7 Weird Ways to Keep You and Your Stuff Safe
We've got home security systems and car alarms and bike locks. Yet our belongings still get stolen from time to time. When the mainstream anti-theft devices just aren't cutting it, it may be time to get creative. (See also: Can't Afford a Home Alarm System? You Probably Already Have One)
Read on for our roundup of the top seven outside-the-box things you can do to protect your assets.
1. Invest In Kidnap Insurance
So your beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed twenty-something is studying abroad in Colombia. And you're thrilled he's embarking on this eye-opening, cultural experience until you read that Colombia is a hot bed for kidnappings. We kid you not, one person was kidnapped in Colombia on five different occasions.
What's a parent to do? You could put the kabosh on the trip and accept that you won't be receiving a Father of the Year Award — or you could purchase kidnap insurance. This type of highly unique travel insurance comes at a cost of several thousand dollars a year. Experts say the best plans cover not only a reward paid to informants who can provide tips that lead to an arrest, but also things like lost income, psychiatric expenses, and loss of fingers.
Yes, we know, these aren't pleasant thoughts. The price tag isn't pleasant, either. But for journalists, business executives, and other frequent travelers, some form of kidnap and ransom protection may be a smart idea. A less expensive way to go about it is The Executrac, an app ($29.95 with a $19.95 monthly subscription) that turns any smartphone into a covert GPS tracker with a panic button.
2. Plan for Death When You Say, "I Do"
If you came to your end this very moment, what would happen to your family, your dog, your home, your internal organs, your online passcodes, and your social media accounts? Even if you're young and healthy, experts say it's all worth thinking about.
Perhaps you want to commission artwork made with your ashes blended in paint. Or, like Michael Jackson, maybe you want to leave $2 million to your pet chimpanzee payable upon your death. Services like Everplans can help delineate such requests, starting with a free online personal will developer.
The company's founders started creating the will developer as a young married couple concerned about the future. They recommend others start the process as soon as they begin to build their own family. It might seem premature, but the alternative to this kind of planning can be grim.
3. Channel Your Inner Kevin McCallister
When you'll stop at nothing to keep your belongings safe, it's time to implement the booby trap. The term was coined in 1850 and has been wreaking havoc on enemies, thieves, and otherwise unsuspecting victims ever since.
In a modern day example, a Missouri homeowner fed up with pranksters driving their cars in his yard buried a bed of nails in the ground along the perimeter of his property. Tire tracks on the front lawn? Not on his watch.
A word of warning: Some of these rigs can trigger police involvement, leading us to very cautiously recommend the booby trap, which is only sometimes legal. Please: be safe.
4. Paint It Neon
Investigators dealing with a rash of car battery thefts in Richmond County, Georgia two years ago recommended residents invest in a can of brightly colored paint. Car batteries — and other items whose value isn't tied to its outward appearance such as lawnmowers and construction equipment — can benefit from a coat of high visibility paint that deters theft and makes it easier for police to identify and return your item to you in the event that it does get stolen.
5. Make It Slippery
Got a problem with trespassers jumping the fence around your property? There's a paint for that. Aptly named anti-vandal paint, this slippery residue makes climbing near impossible when applied to fences, support beams, gutters, or gates. The paint, which can also be used to stop graffiti artists, is colorless, weather resistant, and it never dries.
6. Strap a GPS Tracker On It
If Spot has a tendency to roam, it's not a bad idea to consider investing in a dog collar with GPS tracking capabilities. Embedded with mini GPS units, these collars can pinpoint your pet's exact location should he stray from the yard. The WhistleGPS (preorder for $129) tracks not only your pet's location, but all of his activities in an easy-to-use app on your smartphone. The Garmin GTU 10 ($200) allows the pet owner to configure up to 10 "geofences." If your dog crosses the boundary, you get a warning emailed to your account. (See also: Find Lost Keys Fast With a Teeny Tiny Tile)
Dog collars aren't the only things that come GPS-equipped. The list of things you can track using this advanced location technology is endless — wallet, speed boat, luggage. Kanye West, who is internationally known for taking things one step too far, allegedly installed a GPS tracker on Kim Kardashian's cell phone so he can keep track of his wife.
7. Hide It With Camouflage
If you live in a wooded area, you can quite easily use camouflage paneling to conceal your storage sheds, vehicles, and boats. You can also hide your home. Even if you don't live in the forest, you can camouflage your living quarters in other ways to blend in with the natural surroundings. There's a home in Atlantic Beach, Florida, for example, that's built inside a sand dune.
Casa do Penedo in Portugal's Fafe Mountains is perhaps the ultimate example of covert housing. The home is made of four giant boulders, giving it a rugged aesthetic that would probably be pleasing to the likes of Barney and Betty Rubble. There's no electricity, but there is a swimming pool and living room fireplace. Not bad for a house made of nothing but rock, right?
Ever heard of a crazy, creative way to keep things safe? Let us know in comments below!