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Ask Slashdot: Anti-Theft Products For the Over-Equipped Household?

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the exploding-dye-packs dept.

Crime 408

First time accepted submitter Dufflepod (3656815) writes "After yet another hardware purchase last week, I realized with some alarm just how drastically an enterprising burglar could increase the crapulence quotient of my life if they ever made off with my hardware. The house is alarmed, but much to my annoyance it isn't always set when people go out for any length of time. Ideally I want to 'alarm' the expensive items among my various PCs, UPS, NAS box, test equipment, and some of the sundry other gadgets & gizmos I require to stroke my inner geek. Over the past few days I have spent hours Googling for every combination of "anti-theft perimeter alarm radius motion detector vibration wireless" etc etc.. I have found various possible solutions, though the cost of some of them does make my eyes water (eg SonicShock @ €150/box). Has anyone out there decided to bite-the-bullet and protect their kit with decent alarms, and do you have any suggested 'do's & don'ts'?" So how would you secure valuable items, as opposed to securing the entire place?

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Don't. (3, Insightful)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#47019199)

Yeah, don't.

You can install FindMyWhatever on some items, but for the most part, you're wasting your time.

Thieves look for targets of opportunity. Make your home less friendly. Place a camera in plain view and out of reach. Put up a beware of Doug sign and get a Glock window decal.

If someone comes for your electronics specifically, it's an inside job. You can avoid that by screening your friends better.

In the meantime, just do regular backups offsite.

Re:Don't. (4, Insightful)

danomac (1032160) | about 6 months ago | (#47019227)

It kind of boggles my mind that after spending how many thousands on geek stuff/tech toys he balks at another 150 to try to protect them...

Re:Don't. (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019363)

Key word there is "TRY"

Would OP pay $150/device if it WOULD protect his valuables - IMHO - yes.

Would I pay $150/device if it had a 1% chance of protecting it - No, unless device is $50/100k plus and not insurable.

If the goodies are commodity items (PC, NAS, etc) and the main value is the data on them - IMHO far better to have the physical parts insured and the data backed up off-site as will cost a whole lot less than $50+/item to attempt to keep it from being stolen in the first place.

Re:Don't. (5, Funny)

stewsters (1406737) | about 6 months ago | (#47019263)

You gotta watch out for that Doug.

Re:Don't. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019349)

You gotta watch out for that Doug.

fat people cannot bathe and clean themselves properly as lots of slashdotters personally know. that is something to watch out for.

Re:Don't. (5, Funny)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 6 months ago | (#47019391)

You gotta watch out for that Doug.

The other decal seems to indicate that Doug does have a Glock...

Re:Don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019575)

ya I head Dougs are extremely vicious

Re:Don't. (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 6 months ago | (#47019569)

Say no to Dougs.

Re:Don't. (5, Insightful)

FuegoFuerte (247200) | about 6 months ago | (#47019271)

I disagree about the Glock window decal... That tells a certain percentage of burglars "hey, I have guns in my house... come steal them." Yeah, they could be in a safe, but that safe might not be bolted down, or they might not be in a safe because safes are expensive. So do without the decal.

Totally agree with the camera though. Another option is to realize that if you're that concerned about your stuff, your life is probably pretty miserable. Keep a good itemized list with pictures and serial numbers, make sure your insurance company has a copy of that list and your coverage is sufficient, and go on about your business. Maybe sell some of it and get out more.

Re:Don't. (5, Insightful)

AdamThor (995520) | about 6 months ago | (#47019491)

Copying down serial #'s for your equipment is the action nobody ever takes. It's the low-hanging-fruit when it comes to theft preparedness.

Re:Don't. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019495)

I wish I could Mod this up. People that put stickers on their car that say "Sig" or "Glock", those are the people asking to get broke into while you are visibly walking away from your vehicle. Sure, it spooks other drivers into thinking that you'll have armed combat if they cut you off, but it is no different than someone have Rockford Fosgate/Apline stickers.

I've heard people fair slightly better when they have a fake ADT sign/stickers they bought off eBay.

Re:Don't. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 6 months ago | (#47019591)

Worst move ever: 'Spoon' sticker for a Honda window. Almost guaranteed to get it stolen.

Re:Don't. (1)

kryliss (72493) | about 6 months ago | (#47019279)

Where exactly does one find a Beware of Doug sign?

Re:Don't. (3, Informative)

kryliss (72493) | about 6 months ago | (#47019309)

Ah, found it.

(SFW)
https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7170/6715691973_bca11f829f.jpg

Re:Don't. (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 6 months ago | (#47019537)

Doug's Mom's house

Re:Don't. (1)

ClayDowling (629804) | about 6 months ago | (#47019317)

The glock sticker might not be a swell idea. Weapons are a particular target of theives. A friend bought a gun for personal protection. Guess what the thieves stole when they broke in?

Re:Don't. (1, Interesting)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 6 months ago | (#47019587)

That's unfortunate. Your friend is now responsible for any harm caused by not securing his gun. He'll never know it, and probably isn't evolved enough to care, but he's likely to be responsible for murder.

