Weekend Property

Intruder alert: how to prevent thieves from breaking into Hong Kong homes

Former police chief superintendent Den Wong describes some of the steps residents can take to deter burglars and other unwanted prowlers and trespassers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 11:15am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 5:10pm

Den Wong is the founder of UCS Hong Kong, a professional security consultancy, and a retired chief superintendent of police. He discusses how to keep homes safe.

How can I keep my home safe while I’m away on an extended trip?

According to police statistics, for the first seven months of the year, there have been, on average, 6.7 burglary cases per day in Hong Kong. An ineffective security system is one reason for break-ins. In my experience, some commonly used devices, such as infrared beam sensors, have a habit of going off, and constant false alarms may deter you from installing  a home security system - and that's just what the burglar wants. 


My house was broken into, even though there were security guards on patrol within the complex and all the doors and windows were locked. What else could I do to add an extra layer of security?

If your house has been broken into, it means that there are serious security loopholes. This means you should consider hiring a security consultant to conduct a security risk assessment based on the architectural design of your home, look at access points, the neighbouring area and existing security systems, among others, and then recommend measures to improve security. These measures should deter, disrupt and mitigate potential threats. 


Do I need a professional security system? What advice would you have for me?

You need a reliable and effective security system, comprising a combination of security devices and security operating procedures, tailor-made for your premises. There are many security devices available in the market, but they have to be configured, with each device complementing the other. Some home owners may not want functionality and reliability at the expense of aesthetics. Surrounding your house with barbed wire and a fence may act like a deterrent, but this will make your house look like a prison. And barbed wire is not reliable against an intruder. A burglar can simply cover it with a blanket and climb over it. CCTVs have to be strategically placed, installed and operated to make monitoring, deterrence and post-incident investigations effective. Lastly, on-site security personnel must receive regular, professional training on how to properly use the security system and respond to threats and incidents. 


What are the latest technologies in surveillance and intrusion-detection systems?

While basic intrusion-detection devices, such as dual-tech motion detectors or infrared beam sensors, are easy to install, false alarms create more problems than they solve. Vibration sensors are more reliable with a low false-alarm rate, but it must be fence-mounted and doesn’t look good from outside. There is a great range of security cameras to choose from, including those equipped with useful features, such as night vision and motion detection. But they have to be strategically installed and operated. Avoid cheap webcams, which provide very little or no protection at all, as they are open to attack by hackers – and professional thieves know how to hack into cheap webcams. We have introduced an Israeli-made pressure-sensing intrusion detection system. By setting the triggering weight to a specific weight, such as 25kg, the system can effectively detect human intruders and eliminate any false alarms that would have otherwise been caused by bad weather, small animals or other objects. It works perfectly with a CCTV and control panel system. The system can be installed inside any existing perimeter walls and fences, and therefore can be hidden from view.