16 Home Security Tips
by Erin Raub | Last Updated Feb. 2nd, 2013
While it can be difficult to protect your home from professional and master thieves, amateurs are behind most home burglaries. The good news is that it is much easier to safeguard your possessions against amateurs, and the even better news is that a few simple, mostly inexpensive investments and precautions can prove a sufficient deterrent to keep your home safe.
- Always Lock Up: Even if you’re only running to the corner store for five minutes, lock up all your doors and windows – even on the second floor.
- Invest in an Alarm System: This is admittedly the most expensive item on this list, but an alarm system is worth its weight in gold. Not only do alarm signs serve as good intruder deterrents, but a good alarm system is connected directly to the police and/or a central station to get you immediate help, if it were ever required. (Extra tip: Make sure your alarm system has a backup cell phone connection, in case for any reason your telephone connection is disrupted.)
- Motion Detection: In addition to an alarm system, inexpensive motion sensors and sound detectors can be installed to trigger lights around and inside your home to deter potential burglers.
- Reflective House Numbers: In the case that you do require emergency services, reflective numbers can help police, fire and ambulances find your home easily, even in the dark.
Window Security: There are several methods to securing your windows and sliding doors so that they cannot be opened far enough for someone to slip into your home. (The least expensive option is a simple pipe or wooden dowel lodged in the window track.)
- Door Security: All doors located within arm’s reach of a window should have dead bolts with captive keylocks. This means that if a burgler breaks the window, s/he cannot unlock your door. (Note: Dead bolts are potential fire hazards, so make sure they have a removable key in place whenever you are home. When you leave, remove the key and keep the dead bolt locked inside and out.)
- Stranger Danger: Install a peephole and chain locks on your front door, so that you can talk to someone without giving them a full view into your home.
- Basement Security: If you have a basement with windows to the outside, install security bars. Also bar up any window air-conditioning units to prevent intruders from removing and crawling through the window.
- Contractor Key: There may be times when you have to give visitors or contractors a key to your home. For optimal security, have all doors – save one – in the house keyed to one lock (that’s your key) and the remaining door keyed for visitors. Re-key as soon as the job or visit is over. (Extra tip: You can even make your contractor door accessible by combination padlock, so you can re-code it as often as necessary.)
Re-key at Move-in: As soon as you move into a new home or apartment, have all the locks re-keyed. You can’t know to whom the previous owners had handed out spares.
- No Vacancy: When you go away, rig light timers and radios to play every night. This creates the impression that you’re still at home. (Extra tip: In this same vein, do not leave notes or signs for delivery drivers or other people when you go away. They’re like large, blinking invitations to break in.)
- Lose the Invitation: Always draw your blinds or tint your windows so that thieves can not see into you home to identify tempting electronics and other valuables.
- Brand your Belongings: Mark all your belongings with some sort of property mark. For example, use a metal engraver to mark your expensive electronics, or a permanent market on the underside of your furniture.
- Spare Key: Do not leave your spare key sitting under a mat or a rock – they’re too easy to find. Instead, use a combination padlock (similar to what many real estate agents use) outside to secure your extra set of keys.
- Close the Garage: Even when you’re home, keep your garage doors closed at all times.
- Get Safe: Secure all valuables in a fire-proof safe at home, or a bank safety depost box.