You never think a burglary will happen to you until it does.
There’s no worse feeling than coming home from a well-earned vacation or after a long shift at work to find that a thief has ransacked your home while you’ve been away.
Gone are your valuables – your electronics, your jewelry, your antiques, your art, your power tools.
Burglaries are devastating for anyone, but the good news is that it’s never too late to secure your home from any opportunistic thieves. After all, prevention is the best cure.
With our ultimate guide to home security, we can help you make your home a veritable fortress to deter any thieves eyeing up your prized possessions.
So what things do you need to think about when it comes to securing your home? In this guide, we will cover all manner of things that you can do to prevent thieves from breaking into your home.
The Importance of Taking Home Security Seriously
It might be tempting to think that just because you’ve got an alarm system sticker on your window, and you live on a well-lit street, that you don’t need to worry about any thieves stealing into your home in the middle of the night.
What about when we tell you that contrary to popular opinion, most burglaries happen in broad daylight? Criminals are more likely to break into your home in the day while you’re out at work or running errands.
Still don’t think you need to worry about burglaries in your area? Did you know that in 2019 it’s estimated that over 1,117,000 burglaries occurred across America? Data from the FBI shows that in 2019 alone:
- 16.1% of property crimes were burglaries
- Victims suffered roughly $3 billion in property loses
- Residential burglaries made up 62.8% of all burglary crimes committed
While burglaries were shown to have fallen 29.6% since 2015, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about it happening to your home.
The majority of criminals will have scouted out the entire street beforehand before settling on your property.
They will have watched your home to gauge your daily habits, and will know the best time to stage the burglary to steal all of your valuables.
Many items that thieves target will be irreplaceable. Think of things like family heirlooms or unique valuables that have sentimental value.
A lot of thieves will make a return visit to your home to take anything you’ve managed to claim on the insurance, too, leaving you even more out of pocket.
If a potential thief has to choose between a home that has home security measures and one that doesn’t, which do you think they’re more likely to spend their time trying to break into?
Before you start: Case Your Own Joint
So now that you’ve decided to take your home security seriously, there are a few things you need to do before you can properly get stuck in with protecting your home.
You must get into the mindset of your hypothetical thief.
Stand outside your home and try to look at it through a thief’s eyes. Are there any potential weak spots that you can immediately see from the street?
How easy to invade does your home look to the outside eye? How sufficiently lit is it outside?
Next, you’ll want to walk all around your home and see if there are any obvious places for intruders to break in. Are there any open doors or windows?
How many access points are there on the ground floor?
The main thing that you’ll need to do is to eliminate the opportunity for potential intruders to come into your home.
Things to consider
Not sure what to look for around your home? Why not start with…
Home security system
You may think that an intruder will be dissuaded from trying to enter your home if you have a home security system sticker prominently displayed in your window.
While it’s true that this may deter some thieves, they tend to be unpredictable.
To give your home the best protection, you should ensure that your chosen home security system is connected to a response service.
That way if someone breaks into your home, you can rest assured that the authorities will be able to come to your aid as soon as possible.
Hiding a spare key might seem like a good idea at the time. They can be handy for helping you get into your home if you misplace your keys, or even for letting family and friends in.
However, they are also giving potential thieves an easy way into your home to help themselves to your valuables.
It would be best to avoid having a spare key hidden around the outside of your home if you can.
If you need to give a spare key to a trusted handyman to do maintenance around your home while you’re at work, consider arranging this beforehand to reduce the risk of intruders.
If you really can’t avoid having a spare key outside your home, you should avoid any obvious places like under doormats or flowerpots.
These will be the first places that would-be thieves will look! Consider installing a lockbox to your house that you can access via a combination. Avoid using easy to guess numbers.
A thief will be able to tell a lot about your home from your garage door. If your garage door has any windows, they will easily be able to spot if you’re home or not by your car.
If it’s missing, this is a key indicator that you’re not around.
There are several different types of garage doors, and you can guarantee that any experienced thief will know how best to break in through them. Which type of garage door does your home have?
Hand sliding doors will be much easier for thieves to break in through thanks to their substandard locks. Even doors that have a security code on the outside won’t be impenetrable.
Most people will opt for easy to remember security numbers which will be equally easy for thieves to guess.
If you update your garage door try and opt for one that is more secure. Avoid any that have easy access points or windows.
