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Ask Slashdot: Inexpensive SOHO Crime Deterrence and Monitoring?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the smile-for-the-camera dept.

Crime 272

First time accepted submitter trellz writes "My sister and brother-in-law are self employed, and run a small business with a storefront. It was broken into about a year ago, and since then they have reinforced physical security; bars on the doors and windows, better locks, etc. Unfortunately, their store was broken into and vandalized again last week, in spite of the added security measures. Being technically savvy, I'm trying to come up with inexpensive ways to add deterrence, monitoring, and alerting to their business. They run an extremely lean lifestyle and profit margin, so the solution needs to be almost free. They do have an internet connection at the store, so motion detection, web cameras, Arduino devices, and the like are certainly an option. Ideally I would like a rock-solid alerting method. Something like an email or text to a laptop at home, or a dedicated prepaid phone, but without the pitfalls of such a solution (i.e. random wrong numbers, solicitors, email spam, etc). I'd also prefer not to poke holes in their firewall at the shop if at all possible. I was considering an email with some sort of long code or hash in the body, and then could white list that on the receiving end to key off of. The goal is to never have a false alarm based on the transmission/reception method." What advice, beyond ZoneMinder?

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How was it broken into again? (3, Interesting)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#42926141)

Bars on the doors and windows suggests someone was pretty aggressive about getting in there - or your physical security upgrades are just insufficient. If people can still get in, and if what they take is relatively lightweight, a sophisticated alarm isn't really going to help you all that much compared to just something which makes a lot of noise.

Re:How was it broken into again? (1)

trdtaylor (2664195) | about 2 years ago | (#42926161)

Right, could be insider threat.

Re:How was it broken into again? (5, Interesting)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about 2 years ago | (#42926433)

Right, could be insider threat.

Good point. There's so much here that isn't made clear. Some questions to answer before deciding what to do:

  • is this one shop in a big area that gets picked on?
  • what are other surrounding shops doing different?
  • does this look like a personal vendetta or just two random coincidental crimes? Is there anything to link the two incidents?
  • are there surrounding shops that might work together?
  • did the guys get something of value?
  • did they likely come in masks?
  • if you alert the police are they likely to react quickly?

Re:How was it broken into again? (3, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42926173)

Yeah, a good bar system should take longer to get through than anyone would be willing to commit. My first question was, "what do they have in there? Guns or drugs?" and the second is "what are the bars made of, rubber?"

My vote is for a cheap $50 (or less) motion detector tied to a loud speaker. Nobody wants to rob a place so loud it hurts. You could set it up to send an email when triggered or such, but that's not going to make a huge difference in the robber's response. Unless the plan is to get a $200 cheap PVR/camera security combo so that they can catch people, rather than scare them off after they've done $1000 damage to windows and bars before running off.

Re:How was it broken into again? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#42926225)

Never underestimate a meth addict. Some have been known to tie winch wire to the frame of their car/truck/suv with the other end secured to a door or window bar. You may have seen a scene in a movie where this was done to break someone out of a jail. Well, that shit works (IRL for buildings, not jails)!!!. They drive up, wrap it secure, yank it off. In, out, long gone before police show up. Loud alarms and alerts are just after the fact.

If you're doing business in a bad part of town. My advice is to leave!

Re:How was it broken into again? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42926287)

Or my favorite, stealing a car and driving it into a building to open the door. Though I've seen someone try the drive through the door trick when the concrete-filled metal poles were in front, they didn't make it in. Or when someone tried to pull a door down that was well secured and pulled the axle off the car - movie style. Gotta love the youtube age.

Re:How was it broken into again? (2)

Bazman (4849) | about 2 years ago | (#42926471)

Myth... busted!

Mythbusters tried to yank the axle of a car using a fixed cable but every time either their cable failed or their anchor failed. They busted the rear axle up pretty bad, but never yanked it off as seen in American Graffiti.

Re:How was it broken into again? (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#42926569)

Myth... busted!

Mythbusters tried to yank the axle of a car using a fixed cable but every time either their cable failed or their anchor failed. They busted the rear axle up pretty bad, but never yanked it off as seen in American Graffiti.

that depends on the car.... rusted up lada and think again what happens.

Re:How was it broken into again? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926587)

I've seen it at the race track, and from people doing dumb things, it is possible to totally rip out your rear-end. It depends on the condition and type of rear suspension. This was all found from a single search.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB4EdVql8dE [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UUUSyysTAs [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7WzWDk0jes [youtube.com]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wnM51jsOMA [youtube.com]

Re:How was it broken into again? (-1, Troll)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#42926515)

There are great videos here [youtube.com] and here [youtube.com] , the second one of a truck at 50mph is amazing, this is the sort of protection you would need to keep muzzies from a synagogue.

Re:How was it broken into again? (3, Interesting)

Barsteward (969998) | about 2 years ago | (#42926353)

And also set up a camera on the building opposite so it records everything as teh camera on the violated property will probably get trashed if seen

Re:How was it broken into again? (2)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about 2 years ago | (#42926441)

And also set up a camera on the building opposite so it records everything as teh camera on the violated property will probably get trashed if seen

I'd assume that all the cameras should send out to an off-premises server. In this case they should be recorded before they trash them.

The idea to get cameras opposite is good though. At that point getting together with all the shops in the area and setting up a system together might help. Scary and anti-freedom though this is, nobody will care or try to stop you. This will be much cheaper than paying for everything yourself.

Simplicity... (0)

kelarius (947816) | about 2 years ago | (#42926151)

How about a specific subject line in the email, and if the email doesn't have it, it gets filtered into the trash?

