..literally, in a day or two. Meet tomorrow with a consultant for an alarm system at Jenna's house. I was up there alone last night, working. Mike had suggested that I would get more rest if I was there overnight, instead of trying to get up early here and make the drive, to meet the carpet layers today. The house is our home away from home now, so I agreed with his idea.
I got there late afternoon, only to have to sit tight for about an hour and a half, due to heavy rainfall. That put me off on planting the pickup truck load of shrubs I wanted to dig in, since the yard was standing in a couple inches of water afterwards. I decided to make my Sam's run instead, and pick up a couple of last minute repair parts for the two rentals.
Got home about dark. Went into the house across the yard, to clean off a greasy stove, so the contractor's men could set it back out of the family room and into its place in the kitchen, out of the carpet crew's way this morning. Fun, fun. FUN....!
Not long after I walked back over to Jenna's, Mike called to see how things were going, and I was busy cleaning some windows on the inside in the front two rooms, chatting with him on the bluetooth. My truck was parked in the front yard, so I could unload it at the lower set of entrance steps there. As we were talking, I saw headlights coming into the adjacent yard, and it was an unfamiliar car.
This is a mile back down a deadend, private lane, at almost ten o'clock at night. When I realized the car wasn't anyone I knew, which I could see from the porch lights on the two houses, I stepped out onto the porch, to get a better look. Probably not my smartest choice, but, DUH!
When the driver saw my truck, the car spun hard in a doughnut on the wet grass in the front yard of the other house, and when I stepped outside, they floored it. So, I am thinking: YOu KNOW you weren't supposed to be here...and, you certainly didn't expect ME to be here, either!
Told my contractor about it this morning, and he said they'd seen a whole truck and trailer outfit roll in one day, turn and roll right back out again, when they saw the workmen there. My painter had a similar experience early one morning of the nights he and his family spent there...but, with a different vehicle description. So, at least three unknown vehicles with suspicious behavior in the past couple of weeks...and, who knows what's gone on while we were all gone?????
Mike's decided we need to go ahead and put alarms on Jenna's house. Nothing of huge monetary value there, but everything in it has sentimental value, because it was hers. Insurance can't replace emotional value. We took all the main theft targets out early on...lawnmower, TVs and other electronics, guns, etc. Also, her photos and jewelry and such are here for safekeeping. Still,.her furniture and household items that we plan to use there mean a lot to us.
I go in and out often, but not every day, and the contractors are all winding down now. I can't argue with the thoughts on the alarm system. The place is a ways from here, but only five minutes from the sheriff's department.. close enough to make a call worthwhile.
That strange visitor last night rattled me so much, I locked the doors...then was locked out about 10:45 myself, when I went out to cool off in the evening air and call Mike to say goodnight, about an hour after the intruder's visit. I've never done that before...apparently, it's the brand of locks we put on this time when we changed them...not all brands unlock when you open them from the inside.
Our son came over to check out things after the night riders rode off, and I reached him on my cell, to let him know of my boo-boo. He broke into the door for me...so Mike didn't have a three-hour round trip to save my skin.
My first getaway night was a bit TOO eventful for my liking. Hard to fall asleep, after having someone speed off when encountered in our private drive, then the adrenaline of being upset over my mistake with security. Maybe I'll go ahead and add the temperature alarms to the setup, so I can get called when the weather gets too rough for my plumbing...thanks, Nebrfarmer!
With cell based alarms and battery backups, we don't need a landline installed, whcih he had hoped to avoid doing. Just wondered if anyone else here uses home alarms, and if so, what fine points can you tell me, before I meet this salesman tomorrow? TIA.
Re: Being alarmed....
Kay, I don't think you have any choice. You've been warned that they are checking out the place. Maybe a trail camera might be an idea until the system is installed. Maybe some motion sensor lights on the porch too.
Re: Being alarmed....
We have a wildlife camera in the yard at Jenna's house, in case anyone gets too nosy. I watch tracks in the lane, too.
The main thing that will help is the tenants moving in, which should be this month in two houses, including the one near Jenna's, and maybe September for the third one. Having the homes occupied is the best deterrent to interlopers and curiosity seekers.
I talked with the realtor today. She is ready to roll, says this is prime move-in time, with school opening the Tuesday after Labor Day. That was my goal in pushing so hard these past few weeks. The housekeeper is coming Saturday, to wash windows, bathrooms and kitchens in the two that are renter ready. Carpet went in them yesterday, and the contractor finished today.
The yard lights at Jenna's come on at dusk, and I keep her porch light on at all times...When the painter finishes, the new lights to be put up will be dawn to dusk on dim, and then flash brighter with motion in their range.
The alarm consultant was very helpful today. Mike and I decided to try a cell based system. The cell charge falls within the monitoring plan's fee limit we selected, so has to be cheaper than a landline in addition to the monitoring. In fact, the contract is cheaper than our landline alone is here.
Hope AT&T has enough signal to make it work for us there. The install tech will test and find the best location in the house for the wireless connection. If not, we can force the phone company to re-establish a landline, since they are a public utility.