If you must have a garage door that comes with windows, consider adding frosted decals to the glass so that they’re harder to look through.
When choosing the security code for your garage door try and avoid any numbers that are personal to you, such as anniversaries or birthdays.
While these are fantastic sources of light, they are also incredibly easy access into your home. Contrary to popular opinion, glass is rarely broken during burglaries.
However, this doesn’t mean that the more determined thieves won’t break your sliding glass doors if they’re determined to get into your home.
It will be incredibly easy for thieves to break the glass on your door and let themselves in. To prevent this from happening, you should install a keyed deadlatch on your sliding glass door.
This will be much harder for potential criminals to get open at a moment’s notice!
You should opt for sliding doors which are made up of several different panes. A single pane of glass will be easier to break, and give thieves easier entry into your home.
A door made up of several different panes will be trickier to get through. If it will take longer than four or five minutes for thieves to break into your home, they will be more likely to give up.
Cat or dog doors
Those of you with pets may have a cat or dog door for them to come and go as they please throughout the day.
Just like they can give your pets easy access to your home without having a key, they also serve as a handy entryway for any potential intruders.
A human might not be able to fit through the smaller doors, but they can fit their tools through in order to open the main door for access to your home.
The best option would be to get rid of it altogether. However, this may not be possible if your pets need to come and go during the day. Instead, opt for a pet door that can be locked at night or when it’s not in use.
You can also opt to install your pet’s door on an exterior wall away from the front of your property. This will mean that there won’t be any easy access for potential intruders.
It might also be worth looking into installing motion sensors around your pet’s door to pick up any potential thieves.
Lighting the outside of your home plays a more important role than you think. Take a walk around your property with your flashlight and look at it from the perspective of an intruder.
How many areas are hidden in darkness where intruders can hide? How sufficient is the lighting around the front door, pathways, garages, or bin stores?
Which leads us on to…
Ensure Outside Your Property Is Well Lit
You might not think lighting is all that important. However, ensuring that your property is well lit helps to serve two main purposes:
- Deterring thieves
- Creating a safer environment for you and your family to come home to
It can be daunting coming home to a dark house. With all those shadows lurking everywhere, you can never know until it’s too late if someone else is there.
Especially if you have to make several trips to the car for your shopping! A well lit home will ensure that it’s much easier to see what you’re doing, and will give you peace of mind.
If your home is well lit, potential intruders will think someone is home. This should help to deter them from breaking and entering, and will save you from having to deal with the fallout.
There are two types of lighting that are worth looking into.
These will be ideal for lighting larger areas, especially places that can be hard to reach with other lighting methods.
These will need to be installed at a height to get sufficient coverage of hard to illuminate areas.
Motion sensor lighting
This is a great option if you don’t want lighting to be on all the time. Motion sensor lighting will only light up your property when they detect movement.
This will be ideal for when you need it most and will spook any intruders that trigger them.
If you want to avoid a massive electricity bill at the end of the month, and want to avoid having lights on throughout the whole night, you can look into a timer for your lights.
Things to consider
How much of your property is covered by your current lighting solution? Are there any areas still hidden in darkness where potential thieves can lurk?
Take a look around the whole of your home to see if there are any areas that can be better lit than they currently are.
Depending on how long you want your lighting to be on during the night, you might want to consider how bright your chosen lights are.
Anything too bright may be more of a nuisance than a help, as brighter lights can cast more shadows in other areas.
While you should always look to be protecting your own property, it’s important to be mindful of any neighbors you may have. Ensure that your lights are positioned to only affect your property rather than disturb your neighbors while they’re at home. Avoid shining your lights in any neighbor’s windows.
Lock Your Windows
You may not think your windows are big enough for any potential thieves to use to get into your home, but remember – it’s best not to leave anything to chance.
You should get into the habit of always locking your windows, regardless of whether you’re going to be home or not. You should always lock your windows if:
- You’re not going to be home – even if only for a few minutes
- You’re not going to be in the same room for a while
- Your family has gone to bed for the night
A thief will only need a few minutes to steal anything within reach. Most people tend to leave things like keys and wallets near entrances.
So it’s important to be mindful of how easy your valuables are to get to from any windows you’ve got near these places.
You should lock all windows that are on the ground floor, as well as any basement windows. Determined thieves won’t be stopped there, though.
If your property has any rainwater pipes or other structures they can use to scale your home, they will use these to access even the smallest windows that have been left open.
