A neighborhood in rural North Carolina experienced a rash of home break-ins and burglaries. Law enforcement officers estimated that in less than five minutes, thieves would kick in a home’s rear or garage side door, and then sprint for the home’s master bedroom. There, the thieves would pick up displayed jewelry, rummage through furniture, remove handguns from nightstands, and then steal rifles and shotguns from the back corners of closets. Laptops, large screen TVs, iPods and other valuables would be taken as the thieves left the houses. Homeowners’ nightmares began, as many rural residents returned home after a day at work to discover they had been burglarized and their home invaded and damaged.

The numerous break-ins baffled authorities for months. How did the thieves know when someone was home, or when homes stood vacant? Only after an alert resident noted a tag number of a strange vehicle, and when suspects were eventually apprehended and questioned, did cell phone numbers reveal another crucial fact: the thieves were partnered with the substitute rural mail carrier who scouted homes and kept a look out for law enforcement as the burglars ransacked homes. She delivered the mail and made calls to alert the burglars about any law enforcement presence. She also reported when homeowners were away.

Fortunately, the homes with safes, gun vaults, alarm systems, and those that had taken precautions had the lowest losses. It simply pays to have a safe—period. It pays to prevent thieves from taking the things you cherish.

Be Safe But Ready

Even if you are a police officer, gun collector, hunter, or someone with nearly any type of valuables—especially firearms—safes or vaults definitely help you keep what’s yours. Some departments are helping officers buy safes for their homes. Some agencies urge their officers to remove any service firearms from their parked patrol vehicles due to increasing numbers of break-and-grabs involving LE vehicles. However, if firearms must remain in your vehicle, consider buying a console vault. Many models are available to fit inside of existing vehicle consoles.

Inside the home, there are some new security items that would make James Bond envious. Among those items is a deluxe, locking book, which looks like an ordinary book, but is secured. There are also soda cans, closet lights, and candles that are actually safes for valuables. You can also obtain a paint can safe and a Maxwell House coffee can look-alike that’s a sturdy, lockable safe. These help keep valuables out of sight—and secure. Most of these models retail for less than $20.

Cutting Edge Products also has several outside options to give your home the appearance of expensive surveillance camera protection at a fraction of the cost. Most are dummy cameras that look exactly like those in expensive security systems and include flashing operating lights. If you do want real protection and deterrent alarms, concealable spy cameras and motion detector systems with very audible alarms are available. One item that caught my attention is their Motion Alarm/Auto Dialer—a motion alarm that plugs into a phone jack inside the home. When this unit detects an intruder, it will call any number that you’ve pre-programmed into the unit.

There are other ways to protect valuables and your family. Several websites offer pointers and plans for building safe rooms and hidden passages so your family can quickly disappear in case of an invasion. Some sites worth looking at for options are hiddendoors.net, saferooms.com, and hideadoor.com. Some of these ideas can be incorporated into an existing home, while others will require the work of a carpenter during new home construction. Any ideas are worth considering in these increasingly anxious times.

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