Re:Don't. (3, Insightful)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 6 months ago | (#47019725)

He's no more responsible for any acts committed by criminals than the gun itself is responsible for "causing" murders. You may as well say that if you don't shoot a burglar in your home and instead let him escape you're responsible for any homes he breaks into in the future because you could have stopped him.

The only people responsible for crimes are the criminals committing them.

Re:Don't. (4, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#47019341)

Understand how thieves work and think. I've live in bad neighborhoods (bullt holes in the walls bad) before without worrying about my place getting burgled thanks to leveling on the second floor. Seriously. A staircase to climb is sufficient deterrent for a sufficient % of criminals looking for a quick score.

Plus, a thief looking for a quick boost doesn't want to spend much time in your place. The electronics I care about are kept awkwardly large and heavy, while a couple of valuable-seeming small items are left scattered about.

I don't have jewelry, and some robbers will ransack the place until they find the goods, so I leave about $200 in cash in a drawer where it's easy to find. According to the experts I've read, that's an ironclad defense. The thief will take that wad of cash as his victory and leave promptly, as long as the place doesn't seem nice enough that he keeps looking for more.

Re:Don't. (0)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#47019473)

Wow, 50% spelling failure, a new record! C'mon /., fuck Beta and give us the ability to edit posts instead!

Re:Don't. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019511)

So your suggestion to the OP is to sell his house, move to a second floor apt, stop caring about small electronics because they're easy to steal, then leave a gift for the criminal.

Re:Don't. (1)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#47019595)

No, but to find a similar optimization. Definitely leave a gift for the criminal - alarms don't do shit. Don't keep stuff you care about, by which I mean files, only on anything portable. And if your life would go to shit if someone took your easily-replaceable consumer electronics, you have deeper life issues my friend.

Re:Don't. (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 6 months ago | (#47019707)

Definitely agree. All of my major electronics are bolted into a rack, which itself probably weighs 500-600 pounds loaded. My monitors are attached to wall arms, which are bolted to the wall. Nothing worth taking can be easily picked up and carried out.

Re:Don't. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019347)

Put up a beware of Doug sign and get a Glock window decal.

I doubt too many miscreants will be put off by a window decal advising them that you own a glockenspiel. Warning them about Doug, though, that should certainly put them off. You don't want to mess with Doug.

Re:Don't. (1)

plover (150551) | about 6 months ago | (#47019641)

I doubt too many miscreants will be put off by a window decal advising them that you own a glockenspiel.

Wait a minute, he may be on to something. Notice how "Gangsta Rap" is prevalent among thieves, but you've never heard of "Glockenspiel Rap". Perhaps it serves as a really effective deterrent.

Re:Don't. (1)

war4peace (1628283) | about 6 months ago | (#47019385)

Yeah, we all know Doug is not to be messed with. Especially if he doesn't shower.

Re:Don't. (2)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 6 months ago | (#47019425)

he can also turn into quail man and really make things awful for evildoers

Re:Don't. (-1, Flamebait)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 6 months ago | (#47019475)

No way do you want a Glock decal in your window. Thieves love finding guns in homes or under car seats. Guns registered to an address or an individual and Harley Davidson motorcycle registrations increase your chances of a burglary or robbery. And the law itself causes a lot of crime. The law takes all the fun out of things. No longer can one hide a bear trap under a window sill. And even if you enjoy the heck out of gunning down an intruder it is vital that you act all hang dogged and make it clear that you just hated emptying your gun into an intruder. Look at the nonsense applied to George Zimmerman. there we had a man who was attacked and had an attacker trying to bash his head apart on the concrete and people still got upset that he shot the trash that was attacking him. Go figure.

Re:Don't. (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 6 months ago | (#47019705)

And even if you enjoy the heck out of gunning down an intruder

If you enjoy gunning someone down there's something seriously wrong with you. Talk to someone who has ended a human life. It's not a pretty thing to have to live with.

Re:Don't. (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 6 months ago | (#47019737)

People in my city are so sick of property crime that the guy most recently charged with manslaughter for killing a thief was exonerated. He shot the guy in the head as the thief drove off with his vehicle. It was a pretty damn good shot, too. One round through the back window, at night.

Whether his story is true or not really is irrelevant, which was that the guy turned to look back and appeared to be aiming a weapon at him. If the excuse is good enough for the cops, it's good enough for anyone else.

Re:Don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019535)

Depending on where you live the Glock window decal may make you more of a target. It's gernerally not a good idea to advertise publicly that you have firearms (even if you don't).

Re:Don't. (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 6 months ago | (#47019559)

>If someone comes for your electronics specifically, it's an inside job. You can avoid that by screening your friends better.

His friends, or the hookers he's having over. As mythosaz points out, these things are almost always inside-jobs. When a friend who lived in a dodgy neighborhood was robbed, the first thing the cop asked was "have you had any broads over." Now I don't condone calling women "broads," but this tells us what the police are seeing.

Screening your associates, and having insurance to cover any potential loss is the solution to this situation. Applying technological solutions to a non-technical problem is a common mistake geeks make, the same as a man with a hammer seeing all problems as nails.

Re:Don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019631)

Don't call bitches, broads, they hate that.

