With a burglary occurring roughly once every 25.7 seconds in the US according to the FBI, many Americans could benefit from paying a little bit more attention to home security. To help you protect your home a little better, here are the best home security tips all kinds of people (including several home security experts) have sent us in response to this question I put out:
For those serious about securing their home, what actions can you recommend to ensure your home is protected? Great if you can suggest something that the majority of people wouldn’t consider and will have a marked effect on security.
Have a read through the 12 comments below and you’ll pick up plenty of actionable advice on making your home safer without breaking the bank.
In my practice as a security expert, I have seen many homes with high-tech security systems being burgled because technologies can't compare with the traditional methods of protection. Having an alarm system is essential, but it will not save you if your front door is not thick enough, panelled or hollow inside, showing weaknesses at the kick plate side or having unsuitable locks.
Also, windows remain out of sight when thinking about security, but they are the second most common entry point for houses and flats.
Adding window alarms and locks will help you burglar-proof your home even when you are there. Burglars may not risk attacking your home if it looks occupied. That's why you can use some budget-friendly solutions like bark alarms, motion detector lights, fake TV light simulators and traditional window blinds to hide what's inside.
Material possessions are signs of people's status, but small things like your garbage could give valuable information to the burglars. The packaging of your high-value goods can be a clear sign that your home is worth stealing. Be careful what and where you put in the bin.
Documents and bills that contain your name, address, phone or other personal data should never leave your home as they can help burglars steal your identity, credit information or be used in unlawful activities. I would suggest two things for home and business owners. Buy a document shredder for everything you have to get rid of, and a document safe for all the rest. Small safes offer great value for your money so you can protect your documents, jewellery, car keys and credit cards but these safes have to be well mounted and hidden.
Cyber-burglars are a real threat, so don't underestimate the danger to become a target through social media. Suppose you like to share these morning coffee posts while travelling to work, jogging or playing with your dog in the front yard. In that case, you are not only enlightening the people with motivational quotes, but you also give them hints for your daily routine, when you are home or not, what's outside your home and is it possible to be used as a tool of a break-in. I would suggest keeping your private life visible for your real friends and family by using the privacy settings for every post. If you go on a vacation, don't be tempted to check-in at the airport and announce you are gone, and your property is empty. Even your vacation photos can wait until you get back because it's effortless for someone to find your address and attack your property.
--Issabel Williams, Speedy Locksmith
As a security expert, I always remind people that burglars are not wasting their time and are constantly searching for creative ways to steal from you.
However, you don't have to break a bank to get effective protection for your home. Sometimes preventing criminals from targeting your home is the key to keep your family safe.
Many people focus only on the house automatisation and expensive security systems but forget the simple things like adding a few extra locks to their doors and windows and always using them when going out.
A common mistake that people do is to forget that if their properties offer hiding places from the outside, it will be easier for a burglar to get in. To avoid this, you can take some motion-sensor lights. They are a great way to gain entry into your home at night, but also they will keep the burglars aside even before they touch your door. Adding extra light to your entryway, near the windows or some dark spots in your home can deter burglars and serve as an additional alarm system. To extend this idea, I would suggest combining the motion sensor lights with some light timers. They are easy to fit, but the advantage they give would be priceless. These small devices will be switching on and off regularly so your home will look occupied even when you are not there.
According to the crime statistics, the majority of break-ins happen in the evening, so take a step further to keep your house or flat well lit, but don't store your valuables at a display to tempt burglars.
Your garage or tool shed can offer an excellent arsenal for a burglar, so consider installing an alarm system there, to keep an eye if someone is trying to use your own tools to break in. Your spare keys also have nothing to do inside the lonely pot near the door. There are a wide variety of digital and mechanical key safes you can choose from to protect your keys, so burglars can’t use them.
For the last couple of years, burglars are changing their preferences, and it has been more valuable for them to steal your stashed documents, so they can use your personal data to clone your identity or sell your credit score.
Consider installing a small safe in your home to keep documents, jewellery, watches, credit cards, or car keys. This way you can save yourself a lot of stress in a potential break-in. But it's not enough to buy a safe and lock everything inside. If you leave it free-standing and don't bolt it down, it could be easy for the burglar to take it with him and open it later. I always recommend people to hide these safes in less obvious places so that they can serve them well.
For those of you using smart 'smart home' devices for home protection, I would say - never underestimate the old but gold rule to use strong passwords, change them often and ensure secure Wi-Fi connection. As the majority of burglars are searching for new methods to target victims, your social media posts, images, and location can serve as a big hint into your daily patterns. Keep in mind the small privacy options when you share your social life.
