The following top ten list of security upgrades was determined based upon affordability. Many of these tips cost nothing at all except for your wisdom and time. Others have a fairly low cost associated with them. One hint about security is always true. Many times the best strategy to scaring off a burglar is to make the house look difficult to compromise. The reality of the deterrent is another issue.
Home Security Tips
1. Find A Safe Location To Buy a Home
Instead of looking for various frills for your new home, try looking for a home in a very safe neighborhood. Your realtor, for various reasons, cannot provide you with this information, so you will have to search for it yourself. You can start by looking online to get some crime statistics for your area. Next, go to the local police department. Sometimes, they will even post the local crime statistics of a particular neighborhood online. Finally, look for tell-tale signs of a crime problem in the neighborhood you wish to move to. The presence of a lot of anti-theft items is a good signal that there are problems. Bars on windows and alarm company signs on lawns are a dead giveaway.
The cost of a home in a safer neighborhood is obviously going to be higher than that in a more dangerous one. However, you can look at it in the following way: Since the resell value of the house is greater than a house in a dangerous neighborhood, then you actually possess something of greater value. In this sense, the cost actually committed to security for the house is nil.
2. Get a Dog
Getting a dog can be a small expense that is very effective in deterring criminals. The mere barking of a dog is enough of a presence to scare away predators. If you are against the idea of getting a dog, for whatever reason, then at least put up a sign that indicates that a dog is present.
While any dog that will bark at strangers is a significant warning to intruders, it is best to get a strong, loyal dog like a rotweiler to guard your home. The truth is that, many times, a burglar would rather flee than to have to deal with a small, aggressive dog.
3. Strong House Numbers
Your home’s presence in the neighborhood is stronger when you post a house number that is very visible and legible. It should be visible in the dark as well. Emergency personnel will be able to react to your emergencies quicker with a well placed, striking house number. Some local fire departments sell reflective house numbers to the public.
You should keep your windows limited to opening six inches or less, so that no intruders may gain access by them. You should use windows that are less apt to break, and you should make sure that they do not easily slide out of the window frame. You can do this by screwing in the windows to the frames tightly. Also, windows with a small jam device can be installed, so that you can leave the windows open without them being able to be opened any more.
5. Make the House Look Lived-in
You should make your house look lived-in so that burglars will suspect that you are either home or could arrive at any time. You should be careful about leaving tell-tale signs that you are not at home. Don’t let mail pile up, or flyers. Have a friend or neighbor bring in the mail and circulars that accumulate. Never leave the porch light on the whole time that you are away. Make sure that you don’t leave garbage on the curb many days before the pickup.
Other ways that you can make your home look lived-in are: Have the mail delivery put on hold by the post office while you are away. You can do this by either applying at the post office or applying online with the postal service. Park in the driveway. If you don’t have a car or are taking your car on a trip, then have your neighbor or friend park there. Have a friend or neighbor mow the lawn, water plants and open and close the curtains. Any other chores that leave visible marks to the public should be taken care of.
6. Guard the Perimeter
Putting motion sensor lights on your property will certainly frighten off any burglar. The element of surprise is on your side. If you can’t put in motion sensor lights, then at least put in regular lights. The lights will make the burglar feel exposed.
Erecting a fence is a good deterrent to thieves. Even a short fence tends to signal to the thief that they must cross a barrier in order to get into the house.
Manicuring your property, such as pruning the trees and shrubs, will signal to the thief that the home is well cared for. Most likely, a home that is well cared for is protected well also. It also will help eliminate hiding places where the thief can evade people’s vision.
7. Buy an Alarm System
Alarm systems do cost you some money. However, experts say that you should not spend a lot of money on an alarm system. The truth is that you don’t need a fancy system. The greatest deterrent to the criminal is actually the company’s sign on the property. Many times, companies will try to lure you in with sophisticated systems and monitoring packages. The best alarm actually will be one that creates a shocking sound. That is all that is really needed.