If I tell you you can defeat my defenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019217)

Security through obscurity - I'll never tell

Why is theft a problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019247)

I thought with the 3D printing revolution we are in the post-scarcity cloud model? Just download and print!

Unless all the wildly overenthusiastic hype on Slashdot was just ... not true?

Re:Why is theft a problem? (2)

plover (150551) | about 6 months ago | (#47019647)

They stole his printer!

Sniff, sniff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019253)

the cost of some of them does make my eyes water

I hear you buddy. I'm still grieving over the cost of my last motherboard. Woe is me...

Don't do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019259)

We're not talking about irreplaceable items: just ensure your data is safe and get a good insurance.

Simple solution (3, Informative)

beaviz (314065) | about 6 months ago | (#47019261)

Backup your data. Everything else can easily be bought for the price of a few years security.

Re:Simple solution (3, Informative)

plover (150551) | about 6 months ago | (#47019435)

This.

Instead of an alarm, use an insurance policy to protect the gear. It's cheaper, and most policies are tied to the monetary value of your stuff when you bought it. But we all know tech stuff devalues over time, and much quicker than most items. So if you have a loss, your insured and replaced items are more valuable than the originals.

Where you might be more interested in security hardware is if your gear is often in a more public place: library, dorm room, etc. But you said "house".

Instead of physical protection, consider electronic detection. Install phone-home heartbeat software on your kit, so that if a thief takes it, it will reach back to your house periodically to check in. You can have APIs like GROWL alert your iPhone if a device fails its heartbeat. (Assuming you can put up with hundreds of false alerts.)

Or you can simply relax. If you can afford $50,000 worth of gear, you can probably afford to replace $50,000 worth of gear.

Re:Simple solution (1)

Fwipp (1473271) | about 6 months ago | (#47019685)

Seriously. Stop worrying about "what if somebody takes my stuff."

over thinking it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019269)

sounds like most of it is computer equipment, so maybe going lowtech and using some kensington locks on them? seems like a simple alternative to trying to turn your home into the data room from Mission: Impossible

Re:over thinking it (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 6 months ago | (#47019301)

Though that does give me some ideas. What about installing a bunch of bright red lasers all over your house. They don't have to do anything, probably scare the thief away just with their presence.

Re:over thinking it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019513)

sharks with red laser beams!

Off site backups + Home Owners Insurance (4, Insightful)

JD-1027 (726234) | about 6 months ago | (#47019287)

1) Very consistent off site backups for data
2) Full inventory of items you own
3) If theft occurs, use home owners insurance to get your money back. You'll probably end up with a free hardware upgrade in the process.

What is better?
a) 100% chance of giving up your time and money now securing your items.
vs.
b) (very low)% chance of having to give up time if a theft does occur

The cost of securing your items may balance out any deductibles you have to pay to have home owners insurance cover the lost items.

Re:Off site backups + Home Owners Insurance (1)

swillden (191260) | about 6 months ago | (#47019459)

Exactly what I came here to say. Insurance is usually the best defense against unlikely monetary losses. Lost data often cannot be replaced, so you need offsite backups to ensure your data won't be lost of destroyed.

As a bonus, this plan not only addresses theft but also vandalism, fire and any other sort of damage covered by your insurance policy.

Re:Off site backups + Home Owners Insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019589)

While there is a cost-benefit and risk analysis that could be done here, assuming the extra measures are within tolerance, I would still prefer to have them. So many people like to fall back on insurance and product warranties. They are good things to have (again, depending on the cost and risk), that's for sure, but I don't want to have to use them. Even if it is covered and you can deal with any deductible and you are made "whole," you still have the not so minor inconvenience of going through the process of gettings things straightened out which is bad enough even without the loss of peace of mind. I would feel better knowing I kept someone out because sometimes burglary turns into a violent thing and I don't want my family subjected to that.

Re:Off site backups + Home Owners Insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019643)

Yep, lock the thread. Everyone else will just be kiddies fantasizing about some Rube Goldberg contraptions.

Dog (1)

ClayDowling (629804) | about 6 months ago | (#47019295)

A dog would be a fine choice. Not only will the dog provide companionship, but assuming you acquire a canine of some size, most burglars will try to find other places to rob. Any of the bulldog breeds are generally friendly and sociable dogs, and intimidate the heck out of would be intruders. As a bonus, there are lots in the shelters and they can often be adopted at a discount. Just know that this alarm system requires a significant amount of daily maintenance: you have to play with your dog if you want a good dog.

Emu (4, Funny)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 6 months ago | (#47019419)

Not too sure about this. I do not know the statistics, but all competent thieves know how to handle dogs, even packs of big dogs are no trouble for the determined thief. Sometimes in fact is is better to go with the tiny loud ones.

But I hear people really interested in protecting their shit are getting Emus, Emus are very territorial, and no one comes prepared to fight off a hyper aggressive 200 pound turkey (which can outrun them 3 times over). They also survive very well after getting shot, apparently, for some reason.

Re:Emu (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 6 months ago | (#47019619)

But I hear people really interested in protecting their shit are getting Emus, Emus are very territorial, and no one comes prepared to fight off a hyper aggressive 200 pound turkey (which can outrun them 3 times over). They also survive very well after getting shot, apparently, for some reason.

