Making Your Home Secure

Home security is an ongoing topic of great concern to most home owner.  If you have ever returned home to find that you have joined the more than 2 million Americans that become victims of home burglary each year, you will understand the feelings of violation and helplessness.  While insurance will come some items, many things have a value beyond the “fair market” value and cannot be replaced.  Additionally many folks who have been through such an ordeal feel that they seem to be the one being punished, not the criminal.  Policy reports, insurance claim forms, repairing of damage, increased insurance rates, not to mention the intangible loss of you sense of security.

The good news is home burglary is down nearly 30% since the late 80’s, however the bad news is it has held steady with more than 2 million a year since 1999, the last year that saw a significant decrease over previous years. 2 Million A year is still a significant number which means that each and every one of us is still facing this threat. It also shows that law enforcement doesn’t have the resources to make progress in reducing this threat to home owners and are at best holding steady.

What can Home Owners do?  As far as affecting the actual number of burglaries, other than supporting the dedication of more resources to Law Enforcement when you head to out to vote, there is little a home owner can do.  Really the only course left to the home owner is to make their home a less inviting target then the next.

One thing that most people do not seem to understand is that would be thieves “shop” around to select their targets.  Homes to target are NOT selected at random.  In most cases the “would be thief” will make observations to determine the risk of hitting a particular target against the potential payoff. The key here is to make your home seem just too risky or difficult to break into so they select a more inviting target.  Below is a list of some low or no cost solutions to make your home a less inviting target.

  1. Landscaping – the approach to you home.  This is critical because when a “would be thief” selects a target they wish to get in and out without being observed if possible.
  • Ensure that visibility from the street to Windows and Doorways are not blocked by bushes or other items.
  • Plant hard & thorny bushes underneath windows and on each side next to doorways.
  • Consider hard & thorny bushes to block “Blind” approaches to the house, that is approaches that are not visible from windows or to by passers.
  1. Exterior Lighting – The use of sensor lights can be a great way to discourage approach to your home in the hours of darkness.  However the placement of these lights is critical for this to be effective.  For example, at one time at my home I mounted sensor lights on each side of the house, only to find that the local deer had learned how to approach my flower beds next to my home without turning the lights on. If a deer can figure it out, it should be child’s play for a “would be thief”. Additionally you can obtain solar powered sensor lights that can be mounted on poles in the yard designed to work in conjunction with your landscaping making approach impossible without triggering one or more light sensors.


  1. Critter-Cams – These are normally used as a way for naturalist to capture wildlife, however because most have a built in flash, they can be a great way to stop a burglary in progress.  Very few “would be thieves” will continue if they suspect they may have been captured by a camera.  Placement of the camera must be such that access to the camera is difficult, such as mounting on a pole or roof top, yet cover likely approaches to you home.  This will make the removal of the camera difficult without being seen by folks passing by.


  1. Home Security is Monitored by Signs – While I do believe that a home security and monitoring system is a great idea, often times a sign in the yard indicating that you have such a system will be all that is needed to make  “would be thieves” pass your home by.
  1. Camera mounting cases – Like the “Monitored by Signs”, if a “would be thief” believes your home may have cameras recording in real time; they are likely not willing to risk being recorded.


  1. Interior Lighting – Use of timers in your home is an old tactic that most “would be thieves” are old hats at spotting.  If you have ever seen the Movie “Home Alone”, the “Wet Bandits” through observation determined the timing cycle for every home.  However use of more sophisticated timers used in creative ways can still cause reasonable doubt that a home is unoccupied.  Use of timers on variable schedules that light at different times and days can be used to power on lights and other objects (such as radios or TVs) all over the home seemingly at random times.


  1. Interior Lighting with motion sensors – One great way for pet owners to make a home seem occupied is to install motion sensor light switches.  Not only can it help with lowering your overall electric costs, but movement of your pet around the home can be used to trigger lighting at random.


Up to this point all the tactics I listed will help make your home a less inviting target; however they do little for actual security.  Consider the following points to actually make your home more secure.  Some of these items can be implemented at very little cost.

  1. Door Locks & Hinges – The more effort and time it takes for a “would be thief” to access your home from the outside were they can be observed, the more likely they are to abandon the task and move on. (Fix) 
    1. Use of high security door locks and 1” dead bolts with reinforced metal strike plates.
    2. Internally hung hinges – when the hinge is externally hung, often the hinge pin can be easily removed defeating any door locks.
    3. Reinforced door frames – It will not matter how secure of a lock or how strong a door is if the “would be thief” can kick the door out of the frame. 
  2. Windows – Breaking windows is an easy way to access a home, however many folks are not aware that you can obtain high strength protected glass that will stand up to 400LBS of striking force without breaking.  Often a “would be thief” will not be willing to risk calling attention to their activity by breaking the glass, especially in highly dense neighborhoods.  In such areas other more affordable methods that prevent entry are listed below:



    1. High Security Windows Locks – these locks use either an eye bolt type connection on both the upper and lower windows that are locked via a steal rod or bolt, or one that has heavy duty latches that bolt deeply into the frame and latch the lower window.  These are most effective on window systems that have a fixed upper window.
    2. If your Window System has the fix upper windows a low cost method to securely lock them is window bars in the windows track.  These can be home made to cut down on costs using steel or aluminum rods or even 1×1 & 1” wooden dowels.


  3. Home Security Monitoring System – Instead of just a sign, get the real thing.  But be sure the package adequately covers points of entry into your home.  Many lower cost packages cover only doors and a few windows.  Many “would be thieves” are double as installers as a method to case homes.
  4. Video Recording System – In the past, a “would be thief” would simply steal or destroy the recording equipment on the way out the door.  With Internet services being what they are today, you can not only remotely monitor your home; you can have the feed recorded in an off-site location through your home internet connection.


  1. Consider a Dummy Home Safe – A Home safe is a great way to secure highly valued belongings, but only if the “would be thief” doesn’t locate it.  A well placed floor or wall safe can be very difficult to find if the “would be thief” is not looking for it. One way to prevent them from searching to hard is to place a shelf or wall safe in a not so well hidden location such as the Master Bedroom Closet or within a home office.  Make sure the safe has some valuables you are willing to part with like less expensive jewelry, some bars of silver and a few hundred dollars in cash.  Just enough to convince the “would be thief” that they found the treasure, but not enough to impact you as a major loss.