Save on Pinterest

13 Sneaky Ways FBI Agents Protect Their Homes

Who better to get advice on home protection than FBI agents who have studied the minds of criminals? Even better: These home security tips are totally doable!

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

1 / 13
Half profile portrait of handsome young African American writer looking through window with pensive and doubtful facial expression, touching his chin while thinking over the end of his new bookWAYHOME studio/Shutterstock

Know Your Neighborhood

“Oftentimes, crime can be discouraged by the mere presence of an alert neighbor,” says Douglas Kane, president of Risk Control Strategies and a 27-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). When you’re familiar with your neighborhood, he says, you’re more likely to notice strangers or unfamiliar vehicles.

“If something appears suspicious, call the police,” Kane says. “If a vehicle is repeatedly seen in the neighborhood, copy down the license plate and alert authorities.”

2 / 13
Portrait of young handsome Indian Sikh man wearing turban in the streets outdoorsRanta Images/Shutterstock

Don’t Reveal Vacation Details

We know you’re psyched about your vacation, but don’t talk about your trip beforehand on social media, or with shopkeepers or tradesmen.

“There is no reason to needlessly alert others when the house will be unoccupied,” says Kane.

“While your favorite barista may not rob you blind while you’re away, it doesn’t mean a person standing in line behind you won’t pick up on the details without your realizing it. Or your barista could talk about the trip to other people, unknowingly giving the scoop to a thief who will seize the opportunity of an empty house.”

This applies to sharing work schedules or even a weekend getaway.

3 / 13
Walking Beagle Dogs on leadRoss Stevenson/Shutterstock

How Well Do You Know Your Dog Walker?

“It is important you research anyone that will have access to your home when you are away for any period of time,” says Kane. “Be sure you have conducted a background check on anyone who has access to your property.” This could include vendors, a house sitter, nanny, dog walker or housekeeper.

“There have been many situations where homeowners have been robbed or vandalized by individuals they trusted and later realized they didn’t even know their complete name or where they lived,” says Kane.

4 / 13
woman hands holding tablet computer with app smart home in roomDenys Prykhodov/Shutterstock

Smart Alarms

Security systems are more affordable and simpler to use these days. Kane recommends an alarm system with glass break and motion detection technology. Smartphone apps make it even easier to monitor, arm and disarm devices remotely.

“With the ease of use, individuals tend to utilize the device more and benefit from the additional layer of security which is a proven deterrent,” says Kane. Monitoring systems for housing components like lights, thermostats and even sump pumps make it easier to keep your eyes on things while you are away.

5 / 13
home camera cctv monitoring monitor system alarm smart house video phone view concept - stock imageREDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock

Smile, You’re on Camera

Kane also suggests installing a perimeter camera system to cover all access points of your home. Luckily, you don’t have to shell out thousands to get quality facial recognition.

“Currently, you can buy a high definition two-megapixel bullet camera, with infrared for night viewing for several hundred dollars,” Kane says. “These entry-level cameras will give you better facial recognition than older cameras that originally were in excess of $1,500 apiece.”

6 / 13
outdoor motion sensor flood light under the eaves of a housestockphotofan1/Shutterstock

A Shining Deterrent

And you thought only cockroaches scattered when the lights come on. “You cannot underestimate the deterrent effect of motion-activated lighting,” says Kane.

Exterior and perimeter motion-activated lighting is a low-cost and efficient security measure that will alert the homeowner and scare off an intruder, Kane says.

7 / 13
Installation locked interior door woodworker hands install lock Installation of the door lock.ungvar/Shutterstock

Fortify Your Doors

Solid wood, metal and fiberglass doors at the front and rear entries of your home are good, but they won’t help much if they’re in disrepair. “The easiest way for a predator to enter your home is through a weak door or unsecured window,” says Steve Kardian, an FBI defense tactics instructor and author of The New Super Power for Women.

“Layer on security with bump-proof/pick proof locks, and use three-inch screws on the strike plate that burrow deep into the door frame, using a deep box strike plate,” says Kardian.

8 / 13
Young African Handyman In Uniform Fixing Glass Window With ScrewdriverAndrey_Popov/Shutterstock

Strengthen Your Windows

The most secure windows are acrylic or poly carbonate, Kardian says. He also suggests adding more security by installing 12 millimeter security film over the windows and sliding glass doors. The film helps prevent breakage. Place a wood or metal dowel that fits snugly on the sliding glass door track to keep it from sliding open.

9 / 13
Garage door openerMelissa Avila/Shutterstock

Don’t Forget About the Garage

Smart security measures should be taken whether you have a detached or attached garage.

“The two most important tips for securing the attached garage door is the two-point vulnerability: the windows and doors of the garage,” Kardian says. “They need to be secured just like your exterior doors and windows, and alarms can be installed on the garage door and windows.”

An electronic garage door opener lets you stay in your car while you drive into the garage. Be sure to immediately close the door before exiting the vehicle. “Never leave your garage door open when you leave home,” Kardian says. “It’s a sure sign no one is home. And always lock the garage entry door.”

10 / 13
Wall safe hidden over painting with copy spacemariakraynova/Shutterstock

Get the Right Safe for Your Valuables

You may think a small household safe secures your cherished valuables, but it’s actually a convenient way for a thief to carry out everything in one step. “A safe has to be either installed in concrete, hidden from sight in an undetectable location, or be of the size and weight that it can’t be removed without great difficulty,” says Kane.

11 / 13
Close-up of opening doorGreentellect Studio/Shutterstock

Safe Room

“Designate a room as a safe room that the family can go to in the event of an emergency like a home invasion or burglary,” Kardian says. “The safe room can be an elaborate, reinforced walk-in closet or a bathroom with a solid door and good lock.”

A door security bar costs about $25. Keep a prepaid cell phone in the safe room to call for help in case you leave your phone behind.

Another device to keep in the safe room: The Tigerlight D.A.D. (Defense Alert Device).

“The reason I like the D.A.D. is that you can silently send an emergency GPS alert to your contact list including your family,” Kardian says. “It has a crowd alert that will notify anyone within one mile of your location that you are in danger. It also has a built-in flashlight, police/military-grade pepper spray, superior technology, and it’s legal in all 50 states.”

12 / 13
Rose bushes.dmitro2009/Shutterstock

Defensive Landscaping

A landscaped yard can have a dual purpose, offering beauty and a defensive barrier.

“Prickly or spiny plants, such as various types of rose bushes and evergreens, can be used to create a hedge that can become an impenetrable barrier,” notes Kane. “They can also be trained to climb along an existing wall or fence to deter an intruder from climbing.”

Placing these types of plants near doors and windows will prevent intruders from hiding close to your home.

13 / 13
Black lantern of metal at a wall outside the house.TigerStock's/Shutterstock

Anybody Home?

Would-be intruders will think you’re home with inexpensive technology and common sense.

Kane suggests programming light switches so they turn on and off multiple times during the day and night, mimicking normal use. A radio, programmed to a talk station, gives the impression someone is home as well.

Finally, don’t stop services or deliveries. Let trustworthy friends or neighbors handle these while you are away. The fewer people who know you’re gone, the safer your house will be.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest