Adding More Security

Over the last couple years, we have upgraded our security in several ways, We started by adding bars to all windows, adding a fence, adding motion detection lights, adding internet connected cameras, and adding a new security front door.

Our most recent upgrade was a security system. I contacted Planet Telecom and had them do the installation. Planet Telecom was the same company that I had install my IP cameras. Alain Mulaire supervised both projects and once again, I am pleased with the job that was done.

Planet Telecom used the DSC product line. This is a well respected product line and can act as a stand alone system or connected to a monitored service.  You can buy cheaper systems, but you get what you pay for, and as I said in my camera install post, I am very particular with the individuals I allow to enter my house.

While I won’t describe my complete system, I will tell you that is 100% covered by backup batteries. Cutting the power to the house will not remove power to the camera system or the security system. In fact removing power will trigger an alert being sent to investigate the power interruption.

If you are planning on moving to Panama, security is one consideration you have to pay attention to. We live in good area of David and an apartment complex a couple blocks away has had cars burglarized at least four times on the pass few months.

A car alarm would not have prevented the car from being broken into, but it would have alerted the owners that the burglary was going on. I recommend installing a car alarm, if your car doesn’t already have one.

I have heard of people leaving Panama for a three month period only to return to find that their home was completely empty. Furniture was taken, appliances were taken, TVs and computers were taken, sinks and other plumbing was removed and even the wiring had been stripped from the walls.. If something has value in Panama, it will be a target.

One thing that newcomers to Panama don’t realize is that you are always being watched by someone. Neighbors know your schedule of coming and going. If you walk everyday at a certain time, it will be known.

If there is construction going on in your area, the workers can monitor your behavior. If you drive from Boquete to David every Thursday morning, it will be recorded. If you have a Wednesday bridge game, that leaves your house vulnerable for that period of time.

We lock all doors, even internal doors, when we go to bed. Our front entries and rear entries are locked 100% of the time, except when entering or leaving the house. Just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean that you aren’t being watched for a potential burglary.

19 thoughts on “Adding More Security

  1. Geez, Don it’s just like being in prison !!!! You spent a ton of money on systems that depend on your diligence of operation and the electric returning in less than 4 hours b4 your UPS goes dead.. Then let’s assume you are broken into while you are away doing whatever, how long b4 the cops get there, if at all??? Right….it’s all gone anyway, including your high dollar system.

    Now, for less than a dollar a day you could have rescued 2 or 3 junkyard type dogs from the shelter, who would be much better in fending off any dirt bags trying to break into your house. It may be a little inconvenient for you to clean up the mess of blood and bones left from the action but well worth the effort. You only need them to do their job one time and you will be left alone forever!!! The word travels fast in Panama. As an added bonus, you get 2-3 very grateful loving and caring, furry friends for the rest of their lives.

    Remember dogs are forever….like children but much better !!!! You are welcome and you can thank me later!!!!

    Jim and the KidZ…..

  2. Unfortunately, Panama is beginning to sound a lot like Mexico. 🙁

    And Don if lovable little Koki is your only pooch, she isn’t much of a threat.. (unless she knows martial arts or can wield a belt fed weapon).. lol.. Tom is right about dogs as a defense, but they better be big enough to make somebody think about dealing with them. Also make sure they can’t be tossed poisoned food. Dog is man’s best friend, especially if completely trained. I can testify that it is a pleasure to have an intelligent large loyal breed (Labrador, Golden, German Sheperd etc.) around to fetch stuff you drop. They can be trained to NOT eat random food that may be poisoned. In fact mine will not eat human food if offered (they don’t know what it is because they never had it!) They also make baggy-pants thugs reconsider false bravado, and make a great pal too.. 😉

  3. Hi, Don! Sorry to hear that you need to increase security in Panama. We are doing some of that in Honduras, too, and probably should have done it long ago. We’ve been lucky so far. ‘Pushing our luck’ is probably more like it.

    I’m not familiar with your dog, but I recently read some information from a former (reformed, he said) US burglar. His opinion was that large dogs were usually not a problem for him. He said they were usually confined to the back yard while he was able to get into the house through the front or side. Even if they were in the house, he said he would throw them a bone and they were done with guard duty. The ones he worried about were the small ones, the yappers, that just don’t quit.