Insurance Concerns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926153)

Sadly enough, as in IT security, I'd wager that compliance with industry best practices is more important (from the underwriter's perspective) than actual efficacy -- that is, while it would cost more up-front, a contract with a security provider may result in easier access to (potentially mandatory) insurance.

Dog (4, Insightful)

MobyDobie (2426436) | about 2 years ago | (#42926157)

What about getting a dog? It's both a deterrent and an alarm.

Re:Dog (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926177)

if properly trained and broken into frequently feed cost and police involvement can be minimal

Re:Dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926269)

And a liability.

(AC for posting from work no password)

Re:Dog (3, Funny)

demonlapin (527802) | about 2 years ago | (#42926417)

There is a property in my home town whose walls are painted (outside the concertina-lined fence) with the message "DANGER: GUARD DOG WILL KILL". And several skull-and-crossbones for the illiterate. Game over, man, game over.

Re:Dog (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926439)

no one gives a f.u c..k why you're posing as ac.


Re:Dog (0)

x_t0ken_407 (2716535) | about 2 years ago | (#42926503)


Re:Dog (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 2 years ago | (#42926485)

What about getting a dog? It's both a deterrent and an alarm.

or a gun.

Re:Dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926593)

no puck ass teenager is going to mess with a shop with a rottie on the other side of the glass!

Re:Dog (2)

u38cg (607297) | about 2 years ago | (#42926747)

A dog is pretty defenceless against a piece of meat with some horse tranquilliser in it. And to be really honest, they're not much against a steady nerve and a hefty crowbar either. And we're talking about a storefront here, not a private residence.

Live there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926165)

Have a good firearm. Kill them. It works very well.

Re:Live there (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about 2 years ago | (#42926253)

Messy though. Not an elegant solution.

Re:Live there (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 2 years ago | (#42926431)

Messiness aside, you have to live there for this to be an effective solution. If it's in the bad part of town, you don't want to live there... I love my guns and I keep one in the car almost all the time, but I don't want to live in the kind of neighborhood where you have to have your gun on you all the time.

Re:Live there (3, Funny)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#42926691)

Elegant? What do you want? Lightsabers?

Re:Live there (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about 2 years ago | (#42926499)

Have a good firearm. Kill them. It works very well.

I won't respond to the obvious pro-anti gun control flamebait (only an idiot would do that*). We have no idea where this shop is based so you might be right; In some areas of Mexico where the police will never come this would probably be the right solution. Moreso if you live somewhere where you have no social security and are likely to starve to death if you lose your shop.

However, it doesn't fit the specification. "the solution needs to be almost free".

First of all, you want better and more effective weaponry than the people who are going to come to your shop. Heavy machine guns do not come cheap, and even if you will do with a pair of assault rifles they won't come free.

Secondly, as even the NRA will tell you; especially the NRA; you need to train with your weapon especially if you are planning to use it in a serious situation. An initial period of several months of intense training in marksmanship and urban combat followed up with weekly practice and regular refresher training will be needed. Even with a local club willing to help this is going to end up expensive.

Thirdly, most of the time people's firearms are used against them more than they get to use them. You will want to work in a pair (or more), with one person on guard duty, and one person serving the customers at all time. You will want to buy secure firearm storage for the occasions when you have to put the gun down.

Fourthly a firearm alone isn't going to cut it. If they get inside before you start firing you are going to end up in considerable danger anyway. Let's imagine that this is a stand alone store set back from a road in the Columbian countryside. You will want to have motion detectors and cameras wired to alarms and screens in your safe room together with a loudspeaker system outside. When the invaders come at night you need to give them warning (in case they are lost tourists or local paramilitary police dropping by to check on your health) before you open fire.

Finally, if you do end up killing them and are unlucky, you may want to be ready for the escalation from their drugs gang buddies. At least budget to buy a few RPGs and heavier machine guns; armoured reinforcement and ex-SAS security guards are probably advised.

Overall, whilst this may be excellent on paper, you will find such security does not always come cheap.

* (or troll)

Synology Surveillance Station (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926171)

Never used the feature myself, but I do own an old DS-207 nas box which is rock solid.
It will send out an email if the attached cameras detect motion.
Interface with the nas software is pretty user friendly.

I am sure there are other nas boxes from other companies that have similar features.

Just figured I'd throw this out there.

"Lifestyle" (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926179)

We know you said,

They run an extremely lean lifestyle and profit margin, so the solution needs to be almost free.

but it's pretty clear that you meant,

They sell wearable handicrafts made from soft-drink tins and yarn, and spend all the money on weed, so don't bother offering any solution that isn't basically free.

We're all grown-ups here, no need to soft-pedal for Grandma or whatever.

Chinese no-names to the rescue (1)

trdtaylor (2664195) | about 2 years ago | (#42926181)

1. Something like this

http://www.chinavasion.com/china/wholesale/Surveillance_Security/Security_Gadgets/Motion_Detection_Camera-GSM_Mini_Camera [chinavasion.com]

2. With another something like this

http://www.chinavasion.com/china/wholesale/IP_Cameras/Outdoor_IP_Cameras/IP_Security_Camera_720P_HD_Dual_IR_Array/ [chinavasion.com]

It will give you MMS, recording in 720p, and ability to yell at them in korean to get out of your store.

Re:Chinese no-names to the rescue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926629)

And with either of these what are you going to record to?

the ip camera's are the easy part, the recording of say 2MP RTSP streams is the tricky part. Products like zonealarm are fairly arse to be honest and I'm yet to find a cheap DVR that can record RTSP from any random camera for a decent price.

How can Chinese no-names yell in Korean?? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#42926735)

Please excuse me for being dense ...

