Cheap Home Security Tricks

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When you think of home home security, have you considered how ridiculously easy it might be for a burglar to break in while you’re away or even fast asleep?

At the reported rate of one burglary every 15 seconds, the risk for household break-ins is very real, no matter where you live. A home’s security is only as good as its most vulnerable point of entry, so pay attention to the little things that could extend a big invitation to intruders.

The cost of installing a good-quality alarm system has come down in recent years due to increased competition and technology that makes installations simpler and quicker. In fact, some companies even offer to install “free” systems if you hire them to do monthly monitoring. Most home security systems connect your telephone to the company’s central monitoring station so that if the alarm goes off, the station can alert police or fire officials.

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Keep the Landscape in Shape

  • Tall trees can be accessories to crime when dense branches come close to your home and create pockets of darkness where burglars can hide. Keep trees well-trimmed to avoid giving thugs a place to hang out.
  • Dense shrubs can also create a hideout, so keep hedges low and plantings near doors and windows neat and transparent.

Avoid False Alarms

One of the most common complaints about home security systems is excessive false alarms caused by malfunctions. If your alarm goes off all the time, neighbors and police may not take the alarm seriously if a real emergency exists.  Police and fire services may even send you a bill.  So check references of alarm companies carefully to make sure you’ll be catching bad guys, not heck from your neighbors.

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Light It Up

  • A well-lit home is much less likely to be broken into, so make sure your home’s exterior is fully illuminated with motion-detector spotlights and other strategic outdoor lighting fixtures.
  • Indoors, use timer switches on lights. These simple devices cost only a few dollars each, yet can create the appearance of activity inside your house 24 hours a day. Use at least one timer per floor, usually in the living room and bedroom.
  • Set the living room light to stay on from dusk until about midnight. In the bedroom, set the timer to keep the light on from about 9 p.m. through 1 or 2 in the morning. Any criminal watching your home will think twice about breaking into a house that looks occupied.
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Door Stops

  • A door with only a handle lock is an easy mark for a crook armed with finesse, a plastic credit card and the desire to break your home security. Instead, add a good-quality deadbolt at each entry. The best deadbolts require a key on the outside and incorporate a thumb latch on the inside. Further strengthen every installation by substituting long, heavy-duty screws for those provided by the manufacturer so that entry doors can be secured to the wood-framed door opening in the wall.
  • No matter which lock you choose, it’s only as strong as the door itself, which is generally weakest around the lock. Add a decorative door reinforcement plate (about $20) to make this zone more secure. For more entry door security tips, check out our front door entryways tips.
  • Improve home security at the patio door by adding a patio bar, which can stop the inside door from sliding open or being pried off if the lock is broken. A sturdy piece of wood strategically placed in the open track can also improve door security.
  • When leaving home for day trips or longer, keep your garage closed to intruders by inserting a large stove bolt through one of the side track holes to prevent the door from being slid open.
  • Install a wide-angle (200-degree) peephole in your front door so that you can easily see who’s come knocking.
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Secure Your Keys

  • The idea of handing your house key to a burglar may seem ridiculous, but that’s exactly what you could be doing every time you send a spare key floating among family, friends and service personnel. The key holders themselves may be trustworthy, but you can’t control the paths they may cross and the situations in which your key may be exposed to the risk of duplication.
  • Never hide spare keys in “secret” places outside your home, because smart burglars know which flower pots to look under.
  • Be smart about issuing spare keys. Even though you may be careful about who they’re issued to, you can’t control the paths they may cross or situations in which your key may be exposed to duplication.
  • Be careful when you’re carrying your master set through everyday routines, such as valet drop-offs and auto shop visits.

Who Has Keys to Your Home?

According to a study by Master Lock, that’s a question that nearly two out of every three American homeowners should consider closely:

  • A majority (64%) of American homeowners have knowingly circulated their house keys outside of their immediate family.
  • Nearly 20 percent of homeowners (18%) have given a key to workers in their home – including contractors, painters and service men. 12 percent have also given keys to cleaning workers; and 10 percent to boyfriends or girlfriends.
  • Nearly half (49%) of the survey respondents realized that relatives or acquaintances of those they’ve given a key to – people they do not know and have never met – have had access to that key.

