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Ask Slashdot: A Cheap, DIY Home Security and Surveillance System? 508

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-hear-those-DoD-pain-rays-are-nice dept.
scubamage writes "Six weeks ago, my home was broken into while my fiance and I were at work. Two laptops were stolen, an iPad, a power brick, a safe (complete with several years worth of taxes, my birth certificate, and old copies of my driver's license), a digital SLR, and several other costly items. We are now dealing with an attorney because the homeowner's insurance is fighting us on a number of items and we're not backing down. It has been a nightmare. However, we've now noticed that someone has been visiting our house during the day. There has been garbage left sitting on our back porch table, so its unlikely to have blown there. We've also seen footprints in our garden that are not there in the morning. Our neighborhood is essentially empty during the day, and we want to know who is on our property while we're not. If we're really lucky, reporting it to the police could recover some of our property. My fiance has asked me to assemble a home security system that is motion activated, and both notifies us of an entry, as well as records video or rapid HD stillframes when sensing motion. The goal is to do this cheaply and more effectively than going with a private security company like ADT (who, consequently, our police department told us to ignore due to the incredibly high rate of false alarms). We've already gotten the dog and the gun, so we have those bases covered. What suggestions do you have on setting up home security systems, and what have you done to build one in the past?"
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Ask Slashdot: A Cheap, DIY Home Security and Surveillance System?

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  • Reputation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stargoat (658863) * <stargoat@gmail.com> on Friday March 30, 2012 @04:54PM (#39529051) Journal

    You have the gun, and you have the dog. All you really need now is a reputation.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Assuming you live in Florida, start by chasing down passers-by with your car and shooting them with your gun. Given TV interviews afterwards in which you claim that you were simply defending yourself.
      • Re:Reputation (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sco08y (615665) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:16PM (#39529359)

        Assuming you live in Florida, start by chasing down passers-by with your car and shooting them with your gun. Given TV interviews afterwards in which you claim that you were simply defending yourself.

        It might take some kind of vast racial conspiracy in order to make sure the police release you without charges. You'll have to get together with all the other Hispanic Democrats to pull this off.

        If you do it right, though, you should be able to get enraged mobs of idiots to attack some random elderly couple whose son happens to have the same middle name as you!

      • Assuming you live in Florida, start by chasing down passers-by with your car and shooting them with your gun.

        You forgot the part where you lose sight of the passer-by, the passer-by (who is a foot taller than you) then chases *you* down, starts screaming, punches you in the face knocking you to the ground, and then proceeds to beat the stuffing out of you. In front of witnesses. Just for following him.

        Treyvor Martin was a wannabe thug with a chip on his shoulder who was angry at the world for being su

    • Re:Reputation (Score:4, Insightful)

      by idontgno (624372) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:00PM (#39529149) Journal

      Well, they have the gun and the dog. That way, when the crims steal the gun, they can shoot the dog on the way out.

      Seriously. For simple unattended-property burglary, a gun is just an attractive target. And most dogs will just wag their tails all friendly-like at the burglar as they come and go.

      • Seriously. For simple unattended-property burglary, a gun is just an attractive target. And most dogs will just wag their tails all friendly-like at the burglar as they come and go.

        Hopefully, one doesn't leave the gun in plain sight.

        And even the friendliest, dumbest Labrador Retriever really is a deterrent for the garden variety low end thief. You don't know if the waggy critter wants you to pet him or if he's sizing you up because the owner is afraid of men and that vibe has been transmitted to the dog.

        I've lived in rural environments for much of my adult life and people with dogs get burglarized much less than those with an empty house. Hardly the sole reason to have a dog, but it

        • It make a big difference as to WHO is robbing you. If it's some homeless person or regular thief, a dog is more than enough to convince them to find another target. If it's the guy/teenager/etc from down the block, they probably know your dog and it won't be a deterent at all.
      • Re:Reputation (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Will.Woodhull (1038600) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:55PM (#39531587) Homepage Journal

        I too have concerns about the gun. Unless you and your fiancee are going to put in the time at the shooting range to get good with it (about 500 rounds each), and the monthly practice necessary to keep your skill levels up, the gun only increases your risks without providing any particular benefit. Unless, of course, you are talking about a light, short barrel shotgun (20 gauge or less), which is the only good point and shoot self defense tool for the home (no need to aim the thing-- easy to shoot from the hip. Effective range when loaded appropriately with pheasant shot is more than a room length, few worries about over penetration, will stop any aggressor who is not wearing body armor, maybe without even killing him-- saves you on lawyer costs. Mossberg has made a plastic stock 410 gauge 3 round pump action, which would be more than sufficient.)