--Stephany Smith, Fantastic Services
Owning a dog is one of the best security devices you can have, and they also act as a strong deterrent.
You don't need to have a large or scary dog that is known to be 'good at security' - such as a German Shepherd - almost any dog will be of benefit.
Most crimes are perpetrated at night, and dogs are great at alerting to any strange sounds. If you have someone snooping around your property you can be sure a few good barks from your dog will move them on.
We live next door to a family with 2 Chihuahuas. I would never consider stepping onto their property untowardly day or night. They make such a racket whenever anyone comes near!
A security camera is good, but they can only cover so much ground. A dog is a much better security device because they can see, smell, and sense so much more than a camera ever will.
--Dan Morris, Pet N Pat
Automated Lighting Schedule / Remote Controlled Lighting
Keeping your home lit up when you are away is a major deterrent for burglars who are seeking an easy target.
It is super simple to buy a handful of smart plugs and use them to control lamps in your home. You can use the accompanying smartphone app to configure a schedule for when you are away. You can set them to come on during the evening, go off late at night, and back on in the morning.
This also works with Philips Hue bulbs or smart light switches where you can quickly create a routine for them to automatically go on and off. This is even better than smart plugs, as the light will be even brighter from outside.
You can have different sockets or bulbs trigger at different times, so anyone looking in will assume someone is at home, moving around the house!
Smart Blinds & Curtains
Burglars scoping out a property are looking for targets with very little, if any activity.
While more of an investment than smart plugs or bulbs, there are lots of smart blinds and curtains on the market which allow you to remotely control the opening and closing of your window coverings. Again, most of these apps allow you to create routines to automatically trigger the blinds or curtains on a set schedule.
Any burglar looking for an empty property will assume someone is at home and quickly move on.
Regardless of home security, these are great products anyway... who wouldn't want to ask Alexa to close their blinds!
Security Lighting & Cameras
It is so important to have external entrances fully lit up, so a burglar cannot take their time breaking in without drawing attention.
There are plenty of basic outdoor floodlights that activate based on motion sensors. For the more security conscious, there are now floodlight cameras you can install containing a security siren, live video feed to your phone, and even two-way audio so you can inform intruders that the police are on the way!
Test your Home Security
Such a simple idea that very few people do ... Lock yourself out of your home and try to get back in! (Of course, have a backup key handy!) It makes people think differently about home security. Do they lock windows? Are patio doors left closed but unlocked. Is there a large doggie door that you could crawl through!
If you can easily get back in without a key then a seasoned burglar will have no problem breaking in!
--Daniel Walsh, Smart Home Perfected
Many security systems use WiFi and can therefore be vulnerable during a power outage. Running your wifi router and any part of your security system that needs to be plugged in through a battery backup system can help offset this vulnerability so you don't lose connection if the power goes out.
--Erik Wright, New Horizon Estates
Put valuables in electric switch boards
Three years back my father made a huge investment in gold. Since gold is something everyone has their eyes on, a safe would have been an obvious place to safe keep it. However, that was not the case with my father.
I remember him opening all the electric switch boards in our house a few days later and he placed all the gold coins in it. He never told anyone else about this hack. It’s still highly unlikely any burglar will break into your house and start opening electric switch boards. I believe it’s a great hack to safe guard your valuables. Just make sure this secret is safe with you and no one else in your home.
--Immad Amir, Hackiva
One item that most people overlook securing in their home is the garage, specifically the garage door. Garage doors that are connected to an operator have an emergency pull cord. The pull cord disengages the operator from the door allowing a person to lift open the door.
Unknown to many, the pull cord can still be accessible from outside the garage. For example, a person can fish a hanger over the top of the garage door and reach for the pull cord. With the help of the hanger, a person can disengage the operator and open the garage door from the outside.
The solution is to wrap the pull cord once over the rail. This position does not hinder the garage from operating normally. Instead, it prevents the operator from being disengaged with a straight pull.
--Jonathan Sanchez, Parent Portfolio
Home security is very important for our customers, so we try to know what helps people feel secure in their own homes.
One of the best tips I have heard is to have external lights outside your windows and doors.
There are multiple reasons these work. If the external lights are on, robbers are less likely to rob your home because they want to rob your home discreetly. It is hard to be discrete if the external lights are on for all of your neighbors to see the robber's face when they are robbing your home.
Even if the lights are off, they are deterrents. With new technology, some lights can turn on with noise or as a security response. Many robbers do not know if the lights will come on as soon as they break some glass or even try to pry something open so they may just skip your home.
