What are some easy steps to prevent my home from being burglarized? (Updated 2019)

Posted by Louis Wood on

We here at DefendItYourself.com think its important to do everything you can to be proactive about preventing theft.  While it's difficult to protect your home from professional thieves, most home burglaries are done by amateurs. These thieves are more easily thwarted if you employ some of these simple security precautions:

  • Plan to "burglarize" yourself. You'll discover any weaknesses in your security plan that may have previously escaped your notice.
  • Lock up your home, even if you go out only for a short time. Many burglars look for an unlocked door or window to break in.
  • Change all the locks when you move into a new house.
  • Your house should appear occupied at all times. Use timers or z-wave home automation to switch lights, TVs and radios on and off when you're not at home.
  • Monitored alarm systems are deterrents for most burglars and can often get you a discount on your homeowners insurance.
  • If you lose your keys, change the locks immediately.
  • Before turning your house key over to a professional house cleaner for several hours, make sure the person is honest and reputable. Check all references thoroughly.
  • Don't leave notes for service people or family members on the door. These notify burglars you are not home.
  • If you will be out of town for a while have someone come by and pick up your mail and newspapers.
  • Install motion lights along the perimeter of your home. While most burglaries occur mid morning to early afternoon, this could prevent impulsive intruders from breaking in at night.
  • Install IP Security Cameras in conspicuous locations to deter burglars and monitor their actions.
  • Get to know your neighbors! They will be more likely to notice suspicious behavior and report it to you. Burglars are attracted to homes with more conservative and reserved neighbors.
  • Cut back trees and bushes located near windows or doors that might shield a burglar from view.  
  • Burglars will often knock on doors before breaking in to see if anyone is home. Ask for ID/credentials from any sales-person who requests entry to your home. If you're doubtful, check with the person's office before letting him or her in.
  • If someone comes to your door asking to use the phone to call a mechanic or the police, keep the door locked and make the call yourself.
  • Dogs are good deterrents to burglars. Even a small, noisy dog can be effective. Be aware, however, that trained guard dogs do not make good pets. Obedience training and attack training are entirely different, and only the former is appropriate for a house pet.
  • If there are door hinges on the outside of your house, replace one of  the screws in each hinge with a “security hinge pin”.
  • The screws used to install doors are relatively short(1-1.5" or less). To strengthen your door hinges and all other hardware driven in to your door frame, replace these screws with 3"or longer screws that go past the frame and into the studs.
  • You can burglar-proof your glass patio doors by setting a pipe or metal bar in the middle bottom track of the door slide. The pipe should be the same length as the track.
  • It's easy for a burglar to pry through rot. Replace rotted door frames with new, solid wood.
  • Consider purchasing a reinforced strike plate or door jamb reinforcement kits for all exterior doors.
  • It's simple for a thief to break glass panels and then reach in and open a doorknob from the inside. A door with glass panels should be either fortified, replaced, covered with security film, or secured with deadbolts that can only be opened with a key.
  • Protect your windows with one or more good locks, an alarm system, and security film.
  • If you frost or cover your garage windows, burglars won't be able to tell if your car is gone.
  • Keep your garage door closed and locked even when your car is not in the garage.
  • If the garage door lifts on a track, a C-clamp can provide extra security since the door cannot be opened if you tighten the C-clamp on the track next to the roller.
  • Keep your valuables in a heavy safe that is bolted to the floor or wall. Lock boxes are easy to find and light enough for the burglar to take with them.

The majority of burglars (an estimated 70%) enter through a door rather than a broken window. You should first concentrate on securing your external doors. A locked window is unlikely to  be broken, because the burglar runs the risk of getting cut and drawing attention to themselves. Your doors, however, have several points of weakness that intruders will target to kick in the door.

The door frame itself is the greatest point of weakness. Ensure that your door jamb is reinforced to prevent the wood from splitting on impact. Use long 3" screws to install the reinforcement kit. The second greatest point of weakness is the door itself. If the door does not split at the jamb, it will split the wood surrounding the lock. There are reinforcement kits you can buy at your local hardware store for this area as well.

Protecting yourself and your property doesn't have to be complicated and overwhelming. There are many simple and cost-effective ways to reduce the likelihood that your home will be burglarized. Simply keeping your house visible from the street and being friendly with your neighbors could make all the difference when burglars are scouting for their next victim. As unsettling as it is to think of your home as a target for burglars, utilizing these tips and tricks should help you deter any unwanted guests.

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