Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Security Input Devices IT Build

Where To Start With DIY Home Security? 825

secretrobotron writes "I'm a recent university graduate from a co-op system which has kept me on the move every other semester, so I've never really had a permanent place to live, and I've never had the opportunity (or the capital) to buy expensive things. Now that I'm working, those restrictions on my life are gone and I'm living in an apartment with things I don't want stolen. I would love to build a DIY home security system, but I don't even know where to start since Google searches reveal things like, which help only to an extent for a curious newcomer. Has anybody out there successfully built a home security system on a budget? If so, where did you start?" Related query: When similar questions have come up before, many readers have recommended Linux-based Zoneminder (last updated more than a year ago); is that still the state of the art?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Where To Start With DIY Home Security?

Comments Filter:
  • a gun (Score:5, Funny)

    by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @06:54PM (#33155746) Journal
    and if that doesn't work: more gun.
    • Re:a gun (Score:5, Funny)

      by SleazyRidr ( 1563649 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @06:56PM (#33155762)

      If violence didn't work, it's because you didn't use enough of it!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Meshach ( 578918 )

      and if that doesn't work: more gun.

      Any chance you are from Texas?

    • Re:a gun (Score:5, Insightful)

      by peacefinder ( 469349 ) <> on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:04PM (#33155852) Journal

      And a dog.

      • Re:a gun (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SleazyRidr ( 1563649 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:08PM (#33155892)

        Actually, come to think of it, a well-trained dog is probably one of your better security options.

        • Re:a gun (Score:5, Funny)

          by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:25PM (#33156032)

          Actually, come to think of it, a well-trained dog is probably one of your better security options.

          Indeed ... especially if he's well-trained enough to use a gun.

          • Indeed ... especially if he's well-trained enough to use a gun.

            Naw, just train the dog to chew off the toes of thieves . . . []

        • Re:a gun (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:50PM (#33156280) Journal

          Actually, come to think of it, a well-trained dog is probably one of your better security options.

          ...Assuming that the original poster actually likes dogs, and will enjoy taking care of one.

          The likely cost of dog, plus regular veterinary maintenance, plus daily feeding, plus pet-sitting while away on holiday or business is substantial. (Remember, you can't board your security system at a kennel, or even store it at a friend's place while you're away -- it doesn't work, then.) You're out of pocket for quite a bit more than the typical homeowner's insurance policy, and the cost of dog food is probably comparable to most security system monitoring charges.

          Meanwhile, the typical security system doesn't need to be walked twice a day (rain, snow, or sunshine), isn't going to shed on all of your clothing, and won't chew on your shoes.

          • Re:a gun (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jeillah ( 147690 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:57PM (#33156350)

            Yes but will your fancy 'lectonix give you puppy kisses when you are feeling blue???

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Demonantis ( 1340557 )
            Get a rabbit. I have seen one of those bite heads off.
        • Re:a gun (Score:5, Funny)

          by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:51PM (#33156296) Journal

          Actually, come to think of it, a well-trained dog is probably one of your better security options.

          Since when is an option that requires me to handle dog excrement on a daily basis a 'better' option?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by morari ( 1080535 )

          That may be true, but they're probably not worth the maintenance... or the smell... or the hair all over your furniture.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jasno ( 124830 )

          We had an incident nearby about a year ago where some asshole sprayed two dogs with bear mace as he broke-in. Dogs are great, but they're not perfect.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by XSpud ( 801834 )

          Actually, come to think of it, a well-trained dog is probably one of your better security options.

          A well-trained dog would be good, but I reckon having an un-house-trained dog would deter most unwelcome visitors.