    We have a large outside dog and two small inside dogs. I constantly worry about the outside dog being poisoned. All three think they are guard dogs. It’s another level of warning system.

    As far as it being like living in prison, I used to think that way. I never wanted bars on the windows for that reason. But I read an article from a Costa Rica woman who said that she never felt so free as she did after she put bars on her windows. She said that she could go out without constantly worrying about what was happening at her home, as well as feel safer when she was in it. That article made a big impact on me.

    Central America is a different world. It’s precisely because the police are so undependable (in Honduras anyway) that you have to take security into your own hands. Anyone who thinks they can live the same way they did in the US is just marking time until they become crime victims.

  4. It is not that much better in US. If you call a cop for reporting unfamiliar characters walking about in the neighborhood, it may take a while or never for a cop to get there. Many times you read in the papers Cops getting caught watching porn on their computers or spending their times having coffee or get together at a cafe and having good times… very rarely any action is taken against them if any beside a slap on the wrist. These are the same cops who make good $$ and great benefits after 20 years of service.

  5. Don, I just came back from a recent trip to Bocas for a month. Great vacation. I went with the understanding that when we came back, the house may not be the same as when we left it. Fortunately, it was.

    We have a great security system, also with back up battery in case we lose electric. We have a dog, a little yapper, the best security in the world, he barks and doesn’t stop til the person/persons are gone, (although he came to Bocas with us) window bars and an enforced door. But the best security is your friends and neighbors, if you have good ones you can depend on. That is the key to security in Panama. You have to know and trust your neighbors to watch out for each other. We told two neighbors we were going and to please watch our house for us. They did. I live in an all Panamanian neighborhood, no gringos, and my neighbors are awesome. We all watch out for each other.

    So take your time, know your neighbors, and depend on each other to keep the neighborhood safe. I also am very selective on who comes into my house, but at some point, especially if you live in an ethnic neighborhood, you have to know and depend on each other.

    Also, when we first moved in years ago, I made the alarms go off, to let the hoodlums know I had the system and that it does work. Make them aware of it, let them know your house is protected. Every once in a while, not often, set the alarms to go off, just a reminder that they are there and working.

    Good luck and don’t forget we live in Paradise, we just have to get over the little pebbles in the road to make it that way.

  6. Let me address a couple points by Jim and Robert. Related to dogs, my preference is a watch dog that lives inside. No matter the size of a guard dog, living outside, it can be poisoned, tazored or killed with a machete. No one can come close to out house without Koki notifying us. She may not be big, but she is alert.

    As far as feeling like I live in a prison, I don’t. If you live in Latin America, then having bars on the windows is a necessity. You either get used to it or you get robbed. Plain as that. Windows without bars are an advertisement that a person doesn’t understand the country he lives in.

    The same with having a fence. It will not keep anyone out that really wants to get in, but it does slow them down. The expense of hiving those things comes with the territory. I spent less on my fence here than I did on the fences I owned in the US.

    My camera system is my own design and I purchased all the equipment. It and the alarm system only provide me more peace of mind. They may be overkill for others, but it is worth it to me.

    My last piece of security is living on a street that is extremely security conscious. Everyone on the block uses the WhatsApp app and all receive immediate communication if anything is outside the norm. If a suspicious person is seen on the block, his photo will bee sent to everyone in a very short time.

    My point for making this post is make those considering Panama, that they need to add security planning to their mindset.

  7. Don, I respect your reasons and solutions. For me, as one who has been around for awhile and lived in many places in the Western Hemisphere, that’s not the kind of living that I want. Living behind bars and have all those bells and whistles to deal with if I want to go have a coffee with friends.

    You are absolutely correct in advising newbies of the potential dangers of living in 3rd World countries. Not to mention having to deal with mostly incompetent government and business workers. But to continue….I’ve been in CA for over 40 years on and off. I retired in 99 again and decided on CR as my permanent residence. We don’t need to tell you what a nightmare that turned into. Around 04 after the USSA decided to take over CR a lot of us left and migrated to PA. This time I was determined to do more research b4 buying my spot.