How can Chinese no-name gadgets yell in Korean ?

REVO DVR (3, Interesting)

vinn (4370) | about 2 years ago | (#42926185)

I put in a small Revo DVR unit with webcams last year for a small business. It was $800 and I think it was a lot of bang for the buck. It had alarm inputs, whick are simple enough that if you're on a budget you could set up on entryways. The cameras were motion detecters, IR, etc. I definitely recommend it.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926187)

Are they going to run to the shop, guns in hand to fend off the intruders? What is police response time to the area? How long did it take the criminals to clean the place out?

For deterrent, how about a group of concealed speakers that are triggered by movement inside the store (i.e., broken IR beam across doors and windows, etc.). The speakers play a warning tone at 135dB, a very brief message that it's about to get much louder, and then let it just get louder and louder. Even with hearing protection, I don't think a thief is going to be able to burgle your store while a variety of discordant tones plays at 150dB, increasing to 180dB, then maybe on up to about 220dB. I think at around "louder than a rocket launchpad" even a deaf thief will notice.

You might end up with a noise complaint though, and if you're in California, you may have to worry about the thief (or thieves) suing you for damaging their hearing.

Re:Why? (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 2 years ago | (#42926345)

If the business is in a high crime area, the police will not respond with any type of expediency.

In Chicago, they might not even respond at all [wgntv.com] .

I suspect that they want to get pictures of the crooks to turn over to the police or to release to the news.


Re:Why? (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#42926741)

With police like that I doubt pictures of the crooks will help. Especially if they are masked or wearing helmets.

I wonder how much those anti-theft fog/smoke things cost and cost per release:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vK083niNAmY [youtube.com]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOgKti335tQ [youtube.com]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOqECorcOno [youtube.com]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SZeCbARjKM [youtube.com]
There's even a disco light edition ;) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAPw_xbTJzk [youtube.com]

These seem more likely to reduce the amount of stuff stolen than some cameras and alarms. So maybe the insurance company would reduce your premiums if you had such a system installed.

Almost free? (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about 2 years ago | (#42926201)

They run an extremely lean lifestyle and profit margin, so the solution needs to be almost free.

Doing nothing has a cost too... possibly more break-ins = more lost profit. There is a potentially high risk cost of doing nothing; depending on what it is, they might be able to budget a lot of money, and the net cost could be zero: assuming the break ins are actually causing damage and hurting their business revenue.

The idea that you run a business, and you are not willing to spend any money on security is absolutely ridiculous. You should be willing to spend an appropriate amount of money to manage the risk.

The most important mitigation is probably to have insurance, but again... the premium may increase, the more breakins.

This may be a matter that a security consulting firm should be hired to look at.

Hidden cameras with a DVR may be useful to help catch the perps.... however, there is a problem: this is only useful, if responders become aware of the breakin and get there, before the thief can locate the DVR associated with the cameras and destroy it.

Visible cameras, may be used as a deterrent; however, they are subject to vandalism.

One of the best deterrents which should not be overlooked is a professionally Monitored security alarm system with External sounders, Internal motion detectors, Door sensors, Glass break detectors, perimeter coverage, and an alarm loop and cellular backup to a central monitoring station, that will dispatch authorities in the event of an alarm.

Re:Almost free? (4, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#42926383)

Um, this is 100% a waste of money. A monitored security alarm gets rid of nobody but the dumbest B&E'ers. Even if the alarm company is listening, and verifies that a person is physically inside the premises, and phones the cops, the response time is still ridiculous [in downtown Vancouver BC, it was like 20-30 minutes]. And the thieves know it.

$5 for stickers saying you have a monitored alarm works just as good.

DVR's need to be fairly good to be able to positively identify somebody, nevermind at night in the dark. And that assumes the police put much effort into looking at it [it usually amounts to the detective on the case looks at the video, and either recognizes the guy or doesn't...end of video]. And does catching the guy make a difference to your business [as in, how fast does the guy have to be caught for him to still have the stuff so you get it back, as once he has passed it along, the likelyhood of ever seeing it again goes WAY down].

And your insurance rates go up the same amount whether or not the guy gets caught [unless of course, you recover enough stuff to not bother making a claim, which is very rare].

In general, your best bang for your buck is loss prevention. As in, preventing the stuff from exiting the store prematurely.

For ground-level shops, try roll-shutters over the windows and doors. As a bonus, they also prevent vandalism like window-smashing.

Re:Almost free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926447)

There should always be a light on in the store. It doesn't need to be large. Emergency lighting (required, at least in NJ) will let the cameras record just fine.

Re:Almost free? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926535)

Get a proper one.

My home has a 5 minute response time guarantee by my security company. That is not "calling the cops", it is "2 armed response people from my security company appearing at my premises within 5 minutes of an alarm ringing between 22:00 and 08:00 (10 minutes during the day).

Add to that a catergory 3 alarm system that has cost me about 3000 USD and has more than 2 dozen sensors and is tamper proof and you get into "world of pain". Triggered that myself once by accident, and it was - ah - fun to go through the whole protocol.

The cost is miniscule.

Don't bother. (5, Insightful)

FireballX301 (766274) | about 2 years ago | (#42926203)

Buy business insurance, do what the insurance adjuster wants you to do, and don't do anything more.

If you don't have or can't afford business insurance, then you should question whether your business is viable or not, especially if a poorly timed robbery can put you under.

Re:Don't bother. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926257)

Buy business insurance, do what the insurance adjuster wants you to do, and don't do anything more.

