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Inexpensive Home Security

Updated on February 22, 2013

You don’t have to spend a small fortune to increase your home’s security. By understanding how burglars generally work, you can often thwart a thief by simply changing a few things in your daily schedule. Instead of adding a monthly bill by installing a commercial security system, get a few items to beef up security on your own. The tips listed here range from free to under $100.

Understand the Mind of a Thief

  • Mind the Time

Thieves are opportunists. They look for easy targets and for items they can grab quickly. By understanding how a thief’s mind works, you can make small changes to make a big impact on the security of your home. According to the Washington Post, most home burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. because a house appears empty when people are away at work. When your house is empty, make it seem like someone is at home. If you have an extra vehicle, park it in plain sight in the driveway. Timers are inexpensive and can turn the TV or radio on and off while you’re away. If you’re away from home after dark, use a timer to turn lights on and off.

Always keep your windows and doors locked, even when you’re at home. Thieves can look into your windows if they’re not covered and find a quick opportunity while you’re in the bathroom or doing something in the back yard. Just because most burglaries happen while people are away doesn’t mean you don’t have to be vigilant at other times, as well. A burglary can happen at any time, whether you’re home or not. If you have a dog that isn't a guard dog, you still need to beef up your security. Thieves expect dog owners to be lax on securing the house because they overly rely on their dog’s presence for security.

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  • Mind Your Possessions

People are creatures of habit, and thieves rely on this fact to rob you. Thieves know that people usually hang their keys near the front door or place them on a table somewhere near the front door. They know that a spare key may be hidden outside somewhere near the front door. They know that, once inside, they can easily spot a calendar that will tell them about you, your family, and your schedule which can let them know when to come back. They know that they are more likely to find valuables in the freezer, dresser drawers and bedroom closets. Place your valuables in hard-to-find places or keep them locked away. Don’t keep a calendar announcing when you’ll be away from home out in plain sight. Keep items out of plain view from your windows and doors, or better yet, keep your windows covered with blinds or curtains.

Inexpensive Items to Boost Security

  • Make Your House Look like a Difficult Target

Ease of entry is very inviting. There are many inexpensive items you can display to make thieves think twice about approaching your home.

1. Display Surveillance Signs.

You can purchase signs stating "Video Surveillance in Use" or signs for various security systems to make it look like you have an expensive alarm system installed. If you advertise video surveillance, however, don't forget to get some real or fake surveillance cameras and install them to back up your claim. Signs can be purchased on ebay for under $10. Dummy video cameras cost under $30. If you do a search online, you can even find real video surveillance systems for under $100.

2. Chain up your Outdoor Items

If you have store items outside your home that can be easily stolen such as yard-care items, bikes, wheelbarrows, or even your wheeled garbage bin, chain them up. Thieves will see that you have taken steps toward home security and will assume you’ve taken careful measures inside, too. When a thief sees that steps have been taken to secure items outside, they’re more likely to move on down the street and look for an easier target.

3. If you Have a Dog, Make it Known

If you have a dog, buy some “Beware of Dog” signs. A decent outdoor warning sign can cost $6.00 or less, and it makes thieves wary. Problems can arise if you rely solely on your dog for protection, so be sure to implement the other ideas for security, as well. If you don’t have a dog, you can still use the signs. Purchase a barking dog alarm for under $100.

4. Two Locks are Better than One

Having two locks on your first-floor doors can mean the difference between a break-in and security. Thieves want to gain entry as quickly as possible, and when they see two locks on a door, they are more likely to just move along and find an easier target. Also, be sure that visible window locks are actually locked, especially on the first level of your home. For added security, install some window alarms that are visible from the outside.

  • Take Care of the Inside


1. Prevent a Home Invasion

Home invasions are on the rise, but there are simple, cheap ways to prevent it from happening to you. Purchase two big metal brackets from your local home improvements store and screw them into your door frame. Cut a 2 x 4 piece of wood long enough to stretch across your exterior door and frame. When you’re at home and the door is locked, keep the 2 x 4 in the brackets to prevent anyone from kicking in the door. Also, you can purchase a doorbell with a camera and intercom. These systems provide a display screen that you hang on a wall inside your house. You can easily see who’s at your door without going to the door and opening it, thereby foiling a thief’s opportunity to get inside your home while you’re there.

2. Keep your Valuables Locked Up

Sometimes it’s not strangers we have to worry about – it’s the people we let into our home. The best way to protect the things you love is to keep them locked up and out of sight. Don’t use common hiding spots like drawers and the freezer. If you have a safe, make sure it is secured to the floor or the wall. If you don’t have a safe, there are many options for making your own locked hiding spots. Safes disguised as common objects are becoming more and more popular. You can buy small safes disguised as clocks, electrical outlets, and soda cans. You can make your own and get creative.

3. Record What You Have

Keep a written record of your property or go around your house with a video camera to make a video recording of what you own. In your written record, write down model numbers, serial numbers, and cost. If something does come up missing, you will need proof that the item was in the home to submit to your insurance company. Also, it will help you remember what you have and don’t have. Sometimes we see something so often, we don’t really “see” that it’s there anymore. Having a record is invaluable – and free!

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4. Secure Your Windows with Fishing Line

Windows are often the easiest way to enter your house. Windows are often left open while you’re away during the summer. Even when windows are shut and locked, it’s easy to break a window and unlock it. Add a layer of protection to your windows by securing them with fishing line. You can insert small cup hooks or O-hooks on the window and the frame and thread fishing line through the hooks. Secure the line at both ends. If done properly, you can prevent a window from opening in this way – even if it’s broken. Alternatively, you can weave a net across the face of the window using the same method. This is especially useful in out-of-the-way windows that rarely get used, such as in the back of the garage or the spare room in your house.

With a little bit of preparation and little expense, you can secure your home and rest easy at night knowing that your family and possessions are safe. Read or watch what former thieves say you should do to protect against a burglary and follow the advice given. There is no need to spend thousands of dollars on expensive systems or add to your monthly bills with a subscription-based alarm system. You are fully capable of protecting your home, your possessions, and your family by yourself.


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