That sounds fine for the back yard, but I'm not sure about having (basically) a small Velociraptor running around *inside* the house...especially, if you're doing any coding [xkcd.com] .

Re:Emu (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 6 months ago | (#47019675)

Competent thieves know how to handle dogs. They move along to then next cat person's house and give the dogs a wide berth.

Statistically, dogs do more to reduce your chances of being burglarized then electronic alarms.

Re:Emu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019723)

I suggest taking it up a notch and getting a cassowary [youtube.com] .

DIY? (1)

vinn (4370) | about 6 months ago | (#47019303)

What about some kind of DIY thing? Get a Raspberry Pi, use the GPIO pins to run some wires from the cases of each device (something thing like telco cross-connect), drive it and if the circuit breaks then send out an email or something. Bonus points for integrating a camera and snapping photos at the same time the wires break. Similarly, if the device is an always on kind of thing, just use some kind of network monitoring.

Re:DIY? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019549)

No, much too simple..

Set up webcams all around the house, each tied to a raspberry pi, with wired interconnects (bad guys might have jammers), and battery backups. Run all the images to a central image processing facility where you do image recognition and recognize the pieces of equipment, and calculate their exact position by comparing among multiple views. Develop an algorithm that looks for "theft" type movement of the device (as opposed to dog pulling it off the shelf or earthquakes), and when that algorithm detects a potential theft, you retrieve the previous history of images from within your abode and apply another feature extraction algorithm to find all the people, do facial and/or gait recognition against a database to identify the perpetrator. Since you already have a complete RF monitoring system set up (I assume), you can go and figure out what the cellphone number of the perp is by looking at the IMEI in the messages it sends and cross referencing it. Then, you can send the police the GPS coordinates of the perp's cellphone.

There *Is* a fair amount of computation required here, so some sort of UPS operated beowulf cluster will probably be required to do the image processing (or you could purchase cloud services).

All of the software needed is available as open source, although it is likely you'll have to do a bit of configuration (not all of it is for the same distros.. you might need to run a bunch of VMs, or fix the build files appropriately), and there's probably some minor bugs in the software you'll need to fix (curse those grad students who do 95% of the work, get their thesis approved, and then abandon their software, leaving the 5% which is inevitably the part you need to have working). You might need to write some glue scripts and some simple bash, perl, awk, and sed scripts. But hey, if you were some lame script kiddy or wanted a turnkey solution, you'd be looking for a MS product, and we know better. You want to get down and dirty with the metal of the system.

Protect your stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019315)

With a Smith & Wesson and a German dog.

Captcha: honest

Re:Protect your stuff (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 6 months ago | (#47019555)

Schnauzers are incredibly good guard (alarm) dogs. no one will be able to get within a 100 foot radius of your house without it barking furiously to notify you of your impending doom.

What good are alarms? (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#47019325)

A loud noise sounds! Your neighbours all ignore it - probably a false alarm - and the burgler goes about his business. Even if someone does call the police, plenty of time to grab the obvious valuables and load up his car to escape before the police could arrive. It can't hurt, but don't depend on it.

Some sort of camera system recording to a remote server (encrypted, of course) might help. It wouldn't deter any thieves, because they wouldn't know about it, but it would give you some tiny sliver of hope getting things back. Maybe you'll get lucky and the police will recognise someone with priors. Don't expect them to send out the forensics team and run prints against the database unless you are rich and/or famous, but it'd be better than nothing.

Also, offsite records of all serial numbers, and apply indelible security marks in visible places. Good for patrolling eBay to see if your stuff turns up, proving ownership and such. Plus you can report it to the manufacturers, who usually have a list of stolen serials - that way if the sucker who buys the stolen goods ever tries to get a warranty claim it'll be flagged.

Re:What good are alarms? (2)

benjfowler (239527) | about 6 months ago | (#47019465)

Set up a neighbourhood watch scheme, and have everyone buy webcams. But have the webcams pointing to somebody else's house. That way, a thief has to do much more work to get away without being caught on camera.

What good are alarms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019543)

Kind of like dogs. Most bark and do little to protect your house. Large dogs have been proven to be easily bribed. The only thing a dog does is make it inconvenient for a burglar. That's exactly what an alarm does.

Re:What good are alarms? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 6 months ago | (#47019693)

My dog might be easily bribed. But he won't stay bribed and eats fast.

The trick is to get a territorial breed.

Backup the data, ignore the hardware (3, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 months ago | (#47019331)

Buy insurance for the cost of stuff and backup the data. Data can always be downloaded again Preferably from an off-site backup. Hardware can always be bought again.

But I guarantee you that any security system that actually prevents theft should cost you more money than reasonable insurance would cost. It should also cost more money than the thing you are protecting. You know those Storage Wars shows? When they find a safe, it it usually worth more than what is inside it.

If insurance costs more than the stuff is worth, than that means you live in a high crime area and should move someplace safer.

But in the USA or other stable country, under no circumstance should it ever be a cost effective to secure your home possessions. Insurance should always make more sense.

Crapulence (4, Informative)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 6 months ago | (#47019343)

does not mean what you think it means. If you don't know what it means, don't use it.

