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Old 09-15-2011, 11:58 AM   #101
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About five years ago, after the latest round of insurance-premium increases, we took a look around our house and canceled our personal-property insurance.
I tried to do this to lower the rate of my homeowner insurance, but unfortunately State Farm does not offer homeowners insurance without it.
Does USAA? Or did you have a separate personal-property insurance or specific riders on your homeowners policy?
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Old 09-15-2011, 12:21 PM   #102
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I tried to do this to lower the rate of my homeowner insurance, but unfortunately State Farm does not offer homeowners insurance without it.
Does USAA? Or did you have a separate personal-property insurance or specific riders on your homeowners policy?
I have State Farm and have a separate personal articles policy. My basic home policies don't cover "stuff."
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Old 09-15-2011, 01:24 PM   #103
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This thread prompted me to check some things around the house, and sure enough, I'd never hardened the side door leading out of our garage. After 30 minutes with the drill and power screwdriver, it's now much more resistant to being kicked in. (The thing had 1/2" screws for the hinges and strike plate, into soft pine.)
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Old 09-15-2011, 03:03 PM   #104
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This thread prompted me to check some things around the house, and sure enough, I'd never hardened the side door leading out of our garage. After 30 minutes with the drill and power screwdriver, it's now much more resistant to being kicked in. (The thing had 1/2" screws for the hinges and strike plate, into soft pine.)
In my experience the doorframe splits out in a crescent running through the strike and deadbolt holes and screw holes. The hinge side seems more resistant to breaking out as there are 2-3 hinges and no 3/4" holes drilled into the pine. See Leonidas' comment regarding running BA drywall screws through the strike plate & deadbolt plate into the rough framing the door frame is set into.
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Old 09-15-2011, 03:34 PM   #105
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In my experience the doorframe splits out in a crescent running through the strike and deadbolt holes and screw holes. The hinge side seems more resistant to breaking out as there are 2-3 hinges and no 3/4" holes drilled into the pine. See Leonidas' comment regarding running BA drywall screws through the strike plate & deadbolt plate into the rough framing the door frame is set into.
Yup. I ran 3" screws in on a reinforced strike plate and deadbolt, through both of the stacked 2x4s on the sides of the door frame. More 3" screws went in through each of 3 hinges. I'm not too worried about the door frame being the weak part now.
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Old 09-15-2011, 09:14 PM   #106
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The frame is the weakest element. There are crappy doors and locks out there, but 99.99% of the zillion doors I kicked open, or saw kicked open, opened up because the frame failed - either by breaking or not holding the lock bolt/strike plate. ... The most useful thing was to replace the strike plate with a high-security one that anchors to the 2x4 studs that frame the doorway (not the cheesy wood that makes up the decorative door frame).
I agree with all your comments on the (lack of) structural strength of those strike plates and most hinges, but...

What keeps the bad guy from just breaking a window to get in? I can't see the point of hardening one point of entry when there are so many others.

We no longer lock the door from the house to the attached garage. I used to be all gung-ho about this, until I realized just how easy it would be for a bad guy to run a lever under the garage door (the car entry one), break the latches , open it, and then close it and have all the time he wants to inside a closed garage to open the door to the house. Heck, it only takes a minute to smash out the drywall between two studs and you can get into a house from the garage. So if he is going to break into the garage, he is going to break into the house, door locked or not.

Is there something wrong with my thinking?

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Old 09-15-2011, 09:36 PM   #107
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I agree with all your comments on the (lack of) structural strength of those strike plates and most hinges, but...

What keeps the bad guy from just breaking a window to get in? I can't see the point of hardening one point of entry when there are so many others.

We no longer lock the door from the house to the attached garage. I used to be all gung-ho about this, until I realized just how easy it would be for a bad guy to run a lever under the garage door (the car entry one), break the latches , open it, and then close it and have all the time he wants to inside a closed garage to open the door to the house. Heck, it only takes a minute to smash out the drywall between two studs and you can get into a house from the garage. So if he is going to break into the garage, he is going to break into the house, door locked or not.

Is there something wrong with my thinking?

-ERD50
Your thinking is just fine. The Bad Guys, on the other hand, usually aren't the sharpest knife in the drawer.

When I've talked with our local police, they've had some pretty funny stories about serial break ins. The bad guys tend to try something simple and fast, and if it doesn't work, go down the street and try again. They tend to repeat their behavioral patterns, often hitting the same neighborhood at about the same time of day multiple times in a few weeks. Oh, and they get caught just because of this.

I think Brewer had it right in his proposed book title... :-)
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Old 09-15-2011, 10:24 PM   #108
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My brother used to have a big sign on the front door of his business that said - "Protected by a crazy old man with a 12 gauge shotgun three night a week - you guess the nights."
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Old 09-15-2011, 10:39 PM   #109
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If a home invasion comes in our front door, I'd much rather be scampering out the back door rather than scrambling for my firearm.
I'm with you there brother.

There's only one non-breathing thing in my house that I'm risking my life for And that's really only in the case of fire or flood, because I don't think some thief is going to come in just for my Expert Rifle badge and my EGAs.
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Unless you're a professional, I think the latter can all too easily lead to a false sense of security and bravado. My weapons training is shoot to kill, and I don't want that on my conscience as long as I can run away fast.
All my experiences heightened my appreciation for not being around when bullets start flying through the air. In that regard I follow the teachings of the Shaolin monks - the best way to deal with a fight is to not be there when it jumps off

Of course if the wife and kids are in the house I guess I have to stick around to protect them - or they might question my loyalty and whatnot.

And all of this running away stuff is predicated on the hope that Mr. Home Invader doesn't have some rudimentary understanding of dynamic entry, flood-and-fill, or any of the other aggressive tactics used to assault a residence and control the occupants before they can defend themselves. After all, a home invasion is not just a night-time burglary, it's an armed robbery with deadly force at least implied.

Executing a search warrant is just a lawful home invasion, and we were the complete victors a whole lot more often than not. And we were ready for them what wanted to jump out the window rather than hang out with us. So, I have tougher doors, an alarm system, and the cell-phone, flashlight and pistol next to the bed not because I want to get into a firefight, but because if the bad thing happens I probably will need every second just to wake up and try to address whatever is running toward me.

We are still talking about getting hit with lightning here, because as long as you don't engage in certain behaviors, business-endeavors, or belong to certain immigrant communities, the odds of you getting jacked in your home are pretty rare. It's just my little phobia. Probably some form of karmic revenge for being the home invader with a badge.
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I agree with all your comments on the (lack of) structural strength of those strike plates and most hinges, but...

What keeps the bad guy from just breaking a window to get in? I can't see the point of hardening one point of entry when there are so many others.

We no longer lock the door from the house to the attached garage. I used to be all gung-ho about this, until I realized just how easy it would be for a bad guy to run a lever under the garage door (the car entry one), break the latches , open it, and then close it and have all the time he wants to inside a closed garage to open the door to the house. Heck, it only takes a minute to smash out the drywall between two studs and you can get into a house from the garage. So if he is going to break into the garage, he is going to break into the house, door locked or not.

Is there something wrong with my thinking?

-ERD50
Just one flaw - you're confused about what the real goal of all this is: to make your home burglar-resistant, not burglar-proof.

The former is doable, the latter is impossible.

While there are a lot of different motivations for the crime, the most likely reason is to quickly grab some of your stuff and make it to the pawn shop before it closes.

In and out as quickly as possible, try not to draw any attention, grab the stuff you know you can sell and get out of there.

Anything that interferes with, or looks like it might interfere with, the ease of entry and exit, quick getaway, and not getting caught is a point in favor of going to an easier target.

When it comes to the average residential burglar we're not dealing with Sir Charles Lytton. These guys are not looking for a challenge. And I'm betting you don't have the Pink Panther Diamond stuck in a shoebox under your bed. But I bet that you have a big-screen TV, a laptop, a little jewelry, some power tools and maybe a gun or two. Just like your next-door neighbor, the guy across the street, the dude on the other side of town, etc.

So, if Buzzy the Burglar perceives that breaking into your house might involve a little more work, or a little more risk, that might encourage him to leave your house alone and go steal your neighbor's Pink Panther Diamond.

You're shooting for as many of these kind of reactions as you can provoke in the thief's mind:

-This house has alarm stickers....but not that one next door!
-Wait, his neighbor is looking out the window at us.
- Look at the size of the dog poop - let's go across the street.
- I think I just broke my ankle trying to kick this door in.
- We could break a window, but that's a lot of noise and I cut the #$% out of myself last time we did that.
- Well, we got in through the window, but we can't get the big-screen out because the doors all have double cylinder dead bolts - take the small stuff and let's go.
-Damn, all the tools have the dude's driver's license number engraved on them - you know the pawn shop won't take those.

Etc, etc, etc.

You just want to make it seem like breaking into your house is going to be a big hassle, and thus make your neighbors house look like a more attractive target. Kind of like my Shaolin buddies teach - Don't attempt to confront force, but direct it away from yourself.