    I lived for 2 years in a very popular place here in Los Santos but very displeasureable to me. I found exactly what I was looking for nearby and built my house and developed a nice little organic Finca, literally in the middle of nowhere. We utilize about 10htrs of 46htrs as our main location which is about a 1/2 mile off the main road.

    We’ve now been here about 6 years and have a beautiful home on about 1-1/4 acres or 1/2 htr. surrounded by a wall and cyclone fencing. Our dogs have free roam inside that perimeter and will NEVER take food from a stranger or eat anything that’s thrown over the circa. They are my security system, as you know their senses are exceeding much better than ours. They know when there is something coming up our road or across the land, well in advance of anyone getting close to our compound.

    We’ve had ONE episode of trespassing 5 years ago and 3 of our then 8 dogs took care of them. One is now wearing his ass on his face and had 3 surgeries over a 3 month period. The other lost his left testicle and a bunch of meat from his back and right leg. We saved the 1st guys life by rushing his to the hospital b4 he bled to death. The other one, well we never did find his nut. Guess the dog thought it was his reward!!!!

    After many unsuccessful attempts by the authorities to confiscate my dogs, they finally gave up. Did I mention that the perps were COPS???? And YES they still have their jobs an no charges were filed against them. Hmmmmm why do you think that was???

    They were “casing” my project as we just got a load of materials and our new appliances. We had been having a shrinkage problem up to that time. Then there was no problems and have NEVER had anyone attempt to invade our abode when we where there or away. The word got out very fast….BAD DOGS AT HOME.

    So I will continue to live in my little piece of paradise with my crack team of security agents doing their job in peace. I wish you all can have that luxury some day. Oh YES…you can……ADOPT A FEW DOGS. They will LOVE you forever!!!!

    Jim and the KidZ.

  8. I noticed that responses to dogs being poisoned, ignored my clear message that a well trained dog will not eat poisoned food. Ask a professional dog trainer. And if thugs shoot (a loud noise follows) or chop a dog with a “machete” (my advice don’t try this!) they better be ready for a fight with serious injuries, and certainly one that anyone nearby is going to hear. Bottom line, there is no absolute security. But common sense and using an adequate amount of electronics such as Don mentioned,is all you can do without living behind a moat and being your own prisoner.

    Now, how about a nice warm cup of paranoia..?

  9. Oh and PS, my big clean flea free dogs stay indoors. Service dogs operate in the same manner. They are never left outside, the owner (that’s you) tends to the dogs the same way you do with a human. It’s hard to poison or molest an animal like these without you knowing about it.

  10. In response to Jim, all UL listed residential alarm systems must be equipped with a backup battery that provides standby power for 24 hours following a power outage. As you can well imagine, in a country like Panama, with frequent power outages, this is a must have. We only install UL listed equipment as it ensures us and our clients that our systems meet the highest standards. Before getting a system put in, it’s a good idea to ask your alarm installer if the equipment and installation will be done in compliance to UL – it’s a really easy way to ensure you’re getting a quality system.

  11. Let me answer it this way. It has happened more than once that an outside dog was poisoned and within 3 or 4 days the owner’s house was robbed.

  12. Really interesting discussion going on here, Don Ray! I would add more but with me being in Honduras, it may not be that pertinent to Panama — though I think there are probably more similarities than not.

  13. Alarm systems, bars, secure doors, and an inside dog make perfect sense for home defense. We had a Bichon, 25 pounds, that was totally territorial about “her” house. NO ONE came in the yard that we didn’t know about.

    Now, if a person has 115 acres to defend, 100 lb dogs may make more sense. The problem then becomes who feeds them when you are away for a few days? And a fenced in yard with guard dogs patrolling seems more prison like than bars on the windows.

    The point is, you must have some kind of plan and know the risks.

  14. Welcome To Paradise!!
    Gaze with wonder over the de-evolution of man”kind”, here.. there, everywhere.
    For answers, consider viewing ‘Everything You Know is Wrong’ via youtube.
    After years of searching, questioning & agonizing it provided a logical ‘out’ for a tired mind… the conclusion is profound.

    Anyhow, enjoy today 😉

  15. Don,
    With all of that free Panamanian sunshine is it possible to charge the UPS batteries with solar power. I don’t think that it would take much to maintain the system to a full charge.

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