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Ask Slashdot: A Cheap, DIY Home Security and Surveillance System?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the i-hear-those-DoD-pain-rays-are-nice dept.

Security 508

scubamage writes "Six weeks ago, my home was broken into while my fiance and I were at work. Two laptops were stolen, an iPad, a power brick, a safe (complete with several years worth of taxes, my birth certificate, and old copies of my driver's license), a digital SLR, and several other costly items. We are now dealing with an attorney because the homeowner's insurance is fighting us on a number of items and we're not backing down. It has been a nightmare. However, we've now noticed that someone has been visiting our house during the day. There has been garbage left sitting on our back porch table, so its unlikely to have blown there. We've also seen footprints in our garden that are not there in the morning. Our neighborhood is essentially empty during the day, and we want to know who is on our property while we're not. If we're really lucky, reporting it to the police could recover some of our property. My fiance has asked me to assemble a home security system that is motion activated, and both notifies us of an entry, as well as records video or rapid HD stillframes when sensing motion. The goal is to do this cheaply and more effectively than going with a private security company like ADT (who, consequently, our police department told us to ignore due to the incredibly high rate of false alarms). We've already gotten the dog and the gun, so we have those bases covered. What suggestions do you have on setting up home security systems, and what have you done to build one in the past?"

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Don't be a tightwad (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529045)

Pay for a service like ADT, nothing in the DIY realm even comes close.

Re:Don't be a tightwad (5, Insightful)

schitso (2541028) | about 2 years ago | (#39529203)

Right, because some in-and-out trained chimps are who you should trust with your home security.

Get something like a Honeywell Lynx Plus. It's wireless, easy to install, and easy to set up. You don't even need it monitored--the sound of the panel blaring would send any burglar packing. As for CCTV, you can get some dead cheap camera/DVR deals on Newegg, but don't expect awesome quality or lifespan.

Re:Don't be a tightwad (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 2 years ago | (#39529311)

If they're looking to catch the daytime lurker (and likely robber), I'd imagine you'd want it to be silent. At least for this job. A real alarm can come later if necessary.

So, for this, maybe a trailcam would do the job on the cheap. Otherwise I'm sure there are webcams that do it.

Re:Don't be a tightwad (1)

kidgenius (704962) | about 2 years ago | (#39529301)

Not true. Plenty of options for self-monitored systems. If you want a hard-wired system and have a land-line, you can get setup for about $400. Video would of course cost more, but I've seen systems through costco than can be setup for a few hundred. For under a grand you could be setup.

Re:Don't be a tightwad (2)

Intropy (2009018) | about 2 years ago | (#39529481)

But she's specifically asking for a DIY solution, and is apparently pretty serious about it since she's already gotten a dog and a gun for security purposes.

Reputation (3, Insightful)

Stargoat (658863) | about 2 years ago | (#39529051)

You have the gun, and you have the dog. All you really need now is a reputation.

Re:Reputation (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529135)

Assuming you live in Florida, start by chasing down passers-by with your car and shooting them with your gun. Given TV interviews afterwards in which you claim that you were simply defending yourself.

Re:Reputation (4, Insightful)

sco08y (615665) | about 2 years ago | (#39529359)

Assuming you live in Florida, start by chasing down passers-by with your car and shooting them with your gun. Given TV interviews afterwards in which you claim that you were simply defending yourself.

It might take some kind of vast racial conspiracy in order to make sure the police release you without charges. You'll have to get together with all the other Hispanic Democrats to pull this off.

If you do it right, though, you should be able to get enraged mobs of idiots to attack some random elderly couple whose son happens to have the same middle name as you!

Re:Reputation (3, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#39529149)

Well, they have the gun and the dog. That way, when the crims steal the gun, they can shoot the dog on the way out.

Seriously. For simple unattended-property burglary, a gun is just an attractive target. And most dogs will just wag their tails all friendly-like at the burglar as they come and go.

Re:Reputation (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#39529569)

Seriously. For simple unattended-property burglary, a gun is just an attractive target. And most dogs will just wag their tails all friendly-like at the burglar as they come and go.

Hopefully, one doesn't leave the gun in plain sight.

And even the friendliest, dumbest Labrador Retriever really is a deterrent for the garden variety low end thief. You don't know if the waggy critter wants you to pet him or if he's sizing you up because the owner is afraid of men and that vibe has been transmitted to the dog.

I've lived in rural environments for much of my adult life and people with dogs get burglarized much less than those with an empty house. Hardly the sole reason to have a dog, but it's what I tell my wife after "my dog" has jumped on the sofa after running home from his daily romp in the tidal flats.

If you wanted to strip my house, all you would have to do is drive up in a UPS truck and give the dog a treat. He thinks the the big brown truck is a giant, mobile snack machine. He'd help you drag stuff out in a second.

Re:Reputation (1)

Stargoat (658863) | about 2 years ago | (#39529173)

IANAL, but I have been told by multiple sources that a shotgun, being primarily a fowling piece and not a weapon, is more likely to get you off in court.