        • A dog is not the best option, the false-positive rate can be high. This rate is very difficult to predict at the time of acquisition, and can involve subtle environmental cues (EG: dappled sunlight) or combined-effects (EG: Mr. Squeaky sliding under the couch). The end result is getting the alarms confused for "Major Alien Invasion" and "Agent With Flat Tire." (Get Smart)

          If an electronic alarm had this tendency, it would be thrown out the window. Doing so with the dog is ill-advised.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ashkar ( 319969 )

        I've heard of some straight up horrible things happen to dogs when their owners were away. One of my friends came home from work a few years ago and found his dog with a screwdriver through its head. I've heard of oven cleaner being used. Truly fucked up.

        I'm a decent sized guy that has been attacked a couple of times by dogs as well (a pit and a doberman), and while I have some good scars, I wasn't ever too worried about handling myself against them. I am scared of rottweilers, but I can easily out run one

        • Re:a gun (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Fred IV ( 587429 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @08:06PM (#33156458)
          It really depends on if the thief wants to break into a house or if they want to break into your house specifically. Dogs are like thorn bushes under your windows...they won't stop someone who really wants in, but they can be enough of a deterrent to convince someone less motivated to rob someone else instead.
        • Re:a gun (Score:4, Insightful)

          by pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @09:43PM (#33157304)
          Defense in Depth. Buddy dog is just a layer. He's only really there to WARN you, and if he must, protect you by attacking so that you have enough time to make your escape... or to grab a vase or other living room-type of heavy object so you can make your Hollywood counter-attack.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by JDeane ( 1402533 )

        "Dude... people can get past a dog. Nobody fucks with a lion." []

    • Re:a gun (Score:5, Funny)

      by glueball ( 232492 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:09PM (#33155898)

      A sticker on your door with the weapon of choice and a message saying "We don't call 911"

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DeadDecoy ( 877617 )
        Ah that reminds me of one of my favorite signs: "Warning: prosecutors will be violated."
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Locke2005 ( 849178 )
        I used to live in a apartment in a bad neighborhood with a sticker on the window with a picture of a gun and the text "Never mind the dog -- beware of owner!" But, honestly, it was my girlfriend who put up the sticker!
      • Re:a gun (Score:4, Interesting)

        by KillaBeave ( 1037250 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @08:21AM (#33159884)
        A friend of mine back home (rural Indiana) had an interesting take on the "we don't call 911" home security strategy.

        A few years ago 3-4 of his neighbors houses had been broken into and robbed in a short period of time. My friend, a gun enthusiast who loves shooting at the range and does so at least once a week, decided there was no better deterrent than hanging one of his used silhouette targets up on the back door.

        The ragged holes in the head and chest said all that needed to be said ... and his house was never broken into. :)
    • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:54PM (#33156316) Journal

      a gun

      And a good safe to store it in when you're away somewhere you can't take it with you. (Some jurisdictions blame YOU if a neighborhood gangsta lifts it and uses it somewhere else. So you don't want to depend on locked cases or hidey-holes.)

      Get a fire safe. Not only do they help protect stuff against damage in a fire, they're double-walled with a layer of firebrick between the walls. This makes them heavy enough that it takes a special piece of equipment to move them. So the bad guys can't just haul it off somewhere else to crack it ^even if you don't bolt it to the floor with the locknuts inside).

      and if that doesn't work: more gun.

      Once you've got enough "stopping power" to make the threat credible and follow through if you're called, you don't need to go larger. As McClary's law of firepower says: "You can't stop a bullet with a bigger bullet." Which in this case means "they can't". Housebreakers don't go in for (ineffective) arms races. They are more into avoiding "houses that shoot" in favor of less dangerous prey.

      Decent sized pistol for one-on-one or few-on-one, shotgun if mobs-on-one might be an issue, and you're golden.

      For home defense load your 12-gauge shotgun with fine birdshot loads, like number 40: It's just as effective as 00 if there's nothing but air between gun and target - but gets stopped by a couple layers of drywall at any significant distance - so you don't need to include the neighbors in the exercise. Fragmenting or greatly expanding hollowpoint bullets (such as "Golden Saber" or "Silvertip") in the pistol for the same reason (and also so it doesn't go THROUGH the bad guy and hit the neighbors if the perp is such a fool that you actually have to fire.)