There is a reason why they go for the doors: They're easy to kick in or pry, and it's easier to carry your stuff out back through them.

As far as your garage door goes - there should be a place to stick a padlock into the rails that the runners glide on.
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Old 09-15-2011, 11:36 PM   #110
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... because I don't think some thief is going to come in just for my Expert Rifle badge and my EGAs.
...
You're shooting for as many of these kind of reactions as you can provoke in the thief's mind:
-This house has alarm stickers....but not that one next door!
-Wait, his neighbor is looking out the window at us.
- Look at the size of the dog poop - let's go across the street.
- I think I just broke my ankle trying to kick this door in.
- We could break a window, but that's a lot of noise and I cut the #$% out of myself last time we did that.
- Well, we got in through the window, but we can't get the big-screen out because the doors all have double cylinder dead bolts - take the small stuff and let's go.
-Damn, all the tools have the dude's driver's license number engraved on them - you know the pawn shop won't take those.
You raise an interesting point-- maybe you should decorate your front door with your Expert Rifle badge and EGAs. Or your police badge?

I guess the logic flaw is that Buzzy the Burglar wouldn't recognize the significance of those insignia until it was too late...
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:47 AM   #111
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RE - door versus window entry:

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Just one flaw - you're confused about what the real goal of all this is: to make your home burglar-resistant, not burglar-proof.

The former is doable, the latter is impossible.
I understand that. What I was not clear on was that breaking a window to gain entry would be very far down the list from breaking the door down. I would think either would make noise, and I would think a crowbar would open either easily - leverage is a powerful thing (lever, fulcrum, place to stand, etc).

I absolutely see the value of making the place look tough to get into (stickers, etc) - this is basically the reason I lock my car and password protect my wifi, not that someone couldn't break in, but it is easier to go elsewhere.


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There is a reason why they go for the doors: They're easy to kick in or pry, and it's easier to carry your stuff out back through them. ....

- Well, we got in through the window, but we can't get the big-screen out because the doors all have double cylinder dead bolts - take the small stuff and let's go.
But once you get in through the window, or through the drywall, you can open the door from the inside. I'm not a crook and have little knowledge here, so I accept your word that crooks would avoid windows, - I just find it surprising.

And do you hide the key for the deadbolt? I have a deadbolt on our front door and I got in the habit of never using it. It's a little tough to turn it (it catches pretty tight), and with small kids in the house, my concern is that they could not get out in an emergency. I figured the odds of that might be as great (and the consequences far worse) than the odds of that deadbolt stopping a crook.


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As far as your garage door goes - there should be a place to stick a padlock into the rails that the runners glide on.
But that's not going to work for the two bays with an automatic opener. That little plastic connector thing that links the opener to the door looks like it would give way pretty easily by jumping on a 4' bar. I suppose we could do it if going away for a few days.

-ERD50
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Old 09-16-2011, 11:29 AM   #112
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Was thinking about the window vs. door glass break in ease. Think perhaps one of the big differences is that a door glass is tempered - tougher to break, but when it goes there are thousands of tiny harmless pieces - much less chance of cutting yourself reaching or climbing through. Also, when tempered glass breaks it goes with a pop rather than noisy shattering. Burglars are safety conscious too, right?

Of course all bets are off with the thief on meth or looking to get enough stuff to trade for meth. No Americas dumbest criminal stuff there - they don't do logic at all. And the bad thing is that I suspect theft by the crank fueled is a growth industry. I hate meth. Get bit by that and you are a fast moving zombie.
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Old 09-16-2011, 11:37 AM   #113
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What I was not clear on was that breaking a window to gain entry would be very far down the list from breaking the door down. I would think either would make noise, and I would think a crowbar would open either easily - leverage is a powerful thing (lever, fulcrum, place to stand, etc).
The door is not actually broken down - kick a door near the lock and it pushes the bolt against the weak frame which fails and the door opens up just like you had a key.



It's not exactly silent, but it's a thump as opposed to the sound of broken glass - which is the unmistakable sound that your neighbor's window just got broken.
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I'm not a crook and have little knowledge here, so I accept your word that crooks would avoid windows, - I just find it surprising.
Windows are complication because you either have to bring a tool, break it with some field-expedient device, or leave risky fingerprints pushing on it with your hands. It's a desire to not get jacked up by the law while carrying tools and instruments that mark you as a burglar (pry bar, gloves, hammer, etc.).

