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well that is a little unsettling

So my house security system false alarmed a few days back, and I was on the work line when the monitoring company called my cell phone, so I could not tell them not to send the police. Once I looked up the phone number and verified they were a monitoring company, and then checked the web interface for my alarm system, I scrambled back home and arrived about the same time as the patrol car did. Externally, the house appeared fine, but since the police officer was already there, I figured it would not hurt to have/let him help with the clearing of the house – after all, he has that training.

No entryways were broken into, no windows were smashed, and nothing was so much as moved out of location; given that it was the basement motion sensor that went off, the cats might have managed to trip it, but it is supposedly capable of discriminating out anything under 50 pounds, and they do not mass that collectively. This is the third time the system has false-alarmed in our three years of home ownership, which I guess is not bad, but it is getting a bit annoying.

However, the police officer did have a few borderline-snarky things to say about my carry firearms laying around on top of my dresser (just as well he did not see the ones in the dresser), and, in fairness, he has a point. My safe in the basement might slow down a dedicated thief, but just laying hardware out in the open is certainly no deterrence at all.

By the same token, I am not going to disarm my bedroom entirely, nor am I going to bother tromping down to the basement every time I get dressed or undressed on the weekends, nor do I have anywhere acceptable to install a full-size gun safe in the master bedroom.

Which only leaves "bedside" or "handgun" safes. Which is a problem. Why? The majority of bedside / handgun safes are functionally worthless and can arguably be broken into by anyone with the most rudimentary of skills and tools. Now, in reality, unless we are talking about a four-figure safe bolted to a concrete slab, any given "safe" merely keeps the honest people honest, and keeps the idle, inquisitive types out, so the question becomes, "How much do you want to delay someone getting in?" I do not have kids, but I do have a rather noisy alarm system with a police response time of around 20 minutes, so the general idea would be to secure the handguns until the alarm convinced the criminals to leave; securing them until the police arrive is a bit unrealistic for this scenario.

So, what are the safe company recommendations? Are some companies safes less easy to pop open than others? And, if so, how hard it is it to get into in the middle of the night with the alarm waking me up? I would prefer a safe that does not require a key for entry – remembering where the key is, much less keeping it in a safe spot, just adds to the complexity – and while rotary dial safes are not high on my list either for accessibility, it seems they might be necessary for the "security" standpoint.

Thoughts?

(Note: I completely and totally repudiate the specious notion that, if my firearms were to be stolen, I would be responsible for the criminal "being able" to do so. The simple fact is that by closing and locking my house, I have secured my firearms – if someone breaks into my house and relieves me of my property, whatever that property is, the thief is singularly and exclusively responsible for his actions. The other simple fact is that no home safe will stop a person interested in getting into it; the safe may slow the person down – which, after all, is the entire point of security – but this is one of the core problems with "safe storage" laws: the eventually result in you not being allowed to keep your firearms at home, period. I am only pursuing smaller safes now because I rather like the firearms I have accumulated, and I would hate to go to the trouble of replacing them.

All that said, I would point out that a single one of my ammunition cans is worth more, these days, than some/all of my firearms individually, and could be just as disastrous in the wrong hands. Strangely, you never see folks advocating much for the safe storage of that…)

12 comments to well that is a little unsettling

  • You at minimum should have a stack-on pistol cabinet somewhere semi obvious, but well bolted down, and with something of weight in it. They will dick around trying to get into that and spend less time looking for other things. By the time the ‘gunsafe’ with the glock sticker on it has revealed its prized bag of reloading shot it will be time to go.

  • Archer

    Question: Is there anything (furniture, etc.) in your basement the cats climb and then leap down from?

    12 lb. cat dropping from a few feet up is >50 lbs. of pressure on the floor.

    On that note, the force required for them to propel themselves vertically more than a few feet – to end up on top of said furniture – could exceed 50 lbs. of pressure.

  • @ dave w: Heh, a decoy safe… worth a thought, though the wife might not like the decor ;).

