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  1. #1
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    Default Safe Houses - physical security

    From an idea on another thread, I thought we could compile a list of tips and tricks for new and prospective expats to help ensure that they're buying/building in an area that is as safe as possible.

    I posted these few notes and here they are again, a little cleaned up .. please add ..

    Area (gated or non-gated) - who lives there?
    Chat with the neighbors. Is there a community that you can slot into? Is the community helpful. Find out how many burglaries/break-ins attempted or successful over the past year (if any). Verify every piece of information.

    Physical Protection of the Home - what and how is the physical protection to the home installed? What does the 'iron' look like. Through the wall, properly installed or simply for decoration. If you are alone in your home and something happens, will you feel safe? Does the home give adequate protection so that it is really difficult for anyone else to get in?

    Nearby communties - middle class or upper middle class people? or bad barrio?

    How do you get to your house? - through decent space, or do you have to run a gauntlet of some kind. Check out the approaches to the house. Areas where burglars can hide and scope out the scene?

  2. #2
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    This is great, Chris. I'm sure that many have the same questions and concerns that I've posted. I'm getting some PM's from others interested in eventually living in the DR, so this thread will be helpful to all of us.

  3. #3
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    Post Planning ahead is the way to go... just a couple of ideas:

    • Limit the number of points of entry.
    • Use safety doors with imported locks (import them yourself! Locksmiths are often suspects). If you can, use keypad locks, so you can reprogram access if you have to part with employees or love affairs and assign limited access to some people (like cleaning personnel). The hardware can be bought in the States at quite reasonable prices and be installed easily if it has been taken into consideration before building (just like alarm systems, lights and video surveillance).
    • If security is a big issue, like you have goods and values and/or a life style which you feel may attract problems, consider to design SASE-type points of entry (double doors... the second one only opens once the first closes behind the person coming in or leaving) with reach-thru openings to check "tool boxes" and "pizzas" prior offering access to people. This is very easy and not so expensive to do if it is planned ahead.
    • It makes no sense to have a safety front door, when you have an unprotected glass sliding door in the back or a non secure door between your garage and the house interior (two often seen details in the US). Most break ins are from the back (lack of visibility adds to it too, read about fences too.)
    • If you love big windows, entertain the possibility to have columns in between to reduce the "reach-thru" size.
    • Increasing the thickness of glass increases strength by the square. In other words, glass thickness doubled increases the strength 4 times! 8mm glass is considered safe, 12mm is considered a replacement for steel protections IF the frames are solid and set into your building correctly. [FONT=Verdana]There can quickly come a time in which your doors and even windows are more difficult to break in than you cinder block walls (something most never think about, luckily not even most of thieves). Believe it or not, but it is fairly easy to break a hole thru a cinder block wall and the noise from the 9 Pound hammer is less suspicious to neighbors! Something to keep in mind too.[/FONT]
    • If you consider steel protections (rejas) on your windows, have them planed in before building. Have them run directly into the wall with a thru the wall anchoring design (if you are unsure what I mean, I can show you or you may want to study colonial buildings in Santo Domingo too).
    • Fence your property in prior to building. Have a see thru fence so you can see what's going on on the street and people can see if you are under attack. Design your house so that you can see people ringing your bell from the inside. If have known a rich family in an other similar country which got attacked and robed twice and the house emptied an other time in less than a year. They had a huge stone wall fence, just like an old jail house (they've changed to chain link too in new designs) and we were living next to them. We never saw nor heard anything. Later they cut down the wall to 1.5m and a 2.5m high steel fence on top and nothing happened ever again.
    • Have your perimeter and house exterior wired for lights, and your electrical system for timers and/or automatic day-nite switches (there are now 60W low consumption bulbs available [as seen at PriceMart lately], which will light up like a regular 500W flood light!)
    • Have an alarm system that will go off on glass breakage and movement (thieves don't tend do slide open windows, they break'em).
    • A video system can also be a nice deterrent. If you use video, having cameras only pointing from the house outward is NOT a complete solution. You may want to plan ahead (wires) to be able to see from the edges of your property to-wards your home without actually having to go for a walk and ask "is somebody here?". Use only good quality equipment, it's not that much more expensive if you buy it in the States or Europe.
    • Plan ahead for living quarters for your dogs, if that's something you might consider.
    • If you plan for a safe, plan ahead for 2! One you can open and has some stuff you can afford to give away to buy time, an other one NOBODY but you knows about.
    And there is more...

