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How To Secure Your Home: Protect Yourself From Break Ins

Carla Ayers8-Minute Read
UPDATED: July 25, 2022


Our homes are where we keep our most precious and valuable possessions and criminals know that. Protecting your home from unwanted intruders doesn’t have to be a full-time job, nor does it have to break the bank. We’ve compiled a list of ideas to help better protect you and your family from unwanted intruders.

Protecting The Inside Of Your House

We’ll start with some interior safety suggestions. The following tips and tricks can keep you safe inside and potential intruders outside.

Lock Doors And Windows

Locking your doors and windows is a free and easy way of deterring an intruder. When you think of a burglary, you might imagine a window being broken or a door smashed in. The reality is, many intruders enter through an unlocked window or door. Begin making it a habit to check your windows and doors when you wake up and before you go to bed. It will give you peace of mind and over time, you’ll easily be able to spot anything out of place quickly.

An unlocked window can easily be seen from the outside, making your home an easy target for an opportunistic thief. It’s not a bad idea to upgrade aging hardware. Replace or repair locks that are hard to close or are too loose. Consider installing additional pin locks or hinged wedge locks on your windows to add another layer of protection. Adding bars or decorative gates to your windows can act as a visual and physical deterrent. If you’re looking for something a little more discreet, install sensors that set off an alarm when a window is opened or tampered with.

Like windows, door hardware can make a difference in your home’s security. General wear and tear can break down door handles and hinges over time. Installing new ones periodically ensures anyone that's had a key in the past or knows a trick to opening the home’s windows and doors will no longer have access. Door frames can take a beating and tend to wear over time too, so take time to inspect the door frame for signs of cracking and gaps. A quick and simple trick to fortifying an entryway is reinforcing the strike plate. Remove the factory provided shorter screws that attached the strike plate to the frame. Reattach the strike plate using 3-inch screws. The longer screws make it far more difficult to kick or ram the door open.

Install Smart Locks

Smart locks are a great feature to have in a home and they’ve become more affordable. Smart locks range in price from $150 to $300 per door depending on the number of features the system has. Smart locks let homeowners lock or unlock their doors from virtually anywhere, eliminating the need to hide a key for emergencies. Some smart systems can also send text alerts of any status changes that your locks experience.  

Add A Home Security System

You can find DIY self-install home security systems in retail stores. But for those of us who aren’t so handy, professionally installed home security systems are hassle free and have a lot of perks that self-installed systems do not. These systems have become more affordable as well. Professionally installed home security systems have features like 24/7 home monitoring, fire and flood monitoring, and smart home automation integration. You’ll likely need to purchase equipment up front depending on the size and needs of your home but expect to spend between $199 to $399. Most companies will charge an installation and activation as well that can be as much as $199. Once your system is installed, the monthly service can range from $25 to $50.

Secure Your Garage And Car

When leaving through your garage, always lock the door leading to the interior of your home. If your garage door isn’t locked, it could be possible for someone to lift the door just enough to slide into the garage. Shutting and securing your garage door when it is not in use is a good habit to develop. Many garage doors have an automatic opener and an additional lock for added security while away. If you park a vehicle in your driveway, be sure that the garage opener remote is hidden from plain sight. Consider keeping your remote in a bag or briefcase that goes inside with you when you come home.

Keep Valuables In A Safe

Having expensive items on display can put a target on your home. If you have valuables that are really important to you, store them in a safe or lockbox. Buy a safe or lockbox that can be attached to the floor or mounted to the wall, so if an intruder does make it inside, it won’t be so easy to just carry it away. Keep the keys or code to the safe in a separate location only to be shared with trusted individuals. 

Don’t Forget About Wi-Fi 

When thinking about home security, be sure to consider your home’s virtual threats. Smart home technology has made great strides in helping secure our homes but we must consider the threat they pose to your home’s network. Hackers can virtually break into your home’s network by hacking into your smart devices to spy on you, deactivate your security system, or gain access to your personal information.

When you’re setting up your home’s network, name your network something that doesn’t give anyone clues as to which home it might belong to. Be sure to use strong passwords including numbers and symbols. It’s also a great idea to avoid using the same password for all devices.

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Protecting Your Home From The Outside

Below are some great ways to improve your home’s security from the outside.

Upgrade Your Outdoor Lighting

Exterior lighting can be a huge deterrent to thieves and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Simply purchasing new light bulbs can brighten up the exterior and make intruders think twice about being in the spot. Be sure to use the brightest bulbs your fixture is able to handle. Consider installing motion activated lighting around your home for an added element of surprise for potential intruders and unwanted wildlife.