We chose wireless contacts and detectors, too, since hardwiring in an old house can be tricky. I asked for a quick install appointment, and so hope they will be there early next week. I added a temp parameter alarm too, so I can monitor the house over my concerns for things freezing up there this winter.
We opted for a fairly basic smoke and burglar package, with the temps added in. For what it costs to buy a soda at the store, I can cover this concern daily.,,and, I don't drink sodas anymore, so it's no sacrifice.
AARP gave a good 20% discount on the equipment, and enough off the monthly monitoring fee to more than cover their annual membership fee. Also, Farm Bureau gives a 20% discount here on homeowners premiums, for installing the alarms.
Mike says he is about ready to install on the office and house here, too. You get more discounts for additional sites and services, so I may ask my sales rep, although this place would be outside his territory. .
I will just have to satisfy myself that this is the best I can do for now. I can lock the whole farm until then, if I get too uptight about it. For now, thought, I have the housekeeper and lawn service to allow on, until the tenants materialize.
I figure I have about a four-day exposure at most. I plan to go up there two of those four,and the lawn guy and the housekeeper will be going in, too, as well as our son and his help.
I am just hoping I scared the night visitors more than they scared me.
Now,to work out the TV reception up there. I have the Internet worked out, between DROID and iPad. If I can figure out hbogo and directv's mobile services, we will be cooking...Kindle FIRE can do some of that, too.
Re: Being alarmed....
Regretfully, that night I hadn't packed a pistol, and we removed Jenna's weapons right away after she passed, so there was nothing in the house. This is more "home" than NC is to me, so I have always felt safe there. May re-think that...the alarms go in this week.
Re: Being alarmed....
1) Our local sheriff once told me, they catch more people these days because of infrared game cams, than just about anything else, on rural property. The trick is if to find a position for it, to get license plates, without them seeing it, and get the flashless infrared ones. In fact, I'd use two, quite a ways apart, because if they find one, they probably think they 'got' it, and will not look for a second one. My neighbor has a 'driveway alarm' on an old yard a ways away from where he lives. Not sure how it works, but if anyone drives down the lane, it activates a camera, and calls him.
2) Get a lockset with a combination lock on it. We put on on my dad's house, that is user-programmable, and he absolutely LOVES it. All he has to do, is remember the code, and he is never locked out. It is designed so if someone smashes the keypad with a hammer or bar, it stays locked tight. A little over $100, and well worth it. There are cheaper ones, as well, but not all of them are guaranteed to be bash-proof. They fit right where the old deadbolt was. If there is an attatched garage, many new openers have an external keypad to open the door with a code.
Re: Being alarmed....
We have used game cameras, and will continue to do so, I am sure. There is one in Jenna's yard right now. Also had one further down the lane, for precisely the reason you stated.
I am less about catching the person after the fact, than catching them in the act, in this instance. I think that the photos identifying the culprits are more about catching and convicting, the alarms about stopping the loss and protecting the occupants.
Does that make sense to you, when I say it that way? Conviction is for punishment, interrupting the crime is for prevention of a loss or personal harm...or, at least that is my perception. Since this is to be a family home, prevention is important enough an objective to us there to at least give the alarms a try.
This company gives us a six-month trial period, in a three-year contract. I like that they have disaster call center shifting, so that if the center monitoring you is lost or compromised, the load shifts to another one automatically. Not all services have that capability. We have natural disasters often enough in this region, that it is a consideration.
They also cover the first $500 of a theft on your homeowner's coverage, if the system is alarmed at the time of the loss. That is not as reassuring in some respects, since it says some burglars can beat the alarm system; but, it would help replace some items.
The consultant was a very nice man...explained everything in clearcut terms, and not at all pressuring me to do things I didn't see as necessary. For example, he didn't push me to put contacts on every window...just the doors. He figured the motion detector location in a very accurate way, given how you have to move through this old, strangely laid-out house.
On the combination locks, I had thought about the combination type...we have them here in NC on the house. Another one is ready to install on the office, as soon as I get the rear door that we use most often painted.
It is pretty neat, but I couldn't find one in the finish I want for that house, so settled for keyed-alike sets for both doors, which have one key to open the door locks and deadbolts. These are also easy to re-key yourself, with a "smartkey" design, in case we ever need to limit access to others with keys down the road...prevents having to buy new locks.
Probably the type I need to put on all the rentals from here on out. A new set of locks for two entrances is over $100 between tenants now. Of course, the best money is in getting good tenants to start with, and having them stay for a long time. That's what I am trusting my agent to find, if she can.
Re: Being alarmed....
I understand, you want to scare off miscreants, so to speak. I think an alarm, especially one hooked to floodlights makes perfect sense.
On a lighter note, my brother in law though he had kids sneaking into his garage 'frige' and swiping some beer he kept in there, even though he locked the door. Nothing else was really disturbed, but he could never catch who did it.
The walk in door was wooden, with a metal doorknob. He hooked up an electric fencer to the knob (the oultet in the garage was controlled by a breaker in the porch of the house) flipped the power on, and that night, was awakened by the screams of one of his sons, and a couple of his friends' laughter.