Home Security Part IV: Detect

Having weapons and the skills to use them is a vitally important part of home security, but these things do you no good if taken completely by surprise.  Waking up from deep sleep with a home invader standing over your bed is not optimal.  The ability to detect a breach of the home with enough warning to prepare a defense is essential. 

For this discussion, we assume that deterrence methods have failed and a determine invader, or multiple invaders, are intent on breaking into your home while you are there.  What tools can we rely on to give us as much warning as possible?  Again, you will see that several of the tools that serve as deterrence also serve for detection, but here we focus on the detection role exclusively. 

Motion Activated Lighting

This tool again shines (no pun intended) for the detection portion of home defense.  When a light kicks on around the perimeter of your home it can serve as a first sign of intrusion, if you happen to see the light activate.  Besides possibly alerting you, however, outdoor lighting will allow you to see and identify people who are outside of your home in the dark.  Having a well-lit perimeter fosters your ability to prepare for a breach of the home before it happens.

Strong Portals

Once again, re-enforced doors and windows might serve to deter an invasion, but in this regard, they serve to offer detection by requiring more time to breach, thus giving you more warning.  A strong door that requires many kicks, rather than a single kick, allows you time to prepare.  External doors should be enhanced with deep-set screws that attach the strike plates to the studs underneath rather than only to the flimsy framing wood. Likewise, use security bars to further strengthen the external doors.

Similarly, secured windows that can’t be jimmied will force a breach through the glass, making more noise and taking more time on the part of the invader.  Windows and doors should be kept locked at all times when at home or while out of the home.  The time delay imposed on invaders by strong portals is an essential component of home defense. 


An essential part of detection is an alarm system of some kind.  There are full-blown alarm systems that you can pay for to have monthly monitoring, and these can be good.  However, there are many systems that can be installed independently that, while not offering monitoring, serve the most important purpose of an alarm system; alerting you to a breach.

One of my favorite tools in this regard is motion detection technology.  The detectors can be placed to observe entry points, doors and windows alike, and the monitor can be plugged in next to you at night, or anywhere else during the day.  If the detectors sense movement, the alarm sounds.  A possible complication of motion sensors is, of course, that other family members or pets can set them off.  The strategic placement of the sensors can mitigate this issue to some extent. 

Another alarm option is that of door and window sensors.  Similar to the motion detection systems available, sensors can be placed on individual doors and windows to sound the alarm if a door opens or if a window is forced open.  One consideration is that window sensors will not work if the glass of the window is broken and the invader passes through the broken glass, as the sensor detects the actual opening of the window frame.  Another technology that some monitored security systems use is glass break sensors.  These detect the sound of breaking glass.  I have used this option in the past and experienced false alarms due to thunder, or even something falling in the house.  Glass break sensors can be faulty.

For these reasons, I prefer monitoring windows with motion detection.  As long as the windows have drawn blinds or curtains, as they certainly should for security during the night, motion sensors work well.


Cameras are smaller, more concealable, and more affordable than ever.  The strategic placement of security cameras around your property can facilitate monitoring of these locations by looking at the live camera feed on a phone, iPad, or Tablet.  Such cameras can also be had that sense motion, thus alerting you to the presence of someone while also offering a view of that sector. 

Having cameras set up in conjunction with sensor or motion sensor alarms provides the ability to detect intrusion, and also the ability to verify who is intruding, without having to physically investigate.  If you are in bed, for example, on the second floor of the house and the alarm sounds, you could look at the security camera feed from your phone to observe what set the alarms off, thus offering advanced warning and preparation.  Obviously, such camera monitoring relies on electricity, and if the grid is down due to a local or mass scale blackout, this technology will be compromised.  Having backup alarm systems that can be battery powered are worth the investment for such an emergency.


Obviously, a good guard dog can be a very effective form of detection.  However, in my experience, even dogs that are alert most of the time will sometimes get lax, fall into deep sleep, or become distracted.  A dog can be excellent for both detection and deterrence, but relying only on your furry friend for advanced warning of a home invasion is not wise.  Still, a good dog, along with a good system of alarms, is an excellent double layer of security.

The ability to detect a home invader in time to foster a defensive plan is essential.  There are many affordable innovations now available to enhance your home security by providing the ability to detect an attempted breach of your home so that you can prepare in time to defend your household.

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