Still not convinced? If you get burgled, your insurer will require evidence of a break-in. So you may not receive compensation if they find out that you left your windows open.
Think of an unlocked window as an open invitation into your home!
You should consider installing secure windows in your home. A secure window could be:
- A fixed window that intruders are unable to open
- Windows fitted with locks that have had the keys removed
- Windows that are protected by a security device, such as a grille or shutter
If you have several windows on the upper floors of your home, it might be worth considering adding security measures to any pipes that potential thieves could climb.
It’s also worth considering adding locks to windows that don’t already have any. Simple locks such as pin locks will be enough to prevent thieves from easily opening any of your windows.
Curtains can also shield your home from view and make it harder for thieves to see what valuables you’ve got nearby.
Secure Your Doors
It’s just as important to secure your doors as it is with your windows. Most thieves will attempt to gain entry to your home via your front or back doors. Data from the FBI shows that in 2019:
- 55.5% of burglaries were through forcible entry
- 6.5% of burglaries were through attempted forcible entry
- 37.8% of burglaries were through unlawful entry
You should ensure that you always lock your doors before you go to bed and if you’re leaving your home.
However, determined intruders won’t be deterred by a locked door, and will use a well-aimed kick to break the door jamb and gain access to your home.
The good news is that there are plenty of actions you can take to ensure that your home is as fully protected as it can be.
Opt for windowless doors
Any windows in your doors will give thieves an easy way to view what goods you have on offer. They can also use these to gauge your home from the outside and try to figure out the best way to get inside.
If you don’t want to change your doors to ones without windows, consider adding curtains to them so that you can shut these when you’re not around.
Install a deadbolt
Contrary to the more common spring bolt lock, a deadbolt is a much more secure option for your door.
That’s because a deadbolt can’t be opened unless it is with a key, and will make it much harder for thieves to get inside your home.
You should consider adding these to all of your exterior doors if you haven’t already. It will be worth adding a deadbolt to any doors you have in the garage, too.
Protect sliding doors
As we’ve discussed above, sliding doors can be an easy way in for potential thieves. There are several things you can do to secure them from intruders, though.
You can install a deadbolt so that it’s harder for thieves to open. You can add curtains and keep them drawn when you’re not in the room to make it harder to see into your home.
You can also invest in a door jamb to prevent the door from being able to slide open. These might be a bit of a pain to have to remove whenever you want to open the door yourself, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
It might be worth investing in several types of extra security options to fully secure your doors. These include:
- Door jammers
- Door security bars
- Door lock reinforcers
Set up a security system
One of the best ways to secure your home is to set up a security system. A quality security system will serve to do five things once it has been installed in your home:
The obvious one, of course, is that it will help to deter criminals from breaking into your property. Most thieves won’t bother to attempt to break into your home if they see you’ve got one of these installed.
Alert you to break-ins
There won’t be any need to worry about your home being broken into without you knowing about it.
Most security systems should be able to alert you whenever someone attempts to break into your home, so you can call the emergency services to help deal with the situation.
Peace of mind
Even if you never have to make use of your newly installed security system, it will do wonders for giving you peace of mind. This alone will be worth its weight in gold!
Lower insurance rates
Having a security system installed in your home can help to lower your home insurance rates. So not only will it help to protect your valuables, but it will also be kinder on your wallet in the long run.
Improve resale value
Should you ever decide to move house, a security system can help to boost the resale value of your property. Especially if you opt for the more professional systems! Which leads us on to…
DIY vs professional installation
The two main types of systems are ones you can install yourself and ones that are installed and monitored by professional companies.
There will be benefits and downsides to both, so you should weigh these up carefully before deciding on which system to install in your home.
DIY systems will be much cheaper to install. However, you would have to install these and maintain them yourself.
It’s important to consider that a system installed incorrectly won’t serve its intended purpose.
So while you may be tempted by the cheaper price tag, it’s worth remembering that it might be more worthwhile to bite the bullet and pay for someone else to install it for you if you’re unsure what you’re doing.
A professional system will do the job to a high standard. However, it may also come with a hefty price tag to match.
Some systems will also require a subscription for them to be continuously maintained and monitored.
This will add up over time, so if a professional system is better suited for your needs, you should take a look at prices.
Choose the best system that you can consistently afford and won’t leave you out of pocket in the meantime.
