18 Easy Ways to Protect Your Home from Break-Ins

Updated: Mar 24

1: Beef Up Your Home Security

In the United States, more than 3.5 million burglaries occur each year, with more than 1 million of them involving a family member. Statistics like these can make homeowners feel vulnerable, as if their home could be the next one to be targeted. Fortunately, there are a few basic things you can do to improve the security of your house and prevent break-ins. Click through for 36 of the simplest methods to keep your home safe from intruders.

2: Use Light

Install motion-activated exterior lights around the perimeter of your home to deter intruders. When a burglar is in the spotlight, he doesn't want to break into your home.

3: Keep Expensive Purchases a Secret

Have you lately purchased a new flat-screen television or a high-end computer? Thieves will know that you have valuable devices if you simply leave the empty containers at the curb. Break down the cardboard boxes and bag them until garbage or recycling pickup, or take them to the landfill to keep your more expensive goods hidden from passersby.

4: Close the Garage

An open garage door invites burglars to take your bicycles, tools, and lawn-care equipment, among other things. If you have a connected garage, they may be able to get entrance to your home through that open door. When you enter or exit the house, make it a point to close the garage door. Consider purchasing an automatic garage door opener or a smart garage door that can be operated from your smartphone and can even alert you when the door is open if you fail to do so.

5: Don’t Leave Things Out

According to statistics from the Burglary Prevention Council, 34 percent of burglars gain entry through the front door, and if that front door is standing ajar, with keys, phones, and other valuables in plain view, you're only giving them more reasons to head inside and grab the goodies. Whether you’re checking the mail or carrying in the groceries, keep small valuables in your hand or on your person while the front door is open, even if the storm door is closed.

6: Install Security Cameras

Thieves will go to any length to get their hands on your stuff, including ignoring a security camera that is staring them in the face. Install outside security cameras near your home's entry points. If prowlers approach, you'll be able to monitor them on your connected monitor in real time, or review the recorded footage and send it to local police enforcement if necessary.

7: Change Doors and Locks

Kicking open a door, believe it or not, is one of the most popular methods burglars gain access to a property. Replace hollow-core exterior doors with solid wood or metal doors and install a deadbolt with a bolt length (also known as a throw) of at least one inch to make it more difficult for criminals.

8: Interior Hinges

Picklocks may theoretically remove the hinge pins and gain access to your property if your door hinges are on the outside. Have your door rehung so that the hinges are on the inside of the house, where burglars can't tamper with them.

9: Use More Than One Lock

Make it harder for savvy burglars to intrude by installing multiple locks on your entry doors. You should have a minimum of two door locks at main entryways, but this could mean either two locks on a single door or a single lock on one door coupled with a locking storm door.

10: Use Smart Products

Although home automation can be costly and vulnerable to hacking, it's still a good idea to add a few low-cost, security-enhancing smart-home technologies. Install smart light bulbs in porch lights, for example, and program them to turn on automatically at particular hours of the night. You might also want to consider installing smart door locks, which allow you to open and close the door remotely and authorize entry to a visitor or maid.

11: Install an Window Air Conditioner

Install window air-conditioning units in the front or back of your house to give burglars the cold shoulder while maintaining delightfully cool internal temperatures. According to the Burglary Prevention Council, the AC units will assist block entry into the home through first-floor windows, a common intruder entry location that accounts for 23% of home burglaries.

12: Secure the Windows

Install window stops on your double-hung windows to prevent intruders from breaking in via the windows. These devices keep intruders out by preventing them from sliding your window open, and they also allow you to keep the window slightly open for ventilation without risk of break-ins.

13: Install a Security System

According to the National Council for Home Safety and Security, a home without a security system is three times more likely to be broken into than one with one. As a result, installing a home security system—along with the accompanying home security sign—is an effective deterrent. If a burglar does break in, the alarm may deter him, and the security company will usually call you to ensure your safety. If necessary, the police will be dispatched.

14: Post Generic Security Signs

The typical intruder will be put off by bogus security system signs and stickers, but cunning cat thieves may try to search up the names and service locations of the organizations represented on those decoy displays. Replace any bogus "Protected by ADT" or other brand-name sign or sticker with a generic counterpart to keep criminals guessing who is guarding your home.

15: Keep Wires Covered

If a burglar isn't deterred by the security sign on your yard, he might try cutting the cables to disable your home security system. Prowlers may have a tougher time finding and snipping outside wires if they are hidden in electrical conduits.

16: Keep Car Keys Close

Do you still keep your car keys in the entryway on a wall-mounted key holder? You might wish to keep the keys in your bedroom, ideally within reach of your bed. If you hear someone in your garage, you can instantly press the panic button on your key fob, which will activate the car alarm and scare the intruder away.

17: Have a Fake Dog

Want the benefits of a guard dog's security without the barking, walking, training, or cleanup? Display a "Beware of Dog" sign or dog food bowls by your front or back door, or along the front fence, to alert pedestrians that Fido is at home and ready to fend off intruders.

18: Check Your Mail

A mound of uncollected mail in your mailbox says to trespassers, "I'm not home." If you're going on vacation or a long business trip, have your mail held at the post office or have a trusted neighbor collect it while you're gone to keep mail poachers and burglars at bay.

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