“How to Protect Your Home at Lake Chapala – Ajijic Mexico”

July 6, 2008

Hi, my name is Sid Grosvenor and I was a police officer in Dallas for 35 years and was a Commander over 4 Dallas Police Store Front Mini stations. One of our primary responsibilities at the storefronts, usually located in high crime areas, was to help the residents to protect their homes from all types of crime.

I will give you the basics in this post of how to improve security of your home at Lake Chapala – Ajijic Mexico, but the information can basically be applied to almost any home anywhere.

Home Security analysis is really just using common sense and looking at your home in a fresh way. Try to look at it as if you wanted to break into it. In other words look carefully at it from outside to determine it's weak points.

Security is about layers. Some folks say well "if they want in badly enough they will get in". Yes, in general I agree. But, since most burglaries are not well planned and often are not attempted by people with a lot of smarts, it just makes sense to protect your property.

You want your home to be, at a minimum  as safe from intrusion as the average home in your neighborhood. Even better is to be  better protected than the average home in the neighborhood.

Security is about layers of protection. Each layer helps. (Walls, fences topped with barbs shaped like  fish hooks, security bars, security lighting, guard dogs, alarm systems with and without cameras, door viewers, closed circuit cameras and good old fashioned dead bolt locks. Caring neighbors, crime watch groups, etc are all extra help.

If you have high speed Internet at your home yo can have cameras installed at key points and when not at home you can log onto a secure website and see what your cameras are seeing. These cameras usually are equipped with DVD recorders as well so that you will have a record of what the camera sees.

Walk around the perimeter of your property. Are their trees or rocks or anything a burglar could use as a ladder to more easily get over your wall or fence?

Are their gaps in the perimeter fencing or walls (the chain is only as strong as it's weakest link.)

Can a burglar gain easy access to your property from a neighbor's property, from the neighbor's roof to your roof?

Is there high grass or weeds next to your wall or fence on the outside where a burglar would go unnoticed as he tried to climb over your fence or wall ? Clear a path around the perimeter so he could be seen while trying to climb over your fence or wall.

Exception to this rule:: If the briars or thorny plants are very thick they can act as a strong deterent to climbing a wall where they exist.

If you are building a new home or do not currently have any perimeter security you want some form of security for your perimeter; which here at Lake Chapala – Ajijic usually comes in the form of a wall.

The wall should have areas thru which the police or neighbors can see your doors if possible. The reason is simple. Once the bad guy scales the wall and makes it to the other side  he has plenty of time to work on getting bars pried off windows or doors because the walls now hide him from view.

I use heavy decorative iron in my very high security wall so that I can see out and passers by can see my principle door as they go past my home.

Intercoms to the front doors are also good. Never open your door without first being sure of the intent of the person on the other side.  Confrontational crime is very rare in Mexico, but it does exist from time to time.

The TV camera intercoms are a bit more expensive, but worth it if you can't other wise see who is at your door.

Some doors lend themselves to an inexpensive peep hole device.

Electric Opening drive in gates or garage doors:  Being able to open the garage or driveway gate remotely from the safety of your car when returning home, especially after dark is more than a convenience it could be a life saver.

Just remember to stay safely locked inside your vehicle until you are inside your perimeter and the gate or garage door is locked behind you. Be extra careful as you wait for your gate or garage door to open. On rare occasions robbers might be waiting hidden in the shadows to that when the gate or garage door opens they can slip in behind your vehicle as you enter.

Then, they could break in later or even accost you before you gain the safety of your home. Here's what to do.  Watch in your rear view and side view mirrors as your gate or garage door opens, as you drive in and after you're inside.  Immediately close the door from inside your vehicle with the remote all the while watching for anyone trying to slip in before the door is securely shut behind you.

Some folks even install mirrors to the right and left of their driveway so they can spot anyone trying to slip in.

If you do see someone slipping in; open the gate if it was in the process of closing behind you, and  back out. Back over the bad guys if need be as you exit. If you can, close the gate. You may catch one of them inside. Drive away and once safe use a cell phone or drive to a police station or a nearby convenience store or other place of relative safety to call the police.

DO NOT EXIT YOUR VEHICLE TO CHALLENGE THEM. STAY SAFE AND SOUND INSIDE YOUR LOCKED PLACE OF SAFETY. 

Be alert to unusual or suspicious  persons in your area. Make a note of the time and their description for possible later use. If they're in a vehicle, jot down the plate number and car description.

Never challenge such persons directly. If you are driving or can do so safely you might give them a long hard look which if they are in fact potential burlars might deter them from coming back for fear of a later identification.