      According to FBI stats, safest (in terms of victim injury/death percentages) defense (by a BUNCH) is with-gun, next safest is knuckling under, and everything else is far worse.

      Mandatory mindset: IF you have picked up the gun you have ALREADY DECIDED that you WILL fire if the perp attacks despite it. Get that figured out in your head before considering picking up the gun - or even getting one for self/home defense. You need to already be past that internal conflict to fire in time if it is necessary.

      Take the NRA "Personal Protection" firearms course - before deciding what (if any) gun to buy or dedicate for the purpose. Excellent, cheap, customized for your area and its laws, taught by certified instructors with the legal issues handled by an official of the jurisdiction. A weekend's instruction (or several evening sessions) and you'll have the skills, competence, and understanding of the law and its fallout necessary to know when to defend and do it properly.

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @08:24PM (#33156666)

        Birdshot is not good even at across the room distances. It will not attain needed penetration. You don't want to hurt the bad guy you want to stop him.

        00 is fine, slugs are better. You don't care that what happens later, this ain't the movies and you need the bad guy to stop now. []

        • by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Friday August 06, 2010 @01:10PM (#33164302) Homepage Journal

          From your cited site: "Lessons learned: A car door doesn't protect you against shotguns either."

          My personal protection weapon is a 20ga. shotgun with #4 birdshot (aka "goose loads"). At close range it blows a hole in flesh that you can put both fists into. It's still lethal at house-or-yard distances (up to maybe 30-40 feet). I've used it to kill large animals with heavy haircoats; humans are, if anything, less well protected by average clothing and flesh. (I don't imagine most burglars put on their kevlars before going out for a night's work. Tho maybe there should be an OSHA regulation about that. ;)

          Now, light birdshot at 50 yards or so, all that does is sting or at most puncture skin. But point-blank it will still put a serious hole in you. Even a popper or blank can kill at close range. Ask Jon-Erik Hexum if you don't believe me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        What the hell is #40 birdshot? fine sand? There's a #4 birdshot and #4 buckshot. #4 buckshot works well against human sized targets and is the minimum anyone usually recommends for self defense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I carry a gun because a cop was too heavy!

    • get a DOG as well!

      if you don't want a dog they have fake dog sound boxes.

  • by rainmouse ( 1784278 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @06:58PM (#33155784)
    From what I had read, sorry I don't have a link to it ATM, but apparently most burglars agree the one truly effective deterrent that makes them go some place else, is a big dog.
  • by Herkum01 ( 592704 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:00PM (#33155800)


    What are you going to buy that is worth stealing?

  • by aphelion_rock ( 575206 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:03PM (#33155826)
    I went down this path years ago only to have a system plagued with the occasional false alarm. I spent years tring to figure out why. The cause was discovered by accident when the police, who was nearby, commented that the alarm went off as soon as he pressed the button on his two way radio. The system was not immune to RF interference. I have since settled on a good quality commercial system that I have installed myself, it is programmable and covers all of the areas of the house that I want and sends me an SMS if it is set off. Someone else has done the painstaking R&D leaving me to get on with enjoying life.
    • by zuperduperman ( 1206922 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:16PM (#33155966)

      Agree - I just went through the process of researching and installing an alarm, and the bottom line is that while the technology seems cool at first it is actually finicky and you are dealing with a serious pain-in-the-ass when things don't work right (your neighbors won't be friends for long when stray cats are setting off alarms next door at 3am).

      Therefore I went with an Elk M1 system that is pricey but infinitely expandable into a complete home automation system and comes with an ethernet module that lets you do whatever you want in software - and that is where I will have my geek fun with it.

  • by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:03PM (#33155836) Homepage Journal

    A moat and a drawbridge.

