Over the past two decades, burglary rates have dramatically decreased. There are multiple reasons for this decline, including support for those in poverty and better access to jobs with a liveable wage. However, the main reason for this decrease is because of the advancement in home security technology.
There are so many ways for people to protect their homes from installing doorbells with video recordings, all the way to reading articles like this which can help you point out if your home looks like an easy target.
We are going to discuss how to access your home and its security, as well as give you 11 tips to tighten up any security risks.
By the end of this article, you will be able to deter burglars from scoping out your home, and capture any who do attempt the crime.
Assess Your Current Home Security
There tend to be two types of burglaries, the opportunistic and the pre-planned. No matter which route a thief would take, their reason for choosing your home will likely come down to its failing security.
Common thieves will always pick the easiest house to target, and although more professional thieves may aim for homes with great value, they can also be deterred by upgraded security systems.
The best way to secure your home is to look for any sign of weakness from the outside.
Do Windows And Doors Have Visible Locks?
Take a moment to access your locks. Do they look rusty, broken, or old? These questions will be running through a burglar’s mind as they assess your home.
If the locks are rusty, they could easily break without too much force or noise. This doesn’t just mean padlocks, either. If your home is old, then the door lock could show signs of rust or decay too.
Even if your old home has well looked-after locks, but still holds their old and classical style, this could tell the burglars that your home has old-fashioned locking systems, which are easier to pick than modern ones. If you want to keep the classic look, you should search for a specialist team to make the lock more secure while maintaining the aesthetics, or you should have another doorway behind the entrance which has a modern locking system.
Of course, if the lock is visibly broken, then the thief doesn’t need to worry about picking your locks or breaking them off. A door that doesn’t close properly, a window that is constantly open, or a frame that is withering away are all signs of an easy target.
You may think that your window is too out of reach for a thief to climb in, but it doesn’t take long for a ladder to bridge that distance.
Are Any Spare Keys Visible?
You may scoff at this question, but it’s very common for people to leave a spare key outside the home. Sure, it might not be super visible or tapped to the front door, but remember, a thief will know where to look.
If you leave a spare key under your doormat, under the flowerpot by your door, or anywhere else covered but out in the open, a burglar just needs to see you pulling it out once to learn about your hiding place.
There are many different and secure ways to keep spare keys outside your home. Often called “Key Safes,” these boxes can either be screwed to your home or placed out in the open. On the bottom or on the side, you will see numbers that can be scrolled. You can put your key inside the safe and lock it away.
The problem with these comes from their visibility. A burglar could smash the box and get the key without any issues, but in doing so, they would create a loud noise. To combat this, we suggest installing a recording device to capture any moments of ill-activity around your key safe.
The only reason why we suggest the key safes at all is because many communities need a spare key in their day-to-day life. If you have memory problems and find remembering a key difficult, but learning a four-digit code easy, then these key safes could be a lifesaver. In fact, many people in the caring community swear by these key safes.
Are The Walls And Hedges High Enough?
Tall walls and tall hedges are natural deterrents for burglars, as they cannot see what is hidden away behind these structures. This means they cannot prepare for any obstacles in their path (including dogs and cameras), nor can they see or understand the schedule of the house. This means they cannot predict your home’s natural pattern, which makes your home a risk that might not be worth the payoff.
Of course, for this to work, your wall/fence/hedge needs to be tall and not see-through. Ideally, you should be aiming for a height of 7 feet or more. This is because most people cannot leap over a 7 ft tall structure, so they cannot get onto your property stealthily. Instead, they will need a ladder or create some kind of commotion to get past this barrier.
To go even further, you could add barbed wire or an eclectic wire around the top of the fencing too. If you do take such an action, we would recommend a height of 8ft so that no innocent people get caught in the mesh by accident.
Is It Noisy To Access Your House For A Burglar?
Adding a naturally noisy element to your home will give you an instant message that someone has entered your property. This could be something as simple as adding gravel to your driveway or as dramatic as adding motion detectors to your yard. Either way, you will be given an instant alert of someone coming towards your home. This will scare any thief attempting to break in.
