Every homeowner should be concerned about home security. According to the FBI, approximately 1.2 million burglaries occur each year, 65.5% of which target homes and residences. It might seem like your house is secure, but chances are you’ve got a few weak points that are increasing your chances of attracting a burglar to your property. By taking time to assess the pitfalls of your current safety setup, you can ensure your home remains untouched next time you’re out of time.
Whether you are a new homeowner or a recent burglary victim, learn the seven most effective ways of reinforcing your home security configuration, no matter the layout of your house.
1. Quality Home Security System
The base layer of any home protection setup is a quality home security system. Even if you follow all the other guidelines, you simply cannot protect your house from intrusions effectively without these essentials.
A quality home security system comprises multiple tools and countermeasures. Your setup should possess the following:
- A powerful alarm
- A set of outdoor cameras with motion sensors
- At least one indoor camera (also known as a nanny cam)
- A set of glass break sensors
- A professional monitoring system
Ideally, you should conceal your security cameras and not reveal their location to untrusted individuals. Burglars recognize the value of these systems and look for the cameras when casing a house, sometimes going as far as disabling or stealing them.
Although these services generally require a monthly subscription, a professional monitoring system offers many advantages. If your security alarm is tripped, the company will first attempt to contact you to verify that it isn’t a false alarm. If they can’t reach you or if you confirm it is a real emergency, they will contact law enforcement on your behalf, giving your house a constant layer of protection and peace of mind.
2. Protect and Hide Your Valuables
One way you can mitigate the risk of burglary is to keep your valuables out of view and make it seem like you have nothing worth stealing. Prospective burglars often start casing houses in a neighborhood by window shopping, the act of looking through windows to spot valuables, such as loose cash, jewelry, electronics, firearms, prescription medication, and other items.
There are multiple ways to combat window shoppers:
- Close your curtains and blinds
- Keep valuables away from the windows where possible
- Store your valuables in safes, out of sight (a large gun safe can serve multiple purposes)
- Keep safes bolted to the floor or the wall
- Apply security window film (also known as anti-shatter film)
Dark-tinted window film is the ideal choice, as it will both reduce visibility from the outside and improve your windows’ resistance to impacts.
3. Reinforce Your Access Points
The fastest burglaries occur when the home invaders have as few obstacles in their way to the loot. All it takes is for them to find an easily exploitable access point. Something as simple as forgetting to lock the front door or not checking for easily opened windows can be a costly mistake.
Follow this access point reinforcing checklist to prevent such mistakes:
- Always lock your doors
- Install an auto-locking electronic deadbolt on your front door
- Ensure alternative entry points, such as the garage door, back doors, or pet doors, are lockable and secure
If you don’t have the budget to upgrade your locks, consider using inexpensive anti-bumping devices on older door locks to prevent burglars with lockpicking kits from entering.
4. Improve Your Visibility
Burglars love properties that are hidden from the view of vigilant neighbors. Obstructions such as bushes, hedges, shrubbery, or trees provide concealment for a housebreaker on your property, as well as hiding places during the night.
Trim your hedges and trees as much as possible and remove all excessive shrubbery. If you have a fence, don’t use fencing so tall it completely hides your house from the street.
If you can’t see people in the yard, you and your neighbors can’t see a burglar sneaking around either.
For additional night-time visibility, install motion-sensor security yard lights and porch lights. These devices turn on powerful lights when they detect movement, keeping the exterior perimeter of your house well-lit and visible and serving as an effective deterrent.
5. Know Your Neighbors
A burglar’s job becomes significantly more challenging if the neighborhood they’re operating in is tight-knit and watching out for one another. Developing good relations with your neighbors isn’t just about good social etiquette; it’s also a matter of safety.
Friendly neighbors can help you keep an eye on your house and your family when you’re away from home. If they become close friends with you, you can even count on them to become house-sitters and watch your house if you need to be away for a while.
One of the most reliable ways of ensuring security is if your area has a neighborhood watch program. These groups work with local law enforcement and are an effective way of increasing security at the local level. If your neighborhood doesn’t have a watch, consider starting one yourself.
6. Don’t Overshare Information
Part of a burglar’s casing habits is doing homework on a target, including stalking their social media profiles.
Avoid oversharing information on social media about your current location, your latest purchases, your possessions in general, or anything you might consider sensitive, especially on public posts. You can never be sure of who’s browsing your profile.
If your preferred social media platforms offer privacy control options, don’t hesitate to use them, but ideally, you should avoid saying too much online. Privacy and personal data protection begin with your habits.
7. Keep Your House Secure When Away
Sometimes you have to be away from home for a long time, for work or pleasure. Even with the best home security setup, there’s no avoiding it; the longer you’re gone, the higher the risk of a break-in.
Over time, your house will start showing visual signs that you’re not at home. These include the following:
- Piles of newspapers
- Mailbox full of uncollected mail
- No lights on at certain hours
- No cars in the driveway
A significant part of home security is deception: tricking the potential burglar into thinking someone is home, which deters them from breaking in.
If you can’t ask a friend, a neighbor, or another trusted person to house-sit for you, you can use the following lighting tricks:
- A set of timed lights, programming your house lights to switch on and off at preset times
- A fake television light, tricking onlookers into thinking someone is watching television
- Use smart home applications to program and control your lights remotely
Home Security is Every Homeowner’s Responsibility
Keeping your house, family, and possessions safe and secure does not have to be a headache. With the right equipment and a little bit of planning, you can make your house safe and burglar-proof without breaking the bank or investing in over-the-top security plans.