Also, you need to learn how to use it. I'm not talking a little bit of range time, but rather practice to the point of where when your nerves are supertense, your fingers will not function, and your brain has shut down, you can still, through muscle memory, put the gun up to your shoulder and destroy that which you are aiming for. Otherwise, the gun is just as likely to hurt you as someone else. Think 5000 rounds a year of practice as a minimum. A trip to the range every two weeks, at the very least. You don't want to be like those pathetic police officers who shoot 80 rounds at a person (or cougar) at 15 yards and hit him twice.

Re:Reputation (5, Informative)

ubrgeek (679399) | about 2 years ago | (#39529495)

Middle of the night:
"knock, knock."
"Who is it?" as you rack a round in your pistol grip Mossberg 500, the process of which makes a very distinctive noise.
"Sorry, wrong address."
The comment about the blaring alarm scaring people off is true. As is the sound of the shotgun being racked.

Never mind 5,000 rounds a year, etc. On the off chance you have to fire after answering the door (a) you're firing from less than four feet away and (b) you're opening fire with pellets. So long as you don't try and play Terminator and use one hand to fire, you're going to hit something ... them, the walls, whatever (NEVER move to fire a weapon unless you can put your hands on every member of your family first. Do that and then advance to the intruder. Secure the family and then secure the house.) The sound of the blast will do a lot to persuade the bad guy to take off. Oh, and the pistol grip makes it much more likely you'll be able to get the first shot off first; you can "fire from the hip" instead of taking the time to raise the weapon to your shoulder (not to mention that you don't have to step back from the door to raise the weapon).

Take the weapon out to the woods and put a dozen rounds through it. Take your family. You'll get to feel the kick you're going to experience and almost more to the point, the sound. Should you need/feel the need to fire another shot during an intrusion, if you've never heard a shotgun go off while you're holding it, in my experience you are more likely to pause as you recover from the shock of the sound.

Re:Reputation (1)

Intropy (2009018) | about 2 years ago | (#39529529)

For in-home defense a shotgun is a really good choice. It's easy to use, which is important under pressure. And assuming you load shot rather than slugs, there's far less concern about a projectile penetrating a wall and doing unintended damage to something unseen than with something like a rifle or a handgun.

Re:Reputation (1)

lytithwyn (1357791) | about 2 years ago | (#39529177)

You have the gun, and you have the dog. All you really need now is a reputation.

I totally agree with this.

The computer shop I work at has been grab-and-run shop lifted once. Just once. Between the fact that my boss chased the guy in his truck until the police managed to catch up and the fact that we go around wearing "fishing vests" all the time has kept things pretty smooth here even though we are not in the best neighborhood.

I think the poor running shop thief told his buddies.

Actually, what you need is a neighbourhood (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 2 years ago | (#39529535)

or community.

1. You got a gun.. At home so the next burglar can get it as well as the rest of your stuff when you're both out at work again?
2. Dog, what do you do, leave it tied up at home all day alone? Dogs are pack animals it'll end up insane.
3. You will get burgled again, just after the insurance pays out. You're now on a list which'll get passed around.
4. Upgrade your doors & windows. Those are the holes they'll be trying to get through.

Your cheapest security system are neighbours who also have an interest in not being burgled.

Re:Reputation (5, Funny)

SpockLogic (1256972) | about 2 years ago | (#39529541)

You have the gun, and you have the dog. All you really need now is a reputation.

No, no, no ... get rid of the gun and get another dog.

You need a big scary dog to frighten off the burglars and a small yappy dog to bark and wake up the big dog.

Get a dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529059)

Get a dog. Nothing deters burglars more than something that will attack them. No amount of electronic surveillance will deter someone who will be in and out in less than five minutes with all your electronics.

Been there, done that.. Here's your plan. (5, Informative)

brokenin2 (103006) | about 2 years ago | (#39529063)

We had our cars getting broken into and did basically the same thing (minus gun).

We have a linux file server at home, so what I ended up doing was getting a V4L
compatible video capture card off ebay (I got a 16 input card for $80). 4 port
capture cards are common and cheap. Just make sure it's compatible with linux.

Then go to dealextreme.com, or I think they're also at dx.com now. There you can
get cameras, and the video balun's to make it simple to use cat 5 to run your
cameras. A camera is about $20 for a decent night vision one, and the balun set
(8 baluns to run 4 cameras) were about $25.

Once you've got your hardware all set up, you can use either "motion" or "zoneminder"
for the actual surveilence. Both will do what you want. I use motion, but
zoneminder is a little more polished in the UI department.

Finally, set up an rsync script or other mirror software to get those files off site
in case they actually try to steal your server.

Re:Been there, done that.. Here's your plan. (1)

brokenin2 (103006) | about 2 years ago | (#39529095)

Oh yeah. If you don't have a linux server, there are similar packages for windows. All the same hardware will work just fine (and a lot of other hardware too).

