Making your home as secure as possible is easy – particularly if you’ve got deep pockets. If you can afford to buy the latest gadgets and gizmos, security is a piece of cake. However, achieving the same level of security and peace of mind is far more challenging when you’re working to a tight budget. So what can you do to improve matters?
Well, you can make carry out some easy jobs and make some simple changes, and here we’re talking about really basic things like getting to know your neighbours better and making access that little bit more difficult for would-be intruders. These home security tips might not scare off seasoned criminals, but what they will do is deter casual thieves and maybe even make more experienced burglars think twice before crossing your home threshold, and that has to be good for everyone.
So here are 22 simple tips for beefing up your home security and making your property safer. These tips are quick and effective, and best of all, they won’t give your bank manager palpitations.
If you love it: lock it
The best way of deterring any intruder is to keep your doors and windows firmly locked. Yet a significant number of people fail to do this; whether that’s simply through oversight, or maybe they just have more faith in the goodness of human nature than the rest of us. Whatever the reasons might be, there’s no escaping the fact that by leaving your property unlocked, you’re giving the green light to potential burglars and asking for trouble. If you don’t lock your doors and windows, not only do you risk losing some of things you treasure, but you’ll probably also invalidate the terms and conditions of your home insurance policy, and that could be doubly costly because you’ll face a double whammy. Locking your doors and windows is a simple task, it won’t cost you a penny, but at the end of the day it will probably save you plenty.
Change the screws on your door locks and hinges
Any door or window can be forced if enough pressure is applied. So to improve security it’s worth changing the screws which hold the locks and hinges in place. Many of the standard screws that are supplied with locks and hinges are small and pretty basic and won’t hold out against a determined burglar. Longer screws will be more difficult to force. So re-enforce your locks and hinges with longer screws. It’s quick, it’s cheap and it’s effective.
Leave an outside light on
Burglars like the dark. They like to be able to creep around properties under the cloak of darkness, safe in the knowledge that no-one will be able to see what mischief they’re getting up to. Well, it’s easy to put a stop to that and to foil their plans. Install an outside light near to the entrance/ exit of your home. If burglars run the risk of being seen, they’ll think twice about attempting to break in.
Careless talk costs
The worst thing you can do is to openly brag about the expensive item you’ve just bought, or where you’ll be jetting off to soon, either in person or online. Somebody, somewhere, will pay attention to what you say, and that could potentially make you vulnerable. Seasoned burglars monitor Facebook and Instagram, and they keep their ears open in local stores. They listen for information about when someone is going on holiday and like to find out when, and for how long they’ll be away. So keep your business to yourself and don’t bare your soul on social media channels. Careless talk could potentially cost you plenty.
Dummy alarm boxes and security signs
You may wonder what’s the point of having a dummy alarm box? Well, the simple answer is it’s a deterrent, albeit a hoax one. The same applies to security signage. A professional burglar might be able to spot a dummy a mile off, but a casual burglar isn’t quite as savvy. If they’re fooled into thinking your property is protected by a security system, they’ll probably think twice and move onto a property that clearly isn’t alarmed.
Make better use of timed lighting and TV/radio noise
Two of the clearest signals to a burglar that a house is empty are darkness and silence. Nobody stays at home in the dark. Nobody sits in the house in silence either. But if you’re not going to be at home what can you do? Well, if you’ve got money the answer’s simple: invest in smart technology so that lights are switched on and curtains/blinds drawn automatically. Sadly, most of us don’t have the funds to do that. So what you can do instead is to make better use of timers. Programme your timers so that the lights come on when you’re not at home, and do the same with the TV or radio. If you can afford it, invest in a 7-day timer, and vary the hours that both the lights and appliances are turned on. If the hours are the same every day, then anyone watching the house will soon twig that the property is unoccupied.
Don’t let the garden get out of control.
If you’ve got neighbours living either side of you, then you’ll be safer and more secure if you can see their properties clearly, and they can see yours. Don’t let the garden borders or hedges get out of control. Keep plants trimmed and pruned so that there are no hiding places and you still have a clear line of sight. By doing that you can see if someone is hanging around your garden at night, and more importantly so can your neighbours.
Make forced entry as hard as possible for burglars
Burglars may prowl the streets at night looking for properties to steal from, but they’re essentially lazy. They’ll look for the easiest targets and will always take the path of least resistance. So make their life more difficult. Re-enforce all entrance doors with additional locks. Fix window locks on all points of entry on all floors, and fix additional window stops, so that if they do manage to break the glass, (which they would prefer not to) the movement of the remaining window frame is severely restricted. You can even add safety glass film to windows for extra protection as long as it doesn’t look too bad or interfere with the aesthetics.
Join your local Neighbourhood Watch scheme and touch base with those living closest to you
You don’t have to bare your soul to the world or live in other people’s pockets to get peace of mind. Being neighbourly can be beneficial. Join a scheme if you can spare the time, or at least speak to your neighbours every now and then. If your neighbours warm to your approach, they’re far more likely to take an interest in you and what goes on at your property: especially if you offer to reciprocate and keep an eye on their place when they’re away. Another pair of watchful eyes is always useful when burglars are on the prowl.
Get yourself a dog, or at least get a pretend one
If you see a ‘Beware of the dog’ sign on a property, it’s only natural that you’ll be wary when entering the house. Nobody wants to risk being attacked or mauled. Burglars are no different. If they see a sign, they don’t know it isn’t real. They’ve no idea whether you’ve got a Rottweiler or not, but maybe they’d think twice before taking the gamble. I would, so why should they be any different.