In each case, these homes become more and more vulnerable to a potential invasion with every key their owners allow to wander.

Weak Windows

  • Windows can be the weakest link in home security, especially if left open and unattended. Make sure all units are closed and locked before you leave home for even the shortest errand, and add window dressings and shades to discourage prying eyes.
  • Modern windows include sash locks, but you can improve security by drilling a hole from front to back where the top and bottom windows overlap and installing a long nail in the hole. If the integrated window lock breaks, the nail will stop the window from sliding open.
  • Security bars installed over windows can also prevent intruder access. But these must be fitted with quick-release mechanisms to allow them to be opened if someone in the building needs to get out fast; otherwise, a home can become a deadly burning cage in a fire situation.
  • Beyond the structural security points of windows, make sure the view to the inside is properly screened by blinds and curtains, and that valuables are always out of sight.
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Self-Service Security Systems

  • Low-cost, high-technology home security systems incorporating infrared motion detection, remote controls and easy-to-install door and window break-in sensors are available for application in apartments and small homes. If you have pets, you can prevent false alarms by looking for systems incorporating “pet alley” settings that keep detection just above their usual paths.
  • For more security with doors and windows, purchase individual alarms to supplement existing security measures.

Make a Thorough Inventory

  • Perhaps the most important home security measure of all is to document your home’s contents, particularly the valuables. Get out the video camera and take a thorough tour of your home, then deliver a copy of the resulting tape and any other helpful documentation to your safe deposit box. If your home security is ever really threatened by a burglary, you’ll have the proof you need to supply to the police and to your homeowners insurance company.

Plan a Retreat

  • No system is foolproof, so prepare for the worst case scenario.  Plan as a family where you will go in the event of a home invasion while you’re in it.  Keep an extra cordless or charged cell phone in the room so that you can easily contact authorities should the unthinkable ever occur.

12 thoughts on “Cheap Home Security Tricks

  1. You’ve given some very practical and sensible tips and tricks to secure our property. I especially liked the idea of recording all home inventory and securing it in a deposit box. I would like to add another tip over here. Making use of Evernote or Google Docs, you can also record the serial numbers and other sensitive info. In case, you are unable to access your safe deposit box, than this is another back-up that you have which will make it easy for you to give information to the police.

  2. After reading this blog I have decided to Improve home security at the patio door by adding a patio bar, which can stop the inside door from sliding open or being pried off if the lock is broken. A sturdy piece of wood strategically placed in the open track can also improve door security.

  3. Unless you're living in a dangerous neighborhood I think the simple and cheaper home systems will do. Homeowners could use a loud buzzer, or maybe an electric shock system that they could set to activate at a specified time. Michelle Porter @ Intel x25-m

  4. In order for you to make it hard for burglars to break into your home, you need to install a home security system. There are many kinds of alarm systems available in the market but I think the most convenient and user-friendly ones are wireless house alarms.

  5. There are some good tips to ensure the security of your property here. I must say that the comment above around documenting your property is also a good tip. It is not until you suffer a burglary that you realise just how much property you have – trying to remember is impossible and therefore recording your posessions is important. A good set of Home Security Cameras can help with deterring the burglar but I would recommend going round your home with a digital camera – its is much quicker and helps to record items stolen.

  6. Why? Probably because the state’s residents are more gymmed, tanned, and freshly laundered than the rest of the country. From Randy’s map in the preview we can see New York has already been taken over. So what state left has a chance of stopping them? Probably California due to its size, abundance of UV, and the Venice Beach muscle heads. Let’s hope the battle isn’t stopped in Colorado so it can reach the final frontier.

  7. alarm systems can be purchsed, online, Home Dopot, Lowes and some electronic stores, anauto phone dialer can be built in or purchased seperatly. Check with the local Police Dept., as some have laws against auto dialiars calling the police. a lock smith and the yellow pages can help find a security system. you can find systems from inexpensive to very expensive,depending on how suffisticated,where you buy it and of course brand names. if you buy an auto lite time, get one that has a random timer, if the lights go on and off at the exact time every day,it is signaling every body that the house is probably empty,the same as an unkept yard or un colected newspapers and packages

  8. Excellent information! Thank you. Question; Where can I purchase a Self-service Security System and how do I hook it up to my phone line to go directly to the police?

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