Now that Semana Santa has come and gone, it’s the perfect time to discuss home security systems and ways to protect your home. Unfortunately, Costa Rica is known for petty theft and home break-ins, as well as insufficient police resources to deal with the problem. Forgetting to lock doors and windows, leaving things of value out in the open, and trusting others a bit too much have taught many newcomers this lesson the hard way.

Those of us living here for a while have learned to adapt and take care of our belongings. In Costa Rica, the onus is definitely on property owners to protect their valuables. That means putting in place as many deterrents as possible. It may be a simple matter of training your dog to bark an alert, or leaving a few lights on at night. Other security measures should be carefully considered for incorporation into your home design from the start.

Security bars placed on windows and doors are among the most common, effective and inexpensive examples. Typically constructed of smooth rebar material, they can be adapted to any design or style that you wish. Pretty much all security bars are custom welded, so the options are limitless. Keep in mind that the maintenance requirements include periodic repairs and coats of anticorrosive paint every year or two … more often if near the beach.

On the downside, security bars detract from the openness of your home and window views. Electronic security systems are highly recommended if you prefer windows and doors with no gates and bars. Proper planning at the home design stage ensures that all the wiring can be embedded behind the walls to avoid unsightly conduits and wires. These security systems utilize motion sensors placed high on walls, and on windows and doors, which activate an alarm when movement is detected and typically send you a warning message or phone call.

A keypad near the front door allows you to activate and deactivate the alarm with a password. Cameras have become a common and useful tool for homeowners seeking a maximum level of security. Several options are available, including systems that transmit video content via WiFi signal. A drawback is that these systems will not work if the WiFi is down or disconnected. Ideally, camera security systems utilize close-circuit television (CCTV) cable technology.

All cameras are connected to a mainframe computer system hardwired into the internet signal. This allows for constant monitoring from inside your home, or remote viewing anywhere when connected to your phone or computer. Unless you live in a gated community with 24-hour security, take whatever precautions you can to minimize the risk of property theft and damage.

Perimeter fences, driveway entrance gates, dogs that bark at intruders, window bars, alarm systems and security cameras — each and every deterrent contributes to a safer home and property.