If I spot you wandering around a house or apartment complex in the middle of the day and stop to check you out - having a bigass screwdriver or pry bar in your possession is just like hanging a sign around your neck that says "Burglar - Jack Me Up!" It's a trip to jail. Even if I can't make a charge like possession of a criminal instrument - you'll be off the street for a day or so. Your boss from your legit job is going to can you for not showing up, your girl is going to hook up with that #$%$ Randy from next door, the repo man is going to get your car from the impound lot, your mother is going to finally realize you really do suck and not put her condo up to go your bail, etc.

And with most burglars being motivated by a drug addiction, that equals a day of total suckiness away from your dealer.

It's a concept known as, "You might beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride." In other words, without that pry bar and gloves, I might think you're a burglar looking to score, but I can't do a lot about it. You give me something to work with - I'm going to make your life miserable for at least a day or so.

That's a risk that a lot of crooks prefer not to take.

Another risk to consider about bringing tools is the possibility that if they try and dump the tool as the cops approach, that it might get mistaken as an attempt to use a weapon. The sort of thing that makes the nice policeman all nervousy, and nervousness and guns can make for tragic circumstances.
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But once you get in through the window, or through the drywall, you can open the door from the inside. ...And do you hide the key for the deadbolt? I have a deadbolt on our front door and I got in the habit of never using it. It's a little tough to turn it (it catches pretty tight), and with small kids in the house, my concern is that they could not get out in an emergency. I figured the odds of that might be as great (and the consequences far worse) than the odds of that deadbolt stopping a crook.
You may have noticed my emphasis on the descriptor: Double-cylinder deadbolt.

Lock the door and keep the key in your possession while you're away from home. Only have the key in the lock while you are home. If Buzzy can't break in through the door - don't make it simple for him to carry off your stuff by being able to unlock the door because you gave him the key. Make him work hard for everything.

As for being able to get out in an emergency - fixing the lock and keeping a key in there while you're at home will solve that.
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But that's not going to work for the two bays with an automatic opener. That little plastic connector thing that links the opener to the door looks like it would give way pretty easily by jumping on a 4' bar. I suppose we could do it if going away for a few days.
I assumed you were talking about being away from home.

This is what I was talking about:


I can't say I've ever seen anyone pry up a locked garage door. Entry is often easy through the door into the house from attached garages. That was usually because either the garage door was left unlocked, or the walk-through door from the outside into the garage was just as weak as all the other doors, or that door was left unlocked (you would be surprised how many entries are made through unsecured doors and windows).

That doesn't mean it can't happen. Reinforce the entry door from the garage and you'll greatly reduce the odds that Buzzy is going in that way.

Is there a way to get around all of these precautions? Absolutely.

But I'm just tossing out the easy stuff that doesn't cost much and doesn't take much effort or expertise to do. It's the stuff that will frustrate guys like Buzzy and encourage them to go elsewhere. Right now, from what I've picked up in this thread, I would say the only thing keeping you from being the victim of a burglary is Buzzy hasn't passed by yet.

But you're not different from most people.

Home builders emphasize alarm systems over good doors, locks and frames because they can charge more for an alarm system. Most people wouldn't accept an upgrade charge for "super strong door frames!"

It's a concept I've run across many times before. In the 80's and 90's, when I was a motor vehicle theft detective, we lobbied hard for the anti-theft stickers that are now on the major components of every motor vehicle. The cost for the manufacturer was minimal, but they fought that idea with a lot of energy and money. For a while they got approval for a black box exemption because they could call such things "options" and sell them for hundreds of dollars. "It comes with the optional alarm and anti-theft key system for a mere $800" just sells better than, "see this little sticker on your fender with the VIN on it? That's going to decrease the chance that your car will be stolen, decrease the market for stolen parts, and increase the odds that your car will be recovered and returned to you! All that for $50".

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Old 09-17-2011, 01:36 PM   #114
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I tried to do this to lower the rate of my homeowner insurance, but unfortunately State Farm does not offer homeowners insurance without it.
Does USAA? Or did you have a separate personal-property insurance or specific riders on your homeowners policy?
Sorry, missed this first time through.

We've had our homeowner's insurance with Armed Forces Insurance for over 20 years because they've been cheaper. About the time we decided to try to consolidate all our insurance at USAA (in hopes of a discount) USAA backed out of Hawaii (too much hurricane risk) and hasn't re-entered the market yet. When USAA finally comes back in, hopefully they don't "need" personal property insurance with the homeowner's insurance.

