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How to deter theft of your car or home when away?
Old 12-15-2009, 03:21 PM   #1
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How to deter theft of your car or home when away?

If I were to purchase a condo and leave for a month or more at a time, what is the best way to deter theft of my auto and the property in my condo?
I've looked at a few websites, but am not certain what is really worth the money and what isn't.

If the car stays in the same place day after day, surely, someone with mal intent will realize I'm not home. This, naturally, scares the heck out of me.
What security protection works best for protecting the auto during long periods of being away--other than taking the battery out?

What security protection works best for securing the condo for theft? I do know I can buy a piece of equipment that will turn lights on and off in the condo, but what else really works?
Any ideas?

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Old 12-15-2009, 03:36 PM   #2
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Believe me, as another woman living alone I can relate to your concerns.

I guess you could buy a condo in a high rise with a central lobby with security, where anyone cannot just walk in and go on up to your door.

Another idea is to buy a condo where you either have a personal garage where your car is hidden behind a closed garage door, or else a condo that has a big parking area that everyone parks in, so that your space is not right in front of your apartment. If the spaces weren't assigned, so much the better.

My brother looked at a condo in Ft. Lauderdale some years ago that seemed pretty good to me for a traveler. It was a high rise condo which had a doorman in the lobby. Parking was in a HUGE parking lot outside, with no assigned spaces. You wouldn't necessarily get a space near the building, but there were always plenty of spaces and nobody would know if the occupants of your condo were there or not. They had some sort of arrangement for bringing in groceries and other items, including 5-10 minute parking by the door and their own grocery carts that you could borrow and put back when you were done.

Also, you can have the post office hold your mail.

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Old 12-15-2009, 03:41 PM   #3
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Maybe you could leave the keys to your car with a friend/neighbor who could occasionally move your car to another parking spot.

Consider leaving a radio on while you're gone - not so loud as to bother your neighbors, but loud enough to make a potential burglar at your door think someone could be inside.
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Old 12-15-2009, 03:48 PM   #4
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1) if you can, park your car in a personal garage or a parking garage restricted to residents.

2) It depends on the kind of condo you are looking at. If you live in one of those upper floor condos, then the front door is obviously the weakest point and you should secure it as best you can, probably with a multi-point lock.
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Old 12-15-2009, 04:27 PM   #5
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I think about security, too, as I also live alone. Do you have someone who can house sit for you a month at a time? I put my mail on hold when I travel, and alert my neighbors so they can keep an eye out for suspicious activity and pick up any unwonted solicitations that might be hung on my door knob or thrown in the driveway. Good doors and locks are a must. Make sure all windows are locked. You can put some lights on a timer; also consider a security system. I have thought about motion sensor lights but have not gotten around to it yet. My gardener comes in the winter to shovel my walks and my driveway so even if I am away, the house doesn't look empty. My cars are always in the garage, even when I am at home.
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Old 12-15-2009, 04:28 PM   #6
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My MIL lives in a condo complex that, to the best of her knowledge, has been crime free for the 17 yrs she has been living there. I'd say these attributes have helped bring that about:

1. No renters. All occupants are owners of the condo they live in.
2. Indoor, underground parking requiring a swipe card to enter.
3. Single door entry from a hallway to her condo has high quality locks.
4. Lots of nosy, geezer neighbors who call security at the sight of someone loitering inside they don't recognize.

Lots of stability of owners who have a penchant for looking out for one another seems to be the key. MIL says it's extremely rare for her to see anyone down in the parking garage, in the lobby or in a hallway that she doesn't know or isn't walking directly to a condo after being buzzed in the main entrance.

I don't think I could live there but she feels secure and the situation seems to work for her.
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Old 12-15-2009, 05:13 PM   #7
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The biggest points have already been covered, but I think a couple are worth repeating:

Knowing some neighbors who can kind of watch the place.

Having those neighbors or a friend pick up flyers, etc from your door. Nothing says "NOBODY'S HOME" like a bunch of flyers on your door. A place with controlled access shouldn't have those, so that would be good.

I really think getting one with a garage for your car is worthwhile. Or, maybe you could return a storage garage for your car. Or find a friend who has room to keep your car and even drive it once a week.

