Tuesday, January 5, 2016

When Bugging Out is NOT an Option #3: Perimeter Security, Part II

You have Questions, we try to Answer.  The following post is part of a series of Tuesday Prepping posts in response to Reader Questions about what basic steps should anyone new to prepping or first becoming aware of their own home's vulnerability should take to prepare and secure themselves should the security situation in the USA begin to decline more precipitously than it is now.

This is the third post in this series.  #1 discussing doors, windows and other points of entry can be read here and #2 (the first on basic perimeter security) can be read here. #3 continues with additional basic perimeter security measures.

Perimeter Security Management and You, Part II
by Partyzanski, Certified US Military Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection Officer

In my previous article regarding household perimeter security management, I mentioned shrubbery, lighting and observation (peephole for the front door, some options there). As perimeter defense and awareness is a complex topic, in part 2 I will discuss other methods to detect and deter the criminal element from your home, a place where you should be safe and sound. Remember, YOU have a RIGHT to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Most suburbanites and exurbanites find that place is their home, with your hearth and honey.
In keeping with prior articles, I will address only three items in an effort to keep the information short, timely and easy to digest and act upon.

In the last installment, a picture was shown of a typical suburban home with shrubbery used as "natural barbed wire". The prickly bushes are a nice touch, but I want to draw your attention to what is on the ground around the bushes.

"Natural Barbed Wire" isn't the only passive perimeter security feature in this photo
I can hear the wheels turning out there, so I'll get right to it. The ground is covered in gravel. Bigger gravel makes bigger noise and is harder to walk on. That gravel is laid over a layer of landscaping cloth to prevent weeds and to keep the gravel from migrating into the soil. The gravel is there because it enables you to hear if someone is there. It may be the darkest night, but you will still hear somebody shifting their weight or taking a step on that layer of gravel. The stones grind together and are impossible to keep silent. Your dog will certainly hear it before you do.

Defensive practices such as a layer of gravel under each window do not look out of place anywhere. They are an entirely passive layer of protection in your perimeter plan. With minimal maintenance, you can have an attractive bit of landscaping that also is a tell tale if you have a visitor who does not belong there. In places like Fallujah and Ramadi, enemy elements have placed fragile, broken glass in entry hallways to do the same thing. It creates a “CRUNCH!” when you least expect it and allows you to orient to the changing circumstance and adjust your security posture.

A more technical option to supplement the physical landscaping that allows you to install it in mere minutes is a battery operated, passive infra red motion (PIR) sensing alarm. Most people think of PIRs as part of a more complex, expensive professionally installed security system.  Not so.  This model sold through the Amazon portal has a remote fob to turn it off and should give you a good overview of the type of equipment I am discussing. It is relatively inexpensive, with a very loud siren alarm and easy for the average DIY home handyperson to install:

Inexpensive Passive Infrared Motion Detector with Alarm

From my view, the cost/increased security factor is a reasonable ratio - a PIR with siren allows you to make it extremely unpleasant for unwanted visitors. 
Additionally, my advice to you is to ensure that you further invest in a quality battery for not just this, but any alarm device that uses a battery. A number of manufacturers make lithium batteries that can last for years. The listing for the PIR alarm above says it includes batteries for the remote, but you need batteries for the alarm device itself. Amazon has the picture annotated that it takes (4) 9 volt batteries, but this is incorrect. If you scroll over the picture of the back of the alarm, you can see that it actually takes (4) AA size batteries. I mention this so that the buyer is aware of this issue.

Upgrade to Longlasting Lithium Batteries

These are very good batteries for this purpose.

Young mother terrorized in her own home by invader caught on camera
 When mounting passive infra red sensors (PIR), you will want to mount them up high so that a criminal can't easily knock it off a wall, and so small children and/or animals in the home won't trigger it.  You may have to make a bracket to get it to “look” at a field of view that you want to protect, but this is a very easy matter with a scrap of wood cut to the right angle and fastened to the wall. Consult the device specification sheet to maximize your coverage. Get creative in placement... sometimes the best place is on the ceiling. Remember, you will have to get up there and change batteries every now and again.

