Like most photographers, I have invested a lot in my equipment and after having break-ins at my office, car, and home, I am on a crusade to secured my equipment. I like to share some of my strategies to help prevent others from losing valuable gear as well as provide some cost saving alternatives. Although this is written primarily for photographers, I think many of the points are valid for anybody.
Updated to include the latest apps and strategies.
Alarm – Having an alarm is key for me but I understand it is not an easy expense to justify since it cost hundreds for initial equipment/installation and monthly monitoring fee. My alarm is worthwhile since it allows me to arm and monitor status on my smartphone while away. Some system you can even control lights, doors, and surveillance system. You can save on installation by using reputable DIY system online such as Protect America and Front Point. Protect America also doesn’t charge for equipment. If you simply can’t afford it, at least get a yard sign and window decals which is dirt cheap. According to asecurelife.com ”yard signs deter 60% of burglars.” Also add a beware of dog sign (and adopt a dog =).Lighting and Sound – Keep your home/office lit and audible even when vacant. There are numerous timers or sensors that can be picked up at a hardware store which can be setup to turn on based on motion, brightness, or set hours. Radio alarm clocks can sometimes be used for this purpose as well. It may be an extra cost in electricity bill but use CFLs and it will keep the cost to a minimum.
Hidden and Exposed – Burglars want to be in and out quickly. Leave out decoy wallets with a few bucks and used gift cards. Leave out locked jewelry boxes with some nuts and bolts inside. Keep your valuables hidden and locked. Only you can determine where is the best hiding place but keep in mind how frequently you access the items should determine how hard it is to get to. It shouldn’t be so exposed that a burglar can easily get to by rummaging through your stuff but it shouldn’t be a hassle for you to get to otherwise you might end up not using it.
Security Cameras – Nowadays you can monitor security cameras from your smartphone and you can do it inexpensively with software that you can run on your computer or old smart phone. One simple software for Macs is EvoCam. For old smart phones, I use AtHome which is available for both Android and iOS. You can also get inexpensive wide angle lenses for cell phones to give you a wider field of view.
Safes and Lockers – Stuff you cannot hide should be kept in a safe or locker that is bolted to the wall or floor. A safe is pretty expensive but you can get a fairly large metal gun locker for a reasonable price with the main disadvantage being non fireproof.
OUT AND ABOUT
Junk in your Trunk – Keep valuable out of sight in the trunk, in addition, do not wait until you arrive at your destination to put it there as there may be opportunists watching. Some vehicles have mechanism for securing the trunk such as turning the key in the opposite direction to lock the trunk or disabling the trunk release inside the cabin so if someone smashes the window, they can’t easily pop the trunk.
Hard Case – I travel with my valuables in a impenetrable pelican case. They are not cheap but don’t fret on buying used as most hard cases carry a lifetime warranty so you can send back to the manufacturer if anything goes wrong. My case has two padlock holes which I use with a TSA approved lock and a cable lock. The TSA lock will keep it from opening and the cable lock will allow me to chain it on location. When it is in my trunk, I keep a thicker cable lock chained to the handle.
Inventory – One of the first thing I do with all new gear is put the serial number in a spreadsheet and label everything with my email and phone number in two different locations; one visible and one concealed. If a good samaritan finds your gear they can check the visible label and contact you, if someone else gets a hold of you gear and claims it as their own, you can check the concealed label to verify it is indeed yours. The serial number is a second means of verifying your gear and should you need to file a police report for theft.
Layers – Security works in layer, there isn’t any one surefire thing on here that will defeat a determined thief, the best you can do if create layers of obstacles in order to slow down or deter them.
If you have any suggestions for another layer of security, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you and stay safe!