        Another point: you are talking about using lethal force in the face of property crimes. That kind of escalation suggests that any decisions you make now about defensive strategies should be reviewed in about three months when you are not reacting to the heat of the moment.

        My pertinent background: living for nearly 30 years in a rural area beyond effective law enforcement patrols, but with a nearby freeway and intermittent periods of high transient crimes. German shepherds with loud barks were an excellent deterrent and a good friends and companions. However they do need several hours of attention daily, including walks in the country for exercise and in the town for socialization skills.

        My background with firearms: a 30-06 as a very good deer rifle, a 22 pistol to deal with the occasional varmint-- skunks moving in under the barn; a raccoon who learned how to get into the garbage can, that kind of thing. A double barrel 20 gauge bird gun: I never had the opportunity to really learn how to bird hunt, but it was the gun that I kept in reach near the bed.

        Now I don't live in a situation where I can keep a dog properly, and now I rely on a cell phone as a deterrent to crime: dialing a cell phone is much more effective than firearms ever were. Just look at the way crime rates have tumbled as cell phones have become more common. The correlation is too strong for there not to be a connection.

        • Re:Reputation (Score:5, Interesting)

          by SydShamino (547793) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @01:47AM (#39532463)

          No no, you have it all wrong. Our neighbors, who were burgled last year, had one of their guns stolen. That uplifted it to a much more serious crime (at least here in Texas), and they got police attention until the guilty party (a Mexican gang from the other side of town, who just picked their house at random) was busted.

          Here's how you do it:
          1. Get a gun. Register said gun.
          2. Pour molten solder into the barrel of said gun.
          3. Leave said gun in plain sight in your home.
          4. If your house is burgled, report your gun stolen immediately. The police will pay attention.
          5. Have no fear that your gun will be used to hurt yourself or anyone else, except whoever tries to use it.

      • Re:Reputation (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday March 31, 2012 @08:08AM (#39533539) Journal

        That is why you need a MOM...Mean Old Mutt. Don't go for that overbred crap, go to the local shelter and you'll find plenty of 'em that will be damned good security. my ma's place was constantly getting gas stolen as well as any easy to carry items and she was at her wits end and starting to get scared. As luck would have it what would be scavenging in the ditch as i was visiting but an obviously part wolf MOM. I said "Hell there is you answer ma...hey there buddy, want a burger?" and the kids quickly gave him the name of Jackie.

        Old Jackie didn't take long at all to decide that was HIS property and to learn which humans was allowed and which humans weren't and sure enough not 2 weeks later I get called out by ma, when I get there she is feeding Jackie a big plate of eggs with bacon bits. When i asked what was going on one of the kids held up a piece of bloody jeans and said "Whoever that gas thief was they screamed REAL good when old Jackie tore into them!" and when ma got out there she saw old Jackie chasing down some punk who jumped in an old hoopty and tore out of there and she found a gas can that wasn't hers.

        Sadly old Jackie passed away a couple of years back, one day he just got up and wandered off into the woods, never to return. I'd seen that behavior before with part wolves, its like they know its time and they just go find a tree somewhere and lay down under it and die, but lucky for us old Jackie had given us a couple of pups with a stray female so now we have Chubs, which looks like his wolf daddy mixed with a rottweiler.

