10 Ways to Make Your Home Feel More Secure

Household burglaries have been steadily declining in the past few decades, but they’re still one of the most common serious crimes in the United States. In 2017 alone, over 2.5 million burglaries were reported. Burglaries may be more or less common where you live, depending on how safe your city is.

Burglaries and home invasions of any kind are scary to think about. It’s up to you to protect your home against break-ins. Here are ten smart tips to make your home feel more secure and help you sleep better at night.

1. Start by securing your doors.

Before they go climbing into windows, efficient thieves will look for the easiest way into your home. That includes your doors.

Over a third of all burglars enter the home through an unlocked door, and 1 in 5 Americans make it easy for them by “rarely or never” locking their doors when they’re at home.

Make sure to:

  • Always keep your doors locked—always.
  • Install a deadbolt for added security and use it.
  • Lock all exterior doors in your home, not just the front door. Don’t forget about back and side doors.
  • Secure your doors with smart locks. These will automatically lock the door behind you when you leave and enter, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting.
  • Secure sliding glass doors by placing a dowel in the track and/or installing a glass break sensor.

2. Don’t forget the windows.

Speaking of glass, burglars also love windows—especially first-floor windows. One-third of burglars enter through unlocked windows or doors, according to a report from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service.

Even if you remember to lock your doors, it’s easy to forget about the windows. Plus, many of us enjoy leaving our windows open during nice days.

Make sure to:

  • Keep your windows locked.
  • Install windows or glass break sensors.
  • Use window security film for reinforcement.
  • Use window stops. These allow you to open the window a few inches to let in that summer breeze, without opening them wide enough for someone to wriggle inside.

3. Adopt a dog.

60% of home burglaries happen during the day, primarily during the workweek—in other words, when you’re not at home. Burglarized homes are also more likely to not have a dog, big or small. Larger dogs can be threatening, while dogs of all sizes can make noise and bite intruders.

A dog can help your home feel more secure. It can also help you sleep better at night.

Make sure to:

  • Allow your dog access to areas where a burglar might intrude.
  • Leave dog toys visible in the yard or front floor rooms, indicating you have a dog even when your dog isn’t around.
  • Allergic to pets? Install a “Beware of Dog” sign instead.

4. Keep the lights on.

While the majority of burglaries occur during the daytime, 40% take place at night. Homes can significantly lower their risk of a burglary by appearing occupied. The best way to do that is with lights.

Make sure to:

  • Install smart lights in all entry points of your home. You can program these to turn on and off at various points during the day—even in different rooms of your home—making it appear as if you’re there.
  • Add smart lights to your exterior. Outdoor smart lights can be motion-activated, and will turn on whenever they sense motion, scaring off thieves. They can also be programmed to stay on at night, deterring thieves from even trying as your neighbors will be able to see them.
  • Program vacation schedules for your lights whenever you’ll be gone for an extended period of time.

5. Secure your garage.

Garage doors, and the interior doors they enclose, are another common point of entry for burglars. They represent over 10% of all unauthorized entries.

Make sure to:

  • Lock interior doors to the garage.
  • Keep your garage door closed as much as possible, preventing thieves from seeing any valuables you store in there, or analyzing a potential entry point to your home through the interior door.
  • Cover any garage door windows to make viewing valuables impossible when it’s closed.
  • Take your garage door opener out of your car and into your house with you when you arrive home, so thieves can’t break into your car to access it.
  • Upgrade to a smart garage door opener.

6. Install security cameras.

Security cameras are a major deterrent to burglars. No one wants to be caught on camera.

In the case of especially brazen offenders, at least you’ll have the footage to nab them. Fewer than 15% of burglars are ever caught.

Modern security cameras typically include motion detection, night vision, and WiFi or Bluetooth capability so they can connect to your home network and other smart home devices.

Make sure to:

  • Purchase security cameras with “outdoor” labels for outdoor areas. Indoor cameras aren’t designed to be weatherproof.
  • Sync your security cameras with your other smart devices to alert you in the case of suspicious activity.
  • Invest in a doorbell camera to monitor whenever someone approaches your front door.

7. Upgrade to a security system with home automation.

Beyond installing a handful of security cameras, consider upgrading for a full-fledged home security system with home automation. These will integrate all of the smart devices in your home to work together, removing the need for you to manage multiple apps. Plus, they’ll often include other monitoring perks like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Home automation is helpful besides security. It feels magical to have your home respond to your needs according to your schedule, or being able to turn things off simply with a command of your voice.  

Make sure to:

  • Automate your lights to turn on according to schedules, and feel free to change these up during vacation.
  • Automate your smart TV to turn off and on when you’re not at home.
  • Use your home automation smartphone app to randomly turn things on or off when you’re away.

8. Lock down your wireless network.

Your wireless network opens you up to another security risk—one that’s much more personal.

With an unsecured wireless network, you leave your personal and financial information up for the taking by hackers and tech-savvy thieves. They can break into your email and social accounts, viewing your vacation plans and getting your credit card information.

Make sure to:

  • Secure your router and enable WPA or WPA2 encryption.
  • Regularly change the passwords to your network and other accounts, especially email, social media, and financial institutions.
  • Use a firewall.
  • Install antivirus software on your computer.
  • Keep your social media accounts private and be wary of who you become “friends” with. Many people unwittingly advertise their home to hopeful burglars when they post about their vacation on social media.

9. Get friendly with your neighbors.

Getting to know your neighbors makes for a safer neighborhood. They’ll be more invested in your home safety, as you will be in theirs. That’s why Neighborhood Watch programs are associated with lower levels of crime.

Homes with new residents are also better targets for thieves, because they have less established social networks. Avoid being a victim by making new friends close to home.

Make sure to:

  • Get to know your neighbors. Let them know of times you’ll be traveling or when you want them to be on the lookout.
  • Entrust your spare keys with a neighbor, instead of hiding them outside of your home (burglars know where to look for these).
  • Have your neighbors pick up your mail and newspaper when you’re on vacation. Stuffed mailboxes and newspaper piles are two telltale signs to thieves that you’re gone.

10. Think like a burglar.

Finally, take a look at your home from the outside and think like a burglar. Does it seem like an attractive target?

For example, thieves love places to hide. Ladders left outside from a recent roofing project make it easy for them to enter through a second-floor window. They also love dark corners of your home or lots of greenery, too. (This is where smart lights and/or a security system can help ward off intruders.)

Make sure to:

  • Keep dark areas or entry points well-lit, or install motion-activated smart cameras.
  • Upgrade your landscaping to be noisy—seriously. Replace quiet astro-turf with gravel or rocks. Replace smooth shrubs with prickly bushes that make noise and scratch anyone who tries to climb on top of them.
  • Hide your valuables in a safe or in areas away from windows. Close your blinds or curtains, rather than leaving them wide open for thieves to see your big-screen TV and expensive gaming system.
  • Keep the exterior of your home visible. While you’ll want to hide valuables from plain sight, you want your neighbors to be able to see if anyone is creeping around your home. Privacy fencing makes it hard for them to do that.
  • If you don’t install a security system, get your own security window and door decals and yard signs to display.
  • Keep your landscaping looking good. Not only will this avoid any problems with neat freak neighbors, but overgrown landscaping is a tip off to burglars that you’ve been away.
  • Always take out your trash. Burglars know when trash day is, and they’ll keep an eye out for homes who aren’t putting anything out—indicating they might be away on vacation.
  • Use common sense. Keep doors and windows locked. Don’t publicize to the world when you won’t be home or on vacation. Don’t show off your valuables.

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