This. Hacking together some "security system" won't do shit for you. Even if you manage to get some clear video, even if you manage to get the police to look at it, even if you avoid having some half-asleep public defender obliterate you in court because you can't actually prove the timestamp on the video is accurate, even if you manage to get a conviction...how the fuck does help your friends? They still need to take that conviction and use it as leverage in a civil case against the perp, and even if they get a judgement....there is no cash register at the court house! Your friends aren't going to see a dime from some broke-ass criminal deadbeat.

This is what insurance is for...to insure assets against risk and let you move on with life.

Sunology Surveillance Station (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926205)

A free downloadable software package for Synology NAS units. I believe that if you use more than one camera there is a license for each additional one. Does support motion sensing, email/text/Skype alerts. http://www.synology.com/dsm/dsm_app.php?lang=us

Chloroform (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926209)

Get some chloroform or other substance that can knock someone out, and tie it into your motion detection system. If anyone breaks in they'll be knocked unconscious and you can get the police in to arrest them. Or, since it's unlikely the burglars let anyone know what they were doing, nobody will miss them...

Re:Chloroform (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42926233)

Remember: Anesthesiology pays relatively well because knocking people out is easy; but knocking them out such that you can wake them back up is hard.

Also, murder charges are a real hassle, and even jurisdictions that allow you to shot people for little more than trespassing tend to frown on lethal traps...

Re:Chloroform (2)

demonlapin (527802) | about 2 years ago | (#42926421)

As one business owner in my hometown did, paint the phrase "GUARD DOG WILL KILL" on the walls. I don't even know if he had a dog, but it worked...

email is not a solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926213)

email can get hung up for a variety of reasons and take hours or days.

webcamd on UNIX (2, Informative)

kestasjk (933987) | about 2 years ago | (#42926219)

Hi, what you need is webcamd for a low powered machine with a cheap USB webcam (best to check the chipset compatibility before buying, just in case).

There'll be a bit of manual page reading, setting the motion detection thresholds and areas, configuring it to start on boot, archive/FTP images taken, add timestamps to the images, etc, and writing the scripts that will get run when motion is detected, but it'll be cheap, customizable and it'll work.

I've used this setup in a local maritime simulator where there was a breakin attempt (lots of projectors and electronics naturally), and they wanted a bit of extra security on the cheap.


Re:webcamd on UNIX (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#42926491)

As we can see from various videos online, having a webcam is not a good enough solution to stop these people.
First I would go for a high quality image that does not show grainy images. The reason for grainy images often is lightening,
Second I would go for a low eye-level camera, so it looks people in the face. With the prices of HDs, I would not go for motion detectors. Just let the thing run 24/7.
Also go for multiple camera's. One at the checkout, one at the entrance and one at the exit on eye level. One that shows an overview of the whole store if 1 camera can see everything.

Think about archiving. Do you really want to keep the images of last month if nothing has happened? Also think about privacy. There might or might not be laws, but even then it would be good to think about privacy. e.g. inform staff if there is any. Perhaps not needed by law where you are, but still nice to tell them what exists and why it exists. Do NOT use it to spy on your staff, unless you are an asshole.

In some countries it is forbidden to have camera's pointed at certain parts of a business if it means that you invade too much of their privacy. So no camera in the lunchroom or directly pointed at a desk.

See that if they use passwords that the keyboard is not visible.
In any case, look if there are any laws concerning this. It is stupid to let people who were arrested go free because you did something that was in the law and they found that loophole.

Do understand that camera's will no stop people braking and entering. Use the motion detectors to start making a LOT of sound and light. The extra light is good to get good images.

yet be sure to have good camera's that have good night video as well.

Whatever seems reasonable... plus this (4, Interesting)

wonkavader (605434) | about 2 years ago | (#42926239)

This does nothing. But it completely stops break-ins and it's cheap.

https://spygear4u.com/ds_proddetail.asp?prod=GS-LS-131 [spygear4u.com]

Watch the videos you can find of it around. It's very scary. Does nothing, of course, but it's VERY scary. And that will keep your family's store safe.

Re:Whatever seems reasonable... plus this (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 2 years ago | (#42926259)

I have to admit, that should scare off the unsophisticated average thief. Smooth.

That is seriously good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926273)

that device is an absolute cack
which will most likely work simply due to the unknown risk factor
back it up with some visible security cameras to cover key areas and back those up with hidden cameras, make sure you've got a UPS and internet backup on the files and you should be all good

Re:Whatever seems reasonable... plus this (4, Funny)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | about 2 years ago | (#42926695)

It's all fun and games until your cat dies of exhaustion.

Regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926247)

You don't say where you are, in some jurisdictions you must be certified to install security solutions for commercial premises/purposes and it must be to code.

Re:Regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926373)

From what I've seen in Texas, you only need a permit if you're installing an alarm that calls the police. If it doesn't call the cops, you can do whatever you want (apart from booby traps).

IP camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926255)

Our shop is low margin also. I installed an IP camera with a battery backup that feeds a netbook that records the camera feed and save it for ten days. The cost is cheap and it will help cops catch the purp. A couple of dummy camera along with one real one will scare off just about any crook.

Re:IP camera (1)

mveloso (325617) | about 2 years ago | (#42926277)

Get a Foscom Wireless IP Camera. It'll email you a picture if something triggers motion detection. Pretty handy.

Might want to get something that turns on the lights, too, so the camera can get a good look at whomever.

Monitored Alarm System (2)

rhook (943951) | about 2 years ago | (#42926285)

If they cannot afford the less than $100/month for this service they're not going to be in business long since they obviously aren't turning a profit.

Go with a professional (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926291)

Have a monitored alarm put in.