        So get ya a mean old mutt, pups are too willing to please to be good against strangers, a mature mutt can be VERY territorial and will learn its place DAMNED quick and if you get a stray or one from the shelters they are damned grateful to have a home. Give 'em a little TLC, along with some scraps and rewards when they do well and watch how quickly that dog learns its job. If you need advice on breeds anything with wolf, collie, or sheppard is a good place to start. I've talked to cop buddies and been told how many times they've dealt with idiots that were too fucking stupid to back down from a gun but they STFU and obeyed when faced with a dog, staring at a mess of fur and fangs is primal whereas they act like they are Chuck Norris when they see a gun, so if you want a gun that's fine but a mean old mutt makes for a better first line of defense IMHO.

    • by Stargoat (658863) *

      IANAL, but I have been told by multiple sources that a shotgun, being primarily a fowling piece and not a weapon, is more likely to get you off in court.

      Also, you need to learn how to use it. I'm not talking a little bit of range time, but rather practice to the point of where when your nerves are supertense, your fingers will not function, and your brain has shut down, you can still, through muscle memory, put the gun up to your shoulder and destroy that which you are aiming for. Otherwise, the gun is ju

      • Re:Reputation (Score:5, Informative)

        by ubrgeek (679399) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:27PM (#39529495)
        Middle of the night:
        "knock, knock."
        "Who is it?" as you rack a round in your pistol grip Mossberg 500, the process of which makes a very distinctive noise.
        "Sorry, wrong address."
        The comment about the blaring alarm scaring people off is true. As is the sound of the shotgun being racked.

        Never mind 5,000 rounds a year, etc. On the off chance you have to fire after answering the door (a) you're firing from less than four feet away and (b) you're opening fire with pellets. So long as you don't try and play Terminator and use one hand to fire, you're going to hit something ... them, the walls, whatever (NEVER move to fire a weapon unless you can put your hands on every member of your family first. Do that and then advance to the intruder. Secure the family and then secure the house.) The sound of the blast will do a lot to persuade the bad guy to take off. Oh, and the pistol grip makes it much more likely you'll be able to get the first shot off first; you can "fire from the hip" instead of taking the time to raise the weapon to your shoulder (not to mention that you don't have to step back from the door to raise the weapon).

        Take the weapon out to the woods and put a dozen rounds through it. Take your family. You'll get to feel the kick you're going to experience and almost more to the point, the sound. Should you need/feel the need to fire another shot during an intrusion, if you've never heard a shotgun go off while you're holding it, in my experience you are more likely to pause as you recover from the shock of the sound.
        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          if you've never heard a shotgun go off while you're holding it, in my experience you are more likely to pause as you recover from the shock of the sound.

          If you're not comfortable with guns, you're most likely to close your eyes and flinch. It's pure reflex.
          Your accuracy goes way up if you can keep your eyes open and your weapon on the target.

          The only way to get that level of comfort is to go out and shoot stuff.
          It's best if you have someone critique you, because you may not even realize you're tensing up and closing your eyes.

        • by Jjeff1 (636051)
          I'm hardly a weapons instructor or member of law enforcement, but this advice goes against just about everything I know.

          - You won't open the door at all if there is a bad guy outside.
          - You do need practice, a dozen rounds a year against clay pigeons is a waste. If you actually intend to defend yourself, take a shooting defense course, take several.
          - Firing a weapon outdoors is far different than indoors; exposing the family to proper gun safety is a good idea, but outdoor != enclosed space at night.
          -
        • by sco08y (615665)

          Oh, and the pistol grip makes it much more likely you'll be able to get the first shot off first; you can "fire from the hip" instead of taking the time to raise the weapon to your shoulder (not to mention that you don't have to step back from the door to raise the weapon).

          I've successfully spun around and fired from the hip using MILES, so it can be done and you can hit a small target, the laser emitter on my rifle had to line up to the sensor within a few cm, but this was when I was in an OPFOR unit and I had been doing it as my full time job for some years. But generally, firing from the hip is useless; our doctrine was to always assume a good stance, line up both sights, and take only well aimed shots. A carefully aimed semi-automatic rifle is by far the most effective wa

      • by Intropy (2009018)

        For in-home defense a shotgun is a really good choice. It's easy to use, which is important under pressure. And assuming you load shot rather than slugs, there's far less concern about a projectile penetrating a wall and doing unintended damage to something unseen than with something like a rifle or a handgun.