  • Risk Management (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wolfling1 ( 1808594 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:04PM (#33155850) Journal
    OK. This is all about Risk Management. There are four strategies to Risk Management (check out the ISO on Wikipedia - 31000 I think?): 1. Mitigate the chance, 2. Mitigate the damage, 3. Insure it, 4. Accept it.

    It sounds like you're not too keen on Accepting it, so lets consider the other three options. The magic here is to budget for it. Don't spend $1M to protect your $1000 stereo.

    Chance mitigation is all about making it less likely for you to be invaded. This is about taking away temptation (eg tint your windows, good curtains), making entry harder (locks, security screens), and discouraging attackers (those cool stickers that threaten trunk monkey attack)

    Damage mitigation is about reducing the damage once they're in. Alarm system. Connected to local security firm. Be prepared to pay $1 per day for monitoring.

    Insure it. Nuff said.

    There is nothing in this about video-ing the perps. There is nothing in it about having a gun, or traps or anything weird. When you assess the possible outcomes, those things don't reduce your loss, and likely increase your trauma.

    Good luck!
    • You forgot 5. Get to know your neighbours.

      I am surprised at the number of posts here which don't mention other people, seeing as slashdot gets excited about social engineering hacker contests, but to manage your risk and look after your property, don't forget to cultivate good relationships with your neighbours. Social side of things can help secure your property as much as technology.

      Having friends looking out for you reduces risk immensely. I've got a neighbour who's phoned me at work to tell me I left a

  • by Meshach ( 578918 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:07PM (#33155872) []

    All the surveillance is based on MythTV. Seems open source friendly.
  • by Tester ( 591 ) <> on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:08PM (#33155894) Homepage

    The odds that you will get your stuff stolen are pretty low. Security systems are mostly a waste of money. Just get some realistic looking ADT stickers (from eBay) that will make the thieves think you have a security system. Having an actual system will get you ZERO extra security, just costs.

    In case you get your stuff stolen, get home insurance, they will give you money and then you can buy newer toys! Actually, get insurance anyway, if the building burns or something and you are responsible, you really want insurance.

  • by jamesdood ( 468240 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:17PM (#33155972)

    A moat of course. A water barrier is quite effective keeping out the vandals and goths, not to mention pesky viking raiders.

  • Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:17PM (#33155980)


    Better auditory detection capabilities.
    Better olfactory detection capabilities.
    Better friend-or-foe algorithms.
    More reliable than any electronic equipment.
    More trustworthy than any security system vendor.
    Faster response times than any security or law enforcement.
    More immediate and satisfying effects than any justice system.

  • by PotatoFarmer ( 1250696 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:19PM (#33155996)
    In order to select the correct solution for you, we're going to need your address and a list of the expensive stuff you don't want stolen. Oh, and in case we drop by, please let us know the hours that you're usually at home. Would hate to make the trip out there only to find that you're away. Thanks!
  • Woof (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Roblimo ( 357 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:20PM (#33156004) Homepage Journal

    Our primary home security system is Terri the Terrorist Terrier -- 55 pounds of friendly tail-wagging furry cuddliness if she knows and likes you, 55 scary pounds of big teeth and growls if you're a stranger.

    When we first got Terri my wife and I lived in what some might call a "sketchy" neighborhood, and we KNOW Terri scared off (and likely bit, from the screams) at least one or two intruders in the yard, well before they could get to the house or to my office in a separate building. Terri is also portable; if you need to walk around a not-nice neighborhood, you can take Terri with you.

    Terri has also handled the few rat infestations we've had, using the traditional terrier "shake until dead" method.

    We got Terri from the Manatee County Animal Shelter. There is surely a similar facility near you that has a perfect alarm system waiting to go home and protect you from burglars, cats, and Al Queda operatives -- and who will wag his or her tail when you come home and probably even lick your face if allowed. Don't worry about breeds and all that. You'll know the right dog, and the right dog will know you. Training is not hard, and dog food is cheap. For 24/7 indoor AND outdoor protection, you'll want a doggie door and a fenced yard, but your living circumstances may not allow this. No big; millions of dogs live indoors and go out for walks and to dog parks for exercise.