    ... J-D.
    Last edited by J D Sauser; 07-16-2007 at 03:28 PM.

  4. #4
    aka - shadley
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    The only effective security is active anything else can be circumvented.

    Involve yourself in the community
    keep on good terms with your neighbors, make sure they can see your house and you theirs.
    hire a security guard
    keep someone at home all the time
    get two or large dogs and two or more small ones.

    Anything else can easily be broken by a determined thief. Any wall can be climbed, barred windows can be defeated with a belt and a stick, crowbar or a hacksaw blade, most locks can be broken, and a couple good kicks or a simple ram will open almost any door. I have yet to see a house i would want to live in that i couldnt break into in less than 15 minutes..

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by J D Sauser View Post
    • Limit the number of points of entry.
    • Use safety doors with imported locks (import them yourself! Locksmiths are often suspects). If you can, use keypad locks, so you can reprogram access if you have to part with employees or love affairs and assign limited access to some people (like cleaning personnel). The hardware can be bought in the States at quite reasonable prices and be installed easily if it has been taken into consideration before building (just like alarm systems, lights and video surveillance).
    • If security is a big issue, like you have goods and values and/or a life style which you feel may attract problems, consider to design SASE-type points of entry (double doors... the second one only opens once the first closes behind the person coming in or leaving) with reach-thru openings to check "tool boxes" and "pizzas" prior offering access to people. This is very easy and not so expensive to do if it is planned ahead.
    • It makes no sense to have a safety front door, when you have an unprotected glass sliding door in the back or a non secure door between your garage and the house interior (two often seen details in the US). Most break ins are from the back (lack of visibility adds to it too, read about fences too.)
    • If you love big windows, entertain the possibility to have columns in between to reduce the "reach-thru" size.
    • Increasing the thickness of glass increases strength by the square. In other words, glass thickness doubled increases the strength 4 times! 8mm glass is considered safe, 12mm is considered a replacement for steel protections IF the frames are solid and set into your building correctly. [FONT=Verdana]There can quickly come a time in which your doors and even windows are more difficult to break in than you cinder block walls (something most never think about, luckily not even most of thieves). Believe it or not, but it is fairly easy to break a hole thru a cinder block wall and the noise from the 9 Pound hammer is less suspicious to neighbors! Something to keep in mind too.[/FONT]
    • If you consider steel protections (rejas) on your windows, have them planed in before building. Have them run directly into the wall with a thru the wall anchoring design (if you are unsure what I mean, I can show you or you may want to study colonial buildings in Santo Domingo too).
    • Fence your property in prior to building. Have a see thru fence so you can see what's going on on the street and people can see if you are under attack. Design your house so that you can see people ringing your bell from the inside. If have known a rich family in an other similar country which got attacked and robed twice and the house emptied an other time in less than a year. They had a huge stone wall fence, just like an old jail house (they've changed to chain link too in new designs) and we were living next to them. We never saw nor heard anything. Later they cut down the wall to 1.5m and a 2.5m high steel fence on top and nothing happened ever again.
    • Have your perimeter and house exterior wired for lights, and your electrical system for timers and/or automatic day-nite switches (there are now 60W low consumption bulbs available [as seen at PriceMart lately], which will light up like a regular 500W flood light!)
    • Have an alarm system that will go off on glass breakage and movement (thieves don't tend do slide open windows, they break'em).
    • A video system can also be a nice deterrent. If you use video, having cameras only pointing from the house outward is NOT a complete solution. You may want to plan ahead (wires) to be able to see from the edges of your property to-wards your home without actually having to go for a walk and ask "is somebody here?". Use only good quality equipment, it's not that much more expensive if you buy it in the States or Europe.
    • Plan ahead for living quarters for your dogs, if that's something you might consider.
    • If you plan for a safe, plan ahead for 2! One you can open and has some stuff you can afford to give away to buy time, an other one NOBODY but you knows about.
    And there is more...