Another way to improve lighting around your home is ensuring the streetlights are properly lit. Many communities have a way to report things like burned out or broken streetlights. You can even suggest additional lighting in areas that are lacking and it won’t cost you a dime. 

Install A Smart Doorbell

Smart doorbells are a great way to monitor who’s coming and going around your home. A video enabled doorbell can send you notifications when someone is at your door or when a package has been delivered. Most systems allow you to interact with the person at your door and monitor any activity within range of its lens, potentially catching package thieves in the act. Some smart doorbells provide area activity updates. Users can report door to door salespeople, odd traffic patterns, and other potential threats to the immediate area providing another layer of added security for your home.

Use A Security Camera

Like smart doorbells, security cameras have become widely available and more affordable. There are quite a few options for those interested in video surveillance. Many systems can integrate with existing home automation and smart devices. So when you’re looking for the right product for your home, think about the systems you already have in place and see if there are areas you can integrate into your existing home security plan.

Security cameras are a great visual deterrent because no one wants to be caught red handed. A burglar might think twice about jumping your fence if they can see that you have surveillance cameras recording your yard. If an intruder does trespass on your property then your cameras come in handy by capturing the assailant. It's much easier to recover stolen items if you’re able to provide the police and other authorities with video proof of the intruder.  

Keep Landscaping In Check 

Neat and tidy landscaping not only helps improve your curb appeal; it can be an added level of security. Don’t make it easy for potential intruders to hide near your home by keeping bushes and shrubs trimmed and well maintained.

For windows and doors located at ground level or near ground level, consider planting thorny foliage or placing rocks or gravel below the window. The added noise and thorny environment won’t make it easy for intruders to hide in or move around. The less opportunity a burglar has to take cover the better, consider adding additional solar lights to illuminate your landscaping and anyone getting close to your windows and doors.

What Can You Do To Secure Your Home Without Spending Money?

Some safety measures can’t be purchased in a store. Below are some ways to secure your home without spending a dime.

Get To Know Your Neighbors

Whether your neighbors are near or far, it’s a good idea to introduce yourself. Many neighborhoods have social media groups that allow you to virtually meet a lot of your neighbors at once. If your home has a homeowners association explore how you can get involved. Many homeowners associations work with local municipalities to develop better neighborhood watch programs. Local law enforcement is often glad to help citizens become better prepared in the face of danger. They can provide training and additional insight into what you and your neighbors should be preparing for. Getting to know your neighborhood and some of the safety concerns can go a long way in keeping your home secure.

Use Curtains And Blinds

We all love to let light and fresh air in when the weather is right but it’s a good idea in general to cover windows with blinds or curtains. Window coverings make it difficult to see what you have in your home. This includes your garage, sheds, and any outbuildings.

Items in your garage or shed can be seen as an easy target because they aren’t connected to your home. Lawn mowers, bikes, tools, and other stored items can easily be carried away. Eliminate the temptation and cover your windows and any openings in your doors.

Be Careful Who You Tell About Your Next Vacation

We know the anticipation of vacation may leave you wanting to shout it from the rooftops or at least counting down the days on social media. But for security’s sake try to wait until you return from vacation before talking about it on social media.

You don’t want to tell the world you’re going on vacation but you should tell a trusted friend so they can check on things while you’re gone.

Inspect Your Home’s Entry Points

It’s easy to become complacent and forget to lock a window or door. Talk to those that live in your home and make it a priority to check the windows and doors often and never leave the home without ensuring it’s securely locked.

If you have a security system, spend time getting to know its features and how to use them well. Get comfortable with arming and disarming the system, learn how and who it communicates with in the case of an emergency, so you’re well prepared should an intruder make it inside your home.

Protect Your Home And Your Life

Your home should be where you feel safe. If there are areas of your security system that aren’t up to your standards, you now have some tips and tricks that could help you secure your home cost effectively.

There is no way to ensure that you will never fall victim to a home invasion. But taking advantage of some of these simple steps before disaster strikes can lower your risk of an intruder drastically. Thinking of going all out on your home security? A personal loan from Rocket LoansSM may help you fund your safe space.

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Carla Ayers

Carla is Section Editor for Rocket Homes and is a Realtor® with a background in commercial and residential property management, leasing and arts management. She has a Bachelors in Arts Marketing and Masters in Integrated Marketing & Communications from Eastern Michigan University.