Re:Been there, done that.. Here's your plan. (-1, Redundant)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 2 years ago | (#39529113)

What if someone breaks into your house and steals your linux server?

Re:Been there, done that.. Here's your plan. (5, Insightful)

brokenin2 (103006) | about 2 years ago | (#39529153)

I repeat:
Finally, set up an rsync script or other mirror software to get those files off site
in case they actually try to steal your server.

If you have triggers set up right, you'll have the video of the person walking right
up to your server to steal it.

Re:Been there, done that.. Here's your plan. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529305)

Also, be sure to TEST the video feeds.

Re:Been there, done that.. Here's your plan. (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#39529373)

Most crims are not criminals because they're too smart for a regular job, so that would work. But there's always the rare possibility that the bad guys are smart enough to find a way to drop the network leading out of the house (cut phone wires, cut cable, maybe cut power) to disable an alarm system. If that happens, even if the security system is still powered and operating, it's not getting anything out, and the only real hope is that the hard drive the server is writing to is hidden someplace secure.

But that's really unlikely, in the final analysis. Since most burglaries are grab-n-go, just hiding stuff a little out of sight and making sure the surveillance is off-sited as close to real-time as possible should be enough.

Re:Been there, done that.. Here's your plan. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529475)

You serious?

This isn't the fucking movies. That shit doesn't happen in real life unless you've assassins or the ATF after you.

Re:Been there, done that.. Here's your plan. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529603)

Which is why the pros use cell phone networks for data connections. (Yes, cell phone jammers are available, but unlike wire cutters they're illegal in and of themselves.) If you can set up a proxy to automatically re-route from your cable connection to a tethered cell phone, you'll have the best of both worlds! (And a lot of data charges, especially if your internet goes down a lot.) For the power issue, get a UPS.

Re:Been there, done that.. Here's your plan. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529209)

I've got mine set to email pictures where motion was detected to an account I have dedicated for that. By the time they uplug the server, their picture is already sitting on a remote server, waiting for me to forward to the police.

In fact, you want them to steal your server (2)

jerryasher (151512) | about 2 years ago | (#39529337)

My server is a very nice case mod with transparent panels and blue glowing lights that sits on a shelf next to my flat screen TV. It's so cool. It screams steal me! On top of it I leave several DVDs of porn each in their own DVD jewel box wrapper with all the porn photos on them.

Of course, there are three other IP cameras pointed at this wonderfully blue glowing empty box too, each camera with motion detection and set to email pictures to my gmail account and ftp video to an external host.

Re:Been there, done that.. Here's your plan. (1)

brokenin2 (103006) | about 2 years ago | (#39529129)

You can also go even cheaper and use a simple USB webcam when you're only looking
at fairly short distances.

Re:Been there, done that.. Here's your plan. (2)

schitso (2541028) | about 2 years ago | (#39529231)

There's also the option of IP cameras with memory card slots built in. Just make sure to screw it down tight.

Re:Been there, done that.. Here's your plan. (1)

Tmack (593755) | about 2 years ago | (#39529421)


Then go to dealextreme.com, or I think they're also at dx.com now. There you can get cameras, and the video balun's to make it simple to use cat 5 to run your cameras. A camera is about $20 for a decent night vision one, and the balun set (8 baluns to run 4 cameras) were about $25.


You forgot the step where you wait a month or four for the dx cameras to ship from HongKong....


Steal someones (1, Redundant)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 2 years ago | (#39529085)

Steal someones 'secured by' signs from their front yard and put it in your yard. Seriously if someone is going to break into your house they are going to do it security system or not.

If you're only goal is deterring any thefts that is about the best thing you can do really. Now if you want to have evidence to hand over to the police then that is another story all together.

Re:Steal someones (4, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#39529191)

Steal someones 'secured by' signs from their front yard

Maybe you can tack the sign up on your wrought-irony porch railing.

Re:Steal someones (1)

jon3k (691256) | about 2 years ago | (#39529275)

Seriously if someone is going to break into your house they are going to do it security system or not.

Got any stats to back up that statement? My assumption would be that criminals will just walk next door where there isn't a sign.

Re:Steal someones (2)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 2 years ago | (#39529347)

That is what I mean by the statement. A sign is almost as good as a security system, because it will either convince the thief to go some place else or it won't, and if it doesn't then what ever you could of done wouldn't keep them from breaking into your home and stealing yourself.

Re:Steal someones (1)

Aelyew (14580) | about 2 years ago | (#39529361)

As the victim of several home burglaries. The sign doesn't matter. The glass break detector that sounds an ear piercing alarm doesn't matter. Thieves smash and grab, they know that security and/or police response time gives them enough time to grab something they can sell at the flea market or a pawn shop.

Outside of sitting at home with a shot gun, your best defense is what the original poster is trying to do. Set up an automated and secure way way of video/photographing a potential intruder and getting those files out in the cloud somewhere.

Re:Steal someones (1)

jon3k (691256) | about 2 years ago | (#39529455)

I appreciate your anecdotal evidence, but I'd like some actual analysis. I had an experience that was the exact opposite, thieves spent probably close to an hour, by police estimate, trying to break in.

