to search a large building on your own – not good!
While working the day shift, installing alarms, it could get pretty boring. The biggest job was running the wires all over the building and at times, these installations could take a week or longer. Then we had to check each alarm, to make sure it was covering the area we needed it to check – trying not to leave any areas where there wasn’t coverage – this also took some time. On big jobs, there might be two of us doing the installation. Then, we had to check an adjust the sensitivity of each alarm – if they were too sensitive, they would “trip” the alarm for no reason, or even a mouse running through it. Other times, they weren’t sensitive enough.
We used a lot of infrared alarms and they sensed movement. The infrared alarms didn’t sound, they would turn-on a red or green light on the alarm itself. At times, I would attempt to see how stealthy those alarms were, and I’d try to walk through them…if you didn’t move fast, and held yourself against a wall, you could get through an alarm without setting it off. However, other alarms covering the area would more than likely pick-up your movement. Then we had alarms that picked-up body heat, There was no way getting through them without setting them off.
Do-it-Yourself Alarm Systems
There are quite a few ads on television these days, selling do-it-yourself alarm systems, and some aren’t very expensive, if you only have them so they will call the local police. Others are hooked-up to a central station, and they would call the local police. Many perpetrators who know there is an alarm system of some type, will be very clever and cut the phone lines. Nice try, Charlie – once the phone lines are cut, the alarm gets set off and the police will be notified anyway. And, don’t even think about cutting the power to the house off – same thing will happen – the police are notified, just that fast.
Some of these do-it-yourself home alarms cost quite a bit of money to have them monitored each month, some start around $30 per month and go up from there, and they want a yearly contract as well. I’m always looking to save a buck – I have to – we’re not rich. Like most folks, we lived paycheck to paycheck, and many months, there are more days than money, and I know you all can relate to this. So, I’ve installed my own alarm system on the cheap.
My system doesn’t call the police or go to a central station, for them to call the police. Instead, I have installed driveway alarms around my digs. We’ve also installed motion sensitive LED flood lights near each motion alarm. Of course, we aren’t home all the time, should one or more of these motion activated lights or alarms go off, one of my German Shepherds will know something isn’t right and will start barking – that is usually enough to send a bad guy running off the property. Needless to say, at night, the LED motion activated lights will turn on, in conjunction with the driveway alarms.
We now have the driveway alarms set so they only “ding-dong” to let us know someone is on the property. However, we can switch them to alarm mode, and it is very loud. One good thing is that, more often than not, my German Shepherds are alerted before one of my alarms goes off.
Protecting Our Rural Property
We live on acreage out in the boonies, and none of our neighbors would hear any of our alarms, so that could be a problem. However, the sound of large barking dogs might be more than enough to scare off burglars. There are no foolproof systems to keeping bad guys away, sad to stay. We do have some “booby traps” outside of our perimeter – oh, they aren’t deadly booby traps, but enough to discourage someone from advancing any further on to our property.
The driveway alarms and LED motion activated alarms work off of batteries–some are AA, some C and some D batteries. About once a year, I have to change the driveway alarm batteries – not very expensive to do. The LED motion activated lights are good for about two years before I need to change them. On the lights and alarms that are exposed to a lot of rain – and we get a lot of rain where I live in Western Oregon. So I took black electrical tape, and wrapped any openings around the alarms so they don’t get wet and stop working. The receivers for our driveway alarms, are inside our house in windows, so they stay nice and dry. Our oldest daughter lives next door in our small guest cottage and she has all the same alarms and light we do – along with a big ol’ German Shepherd of her own.
There are still a few areas in our front yard, where we will add a couple more motion activated lights and alarms, so we have 100% coverage. If, and when the SHTF we will put all our driveway alarm receivers on “alarm” so it will really alert the bad guys, as well as us – even in the middle of the night. The one good thing about all of this is that, if WTSHTF, we are out in the boonies, so I don’t think a lot of perps would be willing to walk miles down a country road to get to our digs.
Very Low Cost
Now, for the good news: My set-up with motion activated lights and driveway alarms was very inexpensive to purchase. I have several different systems, and I can say one is better than the other. Do a search on Amazon.com or eBay for motion activated lights and alarms, and you’ll be shocked how inexpensive these things are. You can get a motion activated light for about $15 and a motion activated driveway alarm, that consists of one or two alarms and a receiver for about $20 – I’ve seen these units with as many as 5 alarms and one receiver for $35 – and with free shipping, too.
I have about $125 invested in my set-up, but plan to add to it – a few more lights and one or two more driveway alarms. My last LED light set-up costs me $14.97 and it was installed along the walk between my house and the guest house, and my oldest daughter wasn’t home when I did it. When she came walking between the houses that night, the light I installed and adjusted was directly in her face when she entered the activation zone – scared the daylights out of her, and briefly blinded her as well…I know, I know, I’m a bad dad… LOL. My driveway alarms, when activated, will reach the receiver in my house, from about 300 feet away. The zone that is protected is only about 35 feet, but that’s still good enough to cover a lot more area than you think it does. Plus, we have fencing around our large yard as well. And, let’s not forget several large German Shepherds, who would give their lives to protect us.
They Work In Town, Too
If you live in a big city, where houses are close together, you can still use a driveway alarm. You just have to position (aim) it so that it covers a smaller area. And, nothing like one of these motion activate lights, placed at your front and rear doors, so they are pointed in the direction someone is coming from, to blind them as they approach your house. It can be done, inexpensively. More often than not, when the driveway alarm sounds, and you have it set on “alarm” the bad guys will quickly remember that they have an appointment across town and head there, instead of your house.
You will have a heads-up, when the alarm goes off, giving you the advantage of calling 9-1-1 and/or arming yourself from the unwelcome visitors. When your alarm goes off, the bad guy doesn’t know if the police are coming or not. I suggest that you try my on-a-budget security approach. It won’t cost you much for a couple alarms and lights.