    @ Archer: I think the company uses “50 pounds” as a way for people to visualize the x/y/z/ dimensions of a pet – given that these are standard wall-mount motion sensors that cost all of $30 a pop, I do not think they can sense the floor flexing. Especially since it is a concrete slab down here.

    That said, if one of them were to dive into one of their cardboard boxes and propel it across the floor? That might meet the sensor’s requirements.

    I need to install them a webcam, apparently ;).

  • Nathan

    Check out Deviant Olam’s talk on guns and gun safes. A bunch of them are worthless, but there’s one at the end that he actually approves of and couldn’t easily break into. Worth a look for a “quick-access” safe.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYyPfJxmUtI

    There are two things you’re looking for, basically: Time + Noise. The more confusion the better; the more time elapses before anything is found, the better. Given that, there’s also a company that makes gun storage shelving that LOOKS like OTHER types of shelving. I forget the name of the company though, but I saw a product video demo once.

  • randomBullets

    I really like the idea of the tacticalwalls.com they are really neat. If I owned my own house I’d definitely get some.

  • Ben C

    Nathan beat me to it. Deviant Ollam and that youtube vid are good stuff. He not only tells the bad, but the good and how to make them better.

    No point in having a small “portable” safe that isn’t seriously secured to something that is non-portable. Just gives a thief a convenient box of your most valuable stuff to haul away.

  • @ Nathan: Urk. For the $300 they are charting, that LockSaf gadget had better work remarkably well.

    He certainly does provide food for thought, though I have no idea about hacking in my own lock cores.

    @ randomBullets: Now those are pretty nifty. They do not lock – yet – but I would be seriously interested myself if we were not considering packing up in the near future. Maybe in the next house :).

    @ Ben C: Yeah, the safe is going to be anchored to/in something, which might be, in turn, anchored to something else. But I do not want the safe itself to be able to be opened with a Bic pen.

  • Bob

    I bought a cheap sentry 6330 used to secure my handguns when I am not home. Can they haul the safe away? Probably. Can they open it quickly if I interrupt a burglary? Doubtful.. I would much rather lose my firearms in a burglary than have them used against me if I walk in on the scumbags. They will also abscond with all my ammo, hopefully impeding their progress with the additional weight.
    I’d hate to add insult to injury by being shot with my own gun :)

  • moe

    I had the same problem with a cat. There were no false alarms after the initial alarm system install until the cat arrived. I had two really inconvenient false alarms (one while on vacation). The alarm company made some changes and it happened again. The alarm company suggested locking the cat up while away from home, even though it’s supposed to take 50# to trip the heat/motion detectors. It turns out that a cat in close proximity to the sensor overrides that rule. I’m not sure if its the heat or the motion, but the cat does have furniture and windows to use to get markedly closer to multiple sensors.

  • Matthew Carberry

    Come at it from the threat side. The majority of daytime break-ins are teenagers cutting school or after school gets out but before folks get off work. They are looking for easy to find small objects, pills, and cash, and are usually not carrying tools. They want to get in and out. If the lockbox can’t be picked up and carried away it will likely be far more than sufficient.

    Similarly with car break-ins, you are looking for something that will delay the smash and grab guy for 2-3 minutes. Any reasonable metal box cabled to the seat mount is enough 99% of the time.

  • You could go with the “hide in plain site” method used by http://qlinedesign.com/
    They have decent concealment furniture.

  • @ Bob: Sentry got really mixed marks from those folks at DefCon, which largely had to do with what locking core they chose to use on which lockbox. Apparently it is possible to change what core a safe uses, but I have doubts as to my ability to do so.

    @ moe: If the cats have successfully gotten right in front of this sensor, they have somehow managed to develop antigravity harnesses without anyone else noticing… it is attached directly over a door frame with literally no means of accessing it unless you are my height.

    @ Matthew Carberry: Yeah, whatever the container is going to be, it is going to be firmly attached to something else.

    @ Rolf: At those prices, I might as well buy another legitimate safe and find some cute way of dressing it up.