These tips to improve your home security will leave your house a virtual Fort Knox. You can rest easy while you sleep or while you’re away knowing your house is well protected!
Home security is of great importance in the prepper community, but it should also be thought about more by everyone. While home invasions seem to be fairly rare, the FBI reported that “in 2019, there were an estimated 1,117,696 burglaries.” Burglaries of residential properties accounted for 62.8 percent of all burglary offenses.
Overall, burglaries seem to be on a decline, but they are still happening — and you don’t have to be a victim! These tips are guaranteed to help you improve your home security.
Improving your Home Security
In the United States, a home burglary occurs every 28 seconds. Victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.0 billion in property losses in 2019. The average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,661.
But you lose a lot more than what the burglar takes — you lose your peace of mind.
Some stranger was in your house rummaging through your personal things! Your identity is at risk, and there’s a chance the criminal may come back for seconds.
…unless you improve your home security now!
How to Improve Home Security While You’re Away
The typical American family spends an average of 6-10 hours away from home every day. Kids are at school, parents are working, and the house is empty. On top of that, there are vacations, holiday trips, and other miscellaneous events that will take you out of your home each year. This is when the majority of all burglaries occur.
Keep doors and windows locked
About 30% of all burglaries are done through an open or unlocked door or window. Be sure your doors and windows are closed and locked when you leave the house — every time!
Don’t leave notes
Don’t leave a note on your door announcing you’re not home. That’s a huge red flag! It’s less likely to happen nowadays, but there’s still the possibility.
Years ago, before cell phone technology, people would leave a note on their door to let a deliveryman, friend or neighbor know they were gone and when they’d be back. It doesn’t happen as much anymore, but don’t be tempted to do it.
Also, don’t leave a note saying, “we’re out back” or “I’m in the garden”. Burglars will get into your home through an unlocked door, rob you blind, and get out without you ever knowing it until you go back inside.
Use caution when you vacation
Everybody needs a vacation now and then, but not everybody needs to know you’re on vacation. The fact that your house is empty, the lights are off, and nothing is being moved in the yard are clear signs that nobody is at home.
Instead of leaving things stagnant, find a way to keep it all in motion, even in your absence. When you’re away, there are a number of things that can keep your house from looking so empty:
Have a neighbor check on your home.
Give someone you trust a key to your home so they can get your mail every day or two and pick up any papers that you might get. Burglars take note of things like papers piling up or mailboxes that won’t close because there’s too much mail in them (and often, they’ll take the mail, too, looking for checks).
Offer your house-sitter a mid-day snack in exchange for them hanging around for an hour or so. If someone is watching your house when your friend comes by, sees them get the mail, go in, and immediately leave. That’s still a red flag that your house is empty.
If you have pets, maybe the house-sitter can spend some time with them in the back yard playing (and making noise). Noise at your house means it’s not empty, and thieves are less likely to make a move.
Likewise, don’t leave your garbage can at the road for pickup unless you ask your neighbor to bring it in for you after the trash truck has run. A garbage can left at the road for days at a time is a sure sign of an empty house, too.
Set your lights on a timer.
Buy a few timers that plug into your wall outlet to plug a few lamps and maybe a radio into. Lights going on and off throughout the house with a little noise will give the illusion that someone is there, and thieves will be less likely to target your home. You can actually pick up some programmable power strips that will turn certain outlets on and off randomly, so no patterns are established, thus making it harder for a burglar to know anything.
Close your blinds and curtains.
If it’s hard to see into your house, it’s hard to know if someone is home. Coupled with the lights on timers and neighbors going in and out to check on your home, nobody will ever know if you’re there or not.
Don’t broadcast your vacation on social media.
I understand you’re excited to share your vacation photos with your friends online. However, what you don’t realize is at least one of those extra 400 people on your friends list may not be as good of a friend as you’d like to think. They see you’re out of town (and possibly even out of country), they know where you live, and they take advantage of that information.
Don’t announce that you’re going on vacation and don’t post a bunch of pics while you’re on vacation. Wait until you get back if you want to share.
Improving Security While You’re at Home
Who are the people in your neighborhood?
Most burglars won’t attempt to rob your house if they know you’re at home, but you should still stay alert!
Keep tabs on your delivery people.
That guy walking up your driveway that looks like a delivery man may be ready to put a gun to your head. Knowing the regular drivers for mail, UPS, FedEx will help you know if there’s someone suspicious around.
Stop, look, and wave.
If you’re outside and you see a car drive by or someone walking through the neighborhood, say hello! You’ll learn who lives in your neighborhood by their face and the car they drive (and might even make a new friend).
Once you learn who lives in your neighborhood, you’ll learn who doesn’t belong. If a burglar drives slowly through your neighborhood, and nobody turns a head, they’ll keep doing it to find the perfect house — and may hit multiple houses in the same night (or day).
When you’re settling in for the night, be sure to lock all of your windows. If you tend to open your windows through the day in the spring, autumn or any other time of year, be sure to close and lock them at night. You might even invest in some adjustable window security bars that keep your windows from opening by locking into the window frame.
When you’ve decided you don’t need to go outside any more for the evening, go ahead and lock all of the doors. You can even install one-way deadbolts on your doors. These don’t have an outside plate, so from the outside, you’d never know there was a lock, and you definitely can’t access it.
Not enough security for you? Use one of these “door jammers” to help keep your door closed. Also, remember to block your patio doors from opening by laying a board or pipe down in the track.
If you have a garage, engage the manual locks on your garage doors. If you don’t have them, you can buy side-mounted indoor locks and install them for some additional security just in case a burglar gets by your electronic garage-door opener.
See, but do not be seen.