Do you know your neighbors? Get to know them. Get each others telephone numbers so that if either of you see something suspicious going on you can call and alert each other. If you think someone is up to no good and your neighbor doesn't: answer the phone, call the police.

Nosy ( I think caring)  neighbors have helped catch many a would be burglar.

People often ask me if alarm systems are worth the money. Yes, a good professionally installed system is well worth the money.

Silent alarms versus audible alarms: As a home owner you will likely favor audible alarms to scare away the potential burglar. Police officers generally prefer silent alarms as they want to catch the bad guy and not merely scare him away to burglarize another home on another day.

In my opinion the monitored alarm system costs are too expensive and I personally would not pay extra to have the system monitored. The monitoring agency will just call the police. For audible systems the bad guys will likely be long gone before the police arrive. But, if you prefer to have a silent alarm system so that the burglar doesn't know he has tripped the alarm then of course it must be a monitored system.

Crime Patterns are important to the police. Help them to help you and your neighbors; please report all crime even if on an informal basis. In Mexico to formally report a crime requires masses of paper work, but the reporting system is getting better with bi lingual officers and clerks and telephone operators.

Have a Spanish speaking friend to call for you.

The bad guys tend to move around a lot from neighborhood to neighborhood and will work a neighborhood until things get to "Hot" for them and then they will move on.

The trick is to keep the heat on all the time so that when they come into your neighborhood they are met with secure homes, informed citizens using an active formal or informal crime watch group.

Become proactive for your own home and for your neighborhood. Just because there have not been any burglaries or thefts in  a long time doesn't necessarily mean it will not begin tomorrow.

Better safe than sorry comes to mind.

The Chapala Police Department, the home owners in Chapala Haciendas, and the American Legion Post 7 are organizing a formal crime watch program as this is written. The neighborhood signs are in Spanish and read as follows: " Prevencion del delito VECINOS ALERTA"  followed by the telephone numbers of the area Police Department.

All is takes for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing.

A lot of information for you that I hope will help you prevent being a victim. Don;t wait until you're a victim and then apply these techniques. Apply them now.

Siempre tu amigo, Sid  for www.ChapalaClub.com  Sid's Email is Sid@ChapalaClub.com

 

  • Lynn Dillard

    Sid — Are you going to update your website to address the increase in crime towards gringos in the Chapala area? It seems that violent crime is increasing steadily. I would like to know if this causing people to leave the Chapala area and move back to the States. Thanks for your information.

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Llynn, Thanks for your comment. NO, I don’t intend to write a new article about crime in our area. We have very low crime compared to most any place on the planet you want to compare it to. I’ve not heard of anyone leaving the area because of any increase in crime.

    Leaving this area to escape crime would (in my opinion), be like jumping out of a previous cool and now lukewarm frying pan into the fire.

    Yes, of course people are concerned and this is good. A concerned citizenry is the best crime deterrent to crime.

    People are more observant and more likely to report crime now and this too is good.

    It may get worse before it get’s better, but it will get better. Crime is cyclical like the economy. In the meantime we each should be more cautious. Crime flourishes in good times and bad when and where people don’t care.

    The Lake Chapala Ajijic area cares and so we will fare much better than areas where the people care less. The thieves are always on the lookout for the weakest link. We each need to be proactive, but reactive is better than no action at all.

    This comment will go out to over 360 subscribers and be indexed by Google and displayed many hundreds/thousands of times when anyone searches for crime in Mexico or Crime at Lake Chapala Ajijic.

    So, Thanks again Lynn for your comment/question. I guess the real answer to your question is I did just update the website via this Reply.

    Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • Steve Stoler (WFAA Reporter)

    Sid,
    I’m in Ajijic, doing a story about folks from Big D who retired in the Lake Chapala area. I’m staying with my Uncle, Roy Forman who lives on Marcos Castellanos.

    I think you would be perfect for my story. Would you possibly be available in the morning. I’d love to hook up with you for a quick interview. It would only take about ten minutes.

    I’ll be checking my email frequently, so let me know.

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    All the best,

    Steve Stoler, Senior Reporter
    WFAA-TV

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Steve and I were able to hook up and had a nice talk and he tells me the interview went well too.

    SO, you guys in the Dallas Metro area be watching for interviews with Lake Chapala area residents including your truly.

    I hope to post the interview here on http://www.ChapalaClub.com for those who may miss it.

    So, Thanks to Steve for tracking me down,

    Siempre tu amigo, Sid

Email for more information:
Sid@ChapalaClub.com

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