7 Ways to Discourage Thieves from Breaking into Your Home

Burglar stealing TV

Forget the Joneses – don’t ever advertise your valuables

The deadbolt one of the most revolutionary home security measures ever invented. With its introduction in the 1960s, home burglaries began a steady decline as homeowners began to taking residential security into their own, capable hands. By the 1970s, most homes had installed a deadbolt lock and burglaries had plateaued to a record low.

Fast-forward 35 years, and an estimated 25 percent of homes in the United States now have some sort of electronic security system. Even more, neighbors pool resources to hire private guards; homeowners install reinforced glass; motion detectors warn of an approaching intruder; and lock technology has progressed beyond even the mighty deadbolt.

And yet. The FBI Uniform Crime Reports recorded an estimated 2.18 million home break-ins in 2011. Worse yet, police often have a hard time apprehending thieves, as burglars have gotten progressively sneakier to combat smarter security technologies. But if that makes it sound hopeless, fear not. There are many, many steps you can take to discourage thieves from breaking into your home – and most can be done in a day and require only a small investment of time and funds.

1. Be Home

Most burglaries happen during the day when your family is at work or school. When you step out for the day (or night), take care to create the illusion of someone at home. You can leave lights or the television on a timer, or purchase products that simulate the sounds and sights of indoor activity.

2. Lock Up

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a whopping 40 percent of all home burglaries are not forced entries – thieves simply walk into 4 out of every 10 homes via an open door or window. If no one is at home, always lock all your doors and windows. Install deadbolts (this one still rings true!). Secure sliding glass doors.

3. Secure the Garage

Keep your garage doors closed, even when you’re home. If you tend to forget to hit the close button, install a timer close; it’ll close your garage doors automatically after a certain amount of time open. (There’s an override for times when you really do need them open.) If you’re going away for an extended period, disable your door opener or padlock the door’s bolt holes to prevent a burglar from easily rolling up the door and walking in.

Burglar Entry through Door

40 percent of burglars enter through an open door or window

4. Don’t Be the Biggest House on the Block

This rule applies not only to real estate, but to home security, too. You don’t want the biggest, flashiest, most expensive home in the neighborhood – it’s sure to be a target. Likewise, don’t show off. If you buy a new television or expensive sound system, don’t leave the packaging box sitting on the curb. Don’t let your children leave bicycles and other toys sitting in the front yard. Etc. etc. In other words, don’t advertise your belongings and their worth to potential intruders.

5. Hide and Go Elsewhere

Don’t make your home the easiest target on the block by providing convenient hiding spots: keep trees, bushes and shrubbery away from doors, windows and other entry points. You can still have attractive landscaping, of course, just keep border plants manicured so that they provide no cover for burglars. If you’re attached to the idea of shrubbery around the home, choose thorny plants that would be quite inhospitable to an hiding intruder.

6. Know Thy Neighbor

Friendly neighborhoods report a lower crime rate, in part because strangers simply stick out. Make friends with your neighbors – Nosey Nelly next door can be your best burglar deterrent. Offer to keep and eye on each other’s homes, or to sound the alarm if necessary. A Neighborhood Watch program is also an excellent way to build budget-friendly crime-prevention.

7. Close the Curtains

Windows are beautiful, letting light and air filter into your home, but they also give burglars an easy way to inventory possible booty. Make it a habit to close your blinds or curtains when you’re not home, and especially at night when interior lights make it hard to see outside but very easy to see in.

16 Home Security Tips

Tips for Home Security

Follow these inexpensive and easy tips to secure your home against intruders

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Basement Window Bars

    Tip #8: Secure basement windows with security bars

    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.)

  6. 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.)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.)
  10. Home Security Combination Lock

    Tip #9: Give contractors and visitors access to just one, easily-rekeyed door

    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.

  11. 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.)
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Close the Garage: Even when you’re home, keep your garage doors closed at all times.
  16. Get Safe: Secure all valuables in a fire-proof safe at home, or a bank safety depost box.