We'd had our personal-property insurance with Armed Forces Insurance for over 25 years. It was separate from our homeowner's policy because so many military are renters instead of homeowners. But for about five years before we canceled it, AFI started getting progressively whinier about "You live in a big home with a high value, so you can't possibly have possessions worth so little". Well, maybe that's true in Fort Leavenworth, KS... not so much for a couple of Hawaii beach bums.

At about the same time we realized that it makes no sense to buy retail when you can score better bargains from Craigslist. Yet AFI's policy would pay off either (1) actual cash value or (2) replacement cost based on a store receipt. In almost every case where we inquired about a claim, Craigslist was not considered adequate receipt documentation... however the Craigslist purchase was almost always more expensive than their ACV payout.

In one claim around 1997, the military movers lost a box of paperback books. One box out of about 30. AFI wanted titles and purchase prices. I knew that I was missing my paperbacks from letters E through J but otherwise I had no idea what precise titles, and purchase prices from the 1970s didn't seem very relevant. I came up with an approximate title list and said that I'd take ACV. AFI said that would be "zero" without the receipts. However they were willing to replace the books at full retail... but these titles were at least 20 years old and long out of print.

The whole debate became so time-consuming and disgusting that I finally asked if I had to buy the exact same titles. AFI agreed that substitution was allowed as long as it was the same total number of books. So we took our elementary school's librarian shopping at the Scholastic warehouse (like letting a kid loose in a candy store) and bought 98 books (or whatever number we'd agreed on). We mailed in the receipt, cashed the check, and decided that maybe it was time for me to prune my book collection. 14 years later I'm finally down to just one shelf.

After a few years of this "You need more insurance" bickering AFI tried to pull off a big personal-property premium hike. So we canceled.
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Old 09-17-2011, 04:50 PM   #115
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One box out of about 30.
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... it was time for me to prune my book collection. 14 years later I'm finally down to just one shelf.
I am in awe! What a great minimalization accomplishment. I thought I was doing pretty well to have reduced my insanely overgrown book collection from 85 boxes (in 1999) to about 8-9 shelves at present, but one shelf? That's magnificent.

I was very careful to keep those books with the most nostalgic value and those that I felt made me who I am. The books I no longer have, had become a huge albatross to me. I love my Kindle and don't miss them at all.

Don't mean to hijack the thread... oops
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:40 AM   #116
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I am in awe! What a great minimalization accomplishment. I thought I was doing pretty well to have reduced my insanely overgrown book collection from 85 boxes (in 1999) to about 8-9 shelves at present, but one shelf? That's magnificent.
I was very careful to keep those books with the most nostalgic value and those that I felt made me who I am. The books I no longer have, had become a huge albatross to me. I love my Kindle and don't miss them at all.
Well, the real credit should go to cheap paperbacks, mold, and critters. Moving my Dad into a care facility was a real attention-getter too.

I have a spreadsheet of the discarded titles, but the library keeps me happy enough that I still haven't bothered to chase down an e-reader. Even when I do, I'm not sure some of the 1960s authors can be replaced. But having a physical private library is so second-millennium.

Traveling with physical books has become a noticeable pain. There's a Nook in my future. Someday.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:34 AM   #117
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In my life I've never heard of a home invasion type robbery here. There are the occasional break ins at business places, usually bars. One of the reasons is, I think, that at least 80% of homes have guns in them so the bad guys don't want to risk it.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:44 AM   #118
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Originally Posted by Nodak View Post
One of the reasons is, I think, that at least 80% of homes have guns in them so the bad guys don't want to risk it.
Alternatively, since to invade a home you have to start from outside, maybe the bad guys all froze to death.
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Old 09-18-2011, 12:03 PM   #119
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Alternatively, since to invade a home you have to start from outside, maybe the bad guys all froze to death.
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Old 09-18-2011, 02:21 PM   #120
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We live out in the country and we purposely make it hard to tell if we're home or gone. Plus you have to come up a reasonably long one-lane dirt road, open a gate, and cross a hay meadow to get to the buildings. We have loaded guns, noisy farm dogs, and an arrogant attack squirrel (just kidding on the squirrel - it usually doesn't attack most people). We also have external motion detector lights on all the main buildings.

We have a secure mailbox. The bad guys can't look to see if there is old mail that signals someone isn't home. It also has a parcel drop in the bottom for UPS / FedEx / USPS boxes. We don't have home delivery of newspapers (don't get home delivery this far out) or the burglar alerts junky stuff the advertisers drop off on your doorstep whether or not you want it.

I guess the biggest advantage we have over most of you is all the bad guys know people who live out in the country are armed and a pretty decent shot.
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