Put gates at entrances to drives and pathways
Is it better to deal with someone once they’ve entered your property, or to stop them entering in the first place until you can verify their identity? The answer’s simple. Don’t let them in until you can be sure of their intentions. So install gates on pathways and drives. If they want to come onto your property, they’ll have to come through the gates, and someone, somewhere, will see them doing this.
Hang something over the door that will make a noise when disturbed at night
No-one is overly keen on wind chimes, but they can serve a very useful purpose when it comes to home security. They’ll make a noise when disturbed and alert you to someone’s presence. The only thing you need to do is keep it out of direct winds, or you’ll be up and down all night unnecessarily.
Make a secure storage area within the home but out of sight
If you have to keep valuable possessions or documents on the premises, it’s probably worth investing in a safe, or a safe store. You can keep your treasures here, but make sure the safe store is well hidden. The point is to make a burglar’s life as difficult as possible, so don’t store your valuables in plain sight, even if they secured by lock and key.
Make use of free solar power for external lighting
Installing an external light is always advisable as previously mentioned, but what happens if there’s a power outage? Well, unless you’ve made advanced plans, the outside of your property will be in total darkness and that’s a burglar’s dream. So invest in a couple of solar lights for the garden and near the entrance. They’ll work even if the power goes down, and best of all you won’t have to pay for the power: mother nature will provide that free of charge.
Use prickly plants and spiny landscaping around the perimeter of your property
No-one, not even the most determined intruder, wants to have to climb through cotoneaster or Berberis to claim their ill-gotten prize. Nobody likes pain if they can avoid it. Burglars always chose the path of least resistance, so make entry very difficult, and if they do manage to get in, then make their journey as uncomfortable as possible. Remember, the spinier and painful the plant: the better.
If you have to leave a spare key, don’t leave it all the usual places
Before any thief breaks into a property they’ll look for a spare key. Leaving a spare outside is wrong on so many levels, but we’re all guilty of doing it. We often think, well, ‘if I get locked out I need to be able to get back in’, or ‘I have to leave a spare key for the kids as I don’t trust them to carry it around all day’. So we hide keys under doormats, within reach on a string through the letterbox, under rocks near the entrance or over the door. Where’s a burglar immediately going to search? Yes, you guessed it.
So if you absolutely must leave a spare key in or around the property, hide it somewhere an intruder won’t automatically look. Hide it somewhere that blends into the background, or hide it around the side of the property or behind the shed. Better still, invest in a key vault with a code like lots of professional agents do. They’re not fool proof and can be unlocked by seasoned professionals, but it’s yet another obstacle placed in their paths before they get entry to your home, and that has to be a good thing.
If you plan on being away from home for a while, have your mail redirected
Unopened post in letter boxes or lying on door mats offer the clearest indication that the occupier is absent. They’re a red rag, and just say to intruders, ‘come inside and help yourselves cos no-one’s home’. So to avoid that happening, either get a friend or neighbour to call around regularly and collect the mail, or get a temporary redirection from the postal service to a mailbox. You can then pick up your post on your return.
Keep your garden tidy and remove any potential hiding places
Cut back trees and shrubs near windows and doors so that there are no places for an intruder to hide. If you ensure there’s a clear line of sight from the road, potential thieves no that there are no hiding places for them should their attempted break-in go wrong. By keeping the sight lines clear, you’ll sow seeds of doubt in the burglar’s mind about how they might struggle to make a safe escape.
Keep a list of your valuables, serial numbers and photos of all that you hold dear and value and email it to yourself
It always pays to keep important information like this to hand, even if you aren’t burgled. Should the worst happen whilst you’re out of the property, at least you’ll have something definitive to show to the authorities. It will also help to speed up the insurance claim process if you can provide them with this important information.
Keep your garage/shed doors locked at all times
You should always lock everything, as it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. However, it pays to keep garage and shed doors locked all the time. If you leave the doors open during the day, anyone driving by can see what you store in there and earmark what they might like to have. Lots of professional thieves undertake drive-by surveillance. If you show them what you own willingly, they don’t have to break in to find out. By keeping the doors open you’re making their job much easier than needs be.
Keep all your cars and vehicles locked at all times
Thieves might not necessarily be after your car, motor bike or trailer, but if they can get into them because they’re unlocked they’ll willingly take them, or at the very least ransack them. Keep all vehicles locked and secured. Don’t hand your valuables to thieves on a plate.
If you must keep cash in the house, only keep small denominations
That advice is the same as you’ll often receive when you travel abroad. Only carry a few coins and notes, and leave the rest of your money in the hotel. If you’re going to be mugged, don’t put up a fight, just let the thieves take the small amount of cash you’re carrying. It’s the safest option, and generally speaking they’ll be happy enough to take it as they assume that’s all you have.
The same logic applies to home burglaries. If you have to keep cash in the home, just keep small denominations, and leave these in an obvious place. If you leave cash in a place where it can be easily found, burglars may think that’s all you have, and they won’t go searching further.
Stay alert and be safe
The best advice for homeowners and the best tip for preventing future burglaries is to stay alert and to stay safe. If you’re vigilant, take all the necessary precautions and keep your eyes and ears open, the chances of your home, or your neighbours home being burgled will be drastically reduced. When it comes to home security, deterring thieves is mission-critical. So be aware, and be forewarned.