      • IANAL, but I have been told by multiple sources that a shotgun, being primarily a fowling piece and not a weapon, is more likely to get you off in court.

        I don't know where you live, but in my neck of the woods, we don't have 'fowls' - only targets. The advantages of a shotgun for home defense are essentially three fold - they're much more permissive of poor aim than a pistol, they're much less likely to go through a window / door / wall and injure an innocent bystander and finally, if used at appropriate self defense distances are very often fatal. That means the perp can't go and sue you for not killing him outright.

        I don't think you need to run 5000 rou

        • by uncqual (836337)

          they're much less likely to go through a window / door / wall and injure an innocent bystander

          Some interesting empirical testing at the The Box O' Truth [theboxotruth.com] - or for shotguns specifically [theboxotruth.com] (page through to "next page").

          And take heed of the advice at Box O' Truth that "Unless you expect to be attacked by little birds, do not use birdshot". Basically, if it's good enough to do quick and debilitating damage to the perp, it's also going to penetrate quite few sheets of drywall (unless it hits a family member soo

    • by ArhcAngel (247594)
      Just get your neighbors to put J. Horn [wikipedia.org] on their mailbox.
    • or community.

      1. You got a gun.. At home so the next burglar can get it as well as the rest of your stuff when you're both out at work again?
      2. Dog, what do you do, leave it tied up at home all day alone? Dogs are pack animals it'll end up insane.
      3. You will get burgled again, just after the insurance pays out. You're now on a list which'll get passed around.
      4. Upgrade your doors & windows. Those are the holes they'll be trying to get through.

      Your cheapest security system are neighbours who also have an

    • by SpockLogic (1256972) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:31PM (#39529541)

      You have the gun, and you have the dog. All you really need now is a reputation.

      No, no, no ... get rid of the gun and get another dog.

      You need a big scary dog to frighten off the burglars and a small yappy dog to bark and wake up the big dog.

    • Re:Reputation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CAIMLAS (41445) on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:58PM (#39530505) Homepage

      The reputation you want is "do not fuck with us or you will reap the whirlwind."

      Physical security takes many forms; the dog, gun, and security cameras all serve various parts of the whole picture.

      As for your current situation: you were scouted out and target over a period of days, weeks, or months. You were probably hit by fairly brazen professionals. You will probably not be hit again for a number of reasons:

      * you are now more alert due to having been victimized
      * you are now more likely to be better prepared
      * they were thorough and you have nothing of value in the house which they wanted. Presumably, it was not a quick snatch and grab due to the safe being gone, too.
      * you are more likely to alert your neighbors to be alert

      Alert your neighbors, if you have any. Having a strong community is the best defense against these things. Our neighborhood has a nosey codger who is quite vigilant about things like this: if someone doesn't look like they're supposed to be there, he confronts them. People home with no vehicles in the drive is usually a pretty good indication if there's no garage.

      I would also suggest not leaving unsecured arms in the house if you are not normally home. If they know you're not home and have firearms, you are more likely to be robbed by serious criminals (and then have to deal with all the paperwork, headache, and guilt of stolen firearms). On the other hand, stolen firearms are fairly easy to track unless they're intended for use in other crimes.

      The most likely thing is that you won't be violated again in this fashion for some time, though it pays to be vigilant in security of mind. As for the topic at hand: newegg has occasional deals in the under-$500 range (saw an 8 camera unit for about $350 recently) for decent home security systems which do what you request. They use mini-BNC and the like, I believe.

      • by Splab (574204)

        Actually, since the house was emptied of everything, they are more likely to get a repeat visit since the thiefes know the house is going to be filled with brand spanking new everything. (apparently even some nice recording gizmos to boot)

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        The reputation you want is "do not fuck with us or you will reap the whirlwind."

        Unfortunately many thieves fail to adequately research the reputation of their victims. A reputation really isn't going to protect you as much as, say, securing your property.

  • by brokenin2 (103006) * on Friday March 30, 2012 @04:54PM (#39529063) Homepage

    We had our cars getting broken into and did basically the same thing (minus gun).