However, on the flip side of this issue, if you live in a noisy neighborhood, then it might be super hard to hear if someone has walked on your gravel driveway. If that is the case, then you cannot rely on your hearing to alert you to any dangers, and your home will be more likely seen as an easy target.
To stop burglars from seeing you in this way, you should instead opt for motion-detecting lights and recording cameras. This will show any prospective thieves that you have security actively monitoring your home.
Are There Any Ladders Out In The Open?
If someone acts with confidence, then they can get away with doing most things. This means that if a person uses a ladder to shimmy open a window on your top floor, a neighbor might not question it. To them, it might seem like you are having work done on your home, so why would they intervene.
It’s reasons like this which is why you shouldn’t leave anything out in the open for a burglar to utilize. Ladders and tools can be easy pickings for a thief and can even help them break into your home. Instead, you should lock away all outside tools, so they are not seen as helpful equipment to the criminal.
How Secure Is The Shed And Garage?
Using the information we have already been through, you should search through your garage and shed for similar stand-out problems.
Garages are easy targets for a thief, as they often have an easy to enter doorway. It doesn’t take long for an experienced burglar to pick open a garage door, and once they are inside, they will have a treasure trove of goods to look through. Most of us use our garages as a storeroom, which is why we should be updating our security for them often. This could mean adding security cameras, upgraded locking systems, or putting the stored items into safes.
When it comes to sheds, they are again simple to unlock but hold many of our most expensive tools. Ideally, all of your tools should have a tracking system inside, so if stolen, they can be found. But before it gets to that stage, you should have strong walls with upgraded locks, so your shed isn’t as easy to break into as your neighbors.
If you see any rusting along the walls of either of these buildings, then you should get them repaired immediately, and if your shed is made out of thin timber, then you should seriously consider upgrading to thick wood or concrete.
Lastly, these areas of your home are normally not looked at until needed. Because of this natural gap in attention, buglers will know that they have a lot of time to deal with your items before the police get involved. To stop them when their guard is down, you should check on every room in your home (including the shed and garage) daily. If something has been stolen, the police will be more likely to catch the criminals and return your items if you act quickly.
Tips To Secure Your Home
A lot of our advice above tells you to “secure your home” or “upgrade your locks,” but if you don’t know how to achieve this, then our words might seem like empty goals. This is why we want to give you tips on how to secure each part of your home.
You can use these suggestions as listed or take them as inspiration to adapt your home in a way that better suits the dynamics of your household. Either way, following these tips will automatically reduce the likelihood of being robbed and increase your chance of catching any criminals that dare to enter your home.
Secure The Doors
We talked about securing the door in your home a couple of times already, so we want to give you some useful tips on how to achieve this.
The first way to secure your home is to lock the door. It might sound idiotic, but 34% of all home robberies were achieved by a burglar just walking into a home. Locking all of your exterior doors means you are already securing your home.
If you have moved into a home that was once lived in by someone else, we recommend changing the locks. You do not know this previous person and do not understand their life. Changing the locks could prevent unwanted strangers from wandering in.
Other low-tech ideas to secure these doors include installing deadbolts and strike plates. Deadbolts make your doors harder to open, and the locks are harder to pick, whereas strike plates make it harder for your door to be knocked down. These upgrades are often very cheap and easy to install.
Lastly, you should install a video doorbell (there are many brands around, including “Ring,” browse them all for features that best suit your home), which records movement and alerts you to any unwanted activities. Many allow you to talk through the device so you can scare away thieves in real-time.
Leaving doors unlocked is one thing, but leaving windows unlocked is a whole other issue. Most people know that they should lock their doors when they leave home, but windows are the entranceway that many people forget about.
Even if your windows are high up your home, they are still considered easy access points to most burglars. The problem is that most windows are easy to unlock, as manufacturers (like the rest of the public) do not consider them to be security risks.
The best way to secure your windows is to add window bars, however, they are not the most pretty thing to look at and can instantly make your home feel like a prison. Instead, you can add aftermarket window locks, window sensors, and window security films to your home instead.
Aftermarket window locks add another layer of security to your windows. They are designed to go on top of your original locking system to add a second barrier.