Re:Crapulence (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 6 months ago | (#47019405)

Came here to post your comment. Thanks for saving me the time, although now I wasted it posting this comment. Easy come, easy go.

Re:Crapulence (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 6 months ago | (#47019539)

If you don't know what it means, don't use it.

Remember that old Barbara Stanwyck movie where she's a streetwise singer on the lam hiding out with a bunch of nerdy lexicographers who are just coincidentally trying to add modern slang to their encyclopedia?

I don't know why I just thought of that now. Oh well. Please carry on with the lesson.

Re:Crapulence (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019585)

For all intensive purposes, crapulence is a mute point, and you should of known better than to wreck havoc on his choice of terms.

Low Tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019357)

Adequate insurance and a mean looking dog....

Is it worth protecting? (3, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | about 6 months ago | (#47019361)

First of all, you balk at the cost of some of these solutions - yes, they are expensive and yes, they'll be mostly for added assurance that IF someone breaks in and IF the alarm wasn't set and IF the thief is even interested in it and IF the thief then decides to take it (lot's of if's). If your setup is mobile (eg. you're a DJ or mobile contractor) then those solutions are useful. But for the rest, they are merely added insurance and typically useless.

I'd say, use an alarm system that you can connect to (some of the DIY systems do run Linux) and use some type of motion sensing timeout to set the alarm or use BT to check if someone is still in the house etc. etc.. There are a lot of cheap and creative solutions to this problem.

Most thieves won't break in if you have an alarm (sticker), there are other, lower hanging fruit. A thief won't break in when you have a dog (again with the fruit thing). A thief will only take what's small and valuable (what's easily sold, what's easily carried). Most thieves aren't smart nor tech savvy and doesn't know that little black box costs $5000 but they'll sure destroy it regardless of whether there is an alarm attached to it (especially if there is an alarm attached to it).

I'd say, stop worrying, take backups of your data off-site, get homeowners or renters insurance. The laptops/tablets/phones will disappear in any case, the UPS/PC/NAS most likely won't unless there is a group and they are actively clearing out the entire house (posing as movers to the neighbors). Thieves are also very destructive so regardless of what they take, they may destroy whatever you're trying to protect and a destroyed NAS is just as good as a stolen NAS. Theft recovery systems don't work because the police won't put in the legwork (see the recurring stories on MacBooks and iOS devices being located by the customer). The insurance will pay you back for the 'stuff', they can't recovery your data however and that is the case for fire, flood and other damage as well.

Tell me where you live... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019377)

Dude... tell me where you live and I'll come over and advise you on how to secure your expensive equipment...

The usual (4, Informative)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 6 months ago | (#47019423)

Try to get the other occupants to set the alarm when you are away. Get an alarm that has the ability to set it via a cell phone. Keep your bushes and shrubs cut back and don't give would be thieves a place to hide. Also choose prickly bushes up close to the house. Good out door lighting. Motion detector activated lights are good as it won't piss off the neighbors as much and save electricity. Also make sure the lights are high enough that someone can't just unplug or disable them.

Don't put stickers on your house advertising you have guns, or what brand alarm you are using. Guns are a popular theft item. More so than your computers I would guess. Having an ADT sticker (or what ever brand alarm) simply tells a good thief what they need to do to circumvent your alarm. Most ADT alarms can be defeated by simply cutting the phone line. Almost none have a cellular card in them.

I don't know if you or your family are dog people, but dobermans are fantastic family dogs. I have one who is very well trained. He's very friendly to people when I tell him it's OK. But Allah, God, Buda, Eris, Xenu help you if you come in the house uninvited. I also have two other dobermans who are not as well trained as he is, but they follow his lead. When he doesn't like something, they don't either.

One partial solution (3, Funny)

MiniMike (234881) | about 6 months ago | (#47019443)

the house is alarmed, but much to my annoyance it isn't always set when people go out for any length of time.

Shock therapy ought to solve this.

You just have to remember to shock them right after they fail to set the alarm, or they won't make the connection between the unwanted behavior and the punishment.

My solution (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 6 months ago | (#47019445)

Have an idea of what you want to protect, and what lengths you're willing to go to protect it.

Don't have too much portable stuff lying around the house, that can be easily nicked.

And make sure that data (especially on the hardware that is portable) is encrypted and backed up. For me, I don't care that much about the hardware because I buy the minimum I need to do the job and it's mostly obsolete anyway; it's the stuff on the machines I care about.

If somebody stole my laptop tomorrow; I'd merely be very annoyed; but if they take my only copy of my wedding photos with it, I'd be nigh-homocidal.

All the data that I care about and can't easily replace is backed up to the cloud. Anything sensitive or financial is encrypted. Easily-replaceable things like DVD/music rips and MAME roms, I don't bother with.

Guns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019469)

If you live in a Castle Doctrine state[1], it's perfectly legal to shoot intruders.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_doctrine#States_with_a_castle_law

Guns (1)

Fwipp (1473271) | about 6 months ago | (#47019623)

"I'm worried about somebody taking my stuff while I'm gone."
"SHOOT THEM."