    "Woof," tweets Terri -- @TerriTerrier

  • by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:27PM (#33156056)

    German Shepherds, and a 12-gauge shotgun. You can probably use the gun for other things, like killing noisy turkeys, and the dog will make an excellent addition to your family and/or good way to attract chicks if you take it for the occasional walk in the park (although, if the dog is out with you, its not home watching the house. Maybe get two and have them work on shifts).

  • Went through it (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spiked_Three ( 626260 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:29PM (#33156072)
    I went through this about 6 months ago.
    I ran Linux zoneminder and Blue Iris - a commercial but inexpensive Windows program each on their own dedicated servers. The servers were single rack space Dual Atoms. I then installed a $100 eBay wireless IP camera, a Linksys wireless IP camera, A usb video capture card with 1 camera, and a regular USB web-cam so I could try each of these out in comparison.
    The $100 camera was useless - terrible focus. The linksys, being the most expensive at $250 was the best, but is not an outdoor camera without additional housing. The USB camera is acceptable but requires proximity to the servers. The video camera is also acceptable.
    After running the software for 2 months, I eventually settled on Blue Iris. It was $49 and a lot more stable than ZoneMinder. There were some features of zoneminder I liked, but after using both I found several instances were ZoneMinder had flaked out and I could not retrieve data/images that I would need if I was really researching a theft. The errors are very cryptic, often requiring extreme measures to determine what had gone wrong. Usually I just gave up and rebooted everything and it would start working again. The configuration for zoneminder is also very difficult, having to get various versions of video for linux V1 and V2, java applets/jar files etc all tied together. You can go with their 'ready to run CD' to avoid the painful configuration work, but then you are stuck with their Linux distribution, and I wanted to go with the current Ubuntu.

    In the end, I have a system I am confident will provide me with images after an incident that will lead to an arrest. I plan on adding/replacing with more of the Linksys style wireless IP cams, at about $250 a pop as budget allows. The entire system will probably get its own dedicated wireless lan eventually. I can also browse in when I am on the road and check in on things, although that is more of a 'peace of mind' thing and doesn't really have much practical use.
    Server - $300ish with 1.5T disk space, wireless hub (eBay) $50ish, wireless cams - $250ish each, Windows+Blue Iris - $150ish - reasonably expect up to about 6 cameras. This puts it in the same range as a decent Hard disk based dedicated security recorder from say Radio Shack, but with a wireless ability and lot more flexibility.
  • by socz ( 1057222 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:46PM (#33156234) Journal
    So, SOMEONE slashed my motorcycle tires. I didn't want that to happen again since those particular tires are expensive for my bike (whitewalls). I went to Fry's and realistically spent about $2,000 on hardware. Now, I KNOW I am not going to keep all of it, but I just wanted to see what worked best for my needs. About 3 trips later I ended up with:

    # $250-$350 4 channel DVR (I don't remember how much but it was the cheapest decent recorder).
    # 1 $275 + tax wireless camera with receiver. (awesome quality and sound!)
    # 1 "bullet cam" that is not tiny, but small enough to be hidden in plants. It is wired. Maybe $50?

    I later returned the Fry's DVR and got one off of newegg for $100 +tax and shipping, though I had to provide a SATA drive that I already had.

    I also spent a bit more, like $80 on 8 D cell rechargeable batteries, and then like $145 on a powermaxx (best company EVER) for a D charger with 4 batteries. Although I had a wireless camera, I had no where to plug it in. So I made a battery pack. My #'s indicate I could run that camera for at least 24 hours with consistent connection and quality, then about 12 more hours and it got dimmer, crappier video quality and less night time infrared abilities as the batteries died.