Gun -- ? (2, Insightful)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about 2 years ago | (#39529133)

Guns aren't any use if they're a) not handy, and b) not understood. Could also backfire if the bad guy takes it away from you. Or steals it from you while you're gone during the day.

Don't get me wrong: I have a number of guns in my house. But that alone doesn't make me feel safe in the event of a break-in. I hope you catch the cock-sucker, but be careful that you don't become another "statistic" in the process.

Re:Gun -- ? (1)

wisty (1335733) | about 2 years ago | (#39529313)

It's a prisoner's dilemma. Guns are good for you, because they make you feel a little safer. They are terrible for society, because they are stolen by thieves, who sell them to gangster wannabes who wouldn't normally be able to get them.

What? (1)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | about 2 years ago | (#39529145)

How does your home get broken into?

Too many windows. Windows are a vulnerability. Have them all filled in. Second of all, get solid steel doors with plenty of locks. There, done.

Now use Gamemaker.

Frontpoint (5, Informative)

BaverBud (610218) | about 2 years ago | (#39529157)

We were broken into about 5 weeks ago. I originally considered Frontpoint about 5 months ago, but we kept putting it off. It's the only security company that had mediocre to good reviews consistently.

They have a few options - what you're looking for is their "ultimate" version, which includes cameras. It streams online I believe, and you can turn on/off the security system from your phone or their web page.

They do not send out a rep to do installation, instead they ship the system to you (they'll probably upgrade you to next day shipping for free if you mention you just had a burglary) and you set it up yourself. It took me about 15 minutes to set up, although I had to re-glue some of the door sensors.

When you call, or email, their sales agents don't try to upsel you. They work with what you want, and try to assess your needs based on how you describe your house. If you want an extra sensor for something, they are happy to give it to you - but they will want to know why, and if they don't think it's needed, they'll try to talk you out of it. I had the feeling they actually cared about my interests, and not selling me more equipment.

They also follow up on any feedback you provide, and actively try to resolve issues. I'm really happy with them. They use alarm.com for monitoring.They also have additional styles of sensors that the average joe doesn't care about (ones that you install in the door, rather than putting on the outside of the door - i.e. invisible), but you need to ask. They try to keep it simple.

Gun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529159)

This is a thief. The last thing he wants to do is encounter you when you are home.

All that gun will do is get stolen. And then when it's used in commission of a crime, you'll be the one hauled in for questioning.

Better plan: Place a honeypot "screamer" device that sends its GPS location every 30 seconds to a server that you control. Let the thief lead you to *his* lair.

Re:Gun? (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#39529371)

Better plan: Place a honeypot "screamer" device that sends its GPS location every 30 seconds to a server that you control. Let the thief lead you to *his* lair.

Great idea, but don't forget to check into your local laws and regulations (specifically wiretapping and surveillance laws) prior to deploying such a device.

How much would it suck to get arrested for illegally bugging the guy who just robbed you?

Re:Gun? (1)

kidgenius (704962) | about 2 years ago | (#39529411)

All that gun will do is get stolen. And then when it's used in commission of a crime, you'll be the one hauled in for questioning.

How do you figure? Also, firearms (both long guns and handguns) aren't required to be registered in MOST states (and no laws at the federal level). So how will they come looking for you if your gun is used to commit a crime and it's not registered to you?

Re:Gun? (5, Interesting)

DCFusor (1763438) | about 2 years ago | (#39529427)

Get a concealed carry license and keep the gun on you (obviously, learn to use it well, that part can be fun). It won't get stolen. I live in a place where just about everyone has guns - it's a tool for almost daily use out here in farm country. There are some criminals that live here, but there's no crime here. It's too damn dangerous as they might not get the expected "due process" if caught, and they know it. I was once burgled on several days successively when I lived in the DC area. Kids even made a camp-fire on my kitchen floor. Stole onyx and marble chess pieces to skip on the pond, and coin collections to buy cokes. The cops said, well, it's just kids - not much we can do, we don't have time to stake out your home even though it's been burgled 3 times in three days at roughly known times of day. Sigh. I told them - I hope it's YOUR kid, because tomorrow, I'm going to park my car 5 blocks away, sneak back here, and sit behind the front door with my .44 magnum and blow away the first thing through the door. Next day - the cops showed up. It WAS one of their kids, along with others, and the cop, realising where all that cool stuff his kid was dragging home, figured it all out and busted them. Sometimes they need a reminder to do their job. It worked that time anyway.

surveillance cameras (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529175)

You can get a cheap surveillance system with 4 or 8 cameras and a DVR from somebody that sells the Zmodo brand. They aren't the highest quality, but will certainly show you what you're looking for. I have personal experience with the systems and they seem to work well. They usually have motion activated recording, infared for night, and a built in web server so you can pull up the feed from away from the house. If you do a search for packages, you can find stuff from like 250$-600$ and it's relatively easy to install if you can run wires and handle a drill.

