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DisneyMatt10

Light Show Theft/Vandalism?

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DisneyMatt10    33

Hey everyone, 

I apologize if this has been discussed before, but as many of us are gearing up for this coming season I have a question for you all that others might have as well. 

For those of you who have more experience with light shows, have you all had to deal with any theft and/or vandalism to your show props, or lights?? If so, or if not what kind of precautions have you taken to prevent this. 

We have 8 external security cameras on our house covering every square inch of our yard, and really focused on areas that have light show props. We also have signs that say "24 hour Video monitoring in use."

What other tips do you all have to prevent theft and or vandalism to the shows??

Thanks,

~Matt

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Mega Arch    598

Hey Matt, I screw my controllers and floodlights to the ground. Wouldn't stop a professional thief, but the thugs & punks seem to move on. Screw-in anchors and cable padlocks from Home Depot.

 

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CONTROLLERW_ANCHOR_zps34d81d28.png

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ItsMeBobO    276

Kids running through the yard have tripped and yanked out plugs.  But I have never lost anything due to theft.  I do take precautions.   In my mind, if its heavy, they wont run off with it.  The stands have multiple controllers so they would have to unplug everything and carry the entire thing.  The controllers closer to the street are secured to stakes in the ground.   Last year I ran a long wire rope through a bunch of props and clamped the wire to prevent a grab and run.  

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Mr. P    299

My rotties always let me know when there is someone around the house and if they aren't afraid of Rottweilers then I alawys have my two pals, Smith and Wesson.

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jerry72    103

All of my display minus the Mega Arches are inside my fence, all my controllers are set back from the fence as well. This year i plan to install a couple security cams and post a sign.

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dgrant    174

So far, I've only had one vandalism happen here. Someone ripped off two fake trees. There were no bases, just staked in with rebar so they took a souvenir and I know it was a girl who did it as she left her female sunglasses behind. There are security cameras up during the show since then so will possibly catch someone if they do it again but I caution on the cameras...use good ones instead of cheap ones. The image quality is not very good on the cheap ones. 

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Anything preventing theft/vandalism is all about layers.  

Cameras are great at identification after a loss and can pose a deterrent if they are seen by a potential thief.  However, they are quiet and don't announce the intrusion unless you have the system set to trigger on active zones with your home alarm.  (most folks don't) Placing signs to alert to the cameras helps.  The best feature about cameras is it allows you to monitor what occurs in your yard during off hours.  When my yard alarms trigger I can pull up the feed on my tablet bed side and determine if its the pesky deer again or drunk college students taking selfies with my display. 

Layer 2 is noise/alerts/lights that not only advise the homeowner there are issues to be dealt with but also put the suspect on notice they have been caught.  Out of the thousands of thefts I have investigated no thief has remained on scene after an active/loud alarm is triggered. 

The Chamberlain driveway alarms noted above are good in this respect, I have a set with 3 sensors and they have the advantage they can be hooked into many of your home's alarm systems and tell you what zone has been triggered.  However, if you don't need that feature for far less than $50+ a pop there is a better option from Harbor Freight  http://www.harborfreight.com/wireless-driveway-alert-system-93068.html watch the sales as they often get to ~15 bucks.  Bonus is they are battery powered and I can verify a set of batteries will last all through October and December during both of our displays-less cables to run are a good thing!  If you take your time placing the sensors the entire property is able to be monitored and an alert triggered once someone crosses the line.   

Motion lights within your yard/display are also helpful.  I have motion lights set up in my yard so after hours when the display is off anyone who enters the forbidden zone will not only hear an audible alert they will be lit up.  Not only do I have 110v units temp installed during the season I also have some portable units I got from Costco that are LED and battery powered.  They are pretty bright, very compact and work well in tight areas that a bigger unit would be out of place in.  

I also have a fence around my yard at Halloween.  This not only adds to the decor but keeps folks out of the yard.  It won't stop anyone determined to get in but will set the psychological barrier that they are not to enter that area-this is important for safety of your audience and equipment.  For Christmas a good old string of candy canes/lights etc. will work. 

Neighbors!  We have not had a theft by humans, (squirrel stole an eye from my tree face 2 years ago) but our neighbors have adopted our display and also keep an eye out reporting any unusual activity they observe.  

For 2016 I have rigged motion sensors to a trigger-able prop controller that will play the Robo Cop ED209 soundtrack (ROAR-YOU HAVE 20 SECONDS TO COMPLY...) nothing said this couldn't be fun! 

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Thanks Beaver State Rich. Last year I had a couple of trees stolen (too close to the road, easy pickens).  Then came the security cams,surveillance signs and the motion lights.  I might add few of the yard sensors you mentioned to alert me  http://www.harborfreight.com/wireless-driveway-alert-system-93068.html  .  This year all my props are designed with difficulty of removal first, then waterproofing and of course the "cool" factor.  Keeping controllers out of reach and close to the house helps too.  I have my house mounted prop controllers mounted on the back side of my chimney under the house eve (not visible). Most thieves don't carry a ladder.

