18 anti-theft tips to keep burglars out of your home!

Safe and Sound on a Budget

by Joanne Guidoccio

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According to the FBI "in 2015, there were an estimated 1,579,527 burglaries." These alarming FBI statistics reveal a definite need for improved home security measures. In the minds of many Americans, this often translates into a 24-7 monitored home security system with a hefty price tag that is out of reach for homeowners on tight budgets.

Fortunately, there are several low-cost and no-cost measures that can deter thieves.

Exterior Home Anti-Theft Tips

  • Illuminate the dark, shadowy areas on your property with easy-to-install motion-sensor lights. Prices for reasonably priced lights (basic two-bulb floodlight to stylish porch light fixture) range from $15 to $70. Alternatively, you can substitute existing lighting with a motion-detecting unit at the front, side, and back entrances.
  • Improve overall visibility by regularly trimming and pruning the bushes and hedges near all points-of-entry. And trim back any trees that could provide easy access to second-floor windows.
  • To cut back on costs, some homeowners install fake cameras. If you are considering this tactic, ensure that your camera looks legitimate. Savvy burglars will not be fooled by toy cameras.
  • Don't store ladders outside. A burglar, posing as a handyman, could use the ladder to gain access to a balcony or second-floor window.
  • Related: Should You Consider a Home Security System?

  • Post a "Beware of Dog" sign on a gate or in front of the house. You can also purchase stickers with home security logos and post them on the doors and windows of your home. Double check the brand name on Google to verify the company's authenticity.
  • Inspect all front, side, and back doors. Replace weak locks, ensuring that you have a Grade 1 or Grade 2 dead-bolt lock that penetrates the door frame. You can purchase these locks at any big-box home store for $40 to $70.
  • Remember to always close the garage door. Garages are not common points of entry as long as they are closed.
  • Remove the hidden key that you like to keep under the door mat, inside the mailbox, or beneath a decorative lawn piece. Instead, entrust your key to a reliable neighbor.

Interior Home Anti-Theft Tips

  • Create a "we are at home" look by using timers on lights and televisions. Consider investing in a programmable timer that comes on at different times. Burglars who may be staking your home will be thrown off by the randomness.
  • Keep house and car keys in cabinets or drawers. Do not leave them lying around or on wall racks near the entrance.
  • Secure all window air conditioners by using a bracket, sliding window lock, or corner braces.
  • Consider investing in double-glazed windows that are more difficult to smash. While these are not the cheapest options, they will provide many added benefits, among them noise blocking and increased heat and insulation.
  • Take advantage of any complimentary home inspections offered by the municipal police department. An officer will walk through your home and identify security weaknesses and recommend simple, low-cost changes that can discourage burglars from targeting your home.

Common Sense Anti-Theft Routines

  • Avoid broadcasting your latest electronic purchase by breaking down all the packaging before taking it to the curb.
  • Cancel newspapers and arrange for a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail and any flyers while you're on vacation. Ask if she is willing to check your home regularly and offer to return the favor.
  • Load your suitcases into the car with the garage door closed. If you don't have a garage, back your car into the driveway and be as quick and quiet as possible.
  • Report any suspicious persons or vehicles in your neighborhood. It is better to err on the side of caution and prevent a burglary. Also, burglars will think twice before staking homes in "protected" neighborhoods.
  • Subscribe to a local police department blog and read the weekly Crime Beat in your newspaper or online. If you notice any disturbing trends, approach your neighbors and brainstorm solutions

Related: Protecting Your Home While You Travel

Updated April 2017

Take the Next Step:

  • Find at least one anti-theft measure that you can put into place this week.
  • Choosing the right door can make your home more secure. Find out how to choose a door for home security.
  • The mortgage refinance window could close for many people this year. Consider these 5 reasons to refinance your mortgage while you still can.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

For 31 years, Joanne Guidoccio taught mathematics, computer science, business and career education courses in secondary schools throughout Ontario. Her articles, book reviews, and short stories have been published in newspapers, magazines, and online. She has bachelor's degrees in mathematics and education and a Career Development Practitioner diploma. Visit her website at JoanneGuidoccio.com.

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