When I look at some product reviews these days – cars, flat screens, laptops, I’m surprised to see how they often start off talking about how they look. Cars have to be sleek, flat screens have to be sleeker, and laptops have to be thin and shiny. At first I thought that abandoning any pretense of a serious review by starting off with the looks was a little laughable. But then, it occurred to me that to most people (and I grudgingly include myself in this category), any kind of purchase has to look the part. I mean, people rave about the iPhone, even if it doesn’t have very good call quality (the latest version of the iPhone apparently has serious problems in this area too). A phone is to speak on; and the iPhone has issues in that area. So why bring this all up to explain home security? It’s just that this is a new theory that’s doing the rounds with security experts. Whatever it is about your stuff that you love the most, is what attracts the thieves too. If you could dowdy up your most valued stuff, that would be something that would discourage potential thieves from sizing it up.
To people who have a passionate interest in keeping their home intruder free when they are out on vacation, the best home security system they can afford is sometimes not enough. In some ways, it seems too easy to simply throw money at the problem. To get creative, they go for the “previously broken into” look. What they do is, right before they leave on a vacation, they tear through their home to make it look like it got hit by hurricane. Drawers get pulled out and their contents spilled, cupboards get emptied on the floor, mattresses get tossed on the floor, and they leave a couple of pretty useless looking pieces of electronic stuff, old computers and the like, in plain sight. The hope is that should a burglar come in, he’s going to think right away that this house has been hit already he’s going to look at the worthless electronic stuff on display, and decide that this isn’t a house worth robbing.
This actually does work as a home security measure. But there are other ways to protect your stuff too. As awful as it sounds, there actually is a kind of fringe following for this method of property protection. Let’s say that you have a bike that costs something like $2000. You know that taking it apart and tying it to a lamppost doesn’t always work. So what you do is, you take a pieces of sandpaper, and liberally apply its effects all over to destroy its look; you slash the seat a bit and tie it up with masking tape. Park out in plain sight on a bike rack on any street, and no thief is going to take a look at it, because he knows it’s not marketable. It will work like the top of the range bike it is, but it will look like something you stole from the dumpster.
There is a blog by traveling photographer Jimmie Rogers where he talks about the lengths he goes to disguise his expensive camera when he travels to some of the disreputable parts of the world. You can read all about it on his blog, but basically, he says he got mugged, but they left his camera alone, and because he made sure it looked such a nightmare. It doesn’t have to just work for home security; it could work for you wherever you go. Would you believe that they make and sell ready-made ugly face plates for things like your cell phone and your car stereo?
There are other great ideas for home security and the security of your other stuff that doesn’t involve actually scratching up the new things. Want to protect your nice new iPod from potential thieves? How about a case for your iPod that looks like an old cassette Walkman? Or if you want to protect your money, how about buying a pair of underwear that will come pre-stained? It comes with a little money pocket. The one I like best is the moldy sandwich bag. These are plastic Ziploc bags that have a moldy looking stain printed in the middle. You leave your sandwich in this kind of bag in the office fridge, and no one’s going to want to even come near the fridge.