Install security cameras
The benefits of installing a security camera goes without saying. You’ll be able to monitor who approaches your house when you’re not home.
You can also look back over footage in the case that a criminal does manage to get into your property, and pass anything on to the police should you need to.
Most cameras can be installed by yourself, but you can also pay for a professional to do this for you.
When it comes to choosing the ideal security camera for your home, you should consider whether you would like a:
- Wired camera
You may be limited by where you can place these, as a wired camera will need to be close enough to a power source to work properly.
However, these will also be more reliable than battery-powered cameras.
- Wire-free camera
These will be powered by battery packs. While you can place these anywhere around the outside of your home, it’s important to remember to check the batteries occasionally to ensure that they can continue recording footage.
- Wireless camera
A handy feature to look for will be a camera that can connect to your wireless internet.
This will allow you to view footage as it happens, and can even be a convenient way to store footage that gets collected. Most of these cameras will be wired.
Local vs cloud storage
Your camera won’t be able to record indefinitely, depending on how you choose to store the footage that is recorded.
Once you’ve decided how you want your device to be powered, and whether you want it to be able to connect to Bluetooth or wireless, you can decide on how you want it to store all the recorded footage.
Chances are if you’ve opted for a wireless camera, you’ll want to choose cloud storage. The benefits of this will include being able to watch the footage as and when you want to from your cell phone.
Local storage will involve your camera recording the footage onto a USB drive, a microSD card, network video recorders (NVRs), or digital video recorders (DVRs).
One thing that’s worth bearing in mind with local storage is that you will have to manually retrieve the stored footage, which might affect where you place your camera.
It will need to be placed out of harm’s way, but still be accessible for you to reach the footage.
Where to place your camera
Lastly, you will need to think about where you want to place your camera. Which areas are you wanting to cover?
The three most important places to install a camera will be above your garage door, looking over your back door, and looking over your front door.
To ensure that your garage door will be sufficiently covered with your security camera, you will need to make sure that it looks over a wide field of view.
The more area it can cover, the better, as it will be able to record more of an intruder’s approach.
This will be crucial, as even a few more seconds of footage could give the police a better indication of who the robber is.
Looking over your back or front door
You should ensure that your camera has a proper view of any pathways leading up to your doors. This should be able to capture any people attempting to break into your home.
Make sure that your driveway is sufficiently covered by the camera.
In terms of where to place your new camera, you will need to ensure that it will be safe from harm.
The last thing you want is for a thief to make off with your camera, too, because it was within easy reach. While you may be limited by wires, your camera should be placed at least 9 feet off the ground.
Secure your garage
Once you’ve got the rest of your house secured, you’ll need to turn your attention to your garage. Take a look at where your garage is in relation to the rest of your house.
A garage that’s a separate building may be a more appealing target for potential thieves, as it will mean they’re less likely to be disturbed while they work.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure your garage is more secure:
- Choose a secure door
As we’ve mentioned above, your choice of garage door will be crucial for keeping the contents of your garage safe.
Garage doors that require a combination to open are safest, but you should remember not to choose a code that is easy to guess, or uses dates such as anniversaries or birthdays.
If your garage door is opened by a handle, consider installing a garage door lock. This should make it more difficult for potential thieves to break-in.
- Motion sensor lights
Thieves love working under the cover of darkness. Once you’ve installed motion sensor lights around the rest of your house, you should make sure to keep your garage door covered, too.
A sudden burst of light should help to scare off most intruders.
- Security camera
When you’re installing your security cameras around the rest of your home, don’t forget to keep your garage covered, too.
The presence of a camera should be enough to deter most thieves, but if a more determined one manages to break into your garage, the footage should help catch the culprit – or even with an insurance claim should you need to make one.
- Deadbolt service doors
Chances are that your garage door isn’t the only way into your garage. If you have a service door along the side of the building, you should ensure that it has as secure a lock as possible.
Install a deadbolt lock in place of the ordinary door lock if you haven’t done so already.
It might be worth reinforcing your strike plate, too, as this is the weakest part of the door. This is where the lock meets the door, and often only needs a well-placed kick to break it.
A reinforced strike plate with three-inch screws should put a spanner in a thief’s plans to break it.
- Cover windows from view
Just as garage doors with windows in them will allow potential thieves to take a look at what’s inside your garage, any additional windows you have in your garage will serve the same purpose.
Any windows will give potential thieves an indicator of whether you’re home or not – especially if you tend to park your car in there.
