We’ve had two minor issues at The Second Chance House that have indicated to us that we need to have some degree of security system installed before staging the house and leaving it vacant.
First, the air conditioner was stolen from the back yard about a week before we closed on the purchase of the house. These days, this isn’t too uncommon; with copper at about $4/pound, I’m seeing A/C units stolen from lots of vacant properties. Because it’s winter, and the A/C unit isn’t needed right now, we’ve decided to wait until we have a buyer before we install the new unit. We may have to choose our words carefully when we explain to potential buyers why the unit isn’t currently installed, but I think that’s a better solution than risking having another one stolen before we sell the house.
Second, we had a break-in a few weeks back where a few new bi-fold doors were stolen. They were still in the packaging, so we assume the thieves were planning to return them for cash or store credit. I suspect it was just some neighborhood kids who broken in, as the port-o-potty was turned upside down on the lawn as well. Regardless, I want to discourage this type of thing from happening after the house is completed and we have a bunch of new furniture in there.
After my brother did a bunch of research, we decided to buy a system called Lasershield. It is a portable security system that plugs into a standard wall outlet and phone jack, and uses infrared detection (triggered by body heat) to determine if a secured location has been breached. If the system detects an intruder, it sets off a 105 dB siren, then makes an automated phone call to the system owner, followed (if appropriate) by phone calls to a 24-hour monitoring service, who notify the police. The system can be controlled by a keychain remote or over the phone; the system owner has the ability to arm, disarm, check system status, or listen via a system microphone by dialing into the system remotely.
Another nice feature of the system is that you can by an expansion unit that doesn’t require a phone line. It uses cellular technology, making it perfect for our houses that don’t have phone service enabled (like ours).
My brother and I set up the system this week, and now we just need to figure out a way to keep it from interfering with our contractors coming and going, while still being able to protect the property when no-one is there. For now, my GC has a keychain remote and I have one, so one of us needs to be at the house each morning before the other contractors show up; this should work out okay for the next week while we finish this project, and then we’ll figure out a more long-term solution for dealing with contractors and the alarm.
I’ll have more to say once we’ve used the the system for a few days, and once we get an idea of whether it’s worth the $450 price tag, plus the $30/month monitoring fee. I’m guessing the Lasershield security signs that came with the unit (that we posted in the front yard) will probably be worth the price themselves…just the perception of security probably deters most burglars. And I’m very happy that the installation and setup was really quick and easy (okay, now I’m sounding like a commercial…maybe I can get them to give me an extra one for free!) .