Even if you managed to cobble something together and if gave you beautiful pictures of the perp it would still be too late. Chances are you wouldn't be able to alert the cops fast enough to get them to stop the guy and the damage to the property and the stolen goods are not likely to be recovered. In contrast a professional system would be up there and visible (bell boxes on walls, stickers in windows etc) AND there is a chance that ADT calling the cops might get a patrol car there fast enough to catch the guy.

Putting someone in jail doesn't fix busted doors and windows. A deterrent that makes someone look for easier pickings might prevent property damage.

My alarm system (3, Interesting)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#42926319)

At my repair shop, I have a $1 contact-break alarm system on my back door. As soon as it goes off, 100 dB alarm in your face and it's rather difficult to disable without knowing how it works. Not many people would say "well, that alarm is blasting but let's keep robbing it." They just run.

I can't believe modern people are still stupider than medieval people. This is pure castle theory. You don't build tons and tons and tons of defense like walls and locks and moats and then just leave it. Persistent threats will find a way in. What did rich people and kings do? Set traps. Make it look somewhat secure but then oops, you stepped on the wrong rock. Now there's spikes in your face. Or you pick a lock on the treasure chest and it released poison gas because the treasure chest is actually backwards and the real lock is on the back.

Bars on the windows are nothing. They'll just bring a crow bar. The "low hanging fruit" theory about which stores get robbed do not apply here. But add traps aka window break alarms and make sure the "Protected by alarms" and red blinking lights are showing and a thief would have no idea what trap they're about to fall into and would stay away.

Re:My alarm system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926381)

My grandmother has a home-made alarm a friend built for her attached to her back gate. Open the gate and it make a lot of noise. Close the gate and the noise turns off. There is a switch inside the house to disable it (so you can use the gate).

One of the neighbours reported a suspicious person stalking around (she had a wooded area next door) and when the cop opened the gate to see if he was hiding in her back yard it scared HIM so bad he left the gate open and quickly left. The trusted neighbours (who know how the alarm works and watch the house for her when she's gone) got a good laugh out of it :)

Stop being stupid (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 2 years ago | (#42926327)

Know your limits. You don't know anything about security so leave it to experts. All your ideas will not prevent any thefts. Get insurance, maybe hidef cameras to record intruders and leave the rest to police. If they're doing illegal things, well, then go to hell.

Seriously, how is anybody supposed to know how their system is deficient or how to prevent further break.ins without knowing the merchandise which is attracting robbers and how their system was compromised?

Re:Stop being stupid (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 2 years ago | (#42926399)

Little hint about cameras. Keep the ceiling ones for large coverage, but keep a few about 4 feet off the ground facing the entrance to catch good face shots of people coming in. Should be fairly easy to hide inside a display or counter. I remember hearing about a bunch of thugs that destroyed the window display of a camera shop. Turned out the owner always left 2 or 3 of the display cameras recording (wired to a remote recorder) at night and got REALLY good shots of their faces!

Here's the solution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926339)

Just get this: http://www.axis.com/products/m10_series/video/index.htm

If you're not going to do it right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926355)

... then just completely halfass it. Don't bother putting any real equipment in.

Just head over to ebay and buy some ADT window decals and someone's old busted keypad to hang on the wall. Get one that just has LEDs, not a screen, and wire up some batteries to light the Power and Ready lights.

That will be more of a deterrent than some half-baked cobbled-up do it yourself system.

That said, if it's really something they're concerned about, they should just get a real security system installed and monitored. It's not that expensive - getting the hardware put in can add up, but if all you need is a couple of doors and a glass break detector, it's not too bad - and the monitoring for a small business won't be that much. And having a real, properly installed, permit on file alarm system will generally get you a discount on insurance.

Alarm systems won't keep a place from being broken into, and they won't get the police there fast enough to catch someone when it is, in general. But I do strongly recommend having one because you can get a monitored smoke detector and THAT can be a big help getting the fire department there fast enough to do something.

Seriously, get a safe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926363)

Breaking crews are highly specialized, know how to enter almost any place and ransack it for valuables in impressively short time.

Get a safe, preferably something hard-installed or bulky and impossible to carry - this will protect what's in the safe reliably (think: irreplaceables), as it cannot be opened in the timeframe of a typical robbery or carried off.

Other than that, back up all your business data twice in the evening, one onto an encrypted hard drive that goes into the safe, one that goes home with you.

For anything replaceable: Get insured.

Oh, and if you have really valuable inventory and are running on low margin, get out of the business you are in.

The Source has a convincing camera dome (1)

kawabago (551139) | about 2 years ago | (#42926379)

It has a battery and a blinking LED so it looks like a camera is operating. I installed it in the alley and it stopped strangers driving down the alley. I have to change the battery every six months.

Try the Open Source Ninja Block for security (1)

schappim (656944) | about 2 years ago | (#42926391)

Given you put Arduino like options on the table you should checkout the Open Source Ninja Block ( http://ninjablocks.com/products/ninja-blocks-kit [ninjablocks.com] ). The Ninja Block (with it's free cloud service) lets you create rules that use it's sensors to send you alerts (via SMS/Email/Social Network etc). For example "if motion is detected, send an SMS". Included in the kit is a Motion Sensor and door/window contact sensor. You can get more sensors off the Ninja Blocks website. The Ninja Blocks community seems to also be growing strong: http://forums.ninjablocks.com/ [ninjablocks.com] If you want to tinker more, inside the Ninja Block is an Arduino compatible uC and an embedded Linux computer running Ubuntu.

Re:Try the Open Source Ninja Block for security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926715)

Why not just get a ninja?

Get a dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926395)

A large mean-looking guard dog would be the best and most cost-effective measure. Especially if they could train it to dial 911.

