The best approach to home security is multi-faceted. A home alarm system is the most effective way to protect yourself, your family, and your possessions because according to former FBI agent Stuart Kaplan it’s a proven deterrent that can stop crime before it happens. But there are also plenty of inexpensive and even DIY steps you can take to make your home more secure, first by making thieves less likely to target your home and then by making it more difficult for them to gain entry if your home is targeted.
Below you’ll find seven steps you can take beyond installing a home alarm system and contracting with a home alarm monitoring company so you can be sure your loved ones and the things you love are protected 24/7.
- Dogs are known burglar deterrents but if you can’t or simply don’t want to take on the responsibility of adopting a pet, you can still take advantage of the deterrent effects of dogs by putting up a Beware of Dog sign on your fence and installing a dog house in your yard. If you are considering getting a dog, don’t make the mistake of assuming bigger is better. As reformed cat burglar Walter Shaw has noted in interviews, “Most big breeds, unless they’re trained as guard dogs, aren’t barkers. What you want are ‘yappers,’ small dogs that make a lot of noise.”
- Install exterior lighting. You can hire a professional to rig up a series of flood lights with motion sensors that will turn on the moment there’s movement on your property but the deterrent effect might not be greater than you’ll get from $20 solar-powered lights that you plant in the ground yourself. Just make sure you understand the benefits and limits of external lighting.
- Make it hard for thieves to gain entry to your property and your home, and they’ll probably take a pass. Secure latching gates with padlocks, install keyed window locks, lock your deadbolts instead of relying on knob locks alone, put wooden dowels in the tracks of sliding windows and doors, and trim shrubs so neighbors and passersby will see anyone who tries to jimmy a lock or break in via a window. If you like to leave windows open in the warmer months, make sure there’s nothing in your yard thieves can use as a step up to otherwise inaccessible entry points.
- Low tech light timers are inexpensive and easy to install, and they give the impression that someone is home without requiring you to leave your lights on all day long. Or go high tech by installing a smart lighting system that lets you control lights (and other appliances) with your phone from anywhere.
- Don’t advertise your personal luxuries! When you buy expensive things like electronics or jewelry, always break down the boxes and store them inside your house until recycling day. Arrange your room décor so that your new TV isn’t right in front of a street facing window and store rarely-used valuables in a safe-deposit box instead of out in the open.
- If you have installed a home alarm system, whether it’s a basic wireless system or a full-service luxury setup, putting up a branded sign and window stickers gives thieves everything they need to bypass that specific system. Put up a general alarm system warning sign instead – but don’t assume that a sign without the system will necessarily deter thieves.
- Skip the hide-a-key. Burglars can spot fake rocks and they know to check under the mat and in those work boots that have been sitting next to the side door forever. Instead, give a trusted neighbor your extra key. If you’re worried that they won’t be home the next time you lock yourself out, choose an elderly neighbor or a nearby friend who is a stay at home parent and likely to be available.
Ultimately the harder you make it for would-be burglars to get onto your property and into your home, the less likely it is your family will become a victim of theft. An alarm system is only the first step. Vigilance, good locks, and good neighbors can do a lot to keep you and yours safe and secure.