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OzAz    27

Thanks guys some good tips, this will be first year with light show and would hate to have any items stolen/vandalized.

I found these 1byone alarms which I can purchase thru ebay here in Australia. You can have multiple sensors and/or receivers.   

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Old Sarge    171

I have not had lights or anything stolen or messed with. I have motion activated switchs in areas which activate flood lights as well as a flashing light over the camera which is on poles so they cannot be reached by standing on the ground. 

Basically my signs say" Smile for the camera" , "If Flood Lights come on you are on video", and "You Are To Close To Dangerous High Power cables".

 

Those signs are visable with a low watt bulb and are at the edge of my yard... People get close enough to touch one and the flood lights come on. I have them set for 1 minute then they go off. even when the show is running they are active to help keep kids and people from going threw my yard... 

 

Like I say... I Have had nothing stolen not even before i started using LOR in my light display.

 

If you are transmitting you can also have a warning between each song or during your show to be considerate of neighbors, traffic, etc.in announcements before and during your show.

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Orville    191

I use plastic "C" style cable screw down clamps on cords that can be secured to a wall, soffit, ramp, etc.  I also use an assortment of different screw styles, may take me a little longer to get my display up and down, but I haven't had any items heisted or even vandalized since I've been using this method. 

I also use deck screws to hold my blow molds in place on large, heavy, thick {4"-6" thick} wooden plank boards, they are buried under the BM so they can't be seen, again, a little bit of work and effort, but none have ever walked out of my yard.   Trying to pull one up may give someone a hernia. LOL  

And my wall decor is also mounted to the house with the plastic "C" style screw down cable clamps.  haven't had a single item move or be pulled out of place in my now going on 6 years of using them and this method.  

And my neighbors security system {cameras} across the street also monitors the front of my home, so my display is covered by his system for the moment.   Will eventually be adding my own, but for now, his has worked very well for keeping any vandals or thieves at bay! 

 

My controllers are always screwed down to a fixed mounting site, this year, two will be attached directly to the sides of my house near the roof line for the new Halloween setup for 2016. 

I never keep my items or display decor in the same areas, every year I change everything so the display is always different every year.  No displays will ever be exactly the same as long as I do them myself!

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Jaynee    47

We have had a couple incidents.  A couple years ago something was stolen (but later returned).  After that we bought a couple cameras that record to DVR - we can save up to 30 days, 24 hours a day on that DVR.

Last year we recorded two girls initially just taking video and selfies in front of our yard.  They went to get back in their truck and leave, but turned around and came back, came into our yard, and took apart a couple of our lighted animal structures before leaving.  Unfortunately, they were just on the edge of the infrared camera eye and so we didn't get a super-clear picture of them.  We knew it was teen girls by the way they moved and they both had long hair in ponytails.  But that was about it.

So after THAT, we installed a motion-sensor outdoor light that shines over the ENTIRE yard and activates even when people walk on the sidewalk in front of our house.  We also created an all-night random light sequence for the lights on our house in the hopes that the rotating sequence of things coming on would dissuade kids from coming in our yard.

Hoping that 2016 becomes a year that nothing happens.  If we have issues for the third year in a row, we shall be selling off our stuff and not decorating at all anymore.

Edited to add:  We keep our controller box(es) in the garage and just have the extension cords going under the garage door, so I'm not worried about that stuff getting taken or vandalized.

Edited by Jaynee

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lightingnewb    30

Jaynee and I think alike:

10 hours ago, Jaynee said:

Edited to add:  We keep our controller box(es) in the garage and just have the extension cords going under the garage door, so I'm not worried about that stuff getting taken or vandalized.

All of my controllers and my computer are located in my garage. This means they will have to beat a deadbolt to access it. (Not to mention they'll be noticed trespassing when they are lit up by the display.) I have an RGB controller on the second story- they can't reach that.

As far as my lawn decorations, the only vandal I've ever encountered is Mother Nature. Our lawn decorations are bulky and will stand out. Considering the neighborhood doesn't really invest time into decoration for Christmas, I don't see any threats right now.

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Xmas newbie    1

This will be my first year running a LOR display. Definitely lots of good info in this post that I will be using. Sad that you have to make preparations to secure display items.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Jaynee    47

We made a fun 2 ft x 5 ft vinyl banner to hang on the house last year that said, "Don't be naughty...Santa is watching (and so are we)!" but we never put it out.  We will be putting it out this year.

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zman    71

BS Rich has the right approach. I did a Security class for Christmas Expo last year. Layering is best if you are really concerned.

2 things to add. You can add alarm wire to your controllers that when broken activates a sequence, say lights popping on. One example we had here in the PacNW with a decorator, he had zap strobes that he blazed which disorients folks.