    Thanks to Fry's excellent return policy, the only thing you lose is your time! But I was able to return all that went unused. Here are some things to avoid: Small/tiny wireless cameras: their quality and resolution sucks. Avoid very expensive cameras as that they'll be no better than middle range cameras. Don't worry about the DVR, they all pretty much suck. Don't use your PC as a DVR, pretty much most people have problems with it. Oh, and of all the DVRs I used, all of them had issues being accessed through the internet.

    Someone ended up stealing that wireless camera, and I have that on DVR! My buddy put it on youtube for me: []

    I ended up buying another 2 of those cameras and mounted them high up and attached securely to the wall.

    If you want more info on what exactly I bought, feel free to email me.
  • by hkz ( 1266066 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @07:49PM (#33156274)

    As someone who's been trying to whip up ZoneMinder into a marketable state for over a year now, I have to say it's not all it's made out to be. The capture daemons are brittle and crash frequently due to resource and memory leaks. When they exit abnormally, they always do so with the same code 255, and don't produce workable logs. Timestamps of " 1 january 1970" happen all the time, which mess up the timeline view of events. The web front end is arcane, spartan, and really time-intensive to learn. (E.g. clicking on a monitor's name does something different from clicking on its IP address, even though both screens go to a different subset of camera settings. The difference between a "modect with no zone" and a "monitor" is arbitrary. All the different camera "modes" are strange in my opinion. That there's ten different ways to view events is weird. And so on. It's not unlearnable, but it's far, far from usable.)

    So instead of just whining, I patched a lot of these issues, along with adding some new cameras to the database and improving the translation for my native language. I sent the maintainer a pretty nice patch set, if I say so myself. Guess what? Absolute silence, never heard anything back. Which I could live with, if my patches at least showed up in the next release. But no new releases for over a year. So my patience with this project is pretty much over.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RichiH ( 749257 )

      Join #zoneminde on tell your story and wait a day or three. Sucks, but tends to yield results.

    • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Friday August 06, 2010 @02:23AM (#33158632) Journal

      Sounds to me like a fork is in order... you find the project useful enough to patch it, why not just fork the project if you aren't getting any traction?

      Don't think you are getting into some obligation, you aren't. You are no more obligated to do anything than the guy you're pulling a fork from, you will see your good work benefit the community, and you just might save the project over the long haul.

  • by lophophore ( 4087 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @08:51PM (#33156906) Homepage

    I subscribe to the theory that thieves are lazy, they will seek out the easiest target.

    Technology will only get you so far. Video surveillance will show you the perps after the fact. Alarms might scare off kids and amateur criminals. Shotgun traps will get you thrown in jail.

    If you have ground floor windows, plant thorny bushes in front of them. Roses look nice. Invest in motion detecting exterior lighting. Put up a fence. Reinforce your doors. Install better locks. Make sure all points of access are easily seen by your neighbors and the police. Don't leave expensive stuff where it can be viewed from outside.

    The goal is to make your place a less attractive target than the neighbors.

  • by elronxenu ( 117773 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @09:02PM (#33156992) Homepage

    I use the Scientech LS-30 [] which is a device supporting several types of wireless sensors including PIR (infra-red), reed switch, glass breakage detector, smoke detector, medical alert button and wireless outdoor alarm.

    The alarm system can report a break-in, fire or medical emergency via PSTN or SMS. It's very programmable, with support for lots of different zones, X10 home automation switches, day-of-week and time-of-day mode setting, doorbell and so on.

    The LS-30 has accessories including a GSM module (for sending alerts via SMS) USB interface and also ethernet interface.

    I wrote the LS30 project [] to allow me to control and monitor the device from linux. There's a daemon which connects to the alarm's ethernet port; it proxies commands (from clients on my machine) and events (alerts / status updates) from the device.

    I have daemons to watch for particular events (e.g. door open/close), logging the activity rates of PIR sensors (movement detection is reported by the unit even when disarmed) and burglaries (so the computer knows and can react accordingly e.g. by sending SMS messages or twitter).