A light on a timer, and a radio set to talk radio (voices) next to the door is a good idea too.
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Old 12-15-2009, 05:52 PM   #8
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Insurance ... if they want to get in; they'll get in. Just make sure you insurance coverage will make you whole (minus a deductable).

Then lock-up and forget about it.
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Old 12-15-2009, 07:47 PM   #9
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Though I don't live in a condo, I take certain precautions when we travel. I have a couple of lamps on timers that are set to come on and go off at the times they usually do when we're home. My one neighbor has keys to our house and cars, and checks the house daily...sometime more than once if the weather is excessively cold or stormy. He also moves the car ocassionally just to make it look as if we're home. He collects our mail and puts it in the house each day, and waters our house plants as needed.

The neighbor on the other side of us also watches our place for anything out of the ordinary. And both neighbors know our itineraries and have our cellphone numbers. In the winter, one of the neighbors will shovel the snow, and in the summer I have one of our neighbor's kids mow the lawn if it needs it.

Also, our outside porch lights have built-in motion sensors on them. And since we always take a short trip or two around the Christmas holidays, our outside Christmas lights and decorations are on timers that come on at dusk and shutoff 6 hours later...whether we're home or on the road. We also unplug everything that isn't necessary....leaving only a couple of lights on timers, the refrigerator and freezer, and a couple of night lights plugged in.

We do everything possible, within reason, to make it look like we're home and living our normal day to day lives. And we only tell a very limited number of our friends or family that we're going away. The fewer that know, the better.....that greatly lessens the chances that the 'wrong crowd' will find out, and make the most of the opportunity to burglarize and/or vandalize in our absence.
Originally Posted by tryan View Post
Insurance ... if they want to get in; they'll get in. Just make sure you insurance coverage will make you whole (minus a deductable).

Then lock-up and forget about it.
Yeah, and what tryan said about the insurance.

Then just go on your trips and enjoy yourself...worry free!!! Because even if something does're not there to do anything about it anyway. Like I heard a guy on the TV the other telling the story of a preacher friend of his, whose church was broken into and vandalized while they were several hundred miles away on a trip. Someone called him and told him about it, and he said "OK. You contacted the police? The Insurance? Secured the place? OK then, I'll deal with everything else when I return." He went on to say that his preacher friend said "Come on....let's go to the grocery store...I'm hungry for some grapes." When he questioned him, his friend said "Listen....I'm here, NOT there....there's nothing I can do about it right now. So let's go to the store so I can get my grapes, and we'll enjoy the rest of our vacation....THEN when I get back home, I'll deal with those things."

That's the attitude that I've developed over the wasn't easy getting to that point....but I rest easy now on vacations, and don't worry about anything!
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Old 12-15-2009, 08:44 PM   #10
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My mom lives in a condo and knows the neighbors pretty well (mostly older ladies with eyes glued to the peephole). Her condo was burglarized a few months ago. They used a hammer to pop the locks. They broke in in the middle of the day. Her next door neighbor, 30 feet away, was home all day when it happened and she didn't hear a thing either. The police questioned people in the building and no one saw or heard anything. I had asked her to strengthen her front door and locks but she resisted. Her building restricts access to residents (coded lobby door) and she felt that the neighbors would be watching out for each other. But, one of her neighbors left the coded lobby door wide opened that day and made the crime possible.

People often get burglarized when they least expect it. My aunt's purse was stolen from the kitchen table while she was making her bed (they went though the backyard and broke the back door). One of my high school teacher's home was burglarized while she was having a dinner party (they broke through the front door and stole all the purses and wallets while guests were having a blast in the backyard). And people broke into the home of MIL's neighbors while they had popped out for a quick milk run (they backed up a truck into the garage and loaded it up with the flat screen TVs and computer). In all cases, no one saw anything out of the ordinary.
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Old 12-15-2009, 09:32 PM   #11
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This might not work too well with a condo, but where I live, we can call the police (non-emergency number ) to tell them we'll be gone and that no one should be in the house, and the police patrols put you on their vacation drive-by list and sort of keep an eye on it. Possible that someone checking the house would notice the police's interest and move on to the next unoccupied place.
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Old 12-16-2009, 06:22 AM   #12
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Our method is to not own anything valuable that anyone would want to steal. Or at least not to leave it behind when we are gone.
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Old 12-16-2009, 06:40 AM   #13
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With a condo, other than good door and window locks, and perhaps an alarm system if you think that's worth the expense, that's about all you can do. My way of thinking is that it doesn't make sense to spend $2,500 on an alarm system to protect $1,500 worth of (portable) stuff. The others have made good suggestions re timers and stopping mail, etc.

