My thoughts from several years ago:
If you were my parents, these are the things I’d tell them. They've been here and they understand completely. When they come to visit us, they feel very safe, obviously! There are several of us that I believe lived through the worst of times here years ago in 2012. I truly love living here and I’m glad there wasn’t ever the thought of leaving.
If only we could guarantee that there would never be a break in by the level of security we install. I use to be a great advocate of the gated communities but not anymore. There were incidents in the different gated communities. People get over walls and fences. We don't want to create fear by chatting about this topic but be realistic. I'm a huge home security advocate and many people feel they are somewhat on their own down here. Our home is very secure, in my opinion yet I realize some people wouldn't be comfortable living in the area we live in. I'm a very sensitive person, could be easily frightened(with reason) and admit it, but in time I do overcome each scare and fortunately, no one else in the family is like me Just so you know that I'm very sensitive, aware and love living here!!!!
I live in the frame of mind that there are potential problems and try to avoid them. In my opinion, there isn't one area that is safer than the next from Chapala to Ajijic. Others will have their opinion of San Juan Cosala to Jocotepec, I have some opinion but haven't lived there. There are people in all areas that live without incident and many opinions about degrees of security. Security is a very personal matter. Each one needs to do what they feel comfortable with. We have lived in our home for over 7 years without an incident. We lived in the village, had a break in when we lived in an apartment in San Antonio T. and we learned from our mistakes. It's important to get used to home security like security for a car. We get used to it and it's not any big deal. I have personally driven by many homes and talked with home owners and renters that had an incident and I know that my home is more secure than theirs were when they had problems. Doing that helped me to realize that the threat was much lower for us because we have been proactive about home security. It isn't fool proof but practical; sleeping and living well makes it all worth it.
Our home defense is layered. Our home isn't visible from the road. High rock wall 9-10 ft with razor wire and thorny vines growing through. Metal electric gates that double fold out so they cannot be pushed open from outside. If the power were cut, it'd be a royal pain to get any door open. We know from experience. The walk thru gate has a high security lock camera intercom. It is not a flimsy lock that people say are "punched" out.
Next layer of defense are two police/military trained personal protection guard dogs(ppd). My dog can attack an armed man in a car. I can't recommend a work dog or ppd more. If I couldn't have anything, I'd want a ppd. They're wonderful companions and they know what to do if you're in trouble.
We have LED flood lighting, decorative bars, especially important for windows and doors left open. They need to be welded to the house not screwed in or they may be pulled off. Homes have had their bars cut. The neighbor heard the noise, which sounded like lawn equipment.
Inside we have two alarmists, they're ankle biters. The arm biters stay outside, they are NEVER tied up or confined, how then can they protect us if they are confined?
We have the security cameras and are able to check the house while away from any computer or smart cell phone with internet. Cameras are installed high and out of reach. As a homeowner with security cameras for 7 years now and the many power outages that we have, I can safely say a couple have been replaced twice, one is still an original but humidity and power surges burned some of them up. We bought a new system earlier this year replacing the old one. The day the neighborhoods have a homeowner with security cameras covering every street will be a great news. One doesn’t have to sit and monitor the cameras but check that they are working and if and when they hear of a problem, it sure helps to be able to review the recording. It is especially helpful to know the day and approximate time. Our cameras only hold recordings for up to 2 weeks and then it cycles off.
I sleep with a charged cell phone programed for the Chapala police on my nightstand. It's recommended to keep an air boat marine horn or battery operated mega phone if you can bring one from the states and or a can of Raid. Even the alarm on your car being accessible from your key chain could be helpful on your nightstand. You could install cheap window alarms that are battery operated and will call you or a friend if broken into. There are electric dog barking alarms that a person in Jocotopec told me works well. This is a great option for someone who can’t keep a dog. Some homes have a high level security system with battery backup that will give an electric jolt that could potentially kill a person if cut. They have sirens that are deafening. Home owners were surprised the robber wasn’t dead after being thrown when he cut the alarm.
Do tuck away valuables in places that aren't normal and don't tell ANYONE, unless it's a family member or a person who will be responsible if something happens to you. Some homes have a safe. DO NOT let anyone know you have one of those...scary, that alone can make you a target. Even if you only keep papers in it that are important to you and no one else. Homes have been robbed and those things were crow barred out of cement! Not worth it. Do not use your bedroom to hide things. If your home were touched, the bedroom is one room completely torn apart inside out. Forget it. Some people have special furniture with secret compartments, but if that were hauled off what good would it be? One year a house had even the furniture taken. I think they may have had a nice piano if my memory serves me right.
If you ever talk to people that had a break in while they went to the store for less than an hour and ask what rooms were destroyed then think about it. I tell those people that whatever area wasn't messed up, that's where you have to hide your stuff that is valuable. That’s what I learned after our home was broken into in the village.
Whatever you do, someone will say it's not fool proof. Make sure your home isn't the home with the least amount of security and where ever you look whether renting or buying, look at the other homes in the area and whoever has the most amount of security, at least have that much security built into your home. It's proven, in general, that if you have several homes, the home easiest to get into will be targeted.
You can do the other obvious things, a timer for lights, leaving the tv or radio on while away. Join or create a very good Neighborhood Watch Group on Facebook or email.
My feeling is that if we're home, I want a warning. If we aren't home, we've done the best we can. You may be a person or know of a person that has high walls, can't see his house from the road and that's it, never had an incident. Wonderful for them! Some people have guns, some people have machetes and pipes inside. Some people lock their bedroom doors with extra locks. You do what you need to do to feel comfortable. We've got the whole gamete here and know one will complain about keeping people OUT of their stuff and protecting their lives!