Security should be "in depth" (4, Insightful)

rusty0101 (565565) | about 2 years ago | (#42926409)

I'm seeing a lot of partial solutions here. Both in what has been done, and in what is being proposed. The first thing you should be doing though has been mentioned, and that's talk with your insurance adjuster. At the very least you can find out what your liabilities are for various security measures, and possibly what measures will reduce your insurance rates.

Start by looking at what a thief is going to see as they look at how to enter the property. You may find the TV series from a few years back "it takes a thief" (or something like that) helpful in looking at the entire place for security problems. The doors and windows may be barred, but is it possible to gain access through the floor, or ceiling? Even a good barred door may be a problem if it's sheltered in such a way that you can't see if someone is working on the lock.

Part of that should also be looking at what you can do to improve deterrence. Signs, visible (if non-functional) alarm panels, even a steadily blinking light next to a sign labeled 'Alarm System' can be a deterrent.

And finally look for ways to monitor the approaches to the property both front and back, and if the building is stand alone, all around the building. You may want to use PIR along with IR Lighting to capture movement around the building.

If you are presuming that someone will break in after you've identified (and hopefully fixed) the issues from outside, then you're to the detect and defend internal options. High resolution cameras, covering the access points. Motion detection, door and window open sensors, glass break detectors, etc. These are intended to generate alerts and set up a means to capture what information you can about the thief. Tip, mark the door frame on either side of likely entrances with contrasting tape to form a crude (half foot or 20 cm increment) tape measure to give you a quick estimate of how tall someone passing by the entrance is.

Obviously you will need to decide for yourself how critical it is to secure different parts of your store. High value gem dealers usually place their entire stock in a vault of some sort overnight. If you know what the reason is behind the break-ins in the area (paying for drugs being common) you may be able to protect high value items by making it easier to steel a few low value items that you are less concerned about loosing.

Understand what the thief is working with. Unless you've been cased for a professional theft, in which case you're insurance carrier may have other suggestions for you, Most thefts are a snatch and grab variety, the thief is looking to get in, get something and get out. Be gone before the cops show up. If you know the cops will be there within 20 min, (talk with other businesses in the area that have experienced break-ins to find out if that estimate is even in the balpark) then you know how hard you have to make it for a thief to get at the valuables.

Also set policies (and follow them) for how to deal with elements of the store that are critical for operating. Assume that a thief can get the cash register, all cash within the store, and possibly your computers in the store. Does someone have a spare cash register, and operating cash for the day that they can bring in at the start of the day if you need to get going while making repairs? Is there sufficient spare stock in an off-site storage to get up and running the next business day, or are you going to be waiting a week for your suppliers to restock? Is the customer information on your systems at work in a secure system? Do you have off site backups of your inventory and books? Have you a policy of depositing all cash over and above what you absolutely have to have for daily operations on a nightly basis? Do you have multiple known locations where you can make those deposits so that if construction makes your usual after hours depository unavailable you can still make your deposit. Have you tested your off site backup solution to confirm that if your systems up and left, or a vandal cam in and drove a pick-ax through your hard drives, you know that the backups would let you open up for business the next day?

And of course all of this presumes that you're online presence is going to get similar securing. That includes setting up the security system for any in-house network so that no one can just unplug your cash register systems wired network and plug in a laptop there and tell your server to start depositing transactions into a different bank account. You can't drop a dreamcast in a closet and capture all the network traffic to get passwords and punch holes in the firewall, and so on.

I'm not a security professional. I don't play one on TV. I don't get paid for providing security advice. That's what your adjuster is for. Talk to him or her.

A perspective: if you get an alert, it is too late (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926449)

The alert is after-the-fact, of course. And did the local police tell you what their (hopefully, substantiated) response time is???

Is it two minutes, twenty minutes or do they decline to say?

I have tripped alarms while working late and sat there waiting for the authorities while a loud horn blasted the neighborhood. No one came. The police later confirmed that they cannot cover everything. I guess so.

I have purchased fake or dummy surveillance cameras. The flashing light gets their attention. They are on line and cheap. They use a battery, so no wiring is needed. Just one more deterrent, something to make them think twice, hopefully.

Use a fire suppression system like this (1)

Meski (774546) | about 2 years ago | (#42926457)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaseous_fire_suppression [wikipedia.org] And trigger it with the burglar alarm entry system. :)

Re:Use a fire suppression system like this (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#42926493)

Wire the burglar alarm to the fire alarm - the fire crews respond much faster than the cops...

Re:Use a fire suppression system like this (1)

Meski (774546) | about 2 years ago | (#42926561)

And sadly, after the recent incident in NY, they are likely to turn up armed. (I'm not saying that like its a bad thing, but sad that it's necessary)

Low-tech solution: Hobo with a shotgun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926489)

No really, it works!

Never mind the dog... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#42926513)

A simple sign with "Nevermind the dog, beware of the rattle snakes" should do it.

I have the cure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926537)

A non working Iphone attached to a pound of black powder and a pound of 16 penny nails.
When they pick up the phone boom no more problem.

Is your time free? (2)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#42926543)

Are you working for free? That means that you are paying for their security. Great if you are willing to do that, but it also means that if you are out of town on a holiday with no cell reception and there is an issue, who are they going to call?

And although this might be a fun project to work on, this is their livelihood you are experimenting with. And it is experimenting. Otherwise you would not ask the questions.

tell them this before that you will do a best effort, but that there are no guarantees that things either break down or that things do not go as you imagined they would happen. People are not recognizable because the camera was too high and not enough light in the place where the thief was. Too much light. Too low, so the staff filed a complaint about privacy invasion.