The door is the route that most burglars like to take to gain entry into your house. Getting through the windows is more difficult and carrying the valuables out the window is very awkward. A door must therefore be very secure, or the burglar may be able to kick it in with no problem.
The first thing you should do to better secure your doors is to upgrade the lock. High quality locks are fairly cheap and do not require a locksmith to install them. You can do it yourself easily.
The next thing you can do to reinforce your door is to get a better strike plate. The strike plate is the metal that the bolt slides into on the doorpost. An inferior plate will allow the thief to easily kick in the door. A better option is to get a plate that has holes for up to six screws. Attach the plate using three inch screws for greater strength.
Lastly, a solid door is a better option than a hollow-core door. It is harder to kick in.
9. Become a Part of a Neighborhood Watch Program
Joining a neighborhood watch program is a good way to increase the security of your home and neighborhood. You should ask your local police department if there is a local one that you could join.
While the success of neighborhood watches is variable, they do provide another set of eyes for the police. The police cannot be present everywhere at the same time.
Sometimes, the community sets up a watch after a rash of incidents in the community. This is the least successful type of watch. More successful watches are those that have a long history of committed membership.
10. Other Strategies
Other strategies can help the security of your home. This may seem obvious, but you should always keep your door locked. Many people who live in quiet neighborhoods become too comfortable about their home security and start to leave the front door unlocked. This is never a good idea.
You should often check that the doors are locked. Sometimes people will carelessly leave the door unlocked, or small children and teens will do so.
Never open the door without checking who it is. You should teach this to your children also.
You should never leave your garage door open. When you arrive at your home in your car, close the garage door with an automatic closer before you get out of your car.
When people are working on your house, watch them carefully. Make sure that they don’t slip into areas where valuables are kept, such as jewelry boxes. Also, make sure that they do not leave windows or doors open to the house where they can easily gain access at a later time.
When you have a spare key, you should not leave it in an obvious place, such as beneath the doormat. You should also make sure that your children do not tell their friends where the spare is.
When you arrive home, check in with your family. You should always call ahead to tell them that you are going to be arriving home. Have your children do this as well.
Make a plan with your family about what to do in case of an emergency or break-in. Some strategies for dealing with break=ins are designed to help you and your family in the event that an intruder manages to get inside your home. One important strategy is to have a safe room or closet that you may run to. You should have one or a couple of these safe rooms. Basically, a safe room or closet has a secure lock on it that will be safe against the intruder trying to kick it in. If you don’t have a safe room, then gather your family in a room and barricade the door with furniture or large objects. Your bedroom door should always have a lock on it.
Make sure that you have a charged cell phone near you at all times. You should rehearse the basic content of what you will say to the dispatcher beforehand, because you will, in all likelihood, be in a panic at the time of the call.
Should you actually confront the robber, remain calm and cooperative. If you have a firearm or pepper spray available, only use it as a last resort.
All of the security measures that have been mentioned above are relatively low in cost and are available to the average home owner. Probably, the most expensive option listed is the erection of a fence. However, there are some options available to people who don’t mind spending a lot of money to guarantee home security.
If you have some expensive possessions, then you might think about the following security measures to keep your home secure:
Keyless locks are amongst the least expensive of these measures. A lock with a code can be installed on any door you wish. One-time codes can be added when you want to allow temporary access to your home.
Surveillance of your home can be had by installing cameras in all key areas. Access can be gained to these cameras remotely, via a link to your computer or smartphone. If you are concerned that you don’t have time to watch the cameras all the time, then you have two options. Either you can use a service that will monitor your cameras for you 24 hours a day, or you can use cameras with a motion sensor that will alert you if there is any activity on them. Robotic surveillance is also available by a machine that rolls through your property with a camera on it.
People with a high profile may want to go to even more drastic measures. For them, there are iris-recognition scanners, bullet resistant walls, ceilings and glass.
Safe rooms can be made in an even more protective way than the ones mentioned above. So-called “panic rooms” can be installed that are resistant not only to intruders, but also to storms like hurricanes. Apparently, many millions of dollars have been spent on one in the royal palace in England. For security, there is no length to which some people will not go.