    ... J-D.
    Thought Chris had a great idea here and your points are so justified but I don't want to live in a Fort Knox lookalike - am I stange?

  6. #6
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    Whirleybird : if you don't want to live like this so don't live here. Those are great ideas and I think they are really necessary. I live alone in an apartment. I have 2 big dogs, and my main door has 5 locks!!!! The door at the back has 2, and I'm still don't feel secure. I am fighting with my Dominican neighboors to loch the front door. I have steel bars at each windows and never leave a window open at night...even if it is really hot, as I live downstairs. And I live in a gated community near Puerto Plata....where there are lots of robberies.....
    As always, some will care a lot about security and will be robbed anyway (as my friend : they robbed 6000 euros and a computer here in Costambar), others won't do anything and won't have any problem....This is life!!!
    I don't like to live like this. Before coming to Puerto plata I was living with poor Dominicans in the campo, never heard of any problem. I don't know if times have changed or what, but now it is really difficult.
    And I'm open to any suggestion to have a better security...Thanks to everybody.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Estrella1 View Post
    Whirleybird : if you don't want to live like this so don't live here. Those are great ideas and I think they are really necessary. I live alone in an apartment. I have 2 big dogs, and my main door has 5 locks!!!! The door at the back has 2, and I'm still don't feel secure. I am fighting with my Dominican neighboors to loch the front door. I have steel bars at each windows and never leave a window open at night...even if it is really hot, as I live downstairs. And I live in a gated community near Puerto Plata....where there are lots of robberies.....
    As always, some will care a lot about security and will be robbed anyway (as my friend : they robbed 6000 euros and a computer here in Costambar), others won't do anything and won't have any problem....This is life!!!
    I don't like to live like this. Before coming to Puerto plata I was living with poor Dominicans in the campo, never heard of any problem. I don't know if times have changed or what, but now it is really difficult.
    And I'm open to any suggestion to have a better security...Thanks to everybody.
    I think you may have misunderstood what I meant.... my fault for being so inarticulate, I will PM you if I may

  8. #8
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    Wink Culture Around You

    Quote Originally Posted by Estrella1 View Post
    .... poor Dominicans in the campo, never heard of any problem....
    Again it depends.

    There are 'bad barrios' with little crime... the inhabitants 'commute' to their daily places of theft and robberies...

    Other barrios are notoriously known for their daylight thefts of clothes, gas cylinders, shoes, anything loose...

    Immerse in the culture... yeah.

    m'frog

  9. #9
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    and who would ever have 6000 euros in their house?? I wouldn't even have 6000 pesos....

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Estrella1 View Post
    Whirleybird : if you don't want to live like this so don't live here. Those are great ideas and I think they are really necessary. I live alone in an apartment. I have 2 big dogs, and my main door has 5 locks!!!! The door at the back has 2, and I'm still don't feel secure. I am fighting with my Dominican neighboors to loch the front door. I have steel bars at each windows and never leave a window open at night...even if it is really hot, as I live downstairs. And I live in a gated community near Puerto Plata....where there are lots of robberies.....
    As always, some will care a lot about security and will be robbed anyway (as my friend : they robbed 6000 euros and a computer here in Costambar), others won't do anything and won't have any problem....This is life!!!
    I don't like to live like this. Before coming to Puerto plata I was living with poor Dominicans in the campo, never heard of any problem. I don't know if times have changed or what, but now it is really difficult.
    And I'm open to any suggestion to have a better security...Thanks to everybody.
    Costambar pretty much says it all. As I've said before, why do people live there? Never heard a good thing about it except for the $RD600 golf course.
    I think I'd move.....my humble opinion.

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