What happens if the internet connection is out? What if the power is out? What if the phone dies? What if the phone company kills the number, because they forgot to pay for the next installment in 5 years time?

The first thing you need to figure out why they broke into that store and not the one next door. Then you can start looking for ways to not want them to break in. Security camera's don't do anything and neither do motion detectors, unless they contact a security company.

The cheapest way to help them is to tell them to contact an expert who knows not only the technical stuff, but the rest as well. Where to put the camera's. Then propose them that you are there to ask all the technical questions to see if he knows what he is talking about and if you find any loopholes.

That way they can contact another small business owner and help the community as well as defend themselves. That person will be able what the advantages and disadvantages are, because of his experience.

Sure, not free, but cheaper then having not thought of one thing and closing the business because of it.

Deterrence, but not monitoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926547)


Link says it all. Sometimes all it takes is to make people think you've got a better security system, and an LED laser, a few rotating mirrors, and a keypad will dissuade a would-be thief from breaking in. Of course, it works better with a real monitored alarm, but getting people to not break in to begin with saves you money.

What about insurance? (5, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 2 years ago | (#42926565)

Often your insurance will demand certain CERTIFIED minimum requirements with your insurance premium going down the more you meet their requirements.

And those requirements don't have to make sense or be best practice but they are the difference between your insurance company paying out and not paying out.

If requirements made sense, we would LONG since have had HD camera's recording to HD's rather then very very very poor camera's recording to low quality tape. But your own 4k mug shot and tricorder scan of the perps DNA and entire social history will see your insurance claim thrown out with a scornful laugh while a certified wobbly 320x200 etcha sketch will get you fully re-imbursed.

So: First check with your insurance company.

Next: Crime prevention is about denying criminals what they want:

1 Fast

2 Easy

3 Cheap

4 Low risk

5 Money

So do stop criminals make their crime be

1 Slow

2 Hard

3 Expensive

4 High risk

5 Non paying.

Your shop needs a door and to be inviting it needs to be airy and this is done by making it out of glass. But a glass door is easily shattered. A wooden door with two large glass panes separated by a wood bar in the middle is ALMOST as inviting but now the burglar either needs to remove the door, open it or climb in through ONE of the smashed panels. This is slower. He will still get in but be able to steal less in the same amount of time. This makes it less profitable.

Shutter I mean one of those rollup "fences" that drop out ofthe celing, no idea what their english name is.

One thing you could do for instance is leave your display window open but install a shutter inside the store itself as an additional barrier to overcome. Barely visible during the day, at night an extra barrier. Many people place them infront of doors but this just requires you to lift the shutter, then bust in the doors that tend to open inwards.

Place an electrically lowered shutter BEHIND inwards opening doors, how do you open that one without a key? You can't push the doors in because the shutter is blocking that and you can't lift the shutter because the doors are in the way. Remember, theft prevention is like preventing being eaten by a lion, you don't need to be able to outrun the lion, you just need to outrun your neighbor.

Hard is similar to slow of course in that you make the burglars work just that little bit harder. Just one more lock, just one more barrier to overcome. One thing we as consumers hate is those plastic wraps around products but they have a simple reason. They are very large meaning it is hard to conceal for shop lifters or at least conceal as many. And they are hard to open to make it hard to open them and take their contents. We know this works because well, we all bitch about how hard they are to open. Most of the large plastic containers are pure theft prevention and contain a fully serviciable selling/display package inside for shops that don't need to fear shoplifters.

Do you NEED to store all your most valuable products in handy to carry containers right near the entrance to the warehouse? Or could you place your most expensive products on the highest shelf in the furthest corners? And lock up the ladder? And add some barbed wire to the shelves for those trying to climb it?

Think of shoe stores, if they are smart, they one have either the left or right shoe on display. Putting both the right and left shoe in the same size outside is asking for it but how many shoe thieves are interested in only left side shoes? I don't know if this was purely accidental but I did once notice that all the shoe shops in one area all had only the left shoes on display.

Expensive might be a little less clear but while you might think that a prepared thief can cut through any chain in any case you might as well get the cheapest available, the simple fact is that not all locks/chains etc are the same. And the better ones require more expensive tools and burglars don't tend to be rich. If your lock requires a 1000 dollar grinder to open vs a 50 dollar one, at least you know you are dealing with a pro. Or your neighbour left his toolshed unlocked again.

Risk is not something most criminals worry to much about, if they did, they wouldn't be criminals BUT even the boldest thief has another think if he sees his mug on hirez display. Run a monitor in the shop showing (some of the) security cam results. Don't SKIMP on the hardware, if the burglar sees his face isn't recognizable, he will know it won't be recognizable in court either. DNA showers don't stop thiefs but they make it easier to capture them and that is a risk if the warning is displayed and the thief isn't sure it is worth the risk.

Payout for a thief means finding lots of high value (as in the street sell value) items that can be easily taken, transported and sold without being identified. There are relatively few art thieves because while say the Mona Lisa might be easy to steal and transport, the changes of selling it without being found out are next to zero. There aren't that many thefts of sewer pipes either because while they can be easily taken and sold, transporting them is a pain in the ass.

And of course, a thief can't steal what isn't there. Do you NEED all your stock to be at your store overnight?

Many a place with an arcade or gambling machine has a notice in the window that the machine is emptied each night. It is more work but the message to the burglar is simple, there is no easy cash available. The thief can still steal everything else but those who simply want a cash grab, will look elsewhere, hopefully.