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @09:07PM (#33157050)
    • Trespassers will be shot.
    • Survivors will be shot again.
  • Motion (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PinkyGigglebrain ( 730753 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @09:30PM (#33157216)
    Motion [] is a great little program available in the Debian repositories and works with any Video4Linux supported device (off the shelf USB web cams and video capture cards).

    I've used it a few times, easy to install and configure.

    It can do time lapse, motion sense and round robin on multiple devices. Even supports a streaming function with Apache and can upload the latest image to a remote FTP server on the Internet.

    Doesn't need much as far as hardware either, one of the systems I set up was a 450MHz celeron with 128M RAM. Over all the hardest part of using it was hiding the camera.

    And best of all, Its free!!
  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @10:06PM (#33157472) Homepage

    The insurance is to recover your loss should anything happen. (Get a general policy which doesn't limit the cause of your loss. [Theft, fire, flood and accident apartment/condo/house insurance is good coverage.])

    Then you want to put up some very visible signs in all the windows saying "Protected by video, motion detectors and patrolled by security guards.

    You might want to buy a bunch of camera mounts (the silvered half-dome kind,) and place them strategically around the perimeter of your dwelling high enough to keep them safe. (12 or so feet off the ground and 12 or so feet from any opening.)

    Whether you get real motion detectors or not is immaterial.

    The impression will be that the house next door is less hazardous to break into than yours.

    Remember, you're insured...

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @10:23PM (#33157536) Homepage

    Home burglary is almost dead. What's to steal? Any TV that can be easily carried has zilch resale value. Anything with a CRT has negative value; you have to pay the recycling center to take it. Used computers have little value. Nobody keeps much cash around any more. Cell phones are usually in someone's pocket. Who has real silverware today? Used kitchen appliances are nearly worthless. Same for used clothing. Used furniture? No market there.

    In the current recession, pawnshops are currently choked with stuff they can't sell, so unloading stolen property is tough.

    I just looked at the crime map for my area, which is an urban area of about 100,000 people, ranging from very poor to very rich. About ten burglaries in the last month, and only one was a residence. The rest were break-ins into vehicles. There were more attempted burglaries with arrests than successful ones.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RMH101 ( 636144 )
      In the UK, the increase in car security has meant that a fair proportion of breakins are to get your car keys, and then steal your car. Any other opportunistic theft is a bonus to them. I know a couple of people who've woken up to find someone in the house looking for keys, and had a breakin myself last year where someoen went for the handbag my girlfriend had left in sight of the window (I know) assuming there'd be keys in there..
  • Layers... (Score:3, Informative)

    by cptdondo ( 59460 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @10:35PM (#33157596) Journal

    1. Plant Japanese Bitter Orange under and in front of all your windows. Try to get the flying dragon cultivar. (No, I'm not kidding. Google it.)

    2. Get a motion sensor and a recording of a dog barking. Put speaker in metal garbage can on your roof. Your neighbors will hate you but no one will come near your house.

    3. Get good insurance. You will find that the discount for burglar alarms is minimal.

    4. Stay away from monitored alarms. Most are crooked.

  • by SolarStorm ( 991940 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @10:46PM (#33157684)

    When we signed up for $240/yr monitoring, I left specific instructions. "If the alarm goes off, call the police directly, not us or any contact. I will pay any false alarm fine. I live 2 min from the police station, so there is a chance of actually catching someone. Is this OK?" The answer was "You are the customer"

    So, we went on holidays, game my mom the code, and a passcode if she tripped the alarm. Warned her that if she did expect the boys in blue. She is 81, was nervous and sure enough she tripped the alarm. So instead of cops, the security company called the house. My mom was flustered, couldnt answer the security question, but the monitoring agency figured she was too old to be a crook and told her how to reset the alarm. They couldn't understand why I was furious and canceled, after all they saved my mom an embarrassment.

    so now, I purchased a couple of IP cameras that motion sense and an email to my gmail with a picture. As long as I have my phone, I see who is entering within a few minutes or less (typically 20s). Also makes it very hard for your kids to lie about what time they came home. The 4 cameras cost me $80 each on ebay, and I connected them to my wireless network. I can also at anytime now log into a web page and monitor the surroundings. So even in bed, I grab my iPhone, and have a look outside if I hear a noise.