    We have a linux file server at home, so what I ended up doing was getting a V4L
    compatible video capture card off ebay (I got a 16 input card for $80). 4 port
    capture cards are common and cheap. Just make sure it's compatible with linux.

    Then go to dealextreme.com, or I think they're also at dx.com now. There you can
    get cameras, and the video balun's to make it simple to use cat 5 to run your
    cameras. A camera is about $20 for a decent night vision one, and the balun set
    (8 baluns to run 4 cameras) were about $25.

    Once you've got your hardware all set up, you can use either "motion" or "zoneminder"
    for the actual surveilence. Both will do what you want. I use motion, but
    zoneminder is a little more polished in the UI department.

    Finally, set up an rsync script or other mirror software to get those files off site
    in case they actually try to steal your server.

    • by schitso (2541028)
      There's also the option of IP cameras with memory card slots built in. Just make sure to screw it down tight.
    • by Tmack (593755)

      ....>

      Then go to dealextreme.com, or I think they're also at dx.com now. There you can get cameras, and the video balun's to make it simple to use cat 5 to run your cameras. A camera is about $20 for a decent night vision one, and the balun set (8 baluns to run 4 cameras) were about $25.

      ....

      You forgot the step where you wait a month or four for the dx cameras to ship from HongKong....

      -tm

    • A camera is about $20 for a decent night vision one, and the balun set
      (8 baluns to run 4 cameras) were about $25.

      Once you've got your hardware all set up, you can use either "motion" or "zoneminder"
      for the actual surveilence. Both will do what you want. I use motion, but
      zoneminder is a little more polished in the UI department.

      If you are reading the posts for info, all of his prices are about 1/4 the cost
      of actual prices. I'm not sure where the fuck you're getting a $20 camera,
      new, worthwhile enough to protect anything of value. 360 lines in black and
      white don't cut it son.

      My cheapest cam, was $60... and it's JUST BARELY ABLE TO RENDER
      A FACE FOR PROSECUTION. And I use it solely for the door. It's close
      to their face, they see it... it sees them.

      My most expensive was $170 and it has auto-iris... for when the thieves
      try to flood the

  • Steal someones (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Dyinobal (1427207)

    Steal someones 'secured by' signs from their front yard and put it in your yard. Seriously if someone is going to break into your house they are going to do it security system or not.

    If you're only goal is deterring any thefts that is about the best thing you can do really. Now if you want to have evidence to hand over to the police then that is another story all together.

    • by idontgno (624372) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:02PM (#39529191) Journal

      Steal someones 'secured by' signs from their front yard

      Maybe you can tack the sign up on your wrought-irony porch railing.

    • by jon3k (691256)

      Seriously if someone is going to break into your house they are going to do it security system or not.

      Got any stats to back up that statement? My assumption would be that criminals will just walk next door where there isn't a sign.

      • by Dyinobal (1427207)
        That is what I mean by the statement. A sign is almost as good as a security system, because it will either convince the thief to go some place else or it won't, and if it doesn't then what ever you could of done wouldn't keep them from breaking into your home and stealing yourself.
  • Zoneminder (Score:5, Informative)

    by stox (131684) on Friday March 30, 2012 @04:56PM (#39529103) Homepage

    http://www.zoneminder.com/ [zoneminder.com]

    It integrates well with MythTV, too.

  • Gun -- ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by evil_aaronm (671521) on Friday March 30, 2012 @04:59PM (#39529133)

    Guns aren't any use if they're a) not handy, and b) not understood. Could also backfire if the bad guy takes it away from you. Or steals it from you while you're gone during the day.

    Don't get me wrong: I have a number of guns in my house. But that alone doesn't make me feel safe in the event of a break-in. I hope you catch the cock-sucker, but be careful that you don't become another "statistic" in the process.

    • by wisty (1335733)

      It's a prisoner's dilemma. Guns are good for you, because they make you feel a little safer. They are terrible for society, because they are stolen by thieves, who sell them to gangster wannabes who wouldn't normally be able to get them.

  • by damm0 (14229) on Friday March 30, 2012 @04:59PM (#39529147) Homepage Journal

    Should catch geeks better than unobtainium!