Costco Setups Looks Cheap and Easy (1)

Unreal One (21453) | about 2 years ago | (#39529189)


4 IR cams expandable to 8 with a 500 Gb DVR for $280. Not a bad deal short of putting your camcorder on a tripod and pointing it out the back door.

Cheapest ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#39529195)

... is a motion activated 'critter cam' covering the areas where you suspect your visitor to loiter. No monitoring, no alarm, but you can get pics of the suspect (as long as they don't notice and steal the camera).

You could also leave a few scraps of yellow crime scene tape and a chalk outline of a body in front of your house. Give them something to think about.

Hunting Camera (4, Informative)

dagoalieman (198402) | about 2 years ago | (#39529225)

Get a hunting trail camera. Takes pics on an SD card. Not networked, but is designed to be outside and it should get you the information you seek relatively cheaply.

Re:Hunting Camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529555)

Get a hunting trail camera. Takes pics on an SD card. Not networked, but is designed to be outside and it should get you the information you seek relatively cheaply.

...and they make solar panel attachments for them, so you can leave them in place until the card fills up. And they're already weatherproof and (admittedly not wonderfully) camouflaged. If you have a tree in your yard, it's pretty much perfect.

several options (2)

putch (469506) | about 2 years ago | (#39529237)

I use a combination of Yawcam and Vitamin D. Neither are particularly great, but they serve my needs. And they're (mostly) free. I get images emailed to me when it detects motion in my apt and I can view live video remotely from my phone or a browser (via ssh or vpn). I use the Star Trek Enterprise (NCC-1701) webcam that I got from thinkgeek.

I've been thinking about adding something to monitor and record audio too. Also, been thinking about switching to use a kinect as the camera.

I'm glad this story was posted because sometimes I think I'm too paranoid for doing all of this. This is somewhat re-assuring.

YawCam? (1)

SlashAdotter (1465581) | about 2 years ago | (#39529245)

One idea is to run a usb-extension cord (6-10 foot) from your desk/lapt-top and connect a reasonably good webcam to it. Then run YawCam (free) software with motion detection.

Whatever solution you go with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529247)

...make sure the recorder/storage cannot be stolen too. You mentioned having a safe stolen...was it secured to a shelf or floor? I have to assume it wasn't or if it was, not securely. A security system that can be stolen is worthless.

Kamodo dragon in the front yard on chain. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#39529249)

Grizzly bear mother and cubs in the back.

Cobras in the house.

That will fix the prowler right up.

Re:Kamodo dragon in the front yard on chain. (1)

Saija (1114681) | about 2 years ago | (#39529477)

yeah, and a couple of shark(with frickin'lasers-tm) in the bathtub just in case

Get a girlfriend. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529297)

All the surveillance you can take.... Oh wait, you said "cheap".... never mind...


strangeattraction (1058568) | about 2 years ago | (#39529303)

I have a foscam wireless camera that will upload to an ftp server of your choice. It was inexpensive (~$60 on amazon). Can be set to take an image on some time interval. You can then collect the images into a movie for that day ( use 'convert' from Imagemagick).

Logitech delivers a surprisingly good turnkey solu (5, Interesting)

unixhero (1276774) | about 2 years ago | (#39529307)

Logitech delivevers a surprisingly good turnkey solution! I use it in my company, we have 20 stores and lately there has been a surge in robberies of our stores. After we got these cameras set up, with no extra hacking, it delivers perfect video with sound and can of course be motion activated. We have sendt the video captures to the national TV station (Norwegian TV2) and it got aired nationwide. The quality was that good that they chose to use our videos. I would not bother create a hacked-together just because these things Just Work. Normally I wouldn't trust a Logitech product to do something this important, but they are very good and reliable. No problems, we've use them daily at 20 locations with no problems and no hazzles. I am not affiliated with Logitech, I just really like a solution that works perfectly and want to share it with others.

I have been looking at this or a similar model (1)

boley1 (2001576) | about 2 years ago | (#39529321)

skylink sc-1000 [google.com]

I only have the Googling experience so far, though I once designed and installed security systems for businesses. For my business I use ADT, but for home, I really don't like adding another monthly service bill in addition to phone, cable, internet... so yes I'm a tight wad.

BTW. Video record the burglars if you want and maybe with lots of work you might cause them a little grief. But a really loud alarm, and maybe some strobe lights might actually make them stop and move on to a less noisy place.

I'm told the number one thing you can do to deter break-ins (this according to an ADT guy) is to add more outside lighting. Don't see how that would help in the day time though. Maybe very obvious, large real or fake outdoor cameras would be equivalent?