Installing blinds is a great way to keep prying eyes away. If you like the light that windows provide for your garage, consider adding some frosted film decals to the glass.
This will still let light into your garage but will make it harder to see what’s inside.
It may be worth planting spiky shrubs beneath your garage windows, too, as these will prevent thieves from looking in easily.
- Lock your home entry door
If your garage is attached to your house, then it likely has a door on the inside which you can use to get in and out of your garage. You should make sure that this is locked at all times.
There’s no point investing in any fancy deadbolt locks if you leave it open for potential thieves to get in.
Remember, if they’re determined enough to have gotten into your garage, that door will be the only thing stopping them from coming into your home.
- Keep remotes hidden
Garage doors that require a remote control to open them are a fantastic choice for keeping the contents of your garage secure. So it makes sense to keep the remote you use to open it as safe as possible.
It might be easy and convenient to leave your remote control attached to your car visor or shoved in the glove compartment, but these are the first places thieves will look.
Think of it as leaving your house keys in plain view. You should treat them as you would any other key, and keep them with you at all times.
- Install an alert device
Still worried about people breaking into your garage without you knowing about it?
There are various security devices that you can install on your garage door that will send an alert to your cell phone every time the door is opened. This will do wonders for giving you extra peace of mind.
5 Additional Security Tips
Now that you’ve got your whole property covered, it will be worth bearing these additional security tips in mind.
Remember, you can never have too much security! Even the most determined thief won’t be deterred from breaking into your home. Some of these might help turn the tide in your favor…
Get a Dog
Dogs aren’t just rewarding family companions.
They can also serve as your own security dog and will alert you should anyone manage to get past your security measures.
Chances are that if you have a dog downstairs to warn off any intruders, your thief will go straight back out that door!
Get a Safe
A safe is a great way to keep any important valuables protected.
You can also keep any important documents that you don’t want to lose in here.
A safe will do much more than protect your valuables from thieves, too.
It will help to protect anything you put in it from fire, so will be a worthwhile investment in the long run.
Eliminate Hiding Places and Potential Security Flaws
When you case your own joint, remember to think like a potential thief.
Have you got any hiding places like shrubs that a thief can use to approach your home?
Cut back any shrubbery that could provide them a hiding place – especially around entrances.
Make sure to always put away tools like ladders that thieves can use to gain access to your home.
After going to all the trouble of securing your property, you won’t want to leave out the very thing they can use to get to the second floor of your home!
Take a look around your property and make sure to eliminate anything that a potential thief could use to their advantage.
Make sure to always leave your garage door closed and locked, too.
Vacation Security Tips
Statistics show that break-ins tend to spike by up to 10% during the warmer months.
One of the most important things to remember if you’re worried about your home being broken into while you’re on vacation is to not advertise on social media that you’re going anywhere.
Even if you have your privacy settings as private as can be, it’s not worth the risk. You can save it for the photos you’ll post once you’re home!
Another thing to bear in mind is that your home will appear to be not lived in during the time you’re away, depending on how long you plan on staying on vacation.
Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to collect any mail that builds up.
You can also ask the postal service to put a temporary hold on your mailbox until you get back.
It will also be worth asking a trusted friend or neighbor to mow your lawn, too.
This will help to create a more lived-in look for your home while you’re away and will make potential thieves doubt as to whether you’re on vacation or not.
Consider Making Your House a Smart Home
For added security, it will be worth considering making your house a smart home.
A smart home is simply a home that has all manner of devices that complete tasks you would normally do yourself.
Think of controlling your lights, a doorbell that will show you who’s at the door, controlling your thermostat, controlling any alarms you have installed, or controlling any cameras you may have.
The types of things that a smart home can offer you will depend on the device you intend to install, as will the cost.
Most of these features will be able to be controlled via an app on your cell phone, but you can also get voice-controlled systems.
A smart home doesn’t only offer you extra security and peace of mind. They can also help you to save money on your energy bills.
You should now have everything you need to make your home as secure as physically possible.
From everything such as updated locks on your doors, to motion sensor lighting, to security cameras – anything you can do to help secure your home from thieves will pay you back in the long run.
It’s better to spend a few hundred dollars in securing your home than having to fork out more in the long term for stolen valuables.
While the more determined thief won’t easily be scared away, this guide should give you more than enough security measures to scare them off your property for good.