  • Frontpoint (Score:5, Informative)

    by BaverBud (610218) <`baver' `at' `thebeever.com'> on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:01PM (#39529157) Homepage Journal

    We were broken into about 5 weeks ago. I originally considered Frontpoint about 5 months ago, but we kept putting it off. It's the only security company that had mediocre to good reviews consistently.

    They have a few options - what you're looking for is their "ultimate" version, which includes cameras. It streams online I believe, and you can turn on/off the security system from your phone or their web page.

    They do not send out a rep to do installation, instead they ship the system to you (they'll probably upgrade you to next day shipping for free if you mention you just had a burglary) and you set it up yourself. It took me about 15 minutes to set up, although I had to re-glue some of the door sensors.

    When you call, or email, their sales agents don't try to upsel you. They work with what you want, and try to assess your needs based on how you describe your house. If you want an extra sensor for something, they are happy to give it to you - but they will want to know why, and if they don't think it's needed, they'll try to talk you out of it. I had the feeling they actually cared about my interests, and not selling me more equipment.

    They also follow up on any feedback you provide, and actively try to resolve issues. I'm really happy with them. They use alarm.com for monitoring.They also have additional styles of sensors that the average joe doesn't care about (ones that you install in the door, rather than putting on the outside of the door - i.e. invisible), but you need to ask. They try to keep it simple.

  • I suggest (Score:5, Funny)

    by NEDHead (1651195) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:02PM (#39529193)

    Since you have the gun already, landmines for the garden are the obvious next step

  • ... is a motion activated 'critter cam' covering the areas where you suspect your visitor to loiter. No monitoring, no alarm, but you can get pics of the suspect (as long as they don't notice and steal the camera).

    You could also leave a few scraps of yellow crime scene tape and a chalk outline of a body in front of your house. Give them something to think about.

  • Hunting Camera (Score:5, Informative)

    by dagoalieman (198402) <thegoalieman AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:05PM (#39529225) Homepage

    Get a hunting trail camera. Takes pics on an SD card. Not networked, but is designed to be outside and it should get you the information you seek relatively cheaply.

    • Get a hunting trail camera. Takes pics on an SD card. Not networked, but is designed to be outside and it should get you the information you seek relatively cheaply.

      Showing pics to cop after crime...

      Cop: Yep, that's a person, definitely not a deer.
      Owner: Can you get them?
      Cop: What am I going to do, put out a bolo for a smudgy blob?

      -AI

  • by putch (469506) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:06PM (#39529237) Homepage

    I use a combination of Yawcam and Vitamin D. Neither are particularly great, but they serve my needs. And they're (mostly) free. I get images emailed to me when it detects motion in my apt and I can view live video remotely from my phone or a browser (via ssh or vpn). I use the Star Trek Enterprise (NCC-1701) webcam that I got from thinkgeek.

    I've been thinking about adding something to monitor and record audio too. Also, been thinking about switching to use a kinect as the camera.

    I'm glad this story was posted because sometimes I think I'm too paranoid for doing all of this. This is somewhat re-assuring.

  • Grizzly bear mother and cubs in the back.

    Cobras in the house.

    That will fix the prowler right up.

    • by Saija (1114681)
      yeah, and a couple of shark(with frickin'lasers-tm) in the bathtub just in case
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:10PM (#39529297)

    All the surveillance you can take.... Oh wait, you said "cheap".... never mind...

    • Also not compatible with $existing_girlfriend, as mentioned in TFA.

      Unless $existing_girlfriend is $open_minded...