Good job.

makeup (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019477)

think as a thief: if you can see all your equipment from outside across a window then you are attracting thiefs- try to hide your geekness from outsiders, don't put your expensive hardware in plain view. if you have monitored alarm put some "thief candy" in key places (thief candy is old equipment that looks expensive and you won't cry if stolen) while your more valuable equipment is safe in other places of the house, like a basement or a room in your house without windows or easy access, or in the attic (i placed my NAS inside a hole in a wall, behind a mirror, no one would find it unleast he knows where to look). wneh the thief knows your house is monitored he doesn't have time to search it... he'll grab whatever he can in the small timeframe he has before the security personal comes to look.

Wrong Answer (2)

StikyPad (445176) | about 6 months ago | (#47019497)

Security systems might be worthwhile for your own safety, but not for protecting against burglary. Unless you're very lucky, response times pretty much guarantee anyone will be in and out before the police have even dispatched a unit.

What you need isn't security; it's insurance. It's cheaper than monitored security systems, more dependable, and doesn't suffer from the risks of technical failures or circumvention (though ignoring it is more likely than circumvention). In the event of a burglary, your things will be replaced. (Make sure your policy covers replacement cost, not depreciated market value). And keep your important data backed up!.

(Disclaimer: YMMV, and selecting a policy requires due diligence.)

Get good insurance (2)

dave562 (969951) | about 6 months ago | (#47019503)

I know it is not what you are asking, but the much more simple solution is to just get a decent renters / home owners insurance policy with a premium that you can afford and a level of coverage that will allow you to replace everything. The added benefit is that if you need to replace it, the odds are the old gear will no longer be available and you will get to purchase newer, better gear. FWIW, my renter's insurance policy with State Farm costs me something like $150 every six months, and has up $20,000 in coverage. That's more than enough to replace a couple of computers and some television sets.

If your concern is data loss, you are approaching this the wrong way. You protect against data loss with offsite replication.

Insurance (2)

nine-times (778537) | about 6 months ago | (#47019521)

I think it's important to keep in mind that there's a point at which "more security" stops making sense and "more insurance" becomes a better option. I've had clients get overly-obsessed with security, trying to buy software that can locate/control your lost/stolen items remotely, locking everything down for physical security, etc. Then when they look at the project to secure everything, I point out that it'd be easier to insure everything instead. Along with everything else, there's no perfect security. You could go through all the effort and expense of securing things, and it could still get stolen.

Aside from that, consider whether you can just reinforce security around a closet and lock everything in there. And then train people to arm the house alarm before leaving. Even the most secure door isn't going to keep your house secure if people keep propping it open.

Make it impossible for the burglar to stay (4, Informative)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | about 6 months ago | (#47019523)

Alarms simply tell you you've been robbed.

A far more effective strategy is to ensure that anyone entering your house uninvited will find it impossible to stay long enough to steal your stuff.

To do this, you want lots of *internal* sirens that run at 120dB+.

If the intruders ears start bleeding as soon as they enter the building, they will retreat at a very hasty pace.

That's how my alarms are configured. They ring me over the cellular network and generate an internal sould level that is intollerably loud (as I have discovered on the two occasions I forgot to disarm the system myself) :-)

If he's going to get your iPad he might as well take some life-long hearing damage with him :-)

Moat (1)

methano (519830) | about 6 months ago | (#47019525)

Build a moat. Oh yeah, get some boiling oil, too.

Re:Moat (2)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 6 months ago | (#47019673)

Also sign that says, "beware of dragon"

It's the little things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019529)

I'd skip the fancy alarms. If a home alarm doesn't scare a burglar way, no silly little gadgets will, either. However, don't just give up either. Sometimes if something is just a bit too difficult to steal or pawn, a thief will pass on it. Just try to deter a thief as much as possible.

I'd do any combination of the following:
1. Make an inventory (with serial numbers) of all of the expensive stuff. Keep it somewhere in the clouds.
2. Most smaller devices will have some type of Kensington lock slot - use them to tie them down to something bulky and heavy to prevent smash and grabs.
3. For any PCs, Servers, etc, lock the bios with a password and add ownership information. Yes it's easy to reset, but maybe you'll get lucky and they'll just pawn it at the pawn shop, who will then see the ownership ID and call the cops. Who knows?
4. For really small items - flash drives, ipods, etc - just keep them out of sight. Most burglars don't take the time to go through every single item in every single drawer. They usually just want in and out as quickly as possible.

No one cares about loud noises (1)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 6 months ago | (#47019531)

Weld together a stout metal rack mount enclosure with a big combination lock, either press bolts into the basement floor to anchor it or fill the bottom with a few hundred pounds of lead bars or sand. Odds are if your equipment requires more than 20 minutes with an angle grinder to steal they're probably going to just leave it.

Studs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019553)

Anchor your equipment to studs, desks, and other furniture. It's the reason iMac's have laptop-style locking available on them. Most random thieves won't break in with the equipment to break through those things. Drive something into a stud you can anchor to (an eye-hole or something) and then do so, so if they try to run off they can't get very far.

You have to keep them OUT (3, Informative)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 6 months ago | (#47019567)

There are two majors costs to any burglary, what's taken and the damage done. From people I know who have been robbed, the cost of repairing the damage outweighs the cost of a stolen laptop or camera that was taken.

