Home Security by Alarms and Cameras

While Bangkok is not known for a lot of theft, nevertheless we receive many firsthand reports of breakins and stealing. In my 12 years in Thailand, I've never experienced theft from my houses or apartments, some of which were fairly remote with minimal security, and I haven't been very careful, so I consider myself lucky.

Many apartment and condominium buildings have very good camera security, including closed circuit TV (CCTV), but sometime go to the CCTV room and you may find it unoccupied or not really monitored. The CCTV should have motion detection (so that it's not just recordings of hallways for hours with nothing moving) and video storage that isn't overwritten for a long time (many just overwrite the same hard disk or tape, cycling every few days). If you go out of town for a few days, you don't want to come back to no video footage. Besides, if you don't recognize the thief, so what?

Most upper end housing estates are gated communities with a security guard in the front and others going around on bicycles (quietly). However, it's not difficult for a thief to see their patterns and go break into your back door. Window bars are attached by screws and detachable by screwdriver in a short time, and locks can be picked or cut by professional thieves.

Every serious security system I have installed has included intrusion detection, a loud alarm, flashing lights, and some means to contact the owner or guardian of the property (SMS, or recorded message).

Security guards are poorly paid, and they also know your schedule. A lot of theft has been done with one or more security guards as key conspirators. While most security guards are honest and not thieves nor conspirators, it's well known that there have been many who are not.

It is easy to deter over 90% of thieves by some simple measures. If a potential thief sees a small sign in the Thai language warning of a security system with loud alarms and cameras, and if they see a keypad with a red light on, or a camera with a red light on, then they usually won't go in. It doesn't matter if it's really just a fake alarm system with a battery operated red LED.

External infrared or other motion detection devices which turn on a light and/or put out a chirp can also deter thieves without crying wolf over a stray dog or cat.

However, if you have anything valuable inside, then why not get a full alarm system for a small price?

In the USA, I always had an alarm system, and I did have attempted breakins. I hid the keypad inside my home near the front door, with a 5 second delay (I had 10 seconds to type in the 4-digit code correctly) before the loud alarms and lights started flashing. It also dialed a phone number with a recorded message, and sent a message to my pager (that was the 1985-94 period). I ran a communications and computer consulting operation with confidential and sensitive information as well as valuable computer parts and other things inside, both at a city center makeshift office and at home. I had a loud hidden outdoor alarm speaker and lots of lights that would flash. To hear and see my alarm system go off was enough to evoke panic even during a planned test. Nothing of significance was ever stolen.

In the US, I built these from Radio Shack parts and some custom computer components, but I would never use Radio Shack again in Thailand because I have repeatedly bought defective merchandise from Radio Shack in Thailand, from a home alarm with multiple failed parts to a simple digital fever thermometer for my daughter and lots of things in-between, and there no money-back policy in Thailand. I think Radio Shack might dump defective products onto Third World countries with weak consumer laws and where the population doesn't complain much publicly.

Fortunately, there have emerged vendors of affordable DIY home security systems in Bangkok over the past 5 years.

There are many options for an alarm system, so I will just outline the full-featured alarm system and then you can trim back what you don't need.

  • Central base station for programming and controlling everything
  • A wireless remote (like a car alarm) and/or wired digital keypad (tamper proof)
  • Infrared detectors to automatically turn on outside lights when a warm body approaches
  • A loud alarm speaker
  • Flashing lights
  • Cameras, for both storing images while away, and monitoring places while at home
  • Computer for handling camera images
  • Internet server for storing images (such as our web server)
  • Battery backup power (and you can also be notified by SMS of power outages immediately)

    • DSL always-on internet connection to upload images and/or SMS you when the alarm is triggered, or
    • Wireless mobile phone internet connection to upload images and/or SMS you when the alarm is triggered
      (Even if they steal the computer, the images have already been uploaded to the server.)
  • Motion detection software, to upload only images when something moves
  • User friendly software to control all this

Thailand Guru can install these systems. Contact us to tell us about what kind of system and features you would like, and whether you are in a suburban house or city center apartment or condominium building.

 > Regions, Condos, Houses, Apts > Tips for Homesteading > Security Alarms, Cameras

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