Window sensors use magnets to add a circuit to your windows. If the window is closed, the circuit is complete, and nothing happens. If the window is opened, the circuit breaks and an alarm will call out.
Window security films focus on burglars that break the glass. These see-through films are not detectable without close inspection. If someone tries to break the glass with this film on, the glass will still shatter, but it will not drop to the floor. This will stop thieves from creating a gap to climb through.
Turn Specific Lights On
If you are away on vacation or work away from home, then the best way to fool a thief is to make your lights come on at random times.
Criminals often like to do their work in the dark. They will wait until you are not around, or until it’s nighttime, and then they will strike. If they have realized that you are away from your home for work, or are on vacation, then they will be more tempted to target your home.
To make them question their information, you should instead time your lights to turn on at unusual times to show you are in the home. You can use a smart device with smart lights to achieve this effect, and turn on your living room lights at 7:03 pm every night. This non-specific time will make the thieves believe you are inside and so will leave your home alone.
It is also a good idea to have motion-activated lights come on at night. This way, if someone tries to lock-pick your garage door, the lights will come on, scaring the criminals into running.
Set Up A Security System
The traditional way to protect your home is to instal a security system. These come in two forms, the DIY versions, and the professional monitoring systems.
Whichever one you pick, the system makes you use a code every time you enter your home, to prove you are a resident of the building. If the code isn’t entered, after a certain amount of time, the police or the company are then informed that someone has broken in. These systems can be placed just for the front door or every entry point in your home.
These systems are often expensive, however, if you use the cheaper DIY method, it can easily become a problem, as the sensors might not pick up the door properly. Secondly, if you have a DIY system and forget to update it and keep it going, then it can act as a calling card to a burglar, as they will notice that you do not keep on top of your security system.
The criminals will notice this because the system often has a physical and chunky box that goes on the outside of your home. It should blink often to show it is working and deter thieves. If there is one on your home which is not flashing or obviously broken, the burglars will realise that your home is vulnerable.
Lock The Garage
We have already talked about why garages are seen as a treasure trove to many thieves, and we briefly mentioned upgrading your garage door locks, but in reality, many don’t know how to achieve that.
First, if your garage is attached to your home, make sure the door into the house has a lock like the front door. It shouldn’t be thought of as similar to your indoor doors, as this one is technically connected to an outdoor building.
Secondly, cover up any of the items in your garage that are considered valuable. This could involve using tinted window covers so no one can look in or putting covers over your items. Doing this will make your garage look less inviting, as criminals will not know if the loot is worth it.
Thirdly you should install automatic lights that come on at night if the motion sensors see movement and connect it to a smart garage door opener. This will allow the lights to come on when your car is pulling into the driveway and pull open the door at the same time, but will also have the lights come on when any movement is recorded.
The smart garage door openers also come with steel reinforcement, making them harder to break into.
Lock Down The Wifi Network
With all of these smart devices in use, you need to make sure your wifi is just as secure. Looking at your wifi could give a criminal instant access to all of your security details. To make sure your wifi is secure, change the name to something that wouldn’t identify it as your home’s internet. Then add a “firewall” protection which will fight off any viruses it comes into contact with, and lastly, create a strong password that cannot be guessed.
Using your firewall protection, you should scan for errors or viruses every month, letting the firewall do its daily protection for more obvious detections. You should also let it message you whenever someone new has signed in to your account; a new device, a new location, or anything else it suggests. This means you should get a notification when someone tries to log into your wifi, and you can see in real-time if you are being hacked.
Get Rid Of Hiding Places
Real pros might hide in the bushes and watch as you enter your security codes into the system or pull out a key from a safe box. To prevent criminals from hiding and watching your home, you should trim down any trees and plants that create useful cover to watch your home. Instead, we suggest planting flowers and bushes that even a child couldn’t hide in.
If you have trees that live outside your windows, we suggest either cutting them down or adding security cameras to them, so they cannot be used as a climbing material to get into your home.
Look around your garden, driveway, and any other area outside that could become a perfect hiding place for a burglar. Eliminate them by adding harsh terrain, removing bulky items, or adding light.
