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When most of us think about the phrase,” Home Security” we often first think of a Hi-tech security system. Or a system of surveillance cameras. While both of these are great options we aren’t all in the position to do that at this time. The good news is there are many things we can do around our home to improve security without spending much if any money.

home security
Photo credit Pegleess Barrios via Burst

To begin, take a walk around the home. Just a casual walk around the home may help. But try to see it through the opportunistic eyes of a burglar. If you were locked out of your home how would you try to get in? Look for easy ways to gain entry to the home. Unlocked windows and missing screens are just inviting trouble. Also, what can you see through the windows? Most of us will make an effort not to have expensive audio or video gear easily visible. But what if you do have a security system and your keypad is clearly visible through a window? A big green checkmark will tell thieves that your home is open for business. This is a great time to evaluate the condition of your blinds. Even a small crack can make it easier for prying eyes to see in. Sometimes a slight shift in a room can hide expensive electronics or other desirable items.

This is also a great time to check for overgrown trees or bushes which can be a great hiding place for bad guys. Privacy fences sometimes can give an intruder too much privacy and actually make it easier to hide. It is good to evaluate the condition of your yard as well. A well-kept lawn can let others know that you care about your property and it is not being neglected.

Make sure to keep your mailbox empty. A would-be thief can spot a stuffed mailbox without even slowing the car down. Either have a neighbor pick it up or cancel delivery when you are away.

alarm system yard signs

During the walking inspection take a look at other possible interesting possessions that would be easy to steal. Grills, bikes, and even a can of gasoline have enough value to warrant putting in a safe place. Also very important to keep your garage door closed. Not only to limit access but to make it more difficult for criminals to “inventory” the contents of your garage. Also, take a look around for anything you may have laying around that can actually help a thief gain access to your home. Like a ladder left outside for example. Or even something as basic as a hammer or screwdriver left outside can become a burglar’s way through a window.

One often overlooked security asset is our neighborhood. Crime tends to be lower in tight-knit communities because neighbors are more likely to look out for each other and can more easily notice a stranger. Friendly attentive neighbors can be a great deterrent and warning of suspicious activity. And if they work a different schedule than you it is like having another set of eyes on your property.

Another great deterrent is alarm monitoring yard sign and/or window stickers. Even without an installed alarm system, it can make a would-be burglar think twice.

Do you have a spare house key hidden on your property? As much as we like to think otherwise, thieves are on to our “clever” hiding places. Like under a mat or in a rock-shaped piece of plastic. Better options are leaving a key with a trusted neighbor or getting a combo lockbox and installing it in a hidden area on the property.

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Darkness is a friend of the burglar. Motion sensing lights are one of our most powerful security tools. The options for adding motion sensing light have never been better or less expensive. There are even models that can link up with each other so they all come on when one is triggered. In addition, if running wire doesn’t appeal to you there are solar-powered options available.

Obviously, a video cameras is a great thing to have. But these can easily cost hundreds of dollars to get up and operational. One option you may not have thought of is the “Trail Cam” . Trail Cams were originally designed for hunters and nature lovers to track movement and feeding habits of wildlife. Somewhere along the line, we realized that this same technology could be used to track movement and stealing habits of 2-legged wildlife. Trail cameras for security come in many configurations with a variety of programming options. Some stealth security cameras are capable of capturing photos in complete darkness with no visible flash. And the best part is they can be purchased for under 100 dollars.

wireless video cameras


Moving inside we need to take another look at our windows. Making sure that not only do our windows lock but that the locks are not easily defeatable. The original equipment locks on many windows are hardly locks at all. There are many aftermarket locks available that can be installed in a matter of minutes. A very popular option for double-hung windows is a pin lock. A locking pin that goes through one sash and into the next to keep intruders from lifting the sash.

Make sure the exterior doors have a deadbolt lock. And sliding doors should have vertical bolts and a wood or metal bar in the track to keep the door from being forced open or lifted off its track.

The most important thing is to LOCK your doors! Any entry door to your home should be locked at all times. But especially when you are away. Many thieves have reported that the majority of the homes they entered was through an unlocked door or window.

One inexpensive way to improve the security of entry doors involves the strike plate. The screws typically included with the door hardware will have plate mounting screws that are ½ to 1inch long. We can drastically improve the strength of the lock by replacing those with 3-inch screws. This will make the door much more difficult to pry open.

Even if you can’t afford or don’t want a security system there are inexpensive wireless door/window alarms that produce a shrill 110DB tone when opened. Perhaps not as good as a monitored system but still pretty effective. In addition, there are wireless motion sensors that chime for less than $25.00.

When you leave the home leave a radio or television on. Some burglars have reported that the voice sound can be enough to make them turn around.

Sometimes we create our own security breaches without even knowing. So much of our life gets posted on social networks. Like hours we work and when we are going on vacation for example. So posting vacation pictures well after the fact can help your security.

Make sure your home wifi network is password protected. And password is not a great password.

Burglars don’t break into houses because they like hard work. So make their job tougher. Always lock your doors and windows. Don’t keep valuables in a jewelry box or in the top dresser drawer. And don’t leave a spare key under the mat. Just a little effort can pay off in a big way.

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