According to the FBI, over two million burglaries occur each year in the United States, and 70 percent of them are in residential areas. Don’t worry, you don’t have to turn your house into Fort Knox to secure your home – many of these solutions are free and take less than ten minutes!
Maintain your doors and locks. Inspect the condition of your exterior doors. Make sure that they fully close, are sturdy enough to provide resistance to kick-ins and that there are no gaps along the frame. Also, check each door’s strike plate, hinges and handle to make sure nothing is loose. If you find any damaged door hardware, repair or replace it immediately.
Maintain your windows. Inspect and repair all exterior frames, glass panes and latches. Make sure all windows are securely attached to the window frames and always keep them locked when they’re closed. This includes all sliding patio doors, too. Tip: Take a strong dowel or steel bar and slide it into the back groove of your sliding doors. This way even if the lock is picked, the door can’t be slid open.
Install safety lighting. Purchase indoor lighting timers if you know you’re going to be away from your home for a lengthy period of time. These allow you to set lights on a timer to make it look like you’re home. It’s also important to have adequate outdoor lighting. Consider installing outdoor motion detector lights near exterior doors and windows for some added security. If you have a large yard, you may want to install floodlights, too.
Be aware of what you showcase in your home. Don’t keep expensive items in plain sight or near windows – it makes your house a target! To see what a burglar might see, open up all of your curtains and take a stroll out to your front lawn. If you can easily see your jewelry, big screen TV or your new laptop, consider rearranging these items or buy thick drapes and blinds so your valuable items don’t tempt robbers.
Be mindful of your spare keys. Try to limit the number of keys you lend out. Give the babysitter or dog walker your garage code instead of an actual key. Although we don’t recommend keeping a spare key around the house, if you’re going to do it, be original. Avoid hiding a spare key under fake rocks, doormats or along the doorframe – it’s been done. Many times. Choose a spot that a burglar won’t think to check!
Don’t leave signs of an empty house. Have a neighbor get your mail while you’re away, or put it on hold at the post office. Piled up newspapers or packages on your front door will be a red flag that you’re not at home, making you a prime target for a break-in.
Consider installing an alarm system. If you live in an area with high crime, are away from home often, work odd hours, or just want some extra protection, an alarm system is a great security addition. Homeowners generally pay between $100 and $1,200 for a burglar alarm (the price depends on the size of the home and type of system), plus a monthly monitoring fee of around $40. If that doesn’t fit your budget, just seeing a home security sign prominently displayed out front of your home can deters burglars, even if you don’t actually have a security system installed.