Another Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529325)

goto ebay, type zmodo in the search box, choose between 4 cameras w/o (sata) hard disk for $160 (4 cameras, recorder, wires, power supply) to around $300 for 8 cameras, recorder with hard disk, wire and power supply

IP Cameras (3, Informative)

Above (100351) | about 2 years ago | (#39529339)

IP cameras have become quite cheap, depending on your needs. If you get PoE models they are also far easier to run than traditional cameras, as a single CatE cable can get the job done. I've set up small systems a number of places including my house, and it all works quite well and easily. While you can go the open source route, I found the easiest way is with some Mac software. You can even do it without network DVR software and use cameras that capture to onboard SD cards. I find that inconvenient, but it can be a good backup if your cameras are mounted out of reach but your server isn't.

Checkout, in no particular order:

There's a product for every need. Cheap, $50 indoor lit-room only solutions to $2000 pan/tilt/zoom IR illuminated outdoor vandal proof units.

TrendNet [trendnet.com] makes affordable PoE switches. 10/100 is fine, an individual camera stream is maybe 2Mbps for a high res stream.

I use SecuritySpy [bensoftware.com] on a Mac. Even watching 8 cameras it uses

Place cameras where you can get good shots of faces as they come through doors. Maybe one of your driveway or street in front to get a car. They won't stop the break in, although visible cameras outside may be a deterrent, but they will give you a fighting chance of catching the person who did it.

Oh, and get a dog with a loud bark. Most robbers don't want to find out if it is a small dog or big dog!

They ARE coming back (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#39529341)

That is pretty normal for burglers to come back. They like backdoors as well. If you do not want a commercial system, pick up some IP cams and add zoneminder. We use the LTS infrared camera. We got it from Newegg for about 100. You can pick up the y-cam, but it is the SAME PHYSICAL CAMERA for 200 (and nothing extra; just a private label). We use one of ours for watching the front yard and another in the baby room. It is awesome in the dark.

$1 solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529353)

Take a personal day from work, take your gun and hide in the bushes. I would recommend bringing some trail mix, grenola bars and wire ties. Capture your intruder and hog tie them with 4 standard wire ties (2 feet, 1 hands, 1 tie together). I'm not sure of if you have to call the police immediately and if you don't, don't. Spraying your intruder with a hose could be fun??

Cheap & Fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529383)

If you can find a generic Canon camera, any basic point and shoot should work there is a quick way to make it sense motion. Download the CHDK open source firmware. This has a few different motion sensing modes that do work decently well if you set them up right. Then you just need to mount the camera is a good location and get it an AC power adapter and you will be good to go. It won't be great, and you will end up sorting through a pile of false positives, but if cheap and fast are priorities, and good can wait this is how I would do it.

Android + Prepaid Mobile + WiFi (1)

MDMurphy (208495) | about 2 years ago | (#39529389)

You can buy an Android phone for a prepaid cell account for under $100. (used phones are doable too ) Various camera apps will do scene detection and emailing of stills or video or can do periodic image capture. Powered by a microUSB is easy enough, with it's internal battery as a backup for short power outages.

WiFi works fine, and with a home UPS will be up and running for most local power outages. Having a $X a day plan from the carrier will allow the mobile network to be used as a backup to the the WiFi without providing a continuous additional monthly bill.

Images / Video can be sent to an online email account, so while immediate notification can be on your own mobile, there's a ready built server for storing the images.

Arduino or similar hardware could be used as additional sensor inputs,or possibly an alarm output, but using built in cameras alone gives you a useful device out of the box.

Re:Android + Prepaid Mobile + WiFi (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529423)

Someone who buys a droid isn't going to have nice stuff to steal. Those people are fucking scums.

here ya go (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#39529413)

My home security consists of:
2 of these
1 of these

Consider sound as well (2)

Forever Wondering (2506940) | about 2 years ago | (#39529415)

Breaking glass has a very distinctive sound signature. It is what professional services use to detect intrusions (My last company had this and it did detect breakins). Also, thieves are quite noisy when doing a breakin (e.g. they talk/yell, make a lot of noise while searching through drawers, etc). This is also used as the basis of some pro systems (e.g. Sonitrol)


Sending sound information to your phone would be a lot less bandwidth than video. It would be easier for you to respond in real time. That is, system detects a [possible] breakin sound signature, sends a text alert to your phone. You then connect to real time monitoring of the microphones. You would be able to confirm what is happening. Then, you can call police and say that a human has verified the breakin. They would be more likely to respond (vs. false alarm)

Swann (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529425)

I purchased and set up my own from Swann. Two cameras to a DVR with support for two more. The best part about it is smartphone and tablet support. I can monitor the feeds anywhere as long as I have an Internet connection. It's great and was only a few hundred dollars at Radio Shack.

Power Power Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529433)

Haven't read through all the comments yet, but make sure your system stays powered. If you're using wireless IP cameras then you can keep a computer in the attic, the basement, just somewhere concealed, and keep it powered with a battery back up charged by a few solar panels. I'll see about getting some specifics later on. Busy at work right now.

Linux box + decent USB Camera + motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529435)

Problem solved... I use this for my house and while it takes a little fiddling with the setttings on the motion program (debian aptitude search motion) it's awesome. You can get video clips of significant motion events during the day in any format you feel like with preview pictures. I have mine hooked up to a Microsoft LifeCam Cinema. I also use ssh port forwarding to let me see my video stream from any computer with a web browser. If you want functional & DIY this is it. You will of course need to position the computer within one usb cables length from the camera.