So, once a burglary has got in to your house most of the problem has already occurred. Even if your insurance pays there is a major inconvenience in making the claim, fighting the assessment and getting the repairs performed to your satisfaction. Best to prevent the whole possibility of that happening.

How do you keep bad people out of your house? Alarms, cameras (oh joy! you can watch the video of your home being wrecked), trackers - all irrelevant and with little deterrent value. If you want to stop people even trying to get in to your home, get a dog. A big, noisy dog.

If you can't get a dog (here comes the geek bit), get a recording of a dog. Hook it up to a PIR and an Arduino and have it play when anyone approaches the property. If you can arrange a stereo playback, process the soundtrack to make it appear as if the dog is moving around the house. If you want to go for extra "realism", rig up a weight attached to a motor that thumps the front door - the higher up the door, the bigger the dog appears to be - as if the dog had its paws on the door. You need LOUD and you need LONG. A recording that stops after a few seconds won't convince anyone. Especially if it replays exactly the same track each time.

Finally, keep the pitch of the barking low. Nobody's scared of a squeaky little mutt. But if you slow it down, the animal sounds a lot larger and scarier.

Make your house a prison (2)

cyberspittle (519754) | about 6 months ago | (#47019599)

Have steel-hardened doors, etc. If it looks like difficult access, they will go to neighbor. Just don't leave door open, garage-door open, etc. Build a safe room. Work from home, don't go on vacation, and only have food delivered. Screen all food with a paid food tester. I just make sure I have crappier stuff than neighbors.

Security Cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019609)

They don't even have to be on, just visible. I've also heard, "These premises under video surveillance" signs work well, even without cameras.

Don't look like a target (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 months ago | (#47019639)

The first and best way to avoid being robbed.

Re:Don't look like a target (1)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about 6 months ago | (#47019657)

I thought it was "live in a quiet neighborhood"?

Defense in depth? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019653)

Posting AC to protect the innocent:

A person I used to work with spends time overseas in Europe for good chunks of the year. Because he has had break-in issues in the past, he went with a fairly thorough security system for his place (located in a semi-rural area.) Since the house was being built to his specs, it was designed with decent security in mind.

First, he got hurricane shutters for the windows. Those are intended for storms, but double as good defense against vandalism.

Second, he reinforced the door jambs (both internally and externally) and bought doors from Israel with multi-point locking that could stand real punishment.

Third, he had removable bollards sunk in so a pickup truck couldn't be driven into the house, but with a key, the bollard can be folded flush and the driveway used as normal.

Fourth, all rooms of the house had solid, multipoint locking doors and deadbolt locks. When he left for Europe, every room in his place was locked.

Fifth, his furniture was designed to be lockable. His computer desk was made out of heavy gauge steel and locked up tightly. He had the usual furniture, but in his bedroom, he had a walk-in vault in every bedroom (reinforced with cinderblock walls and an emergency exit tunnel) that was meant for everything he had in that room to be tossed in and locked before he left. His laptop went into a safe, and everything, even clothing and bedding went in as well. Anything not going to Europe got tossed in the vault room.

Sixth, he had an array of water faucet valves in a utility room, as well as switches for outdoor lighting and receptacles. That way, someone couldn't break a window and shove a hose inside, or camp in his driveway or front yard during a festival weekend.

Seventh, he imported a burglar alarm from England that has multiple fog machines and strobe lights. That way, a living room would obscured in a matter of 8-10 seconds. Each room was separate, so if the alarm was on, if an intruder kicked another room's door down, it would subsequently fill up with fog.

Add to this the usual security monitoring and a private guard doing occasional checks of the property.

The reason why every door in his place locked is that if there was a burglary or a home invasion [1], the bad guys would have to break down every door, one by one to get to anyone sleeping in there. To steal anything worth having would take breaking down multiple doors, while trying to stumble around with a 0 feet visibility and strobes going off.

Yes, for some, this is expensive overkill, but with him gone most of the year, it does keep peace of mind and just the fact that a truck or van can't park in the driveway, combined with metal doors that mean business, it does get the meth-heads to go elsewhere for their fix.

[1]: Home invasions are not uncommon where I live. Easier to tie up a homeowner and take one's time in grabbing valuables than to smash, grab and try to beat the clock. Less time in prison as well, the way the charges are set up, so even the dumb crooks realize it is easier to just break in when someone is at home with a Saturday Night Special to deal with the "armed" homeowners.

Get A Dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019663)

Assuming you are willing to care for the mutt, get a dog. They are good at deterring burglars. Plus they are a lot more fun to hang around with than alarm systems.
http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1991-07-14/news/9101250909_1_burglars-palm-beach-county-pickings

Plus one for Dog (doug) (1)

Slim Boom (3600717) | about 6 months ago | (#47019665)

I'm going to second the dog idea. Sure, someone determined to steal your stuff might bring a steak, but most crimes are opportunistic. If a dog starts barking before they even enter the place, why bother. In Atlanta I remember reading thieves were chopping through the sides of homes rather than using the windows in order to avoid the sensors and motion alarms. Good luck combating that. And a dog will probably bring some perspective into your life, make you care a little less about all that stuff.