    We also did the 2 big black dogs. They are now part of the family and a great deterrent.

  • My 2 cents (Score:3, Informative)

    by BahamutSalad ( 1836804 ) on Thursday August 05, 2010 @11:12PM (#33157828)

    Full disclosure: I've been an alarm monitoring operator for 5 or so years now. I don't live in the US, I don't work for a company that operates in the US, so I have no way to financially benefit from helping the majority of /. users. The stuff I mention here I know well, but one thing I haven't a clue about is the home automation side of things.


    Large work boots, leaving lights on and such are helpful deterrants. Security stickers help, but no so much as most houses have them. A good idea that I didn't see mentioned in the comments, if you're not keen on getting an alarm is to get just the external siren of the alarm and stick that on the outside of the house. Don't get one of the metal ones, get one of the polycarbonate / plastic ones instead. No reputable companies have used the metal ones for years now, and a lot of burglars seem to know this. Again things like fences & dogs are also excellent deterrants. Although fences can act as cover so a burglar can muck around all they like trying to get a window open, without being noticed by neighbours.


    I've encountered heaps of attempted break ins throughout my career. The vast majority of burglars will freak out and run once they hear a very loud siren screaming at them. Most of them get so scared by it that they drop everything in the process. If I had to put a number on it, I'd say this is what happens about 90% of the time. Even though it's far from a guarentee that you'll stop them in their tracks, it does make an excellent deterrent. I'd avoid the off the shelf junk you get from electronics stores and the likes, as they're usually total garbage. They're always either unstable, don't live long enough to be worth it, don't detect when someone does get into the house, or they drive the neighbours nuts false activating. You can buy a good, high quality unit from fleabay if you're feeling adventurous. I don't know how big your house is, but if you don't think you'll require more then 7 sensors now or in the future, the Bosch Solution 880 is a good buy and I see them frequently on eBay for cheap in a kit. You'll require some basic knowledge of electronics like being able to read some basic "this is how you wire this" diagrams in the install manual, and some basic DIY skills. It's a fairly easy system to install though, some of them are very hard for those who haven't got experience specifically with alarms. If you want something bigger / different set of requirements then email me (via - sorry but work know my email and I'd rather they didn't find this via google) and I'll let you know of something suitable.

    I would avoid wireless sensors & remotes. Remotes not so much, but sensors definately. Interferance from aircraft, scaffolds, trees that cause RF interference whenever it rains, crappy light switches, aircraft, and a bunch of other obscenely weird stuff can all cause problems. It's not that common, but it does happen.

    If you do buy a kit make sure it includes the panel (pcb, transformer & the case), battery, a couple of wired sensors, a keypad, a peizo / internal siren & a plastic / polycarbonate external siren (the one with the light) & CABLE! A lot of traders won't mention anything about the lack of cable in the ad, leaving you kind of screwed. Another thing I see them do is say "we'll install it for you if it's too hard" - be careful of that, they'll often way overcharge on labour to make up for the rock bottom cost of the hardware. I've seen them dump the install manuals that come with the alarm, and replace it with their own much crappier version so that it's more likely that they come crying for help. Most alarm manuals you can get online fairly easily though. Stay away from used alarms on ebay, they're almost always FUBAR'ed.

    Alarm Monitoring:

    This can be somewhat of a waste of time and money. Monitoring is often cheap, and the price is really reflected in the quality of their service. Most modern alarms can be hooked up to a l

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27