For the car, if it is outside taking the battery out is probably the best you can do but that's a pita and you have to reset everything from defaults when you put it back in. If you're going to be gone for more than a month the battery should be on a maintenance charger anyway.

If it's worthwhile to you, consider a self-storage unit (around here ~$30/month) that will fit a small car.

Make sure your insurance is paid up and then just go play. If anything happens there's nothing you can do about it from 1,000 miles away.
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Old 12-16-2009, 06:47 AM   #14
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Our last few cars had a chip in the key that meant you couldn't hot-wire the car to steal it. Seems like this would prevent stealing unless someone had the right keys with them. Is this not effective? Doesn't anyone else have this?

And our car will make a lot of noise if someone tries to break into it. We had a smashed window once and someone took what was right next to the window but the noisy alarm must have made them run off because there were a lot of other things in the car more valuable than what was next to the broken window.

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Old 12-16-2009, 07:23 AM   #15
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Good neighbors, good insurance and to my mind the most important is good location. Check the crime index for any area before purchase and go thru the adjoining areas as a zip code can be fairly small in geographic terms. Insurance agents can help as the companies rate base on crime stats by zip codes and many spillover problems can be identified in advance. This can be crucial in re-development areas and downtown business districts. What has a low crime rate in a downtown predominantly business highrise setting can be just a waiting duck for after dark issues.

Also, if not private garage parking consider what your car says. Expensive brand new can say I have way cool stuff vs a few years older and modest which may say I'm ok but my stuff isn't worth a lot. Also, majority of breakins are just opportunity.
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Old 12-16-2009, 10:14 AM   #16
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Discovery Channel :: It Takes a Thief

This was a really good show on Discovery. Some great tips tip be found here.
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Old 12-16-2009, 10:43 AM   #17
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You can always take the coil wire out of your car, unless you have direct ignition or a diesel. Thats the wire that goes from the coil to the distributor cap. Car will turn over all day long, but will never start.

"The Club" is also recommended by some cops.
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:21 PM   #18
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Any more?
I surely got a few ideas I'd never heard of let alone thought of...thanks!
Any alarms I can buy for the house? Or for the car? That are worth the money that is...
Please consider adopting a rescue animal. So very many need a furr-ever home and someone to love them! And if we all spay/neuter our pets there won't be an overpopulation to put to death.
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:33 PM   #19
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The two I like the idea of, but have never used, are the barking dog alarm Electronic Watch Dog barking dog alarm and the tv light timer Fake TV Burglar Deterrent - TV light Simulator, Makes Your Home Look Occupied: Home Improvement.

We;ve got dogs, and even though they're little yappers I never worry about anybody breaking in when we're not home. And I tried to set my TV to come on via a timer at the townhouse, but new TVs don't return to their last setting if the power is interrupted. But I think a (real or fake) TV coming on in the evening is an excellent deterrent to anyone who is casing a place.
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Old 12-16-2009, 05:51 PM   #20
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OrchidFlower, are you planning something soon?

I live alone in a 13-unit apt. bldg. and make it clear to all who will listen that I have nothing worth stealing, and then bore them with the story about the time my place was broken into but nothing was taken. By coincidence, Im spending the day doing home handyperson jobs (poorly). I claimed a storage closet and put a lock on it more to deter curious neighbors than to prevent theft; only excess junk will go into that closet. A friend spends evenings with my cat when Im away. And renter's insurance is sure to prevent problems., so far, so good. My neighbor who doesn't have insurance gets robbed all the time, or so she says.

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