A burglary takes place every 15 seconds in the United States. That’s a frightening statistic no matter how you look at it — one that makes you want to take extra steps to protect your home and the safety of your loved ones.
But protecting your home against break-ins doesn’t have to break the bank. Some simple, affordable measures can go a long way toward making your home less accessible to intruders.
Here are eight affordable methods:
1. Use smart environmental design
Many of the most effective techniques for protecting your home come from the principle of “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design,” says Jeffrey A. Slotnick, president of Setracon Enterprise Security Risk Management Services in Tacoma, Washington, and board-certified physical security professional and Certified Protection Professional.
Make your home as uninviting as possible for bad guys. Create a wide-open view of the front entryway and walkways around your home. No burglar will want to stand in an exposed entryway fiddling with your door — it’s too easy to get caught.
Slotnick recommends trimming shrubs to a height of only 3 or 4 feet to avoid blocking windows and cutting limbs off trees up to 7 or 8 feet high, so you can clearly see past them to the yard and street.
2. Show would-be intruders how much you care for your home
A property that looks owned and cared for is less appealing to criminals than one that looks neglected, Slotnick explains.
Simple features such as fencing, trimmed landscaping and well-lit pathways tell potential intruders that someone keeps a close eye on the property. Be sure that all lights are in good working condition — no burned-out bulbs — so all exposed areas are bathed in motion-sensing light as soon as someone approaches.
3. Block windows
“Most new homes have windows that are the sash type, where they lift up, or they slide laterally,” Slotnick says. “Just get a 1-by-1-inch piece of wood and have it cut to fit the rise of each window or the distance of a sliding window or door.”
This cheap investment slows thieves down and increases their potential for getting caught. The average burglar spends less than 60 seconds breaking into a home. The more difficult it is to gain access, the more likely he will reconsider breaking in.
4. Stop criminals at the door
A deadbolt is one of the most effective and least expensive protection measures you can use. Invest in a quality lock with a longer throw, which, as Slotnick explains, is the distance the lock travels into the frame.
Cheaper locks may only go in an inch. The longer the throw, the harder it is to pry that door open. Look for a lock that goes 3 or 4 inches into the frame. Your door frame must have the room to support this length, but Slotnick says the door frames in most newer homes will.
Also, be sure your exterior doors are either solid wood or metal, and that they don’t have windows that can be broken.
5. Use affordable gadgets
There’s plenty of great, affordable technology available to help homeowners bulk up their security, including:
- Perimeter alarm: Wireless alarm that chimes when someone crosses onto your property.
- Wireless doorbell camera: When someone’s at the door, your smartphone or tablet allows you to see who it is and communicate with them from your device.
- Timer lights: Program lights to come on and off around your house throughout the day when you’re away, mimicking your daily use, so would-be thieves will more readily believe you’re home.
- Motion sensor lights: An inexpensive way to illuminate your home when movement is detected.
6. Control who has access
Be smart about who has your spare keys, and if you aren’t sure it’s probably time to get new locks installed. Be careful where you hide your spare keys — burglars all know to look under mats or flower pots and inside mailboxes. Install a password-controlled key box instead.
7. Be discreet about your time away from home
Don’t announce on social media that your home will be empty for two weeks. But let your neighbors know — especially the ones you trust and who keep their eyes on the neighborhood. Additionally, have someone pick up your mail while you’re away.
8. Take advantage of free resources
“Most police departments have a crime prevention officer on staff,” Slotnick says. “These people are very willing to come out and do a crime prevention survey of your home or business, at no cost.”
Slotnick also points out that home insurance companies often will provide these consultations as well, and they may even reduce your insurance rates for employing some of their suggestions.
“It’s a lot less expensive to give you education than to pay for your theft,” he says.
Jessica Santina is a Northern Nevada-based freelance writer and editor for MoneyGeek.com whose work has appeared in numerous publications, blogs and websites.