The Role of Visibility in Home Security

Sep 21, 2013 by

Home Security


This is a contribution by Naomi Broderick. She writes on behalf of Protect Your Home, who provides ADT security systems in Phoenix, Arizona. When she isn’t caring for her three children, she likes to write about good parenting and home practices on emergency preparedness.

When designing a home security system to prepare ourselves for potential emergencies, one of our foremost concerns is how we can monitor our homes while away.

Ideally, we’re able to hook up a system that covers all angles and reduces the chances that invaders might exploit our defenses without our attention. It can help relieve some anxiety in being miles away from our valuables and loved ones, especially when circumstances leave us away from home for an extended period of time.

However, what if the visibility of security cameras was in itself a weakness to your defense?

Among those in the home security and emergency preparedness niches, the issue of whether or not the visibility of a home security system negatively or positively impacts our security has become a topic of great debate. And this extends far beyond just security cameras; everything from locks, security alarms, and motion detectors are up for discussion in the argument.

While there are certainly drawbacks and benefits to each camp, it’s worthwhile considering each side to determine what would benefit your needs most.

The cost of transparency

Many argue that “stealthy” security features, or ones that are difficult or impossible to detect by passersby, are superior in successfully monitoring potential home invasion. The most obvious concern with keeping a home’s security readily apparent is that uninvited visitors will more easily identify exploitable elements.

  • Security cameras can be covered, destroyed, or removed if they are easily located. Modern anti-theft and anti-vandalism features make this more difficult, but it still presents a problem with more resourceful crooks if they’re within reach.
  • Many argue that obvious elements of home security such as security cameras can make it easier for thieves to plan their entrance. Disabling a home’s power when an alternative source of power isn’t present can make such features useless.
  • Alarm systems most frequently only extend to first-floor primary entrances, so signage indicating one might signal criminals to simply seek out less obvious entrances, such as accessible balconies or fenced-in areas.
  • Motion sensors can be easily exploited since they’re often calibrated to ignore low-crawl areas where pets might otherwise accidentally trigger an alarm, so burglars who see these in place can easily bypass them.

The benefits of deterrence

The most commonly credited reason that homeowners use when justifying a readily apparent system is the intangible boon of deterrence. While statistics can be muddy (it’s difficult to track the absence of a crime with precision), studies tend to universally praise the benefits that deterrence has on a household’s security.

Along with guard dogs and neighborhood watches, security systems can undoubtedly boost a home’s ability to dissuade unwanted guests.

Some households regards this benefit so highly that false alarm system signage is often posted in windows with the hopes of scaring off possible home invaders. This bears a lot of similarity to the old trick of “Beware Dog” signs; even if a dog isn’t behind someone’s fence, the idea of having to face a Rottweiler or some other fierce, loyal beast is enough to give even hardened thieves second thoughts.

While deterrence isn’t guaranteed, it has been demonstrated over time that homes equipped with an alarm system tend to greatly reduce the amount of time invaders spend in the premises. Among other benefits is that visible security systems might detract crime on neighboring properties, which can improve your property value in the long-term.

A recommended approach

The ability to prevent crime whereas it might otherwise occur makes some level of transparency a wise choice when planning out home security. However, keep in mind the various ways that equipment can be exploited.

Many advocate equipping a few stealthy elements in your system, so that even if a camera or alarm is obvious, other aspects of your security will still work effectively. Some homeowners go as far as to recommend “dummy” gear in obvious and easily reached areas rather than exploring tamper-proof options.

It’s also highly recommended that your system runs with a back-up or alternative power source. While home security systems are difficult to maintain during grid-down scenarios, keeping a generator aside for the eventuality can be a lifesaver.

Additionally, consider ways that you can boost your home security independently of power sources, such as upgraded locks, window modifications, and fencing reinforcement.

By carefully considering the defense of your premises before installing, you can save money, improve the efficiency of your system, and deter criminals without fear of endangering your equipment.

What other ways would you recommend defending the premises of a home to your fellow preppers.

For more on security, check out our 6 Overlooked Tips to Staying Safe when the SHTF.

1 Comment

  1. JAS

    While no amount of security is fool proof, the more components you have the better off you are. Our first line of defense is a large German Shepherd and beware of dog signs. Our security alarm system is wireless and has battery backup, so cutting the wires to the house will not disable it. It also sends me a text as soon as the power goes out, along with any other error messages or alarm activation. We also added a second, very loud, exterior siren to our system. We also have video surveillance cameras around the house that are also connected to the web for access when we are not home. They include motion detection alarms, recording and battery backup. We have signs warning people that we have both alarms and 24/7 video surveillance posted around the house.