How to ‘Neighbor-Proof’ Your Property

by Tommy Grant

OPSEC is an important part of prepping. None of us want people showing up at our door, after a disaster strikes, expecting us to feed and take care of them.

It’s hard enough finding enough money to stockpile food and other essential supplies for our families, let alone thinking about how we’re going to feed others. While I believe in helping out those less fortunate than I, I’m not willing to risk shortening my children’s lives in order to do so.

So, we practice OPSEC; trying to keep our activities secret from family, friends, and neighbors. But let me ask you… do you really think you’ve succeeded? Can you honestly tell yourself that your OPSEC has been perfect enough that none of your neighbors have any idea that you’re a prepper? I don’t think so.

Even leaving out the inevitable “nosy neighbor” that everyone seems to have, it is highly likely that our neighbors will have a pretty good idea of what we are doing. They may not have put two and two together to get four, realizing that we are preppers; but they will realize that we are doing things that they are not.

When the time comes and they are in need, it won’t take long for them to come to the conclusion that we are likely to have what they are looking for.

I think it needs to bears mention that there will be many people jumping to those kinds of conclusions about people they know or who they have seen who aren’t preppers as well. Our housecleaner thinks that I’m the solution to every financial problem she has. I get at least one call a week, asking me for money.

How to ‘Neighbor-Proof’ Your Property

This is a reflection on today’s society, where people look to others to solve their problems, rather than seeking to take responsibility for those problems themselves.

What makes any of us think that it will be any different in the wake of a major disaster?

So, OPSEC isn’t enough. Yes, we should continue our efforts in OPSEC; but we shouldn’t allow ourselves to become complacent in the idea that our efforts in OPSEC will be enough. Rather, we need to make sure that our homes are “Neighbor proof” before the disaster hits.

Neighbor Proofing for Today

There are two basic parts of neighbor proofing out homes; those things we do to add to our OPSEC, helping to misdirect the attention of our neighbors and prevent them from figuring out what we’re doing. The second is the things we do to keep them out of our homes, once the disaster strikes.

We all know to keep our activities as hidden as possible, especially brining large quantities of food and other consumable supplies into our homes. But there are always things that can’t be hidden well, such as rainwater catchment and vegetable gardens. What do we do about those? They can’t very well be hidden.

The best solution for these highly-visible items is to develop a cover story for them. That means giving your neighbors some other reason for you having those items, so that they don’t think of them in terms of disasters.

How to ‘Neighbor-Proof’ Your PropertyYour vegetable garden, for example, could be because you don’t want to eat GMO produce. The rainwater catchment is part of that, because you read a gardening article online, which stated that you shouldn’t water your garden with chlorinated water.

Related: How to Start a Survival Garden From Scratch

That bug-out-vehicle sitting in your driveway is because you use it for hunting or your family likes going “crawling” (off-road in a four-wheel-drive) on the weekends.

Solar panels are probably the easiest thing to explain away, as many people who aren’t preppers are installing them so that they can “reduce their carbon footprint.”

Neighbor Proofing for After a Disaster

No matter how well you hide things and how well you redirect your neighbors’ interest in your garden and rainwater capture system, they’re likely to remember them when they are short on food and water.

The problem then becomes keeping them from hopping the fence to get what they need, leaving you without it.

Start with Your Backyard

You might think that building a good privacy fence around your backyard is a good idea. However, here is why you should NEVER put a tall fence around your house. This small mistake could actually ruin everything for you.

In Mexico, they use cement blocks to build many of their fences and embed broken glass in the mortar at the top to help discourage thieves from climbing over. That qualifies as a “booby trap” and is therefore illegal here in the United States. Any such thing would have to be natural, so that it wouldn’t be readily identifiable as something intentionally done to hurt people. In other words – cactus.

How to ‘Neighbor-Proof’ Your PropertyIt seems to me that the ideal place to plant a cactus garden in most backyards is all along the fence, reaching out about three feet.

After all, we don’t want to put it where our children might be playing, so putting it along the fence is a way of protecting our children.

Just to be sure, put some sort of low border, say a foot high secondary fence, in front of the cactus garden. That will keep the children’s toys from accidentally going into the cacti.

Is that a foolproof solution? No. But it will discourage people. Another line of cacti, planted around the garden, can help to discourage anyone trying to steal your produce. You can explain that away as something to keep the pets out of the garden.

Granted, any passive defensive measures are limited. You will also need to patrol your yard or post someone as guard. Constant vigilance will be necessary to keep those neighbors away.

This doesn’t mean that the guard can’t be doing other activities as well. But if you don’t have anything that needs to be done in the yard, such as cooking or washing clothes, then someone will either have to be there, acting as guard or be posted in a window where they can see anything happening outside. This will be necessary day and night.

Don’t Let Them See

How to ‘Neighbor-Proof’ Your PropertyThe next big concern is keeping neighbors from seeing how you are living. If they are able to see that you are living better than they are, it will give them reason to try harder to get what you have. This not only requires hiding things from their sight; but also hiding smells, especially the smell of food cooking.

The 5 Ways to Cook When SHTF Without Attracting Attention

You need to do something with your windows, which will make it more or less impossible to see through. One possibility is blackout curtains. The problem there, is that while they will keep light from escaping, they will also keep light from getting in. It is better to use something that will allow light in, while still blocking the window enough that people can’t see in.

Several layers of sheer curtains can do this; as well as tinting the windows or installing sun shade screens. Another option is to coat the inside of the windows with a textured, clear adhesive film that breaks up the image, while still allowing light through.

Secure Doors and Windows

The normal security measures used for doors and windows are essentially useless during a time of crisis. The locks we use are designed more to discourage those who don’t want to make noise and attract the police. Kicking locked doors open or throwing a rock through a glass window are noisy activities; bound to attract attention and a call to the police.

Your average deadbolt is all but useless during such a time, because it only goes into a ¾” thick pine door frame. A good kick will break that deadbolt out through the door frame, as if it wasn’t even there.

How to ‘Neighbor-Proof’ Your PropertyA stronger door frame or one that is reinforced with a security striker plate is necessary, so that the deadbolt can’t break though.

Go for one of the longer security striker plates. Install it with 3” long screws, so that they will go through the door frame and well into the 2×4 studs behind.

A secondary security system for the doors, like placing a bar over the door, like they did for the gate of medieval castles, is great as well. As with the security striker plate, make sure that the brackets for the bar are well anchored to the studs in the wall. If you can’t do that, then a door prop, that goes under the doorknob, bracing against the floor is a good idea.

Windows are even harder to secure than doors, because they are made of glass. One option is to cover them with plywood, like people do for hurricanes.

Unfortunately, that also blocks light out. A better option is to install burglar bars over the windows. That’s secure.

If you don’t like that, then install window security film on the inside of the windows. That won’t prevent people from breaking the window to get in; but if they do, they’ll have to break the glass out, all the way around the perimeter.

Be Sure to Carry

The best protection for your home is to make it known that trying to enter into your home would be dangerous. You don’t need to say anything to anyone in order to do that; you just need to go around armed.

If neighbors see you and your family going about your work of survival, with guns on your hips and in your hands, it won’t take them long to realize that breaking into your home could be very dangerous.

While that won’t stop them from knocking on your door, asking for handouts, it will at least make sure they don’t try sneaking in through a window.

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