Tuesday, June 9, 2015

13 security tips for weekenders and other desert dwellers

At last night's Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council (for the 9 unincorporated communities) the Sheriff's Department addressed the recent rash of burglaries in the area. These 13 tips should help. (I'm linking some of these things to my Amazon affiliate account. I hope you don't mind. They're not paying bloggers like they used to and a girl's got to buy lipstick, right?)

1. Facebook and social media
Keep your city and desert social media accounts separate. Do not announce vacations or side trips. Post about them after the fact. People following you on social media should be under the impression that you’re at your property 24/7. Vary your schedule. Try to come out in the week sometimes.

2. Know your neighbors
I know. You bought your desert cabin to get away, to get you some peace and solitude. Still, take some time and get to know your neighbors. Most of them want peace and solitude, too. You may only ever talk to them once, but because they know who you are they’ll probably keep an eye on your place.

3. Don’t antagonize your neighbors
Keep a low profile until you know your neighbors well.  Keep the loud music, parties, OHV-riding, pot smoking and nudity on the down low. Be a jerk and your neighbors may turn a blind eye when the scrappers come by.

4. No trespassing signs
Post “No Trespassing” signs on your property – some say every 150’. You may also want to post signs for “No Hunting” and “No OHVs” (Off Highway Vehicles).

5. Steel doors
If you have a rickety wooden door, or some shabby chic glass panel vintage door, replace it with a steel door and casing, and a deadbolt. Apply a faux finish if you must.

6. Timers
Use static and random timers on your lights and radios. Just let your neighbors know you’re doing this so they don’t call the sheriff because a light is on and you’re not there.

7. Motion detectors
Leaving an outdoor light on may seem like a good idea but desert dwellers like their dark skies. Install motion detector flood lights at key points on your property. Do this before you buy your cowboy bathtub and you may get to keep your cowboy bathtub.

8. Lay tracks
If you’re not going to be around much, ask friends to drive by and “lay tracks.” Make it look like people are there on a regular basis.

9. Decoys
Consider leaving a broken down car near your house. (Remember though, you will have to get rid of it eventually.) Buy extra large work boots at a thrift store and leave them outside your door. Put a rock in each one so they don’t blow away. A dog house with an anchor and a thick chain attached can be intimidating. On the other hand, don't advertise what may be inside your cabin. Don't leave vodka bottles in the trash, rolling papers in the ashtray, or boxes for electronics behind the trash can. Especially pick up your shell casings. Lawbreakers like to steal guns and that could be a tragedy.

10. Be smart. Lock everything up all the time.
Get window locks and dowels so you can leave your windows and sliding doors open a bit at night when you’re using your swamp cooler.

11. Keep your inventory in the cloud
Take pictures, record serial numbers, of your belongings. Keep these in the cloud (like google drive). They won’t do much good if they’re on the hard drive of your stolen computer.

12. Get a club and a locking gas cap
Auto crime is up. Be a hard target, and for pete’s sake, don’t leave your laptop, tablet or cell phone in your car. I read about this all the time. Peoples, don’t be stupid! If a lawbreaker doesn't get it the heat will probably kill it.

13. Alarms
If you have WIFI consider installing an alarm system. Some systems will call you on your smart phone if they’re tripped. You can check your place through the cameras and can call the sheriff if you see a crime in progress. Don't forget to lock your electrical box or the lawbreakers could just shut you down.

Your best line of defense is your neighbors. Get to know them. Look out for them. Take notes and call the sheriff if you see something suspicious. Do not confront a possible burglar.