I always joke that if your stuff isn't bolted down with concrete bars and 2" thick, hardened steel plates, you can count on it being stolen around here. Daily I see reports of stolen goods on the multiple local Facebook crime pages.  Work trailers, equipment, bicycles, lawn furniture, packages, it doesn't matter. It's insane and extremely frustrating. I guess the tweakers and thieves gotta feed their lifestyles somehow, right? Law enforcement is so swamped with more important crimes that the most they can honestly do is "take a report."

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Recently, I've seen an uptick in "porch pirate" posts. You know, the crooks that take your packages from your doorstep while you're stuck at work or out of the house. They're always out there, but they seem to get more prevalent during the holiday season. I'm sure they're hoping to score a new Xbox or laptop, instead of a box of baby diapers or whatever other crap you've ordered off Amazon. No neighborhood is immune from these thieving bastards, but one great suggestion is to have your deliveries shipped to your work, or maybe to a relative that is home all of the time, like your retired parents or something.

I've dragged my feet on a camera system for a while, but nowadays there is almost no reason not to get one. You've got tons of options. Ring-type doorbells are affordable and can be effective. These types of systems can send you alerts, video, sound, etc. straight to your cell phone. Many of these systems require a monthly payment for monitoring service. Keep that in mind when calculating costs.

Costco offers a number of options for security, from a basic wireless camera to full-blown, hardwired systems with enough cameras to cover your porch, your yard, your driveway, the backyard, your neighbor's yard, the basement, etc.

If the installation is not your thing, you can always get a hold of one of our local pros. Yelp reviews say these are the top security experts in Billings.

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There is some debate if just putting up some fake cameras is an effective thief deterrent. The thought being, that if they see the cameras, they'll keep on moving.  It can't hurt, and it's really cheap to buy a set of fake surveillance devices. Amazon has this set of four extremely realistic-looking "cameras" for just $22.99.

I've got three dogs that go banana-sandwich if they even think they hear a sound outside. I'd like to think they'd slow down a burglar. But it's tough to beat an actual alarm/security system. Plus, once you get your fancy new security system hooked up, maybe you'll be lucky enough to catch a ghost or a meteor on camera.