And finally, here is some of the simplest advice: If you can, ALWAYS get the highest floor in an office space. No burglar likes to climb. A ground floor office might look swanky to your customers but essentially you are fishbowl of hardware for easy grabbing. Same with stores, the more open and easily accessible it is, the better for the thief at night. There are offices/house/shops that are NEVER broken into despite their contents simply because of location. If you are in a shopping center, leave the OUTSIDE places to those who need them, the more inside you are, the more you are protected from all to easy access. Just take a look at your district and see where the burglaries occur. Then don't move there. It is simple.

Zoneminder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926589)

Is this place still slashdot of late? Its loosing its mojo. Zoneminder for chrissakes. With the pictures being uploaded to a remote server at intervals to stop them trashing the setup. This is 101

Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926607)

How much damage was there? How often is the alarm system expected to prevent such damage? What's the allowed upkeep? What impact does an alarm system have on insurance? How soon is the alarm system supposed to pay for itself?

Once you've answered all those questions... Define "inexpensive".

Pay for a Central Station (1)

Y-Crate (540566) | about 2 years ago | (#42926631)

Don't have the alarm call or text you. That's a waste of valuable time. You're just going to call the cops anyway. And what happens if you're asleep, in a movie, flying, etc? More time wasted. Your job is not to wait for the call or text from your security system letting you know that an alarm has been triggered. Given that you've had break-ins before, I'd say you would drive yourself crazy making sure you're accessible 100% of the time in case a message came in.

Monthly central station service is the price of a couple pizzas.

Small price to pay for the peace of mind you get having someone ready to get the police there on a moment's notice anytime of the day or night.

Frikken Lasers! (1)

JuzzFunky (796384) | about 2 years ago | (#42926637)

Point some laser pointers at mirrors attached to a servo motor and make it look like there's a crazy cool scanning laser security system!!

Re:Frikken Lasers! (1)

JuzzFunky (796384) | about 2 years ago | (#42926687)

Just have some of this audio hooked up to a proximity sensor: Lion Sound Effects [sounddogs.com]

Re:Frikken Lasers! (1)

JuzzFunky (796384) | about 2 years ago | (#42926723)

Ooh ooh and a smoke machine, with a recording of sexy female voice that says "Releasing sleeping gas now, please remain calm and await police response"

Free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926661)

You want a serious crime *deterrent* that's all but free and you want it to work well enough to make people stop stealing from you out of the goodness of their heart or because they're physically unable to.

Simple and straight truth: what are you smoking?

If you want results from something you have to spend the money on it.

Uuh, hello? IP cameras? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926677)

Haven't any of you heard of IP cameras?
Why are idiots on here suggesting using a "webcam with a low powered PC"? Duh.

IP CAMERAS, on the outside of the building too, high up enough to be unnoticeable by potential thieves, (say 8 feet off the ground), and also inside near to the entrance, at head height, set up to auto e-mail you photos of the perps when any motion is detected.

Plus sturdier bars - I'd like to see the second set of 'security' they broke through. Why not set up a vibration detector on the bars/metal security (whatever it is), so that as soon as somebody starts trying to attack it, it will set off an alarm?

dog guard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926693)

get a nice big dog

simple (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 2 years ago | (#42926725)

call homeland security and tell them that terrorists broke in

they will be all over it like flies on shit

just don't expect to do much business... everyone that walks into the store will have to be anally probed and interrogated, and there is a good chance every 3rd one will be sent to guantanamo bay on suspicion without charge... especially kids cos they are a real security risk (just ask the TSA)

Brute Force (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926731)

The cold bitter truth is that you can't outsmart a stupid criminal. It doesn't matter how many alarms you have if they ignore them, or if they're on video after the damage is done. Video monitoring helps convict a criminal after the fact, in the off chance they're caught, and alarms might scare off a less determined criminal, but if they got past bars on windows, then I can only say that the defenses just waren't strong enough. Bars need to be bolted in more deeply, door need to be solidly mounted and reinforced, door frames and molding need to be reinforced and bolted firmly to the building's structural supports (or better yet replace wooden door frames with metal reinforced security doors), and given criminals will go as far as to ram a car through a display window, you'd better make it impossible to reach the storefront with a vehicle. Even a monitored system is only going to have police arrive in time to do the paperwork.

Given that with unlimited time a burglar can compromise any system, your best bet is to harden defenses enough to slow down a thief. A smash and grab means that thieves will usually ignore the more difficult targets. Any safes need to be firmly bolted down to the building's structural supports, and if there is no safe there needs to be one. If you do set up a DVR security system the DVR box needs to be hidden (i'd suggest in attic or basement space if possible, or otherwise also in a separate bolted down safe. Noise making alarms may attract help or at least cause the burglars to get in a hurry and reduce the time they have.

your options aren't free, they aren't even close to free, but you can trade off labor for money in installation and setup at least. If you truly want to stop a robbery cold though, an armed guard is about the only thing that's going to do it.

Notification only? no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926737)

Notification is secondary. Really...it's like a rape victim having a play-by-play announcer during the act if all you get to do is watch a real time video of the robbery.

Dog is good.
Smoke bombs are good, choke them out.
If smoke is too damaging to smell, an intense aerosol mist of peppermint or cinnamon extracts might make someone evacuate, yet leave a pleasant aroma in the morning.
Blaring alarm is good, best if it's well beyond the pain threshold.
Make it a horrible place to be.

A cute story, paraphrased from the annals of the skunk works: the most secure documents were kept in a "janitor's closet", with a hardware store padlock. A bunch of unimportant drivel was locked in a conspicuous and expensive nearby safe.

So...keep a cheap portable safe by the register. Put a lojac type device on it. Surprise, you just strained your back stealing a tracking device!

Re:Notification only? no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42926743)

Er...should be obvious, but the safe is empty.

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