While this other reason does not necessarily secure your home, it is still very important. The majority of muggings happen right at a person's door. When people come home, they usually need to fish out their keys. That leaves them vulnerable to attack. Having an external light at your doors will not only protect your house but protect you when you are at your very own door.
--Tyler Forte, Felix Homes
Burglars usually wait for you to leave the house before making any moves. However, if they see a light on, they may hesitate to enter. Installing lights with timers is a very simple and effective way of keeping unwanted guests away. Ideally, you should combine lights in two or even three different rooms and set timers to different hours. This way, it will seem as if someone is actually moving inside the house. Also, always leave the porch light turned on. It is much harder to burgle a house when everything is bright and neighbors or people on the street can clearly see what’s happening.
--Stefan Chekanov, Brosix
Home defense usually involves adding barriers such as a tall wall, more secure door or window bars. However, creating security perimeters is just as important to home security. A perimeter is a distinct area outside or inside of your home. A barrier is an obstruction you put up on these perimeters which makes it harder for intruders to get in.
Most homes can be broken down into four perimeters and, ideally, you will put barriers on each of them. The first perimeter is your property line. Walls and fences are examples of barriers on this perimeter.
The second perimeter – which is often overlooked -- is your yard. It’s incredibly important that your yard is free of things which could hide an intruder. For example, make sure there aren’t any bushes around your windows; intruders could easily conceal themselves there while taking their time to break into your windows. You can also add barriers to your yard, such as motion-sensor lights or a guard dog.
The third perimeter is your home. You’ll want to make sure all entrance points are secure, such as by using better locks. Door frames are also very important: you can have the strongest lock in the world but it won’t matter if the frame can be easily kicked in. Garage doors are a common entry point for intruders. The best garage door openers will have codes which automatically change each time you use it so thieves cannot wait outside your home with code-grabbing devices.
The final perimeter of your home is a safe room. If an intruder does manage to break into your home, you would go to the safe room and call the police. The safe room should be a room which all your family members can easily get to, such as a room near bedrooms. It should have a secure door and ideally walls which are bulletproof. Make sure you keep a charged phone in this room so you can call for help. If you have a video security system, make sure you can access the video feed from this room too.
Most home invasions in middle class neighborhoods are by thieves who scouted out your home well in advance. They are most likely to strike during the day when everyone is likely to be out and at work. These thieves look for high payoffs. You can avoid becoming a target by making sure to keep valuables out of sight, such as by keeping expensive appliances away from windows. Thieves also look for easy targets so any home security you add – such as getting a guard dog or installing a security camera – will make you less of a target.
--Diane Vukovic, Primal Survivor
When it comes to alarms folks tend to place them next to the front/back door for convenience. Unfortunately, this is often not the best location. If the keypad can be viewed from the window then it is possible that someone can watch as you arm the alarm and note your code. If the pad is located near the front/back door then make sure to cover your keypad as you enter the code.
With the alarm system, it is a good idea to have a pad in the master bedroom as well as the main pad. This way if an intruder awakens you while you are sleeping you can sound the alarm from your bedroom.
--Ahmed Mir, Sip Coffee House
1. Turn your old phone into a security camera
Cameras are one of the most effective ways to stop people entering and breaking into your home. Instead of splashing out on expensive camera systems, there are companies that can turn your old mobile phone into a security camera.
2. Add letterbox security
When trying to break it, some people may try to use a ‘fishing’ technique to try and unlock the inside of the door through the letterbox. To stop this from happening, you can purchase letterbox security that won’t allow people to post hooks through the door.
3. Make sure your Internet is safe
This may not be the usual way of securing your home, but you also need to ensure your internet is safe. Hackers are able to work their way into your internet security and hack your computer systems. This means that if any important information/bank details are saved to your computer then they are at risk.
Speak to a tech specialist about buying software that can protect your computers from malware and viruses.
4. Install Jammers on UPVC windows and doors
Jammers are a cost -effective way to make UPVC windows and doors more secure. These types of fittings can be susceptible to having their locks broken and opened easily. If the lock is broken, the jammer will still be in the way so that people are not able to open the doors and windows.
5. Stay quiet on social media
If you’re going on holiday, make sure you keep quiet on social media. If you alert everyone that you will be away from your house for a long period, it may give way for burglars to have easier access to your house. If you are going to post on social media, make sure you have alarms fitted and can trust someone close by to regularly check the house.
--Sophia Nomicos, Mas & Pas Limited