In case you are interested in the nuts and bolts of how PIR work, I recommend this pdf to you that will give you all you wanted to know and then some about the lowly PIR.

If you are wondering why I am spending so much time on the seemingly inconsequential PIR, consider if you will this article from the New York Times, dated February 26, 2007.

Understand that the lowly PIR is what is termed a “dual use” technology, and “dual use” likely undersells this versatile little circuit. PIR are also found in hunters game cameras that are ubiquitous in the woods and fields of America, a nation of hunters. Some of the better game cameras, or “critter cams” can send you a picture of what they sense. This link will take you to an example:

As a personal note, I used a similar camera for monitoring an entryway as well as for watching a family of stray cats who decided to call a part of my yard “home”. While I was templating (figuring out when they were there and not, daily routines) their activity so I could work a “spay/neuter/release” action on these frolicking felines, it appears that a local coyote had them for lunch. As an aside to pet owners out there... please spay/neuter your pets. It is cruel to let them go feral. When I was researching how to do this, I consulted this guide: There is more to it than meets the eye, I wish you luck in your endeavors with this.

You can read more about PIR, Iraq and Iran in this excellent book, "The Endgame:  The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama" by Michael Gordon.

Although low cost, PIRs are serious business, and you can use them peacefully in a civilian home defense application to your advantage. The technology available to the consumer today rivals that as seen on contemporary battlefields. "Noise" can be generated by passive, unpowered items like a bed of stones, or electronic noisemakers as illustrated in the article. Using layers of simple devices and techniques, you need never be surprised again.

An inexpensive PIR could have prevented THIS
So far, we have addressed two additional items to consider when evaluating your home's perimeter security plan.  The third item we will address today is
while it is helpful to have passive means to detect intruders, you would be poorly served if the main issue was not addressed... that of you paying attention and adopting "situational awareness". This is more important than you may think. Batteries can fail. Technical devices can fail or be subject to counter measures. You and you alone are your final line of defense in your perimeter security alert plan.


Karen S. said...

Your articles couldn't be more timely. I will be purchasing a PIR as recommended in your post to install in my elderly mother's home. Thank you for taking the time to do this - it is very much appreciated. I've tried to share and let more people know about this valuable info.

A 75 year old woman was the victim of a home invasion where she was strangled and left for dead. The team used a woman as the front, and the attack took place in a retirement "community". News like this makes me worry about my own parent, who lives alone and quite some distance from me.



Anonymous said...

we’re on just over an acre in a decent neighborhood. Man’s best friend has been our ‘system’ for a while now. Two healers (female) and a big ol’ boy. All three are inside on occasion. Anyone that comes to the door gets a long, loud earful of chaos. No thug surprises for occupants inside. The girls pull night duty each night. Sally, mon-wed-fri. Sue, tue-thur-sat. Sunday we all play inside. Big boy pulls couch duty each night of the week. His bark sends shivers. Girls on night duty get a harness and 50 ft steel cable anchored just outside front door. When the girl on night overwatch lets out the slightest warning the two inside go ape-sh*t. This way if nightwatch is compromised, still have two inside who are going nuts. Of course all this allows homeowner AMPLE time to rack Mr Shotty. (thats a diff story altogether)

In case anyone questions mother nature’s warning devices, take one camping over night. Nothing gets close to camp without your dog ‘alerting’ well ahead of time.

Perfect? Not by a long shot. But two or three make a very redundant system not easily defeated. You WILL be alerted. YMMV

Partyzantski said...

Anonymous Jan 7 @ 103AM,
Your security system is excellent! I like the layered/echeloned approach with inner and outer cordons of dogs. Well thought out, well considered. That is a setup to be emulated!