  • I have a foscam wireless camera that will upload to an ftp server of your choice. It was inexpensive (~$60 on amazon). Can be set to take an image on some time interval. You can then collect the images into a movie for that day ( use 'convert' from Imagemagick).
  • by unixhero (1276774) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:11PM (#39529307)
    Logitech delivevers a surprisingly good turnkey solution! I use it in my company, we have 20 stores and lately there has been a surge in robberies of our stores. After we got these cameras set up, with no extra hacking, it delivers perfect video with sound and can of course be motion activated. We have sendt the video captures to the national TV station (Norwegian TV2) and it got aired nationwide. The quality was that good that they chose to use our videos. I would not bother create a hacked-together just because these things Just Work. Normally I wouldn't trust a Logitech product to do something this important, but they are very good and reliable. No problems, we've use them daily at 20 locations with no problems and no hazzles. I am not affiliated with Logitech, I just really like a solution that works perfectly and want to share it with others.
  • IP Cameras (Score:4, Informative)

    by Above (100351) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:14PM (#39529339)

    IP cameras have become quite cheap, depending on your needs. If you get PoE models they are also far easier to run than traditional cameras, as a single CatE cable can get the job done. I've set up small systems a number of places including my house, and it all works quite well and easily. While you can go the open source route, I found the easiest way is with some Mac software. You can even do it without network DVR software and use cameras that capture to onboard SD cards. I find that inconvenient, but it can be a good backup if your cameras are mounted out of reach but your server isn't.

    Checkout, in no particular order:

    There's a product for every need. Cheap, $50 indoor lit-room only solutions to $2000 pan/tilt/zoom IR illuminated outdoor vandal proof units.

    TrendNet [trendnet.com] makes affordable PoE switches. 10/100 is fine, an individual camera stream is maybe 2Mbps for a high res stream.

    I use SecuritySpy [bensoftware.com] on a Mac. Even watching 8 cameras it uses

    Place cameras where you can get good shots of faces as they come through doors. Maybe one of your driveway or street in front to get a car. They won't stop the break in, although visible cameras outside may be a deterrent, but they will give you a fighting chance of catching the person who did it.

    Oh, and get a dog with a loud bark. Most robbers don't want to find out if it is a small dog or big dog!

    • Re:IP Cameras (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darth_brooks (180756) <clipper377@gmail.cMOSCOWom minus city> on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:37PM (#39530307) Homepage

      Trendnet has a good supply of cameras as well. They're cheap, but I can say from experience the 110w, 121w, and 312w all do a perfectly decent job. They're not the best thing in the world, but they just work. Trendnet's "monitoring software" is crap however.

      640 x 480 cameras don't get good faces. Even megapixel shots from any more than a couple feet away aren't that great. A better bet is to cover vehicle approaches. No one is going to steal your TV on foot, no one is going to loot ten minutes worth of your stuff on foot, and cops have a much better chance of spotting "Two white males 1998 red ford ranger with a dent on the left side of the bed" than they have of spotting "black male with a mustache and an earring in his left ear wearing a blue shirt." The guy in the shirt will have a chance to change shirts before the cops even show up at your door. The guys in the truck are going to use that truck in another break in.

      In my experience, the two guys doing home invasions (one guy goes in, one guy keeps the car running and sits on lookout.) will hit a neighborhood a few times before things get hot. If you can ID the car, cops will have a *MUCH* better chance at nabbing the perps. I passed a couple frames I managed to get of a car that was involved at a break in near my home to the county sheriff. The cops were thrilled to have that more than a description, as it gave them a much narrower focus.

  • That is pretty normal for burglers to come back. They like backdoors as well. If you do not want a commercial system, pick up some IP cams and add zoneminder. We use the LTS infrared camera. We got it from Newegg for about 100. You can pick up the y-cam, but it is the SAME PHYSICAL CAMERA for 200 (and nothing extra; just a private label). We use one of ours for watching the front yard and another in the baby room. It is awesome in the dark.
  • You can buy an Android phone for a prepaid cell account for under $100. (used phones are doable too ) Various camera apps will do scene detection and emailing of stills or video or can do periodic image capture. Powered by a microUSB is easy enough, with it's internal battery as a backup for short power outages.