Consider Security Cameras
We have talked about security cameras a lot in this article. They are the most effective deterrent for burglaries and the most useful way to catch a criminal if they do attempt to steal from you.
There are many different types of security cameras for you to choose from, including cloud storage, motion capture, two-way talking, night vision, and wifi capability.
Some security cameras have one of these features, and others will have all of them. Ideally, you should pick one which is designed for outdoor use, can record and store motion and alert you in real-time to any unexpected detection.
Adding the two-way talk feature is also something you should consider. If you get notified about movement, go to your phone and see an intruder on your property, you can speak to them and warn them away from your home. This will spook the thief and make them run, protecting you and your home from any damage.
Arguably their most important feature is their ability to record data. This means you can take the information to the police station and give them evidence to help capture any culprits you have recorded.
Buy A Safe For Your Valuables
If, after all of these security updates, a thief still manages to get into your home, then you need to have a way to protect your valuables. Safes can be as small as your chest or as big as a desk. They can also be waterproof, fireproof, and heavy, which means that these valuables will be protected from natural disasters like floods, fire, and tornados.
Obviously, the main reason why we are looking into these safes is for security reasons. This means the safe needs to be big enough to store your important documents (like passports and health care), your jewelry, and anything that might be considered valuable to you or an outsider.
Before you put the items into a safe, you should first figure out where your safe should live. Ideally, it should be hidden, maybe in a wardrobe, inside a cupboard, or anywhere else that isn’t in your way. Although you might be tempted to put it in a study, that will be the first place a criminal would look.
You can get safes in every size and every price, but we believe you shouldn’t cheap out on such an important purchase. Go for a heavy, durable, and large safe, so burglars cannot lift the object or break it. Even if you only have one item in the box, you know it will be safe.
Consider Home Automation
A lot of our suggestions come from smart devices; everything from cameras to lights to garage door systems. Home automation makes all of these safe features (and more) super easy to maintain and monitor. They give you real-time alerts, special recording, and playback features.
This means that if you hear a suspicious noise while in bed, you can use the cameras and lights to see if someone is really in your home or if it was just the cat. Instead of waking up fully and being too worried to go back to sleep, you can feel comfortable and safe in your own home.
These are also fantastic features to monitor your home while you are away. You can create a week’s worth of differing light schedules, so it looks like you are moving around your home, even if you are not there. All of these features are perfect for protecting your home and making you feel secure.
Because this type of technology has advanced so quickly, they are also super easy to understand. These are no longer ideas just for the rich or knowledgeable. Instead, anyone can use them and learn how to work them.
Do Everything To Prevent House Fires
Although we have largely been talking about burglaries, there are many other reasons for needing good home security. Fires can truly devastate your home and your finances, so preparing for them can be the difference between life and ruin.
Setting up a fire alarm that is attached to your home automation system means you can be notified of a fire even if you are not in the home. These systems can also contact the fire fighting services before you get a chance to reach for your phone.
The safes we were talking about before should also be fireproof. This will mean your valuable items can be protected even if your home is burnt to a crisp. Of course, this is not the option we really want, which is why you should have a fire extinguisher in your home.
If you do have a fire extinguisher, you should check on the expiration date and update the extinguisher when necessary. You should also check on the fire alarm and carbon monoxide alarms to make sure that they are working correctly too.
If you do not have a carbon monoxide detector, we highly recommend getting one, as they can prevent gas leaks from poisoning you. Carbon monoxide is often undetectable by sight or smell, so people who have been poisoned don’t realize that they are in medical danger until it is too late.
To summarise, we suggest that you look over your home’s current security status and check for any entrances to your home which are not secure. This could be a rusty lock, an unlocked window, or an easily broken shed. Once you have found your weak spots, you can tailor your security measures to counter them.
A rusty lock can be easily fixed by installing a new one, but a window without a lock attached might need other features like an aftermarket window lock to secure them into place. Once the weak areas have been tightened up, we recommend adding a home automation security kit so you can look through a camera using your smartphone and record any motion that shouldn’t be there. This can be used as evidence for the police if something has been taken, and is a fantastic preventative measure all by itself.