Another option is a trip alarm. It has its pitfalls where animals can set it off, but one particular option I really liked was to use one of these:

http://www.pyrocreations.com/inc/sdetail/624/11971

If tripped, it would alert you, the neighbors, and put a spot in the perpetrators pants.

In 12 years, I have never really had a problem. However as time goes by, I think about this a lot, and I am thinking cameras would be nice. However, the cameras have to be high definition to get any sort of facial recognition.

Edited by zman

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k6ccc    499
1 hour ago, zman said:

Another option is a trip alarm. It has its pitfalls where animals can set it off, but one particular option I really liked was to use one of these:

http://www.pyrocreations.com/inc/sdetail/624/11971

If tripped, it would alert you, the neighbors, and put a spot in the perpetrators pants.

I love that!

 

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Steven    78

Professional thieves will take copper, and probably little else, because copper is the easiest to sell. This means a display with large runs of heavy duty extension cables could make you a target.

Teenage delinquents and vandals will target the visible unusual stuff like wire frames and mega trees.

Animals will sometimes chew cables or inflatables (no big loss there, in my opinion).

Controllers are probably the least likely to get stolen or damaged, especially if they are ugly or discrete, as most are.

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DevMike    429

I agree 100% with what Steven says.

IMHO (and I have said this many times), deterrence is what you want, not evidence.  Cameras are good, but only if people know you have them.  Even better:  LIGHT!  After hours light the display up like a prison yard.  CFL floods only cost a few cents each to run for an entire season.  

Vandalism has always been the biggest problem we see with customers - and even then it is only a SMALL percentage that experience it.   Never have we seen vandalism of controllers (explicitly), or even theft of controllers when in use.  I think I remember a single case of someone having controllers stolen - but it was on the off season out of a shed.  NEVER while in use however.

Cameras, or should I really SIGNS that you HAVE cameras, usually deter the young punk vandals.  
Pros see all that bright light and think 'There are easier pickings elsewhere where it is dark".  

All you are looking to do is make them think for 1/2 of a second about getting caught.  Once you put a fraction of a doubt in their mind, they will go away.

If those 2 things don't deter them, not a lot will.  In those cases think about slowing them down as much as possible:

  • Keep items back several feet from the road.  You don't want them close enough where someone can reach out a cardoor and 'hold and drive' ;) 
  • Unless you live up north where the ground freezes hard the minute you stake something, don't rely on stakes for security.  Instead for your more pricey items, get something like a cinderblock or dog tie down screw.  Use a cable/lock.   This works well for wireframes and Inflatables.
  • If a cord is going by something solid (say like a post you have a controller attached to, a tree, mailbox, whatever), wrap around it once or twice, or even tie a knot.  if someone does grab something and pull, they will only get that one item (since it will 'unplug itself' from the secured cord).  [FYI:  U Pickets can be had much cheaper at a local big box store]
  • The same as with signs, make your physical security visible.  Have something close to the road?  Don't use a wimpy bicycle lock with that pretty purple rubber coating.  Use big NASTY looking chain with a BIG padlock.  People watching the lights will never see it.  People looking to do damage however will.  Use the purple bike lock on something further back.

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k6ccc    499
16 minutes ago, DevMike said:

If a cord is going by something solid (say like a post you have a controller attached to, a tree, mailbox, whatever), wrap around it once or twice, or even tie a knot.  if someone does grab something and pull, they will only get that one item (since it will 'unplug itself' from the secured cord).

 

One other advantage to securing cables like this.  If YOU or someone else trips over cable in your yard, they are not going to rip the RJ-45 connector off the board of the nearest controller.

 

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jerrymac    77

Here is an idea for the controllers.    

Attach two pieces of PVC to the back of the controllers  vertically  (schedule 40),long enough to leave 18 inches or so beyond the bottom of the controller box's (more if you expect deep snow). If you use conduit clam shells you can put a sheet metal screw through the clamp and through the PVC.  Drive some re-bar (or 1/2" metal conduit into the ground where you want the controllers). The screws will prevent the re-bar from going all the way through the PVC and keep the controller standing up.  Leave enough re-bar sticking our of the ground to slip the PVC on the controllers over.   The screws in the clamp will prevent the re-bar from going all the way through the PVC.  This will not only keep the controllers off the ground but keep them vertical.   Place a plastic bag over the controllers (1 to help weatherproof and 2 to help make them less visible). 

Edited by jerrymac

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DisneyMatt10    33

So, thinking about controller safety... Does anyone else keep their controllers inside, and just run extension cords to the props?? 

I know this may seem excessive, but thankfully we have a small corner lot, and I can place all of our controllers on the wall in the garage, and simply run extension cords out to all the props. No extension cord will have to be over 75ft at the longest. Tips/Thoughts?
~Matt

Edited by DisneyMatt10

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k6ccc    499
2 hours ago, DisneyMatt10 said:

So, thinking about controller safety... Does anyone else keep their controllers inside, and just run extension cords to the props?? 

Absolutely.  Some people do it exactly that way.  Also avoids and water in controller problems.

 

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