13 Inexpensive Ways to Make Your Home More Secure.
Protect your house and your loved ones with these inexpensive, easy-to-install devices!
Understand Your Foes
Most burglaries occur on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The perpetrators look for homes that appear unoccupied during the day, are dark at night, and display signs of wealth (such as good landscaping, expensive cars and fancy decks). They prefer homes that are secluded or shielded by fences or shrubbery. And they always prefer breaking in through a ground-level side window or back door.
Most burglars don’t pick locks or break glass. That takes too long, makes noise and risks personal injury. Your job is to make your home less target-worthy, frustrate any attempts to break in and limit your losses if they do manage to get inside.
Install the Right Type of Peephole
Peepholes are an essential and proven part of home security— you never want to open a door unless you know who’s on the other side. But some doors don’t come with peepholes, and a lot of peepholes are so tiny that they don’t clearly show you who’s out there. Savvy strangers can hide slightly out of view or appear so distorted that they’re hard to identify.
Avoid uncertainty by installing a wide-angle door viewer. You can install it just like a standard peephole—drill a hole from each side of the door and screw it in.
Secure Your Mailbox
Mail theft is a growing problem because unsecured mailboxes are easy targets. A security mailbox is one way to keep thieves from stealing your mail—securing everything from checks, credit card offers, and other personal information.
Once the mail is dropped in a secure mailbox, you need a key to open it. Security mailboxes like the one shown here are available online or at some home centers. Just screw it to the wall or post as you would a standard mailbox.
Install a Small Safe
Most of us don’t need a big, heavy, expensive safe to secure our valuables. For a few hundred dollars or less, you can get a safe that will protect against thieves. Be sure to fasten it to the floor or wall so an intruder doesn’t walk off with it. Safes go up in price for options such as fire protection and digital or biometric (fingerprint reading) locking mechanisms.
Window and Door Alarms
Keeping doors and windows locked is your first line of defense. Make wireless alarms your second. The alarms are activated any time doors or windows are opened. Burglars hate noises, so even a small alarm usually sends them running. Place the alarms on doors and windows in “hidden” areas of the house where you don’t normally gather and are often dark.
Pin Locks for Double-Hung Windows
The factory latches on double-hung windows are no match for a burglar with a pry bar. But they can’t get past inexpensive pin locks. You can install a pin in just a few minutes per window. Drill a hole to lock the window closed, and a second hole a few inches up to lock the window partly open for ventilation.
Motion Detector Lighting
Motion detector lights are a proven crime deterrent. If running a power supply would be difficult, buy a light that runs on solar power. Make sure the solar panel receives direct sunlight, even though it will still charge on cloudy days.
Whole-Home Alarm Systems
Police interviews with burglars prove that alarm systems are a deterrent. If burglars are convinced your home has a real alarm system, they’ll move on to a more vulnerable target rather than take a risk at your home.
You can buy a professional-grade wireless alarm system for about $200 from many online sources. Installing professional alarm hardware is easy, but programming the system can be a challenge. A battery-powered wireless DIY alarm system requires no wiring. Just plug the control box into your Internet router, mount the sensors and arming station, and program the unit.
Install Anti-jacking Screws
To prevent a crook from prying a door up, drive two 3-in. long screws through the top track and into the header above the sliding door or window. Leave enough clearance to allow the sliding door or window to move, but not enough to allow a burglar to raise the door off the track.
Reinforce Exterior Doors
Burglars can open most entry doors with a few kicks or body blows. Even with a deadbolt, the blow shatters the doorjamb and splits the door itself (even steel doors). You can dramatically increase the strength of your doorjamb by installing longer strike plate screws that anchor into the stud behind the jamb.
The first step would be to take out one of the existing screws. If a screw is shorter than 3 in., replace it. For even greater doorjamb security, consider installing a 6-in. long heavy-duty strike plate. This job is much bigger because you have to mortise a larger opening and drive in six 3-in. screws. However, if your entry door butts up to a sidelight and you can’t install long screws, buy and install a 48-in.-long doorjamb reinforcement plate.
You can also prevent door splitting with a door edge guard. Measure the door thickness and deadbolt lock backset before you head to the home center. Then buy a guard to fit around your door and deadbolt. Installing the guard should take about 15 minutes.
Beef Up Your Wooden Garage Entry Door
A flimsy old wooden garage entry door has weak center panels that can easily be kicked in by thieves. Adding a dead bolt won’t solve that problem. A down-and-dirty way to beef up the door is to add a 1/2-in. plywood reinforcement panel and then bar it with 2x4s placed in bar-holder brackets.
Identity theft is on the rise, and you may not even know you’ve been victimized until you apply for a loan and find out your credit has been ruined. One way to protect your identity is to shred your personal papers, including credit card offers, bank statements and bills.
Shredders start at $20 at office supply stores. More expensive models can shred credit cards, CDs and multiple sheets of paper. Some even “micro-shred” documents for added security.
Add Video Surveillance (Real or Fake)
Place video cameras by doors and windows. Most burglars won’t even take the time to figure out if the camera is real—they’ll just avoid the house.
Real cameras have coaxial cables, so zip-tie coaxial cable to the fake power cable that came with the camera. Drill a second hole in the mounting bracket and hot-glue the cable into place.