Re:Linux box + decent USB Camera + motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529589)

Here is the official website for Motion: http://www.lavrsen.dk/foswiki/bin/view/Motion/WebHome

Wireless motion alert + bolted "safe" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529443)

I took a simple approach to it given that most thief's are opportunists and typically spend just a few minutes inside.

I wasn't interested in capturing video [youtube.com] or still photos--all I wanted was to protect my stuff from theft and fire, sound an alarm (internal and external horn), and send email/text alerts.

I'm using the Chamberlain CWA2000 Wireless Motion Alert for detection. It supports up to eight sensors.I have sensors outside and inside that are cleverly concealed.

The receiver is powered by a UPS installed in the attic, and I've disconnected the UPS buzzer so as to not alert the bad guys if they have disrupted the main AC. (My outside AC panel has a padlock on it as a minor deterrent.) Use the output of the receiver to trigger whatever you want.

As for a "safe," most so-called safes aren't--they're really "residential security containers" (RSC). Anyway the one I have is securely bolted into concrete. (You'd be surprised how quickly a competent thief can move/load a free-standing 700 lb. RSC!) When I'm not home all my valuable stuff is in the RSC. It's also fire-resistant for 30 minutes.

Also check out www.smarthome.com for all kinds of things.

Zoneminder (1)

billcopc (196330) | about 2 years ago | (#39529457)

If you're Linux-savvy, try Zoneminder. All you need is a PC and a camera, for which there are extensive compatibility lists online. Once you have motion detection working, you can set up a shell script to copy to a remote host - in case the Zoneminder box itself gets stolen. For bonus points, use a small-form-factor PC and hide it somewhere clever, like behind a ceiling tile or under the staircase.

If you're not so comfortable doing it yourself, there are many vendors online who sell pre-configured kits including a recorder unit, cabling and a few cameras. I think the price range starts around $500 to $700 if memory serves... some of them come with mobile apps and "cloud" storage so you can monitor your home on the go. If you're in Canada, I can refer you to a good friend of mine who runs such a surveillance store and knows this field better than I ever could.

You have to separate issues (5, Interesting)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 2 years ago | (#39529485)


Take pictures that show model numbers and serial numbers. Keep a list of serial numbers. Keep receipts. Register the devices with the manufacturer as additional proof of ownership. I'm sure your insurance agent told you this when you set up the policy.

A surveillance system would have done nothing to prove the value of what you lost. On video, a $6000 laptop looks exactly the same as a $350 laptop.

As to the surveillance system, there are a number of consumer systems available at a reasonable price. Anywhere from a single camera up to 16-camera systems. $400-500 will buy you a ready-to-roll 8 camera system with DVR and remote monitoring, including iphone/android phone video feed. Not pro-quality stuff but decent. Just make sure you post "This area is under video surveillance" signs at the entrances.

I don't think I'd bother with a monitored alarm system, though I'd certainly consider one that makes a lot of noise and flashes a lot of strobes. The fact that a system is monitored isn't what deters theft. It's the noise and attention that is drawn to the scene that chases them off.

Gun safe (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 2 years ago | (#39529497)

Whether you own any firearms or not, a good gun safe is likely to be useful as an addition to your security system. It's too heavy to just make off with unless the thief is coming with a truck and heavy-duty appliance dolly (for the lighter safes, anyway), and they're bulky enough where they're not particularly quick to manuever out of your house. On top of that, you can always still bolt it to the floor or wall. Most offer pretty decent fire protection as well, offering protection against 1200-1500 degree temps for anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours depending on what you get. They're roomy enough where you can put all kinds of stuff in them too.

Dogs Guns Zoneminder and Liberty (1)

Mr.Ziggy (536666) | about 2 years ago | (#39529507)

Zoneminder: I use Zoneminder on Ubuntu desktop with Axis IP cameras in a couple of installs (retail location too). New version is good. It's FSF. Downside is very good cameras are expensive, and Zoneminder is a CPU/memory hog with megapixel IP cameras. (Not a project you could Rasberry Pi) So while the software is free, some of the good Axis cameras are over $600 each. IMHO, if you are not interested in spending that much on cameras, just get a Costco system bundle for the time/cost savings. FYI: You MUST have motion capture/detection. There is simply too much data to go through otherwise.

Camera location: It's tempting to put cameras high to 'see more', but you need to have at least one closer to eye level to get a natural looking face picture. Too many people only have high cameras, and you can never clearly see the whole face. I choose a choke point like a doorway or hallway.

Dogs: Effective. But expensive over the long term and time consuming.

Guns: I'm a proponent, but it takes time to be able to shoot effectively. Chance you'll shoot a robber is low.

Safes: Get a better safe. If they ran off with your safe, it was certainly too cheap and small. Floor safes are fantastic when surrounded by concrete. And cheap.

Neighbors: Get to know your neighbors. Coffee and donuts are cheap.

Alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529511)

ZoneMinder [zoneminder.com] or Motion [lavrsen.dk] for video with motion detection. Have it record locally, and rsync or email pictures offsite. You can configure an arduino with some IR and magnetic sensors to notify you of activity in the house. Video motion detection is not quite reliable enough yet. Alternativly, some alarms (eg DSC 1616 with PC5400 addon interface) have a serial output. Alarm companies have a long responsetime, and getting a notification on your phone is not much help if you are away from home. Therefore, talk to your neighbours and set up mutal notification via phone or siren.

Get a pair of cheap axis cams and use motion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529515)

I set up a surveillance rig for an office space a couple years ago on the cheap using axis webcams and a linux box with motion. It can be set to only record images when something moves in the field, is very configurable and workd over tcp-ip so you can expose the cams and protect the server.

Thiis set-up worked great for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529519)

Not trying to plug a particular website or mfg, but several weeks ago I bought this:


And it's worked out great. My particular issue was trying to figure out how raccoons were getting into my house(!). I had fooled with wireless webcam's etc., a real PITA, and pretty flaky. This Qsee package has two decent day/night cameras, the wires to the cameras, and a pretty decent configuration options including built in motion detection. All you need to add is a HD, which if you're on Slashdot you should have a closet-full.

You can even network it, though I did not do so. The only issue I would see with you is that your intruder might see the cameras and destroy them or get around them. This seems pretty spooky to me.

Also next tip, get some ADT window stickers...not the service just the stickers and the yard sign.

Doing it wrong. (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 2 years ago | (#39529521)

Six weeks ago, my home was broken into while my fiance and I were at work. [...] a safe (complete with several years worth of taxes, my birth certificate, and old copies of my driver's license)

Locking things up in a safe is completely pointless if they can pick it up and take it with them. All you've done is give them an easy way to quickly steal all of your important things.

Honeypot (2)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about 2 years ago | (#39529533)

If you're going with a system with obvious cameras, you may want to install a few "honeypot" decoys to throw the thief a little change-up, in case he starts ripping them down to avoid surveillance.

Maybe a boobie-trapped safe, too. Might not be exactly legal, depending on how lethal the boobie-trap is, but it's not like the thief will call the cops and report your trap in a stolen safe. Especially if the boobie-trap is 100% lethal...

get rid of the gun (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529539)

seriously get rid of the gun. you don't want to kill someone do you? maybe a relative? what about when the intruder gets your gun?? very very unwise.

"We've already gotten the dog and the gun, (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#39529591)

so we have those bases covered."

Did you train the dog to shoot the gun?

Then you really don't have all of your bases covered, do you now?

Sharx (1)

Radtastic (671622) | about 2 years ago | (#39529595)

http://www.sharxsecurity.com/ [sharxsecurity.com] has a variety of security cameras. They have wired and wireless, motion-activated notification (by email and ftp), built in storage on camera cards, and more.

They're a bit pricey, (I think I bought a fully loaded wireless and weatherproof model for about $280) but setup was simple and it performed as advertised.

Don't bother with motion cues for exterior (1)

blackcoot (124938) | about 2 years ago | (#39529615)

You'll discover very quickly that using motion cues to trigger anything other than a light outside is either going to generate a bazillion false alarms or basically be so insensitive as to miss everything. In my opinion, your best bet is to setup two zones: the exterior zone and the interior zone. For the exterior zone, several fake cameras (really just camera-shaped pieces of plastic with a blinking light) plus a few otherwise indistinguishable real ones plus DVR can be had for pretty cheap (Costco, for instance, has kits as low as $250ish). You can use either the built-in motion detection or cue from an external unit (haven't done this myself but I expect it to be pretty straightforward based on how I've triggered similar systems in the past). Key piece: make sure that the storage ends up being put somewhere reasonably secure, away from the DVR and things that look like they're worth stealing.

For the interior zone, I'd use same trick(s) except this time you want to trigger off window opening / door opening sensors as well as motion sensors. The hard part will be to make sure you match up to consistently. I'd want a hysteresis threshold (after x seconds of consistent motion, send a snapshot, after an additional y seconds turn on the sirens).

All in all, it's pretty straight-forward but it's likely to be time consuming, which leads me to: are you sure that what you need is a security system to re-establish your sense of security?

Woman (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529619)

If your fiancee is hot, and you have pics of her up, then it's obvious that the black man that robbed you is hoping to catch her alone at the house. He's chilling on your porch waiting.

Suggest you get a rope. You know what to do.

We need noise-level activated, HD street-cam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529645)

After our baby came & (later) was awakened - almost hourly - by loud, speeding hoon-driver, zooming past our front door... we decidede that we need a -similar- system... instead of movement-activation, we need noise-level activation.

We'd like to capture the license-plate number (in a clear photo) & the car and driver (2 cam's, for front & back views, if affordable).

What are our options (preferably, from HK- or Australia-based online or eBay shops)?

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