    WiFi works fine, and with a home UPS will be up and running for most local power outages. Having a $X a day plan from the carrier will allow the mobile network to be used as a backup to the the WiF

  • My home security consists of:
    2 of these
    http://www.offroaders.com/directory/animals/images/Labrador_Retriever_chocolate_named_Hershey-s.jpg
    +
    1 of these
    http://www.leadslingerarmory.com/assets/images/Springfield/xd-tactical-bitone.jpg
  • Breaking glass has a very distinctive sound signature. It is what professional services use to detect intrusions (My last company had this and it did detect breakins). Also, thieves are quite noisy when doing a breakin (e.g. they talk/yell, make a lot of noise while searching through drawers, etc). This is also used as the basis of some pro systems (e.g. Sonitrol)

    ---

    Sending sound information to your phone would be a lot less bandwidth than video. It would be easier for you to respond in real time. Tha

  • If you're Linux-savvy, try Zoneminder. All you need is a PC and a camera, for which there are extensive compatibility lists online. Once you have motion detection working, you can set up a shell script to copy to a remote host - in case the Zoneminder box itself gets stolen. For bonus points, use a small-form-factor PC and hide it somewhere clever, like behind a ceiling tile or under the staircase.

    If you're not so comfortable doing it yourself, there are many vendors online who sell pre-configured kits i

  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:27PM (#39529485)

    First, DOCUMENT YOUR POSSESSIONS!!!

    Take pictures that show model numbers and serial numbers. Keep a list of serial numbers. Keep receipts. Register the devices with the manufacturer as additional proof of ownership. I'm sure your insurance agent told you this when you set up the policy.

    A surveillance system would have done nothing to prove the value of what you lost. On video, a $6000 laptop looks exactly the same as a $350 laptop.

    As to the surveillance system, there are a number of consumer systems available at a reasonable price. Anywhere from a single camera up to 16-camera systems. $400-500 will buy you a ready-to-roll 8 camera system with DVR and remote monitoring, including iphone/android phone video feed. Not pro-quality stuff but decent. Just make sure you post "This area is under video surveillance" signs at the entrances.

    I don't think I'd bother with a monitored alarm system, though I'd certainly consider one that makes a lot of noise and flashes a lot of strobes. The fact that a system is monitored isn't what deters theft. It's the noise and attention that is drawn to the scene that chases them off.

  • Whether you own any firearms or not, a good gun safe is likely to be useful as an addition to your security system. It's too heavy to just make off with unless the thief is coming with a truck and heavy-duty appliance dolly (for the lighter safes, anyway), and they're bulky enough where they're not particularly quick to manuever out of your house. On top of that, you can always still bolt it to the floor or wall. Most offer pretty decent fire protection as well, offering protection against 1200-1500 degr
  • Six weeks ago, my home was broken into while my fiance and I were at work. [...] a safe (complete with several years worth of taxes, my birth certificate, and old copies of my driver's license)

    Locking things up in a safe is completely pointless if they can pick it up and take it with them. All you've done is give them an easy way to quickly steal all of your important things.

  • by evil_aaronm (671521) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:30PM (#39529533)

    If you're going with a system with obvious cameras, you may want to install a few "honeypot" decoys to throw the thief a little change-up, in case he starts ripping them down to avoid surveillance.

    Maybe a boobie-trapped safe, too. Might not be exactly legal, depending on how lethal the boobie-trap is, but it's not like the thief will call the cops and report your trap in a stolen safe. Especially if the boobie-trap is 100% lethal...

  • so we have those bases covered."

    Did you train the dog to shoot the gun?

    Then you really don't have all of your bases covered, do you now?

  • http://www.sharxsecurity.com/ [sharxsecurity.com] has a variety of security cameras. They have wired and wireless, motion-activated notification (by email and ftp), built in storage on camera cards, and more.

    They're a bit pricey, (I think I bought a fully loaded wireless and weatherproof model for about $280) but setup was simple and it performed as advertised.
  • by Arker (91948) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:41PM (#39529669) Homepage

    Well, maybe you do, but the point is that isnt the way to solve the problem you are immediately about. What you want to do is catch these people - whether with a camera or otherwise. A security system wont be something desinged with that in mind, but more general goals. It might, for instance, have decoy cameras so as to make it appear better defended, to scare off would-be burglars. You do NOT want to scare these people off, you want to catch them, right?

    So focus on that and rethink the problem. One classic and effective technique is to stay in the house while making it appear that you went with everyone else. Then just keep a low profile and very quiet and wait with that baseball bat, and 911 on speed dial...

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