Frost, glaze or otherwise cover your garage windows so burglars can’t see in to tell if your car is gone or not. You can do this with a simple can of glass frosting spray, but this will also inhibit your view outside. If you want a mirror effect, get some one-way mirror window film. The window film will also repel some heat during the summer, thereby cutting down on your energy cost!
Install a peephole in the door separating the house from the garage. If you hear suspicious sounds, you can check without opening the door. In fact, peepholes in all of your exterior doors are a good idea. If you’re feeling extra tech would be better, maybe try the peephole camera.
Holiday Home Security Tips
We all love getting gifts and visiting family, but the holiday season is when burglars are the most active. Stay on your toes with a few simple tips to keep your family safe.
Don’t let your trash give you away.
When you make a major purchase, don’t leave the big box out by the curb for pickup — it’s a huge red flag for burglars. Break the box down with a razor knife and put it into a garbage bag (preferably an opaque dark colored one so nobody can see anything inside the bag) or burn it in a burn barrel.
Keep your blinds closed.
While it’s tradition to open your blinds and curtains to show off your Christmas trees and decorations, I’ll repeat what I said earlier — keep them closed! With your blinds and curtains wide open and your whole house lit up with Christmas lights and displays, it becomes even easier for a burglar to see into your home. If you’re going to display your lights, only do it while you’re at home and awake!
General Tips for Better Home Security
Break into your own home.
You should know where your house is most vulnerable, so try to exploit that. If you are successful in breaking in, imagine how much easier it would have been for a professional burglar. Now take that knowledge and fortify that area.
Monitor your home with security cameras.
Burglars who see cameras are less likely to attempt a robbery. There are many options here, starting with fake security cameras that may or may not deter a burglar. They look real, and they may actually scare away a would-be thief. But do you really want to take that risk?
You can get some pretty high-tech stuff for very reasonable prices. These 2K security cameras with color night vision would be amazing since they have both SD card and Cloud storage. Personally, we’re looking to eventually get a few of these solar powered WiFi cameras. They’re also 2K with night vision, but they also work with Alexa and Google Assistant.
Install a home security system with alarms.
Get your security tighter with an alarm system and advertise it with yard signs and window decals. Just the signs and decals alone may be enough for a burglar to skip over your house. This security system set is wireless and has a cellular modem making it even harder to get around for that persistent thief that still wants to try getting into your house.
Be sure if you do get a security system that you make sure there are no false alarms. If the alarm is constantly going off, your neighbors will start ignoring it, so when it actually goes off during a break-in, they won’t pay it much attention, if any at all.
Buy a good set of motion activated outdoor flood lights.
You can set the range and sensitivity on the detectors to cover a close range, or your entire yard (with enough sensors). If the lights go on, the intruders will likely scatter. Even still, you’ll know where to point your shotgun when you go out to investigate (which will surely make a thief think twice about coming back onto your property).
Get yourself a good set of solar powered motion flood lights, and you won’t even have to worry about wiring them!
Plant thorny shrubs near windows to deter thieves from attempting a break-in.
Be sure you keep them cut back below the window sill – if they can get behind the bush, a high-manicure may actually shield their criminal activity from view.
Hide your valuables.
Should a burglar successfully get into your house, what will they find? Your TV, stereo, game systems and other appliances will be found for sure. Your other valuables can be hidden easily with covert furniture and secured with safes. You can put a safe into a wall or under a floor so they can’t be found very easily. You can also hide your things inside a “tactical wall” like the one in the video below.
Make sure your house is clearly addressed.
For quicker police reaction time, be sure your house address is clear and visible. If the police can’t find your house number, they may pass it numerous times before finding it, giving a burglar or intruder more time to do what they came to do.
Use a reflective stencil lettering kit if you’re on a curb or have a stone wall or mailbox to make your street number stand out. You could also use a solar-powered lighted address sign system that charges by day and glows all night. Anything that makes your house number clear from the street will reduce the amount of time it takes the police to find you.
Talk to your neighbors!
Get to know them as well as you can. Invite them to a barbecue, and make yourself available to them. The more of a relationship you have with your neighbors, the more likely they are to notice and report odd behavior at your home.
If you lose your keys, replace your locks immediately.
There’s always the chance that you didn’t lose them, but that they were stolen from you by someone that knows what you drive and where you live. It’s more likely that you simply misplaced them, and they may even turn up… but if you haven’t found them, you might think about changing those locks — or at least getting them re-keyed.
You can come up with tons of clever ways to hide your spare house key. Amazon has garden decor that has hidden key storage that looks like rocks, snails, frogs and turtles. You could be a bit more practical and get one of these working thermometers with a key storage compartment.
If you’re feeling a little extra, wrap your key in plastic wrap and/or aluminum foil, put it into an empty pill bottle and bury it somewhere in your yard. You might put it in the corner of a flower bed or under a stepping stone. Just make sure you remember where you put it!
Keep backyard gates closed and secured at all times.
If your gate stays open or ajar a lot, people will notice. They will also notice if it stays closed all of the time. Keep it closed and padlocked — preferably from the inside so the lock is harder to get to from the outside.
How do you improve your home security?
Using any of the methods described in this article will surely make things difficult for a burglar to get into your home. Using multiple methods will pretty much shut them down altogether.
It’s true that anybody can learn to pick a lock, disable an alarm, get around security cameras, and get past almost every method of security listed here, but if you use any number of them in conjunction, the thief will eventually get tired of trying and give up.
Using all of them would make your home a virtual Fort Knox!
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Patrick & Jessie homestead in Middle Georgia with two of their four children and their three dogs. They love gardening, food preservation, and keeping their family prepared for any disaster that may come.