A safe , insurance policy, unbreakable windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019669)

I only really worry about a few things: jewelry, my late father in-law's air force watch, some paperwork, a small amount of cash, things that have data that is hard to replace. Those things go into the safe whenever the house will be unoccupied. I have a very high quality difficult to open safe that weighs over 500 pounds and is further bolted to the floor. It's also fireproof. Laptops and tablets go in there as well as my video and camera gear and my wife's jewelry.

But to first have the opportunity to try to crack my safe, a thief would have to first enter my house, which has hurricane windows and doors. The glass in my windows can withstand a 2x4 propelled at 120 mph or even a small caliber bullet. A thief who successfully penetrates my perimeter will have to destroy a window or door valued at over $1000. My homeowner's deductible is $1000. Anything they find lying around to steal at this point will be covered by insurance.

I've locked the really choice stuff in the safe, so there won't be that much interesting stuff for them just laying around. Thieves mostly want stuff that is small, light, valuable and easy to fence. They generally don't want to hang out in your house for hours sifting through everything--the vast majority are smash and grabs.

Two cases in point:

5 years ago someone tried to break in while my wife and I were both at work (she's a housewife now, so that's less of a problem now). They tried throwing a bowling ball sized rock through my french doors. They tried prying the doors open. They tried smashing the lock off with a sledgehammer. They left empty-handed.

A week ago, we heard noises outside and looked through the blinds to see the cops with a guy at gunpoint in our driveway. Long story short, he was a transient who they chased onto our property. He had just committed a couple of smash and grabs on my neighbors. They searched him and found his pockets full of jewelry.

You are over-thinking it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019671)

My places was robbed. Cleaned out. In my case all the BIG or HEAVY tech was left behind. All the small and light stuff was taken. Talk to your insurance agent. You have payout limits on item categories. Bump up the limits so all your stuff is covered. Then add bricks to everything.

Upgrade your locks (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 6 months ago | (#47019681)

Since you've already heard about getting alarms, insurance, making backups and inventorying your electronics, computers or priceless antique cans, you might want to think about upgrading your door locks - assuming you're not renting, of course. Did you get them re-keyed when you moved in? If you're like most people, you didn't get around to it. Why not have the locksmith come out and do that and install new locks at the same time. Maybe reinforce the door jam if necessary around the deadbolt, and see if he's got other advice.

Do your windows all lock? Go outside and pretend you lost your key. Try to figure out how to get back inside.

If you make your house a little harder to break into than your neighbors', it probably won't be you that gets robbed.

Smoke/fog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019703)

Best I seen to protect electronics is a fog machine hooked up to the alarm system.
They did an over kill of fag machine for the area and they would kick in as soon as the alarm went off. Took about 30 seconds to fill the whole building to a point where you could not see your hand in front of your face.
The robbers would not be able to see a thing, plus if they rushed inside to nab something they would most likely not be able to find their way out before the police showed up.
Worked great as the smoke also alerted other people too thinking it was a fire or something. Although it was white smoke.

Duct Tape (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 6 months ago | (#47019711)

Cover the items you want to protect in duct tape. The shitty looking silver kind. Or a bunch of stupid stickers from a dollar store.

Obviously doesn't work for TVs but awesome for boxes where you only need to see a small portion of its face.

People are visual creatures and thieves operate fast. They're trying for low hanging fruit and aren't going to appraise every piece carefully.

Try an alarm company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47019721)

A friend had a safe that he wanted secured within his house. He purchased an separate alarm just for this safe. (So his house was alarmed by ADT, IIRC, and a second alarm system was placed on the safe.) He could have easily secured a room or more items. ADT, Comcast sell more sophisticated systems now (video cams accessed over the web, etc. so that you can constantly monitor your "stuff").

This isn't an elegant, nerdy-geeky solution but it works well. There is an associated cost but the Security Company will call the cops for you. The Security Companies generally have contracts with the LEOs to ensure that a cop is sent when an actual alarm even occurs.

My server room is behind a false back in a closet. (1)

netsavior (627338) | about 6 months ago | (#47019739)

The reason isn't really security, it is mostly to hide the wire monster from my wife's delicate sensibilities and to further drown out the fan noise. One of my closets had an AC duct, which I basically enclosed in a little room to have a "consumer" grade server room (I close the duct in the winter, my temps are fine). The little room has a "crawlspace" panel in the plain old drywall wall, which is pretty low-key and not at all hard to crawl through for the rare times I need physical access. It cost me about 100 bucks at home depot to buy a handful of studs, a sheet of drywall, and a crawlspace panel. I added smoke alarms on either side, because I am completely aware that this isn't the most fireproof of solutions.

Honestly it all started with me putting a 16 port switch in the attic, then realizing it needed to be in the A/C, then moving it to the closet, then my very patient wife (bless her) casually suggesting that closet was becoming a cesspool of discarded hardware, wires that went to nowhere, and loud weird equipment..

A side-effect of this is that the average burglar would barely even be able to tell that I spend a small fortune in very geeky and completely unnecessary server hardware.
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