Burglaries have been dropping steadily for 20 years in the United States, according to the FBI, but that’s small consolation to the roughly 2 million victims each year who experience break-ins. To avoid becoming part of this statistic, here are several low-cost or free DIY home security measures you can take to make your home less vulnerable:
1. Install window and door shades that make it difficult to see whether someone is home.
2. Upgrade locks on all doors and windows — and use them.
3. Set timers for interior lights, TVs and radios to create the illusion that someone is home when you’re out.
4. Upgrade your outdoor lighting. Install motion- or infrared-controlled outdoor lighting. Keep a porch light on from dusk to dawn (use an LED bulb in your porch light to save electricity). Look for low-cost wireless outdoor spotlights that are easy to install.
5. Prune or replace large shrubs so intruders cannot hide behind them while prying open a window or door. Low thorny bushes are a deterrent (but not so nice when it’s time to repaint the house).
6. Form or join a neighborhood watch group. These organizations are effective crime deterrents because they encourage residents to be vigilant and to call the police whenever they see something amiss. They also keep members informed about neighborhood crime, work with police to improve response times and facilitate volunteer neighborhood patrols by foot and car.
7. Always keep garage doors closed, even while you’re at home, so thieves don’t see items they may want to steal. Secure valuable items, such as expensive bicycles and grills, to a very heavy object with a chain and padlock. Drill holes in garage door tracks and insert a padlock or bolt to prevent the door from being forced open. Install a hasp and padlock on shed doors.
8. Don’t record an answering-machine greeting that says you are not home. Never leave a note on the door indicating that you are gone.
9. Keep car doors locked and windows closed. Never leave valuables, especially electronics or money, in the car. (If you must, put them out of sight.) Use a locking device on your steering wheel in high-crime areas.
10. During ongoing home-improvement projects, store ladders out of sight — they are an invitation to burglars. And don’t leave tools such as hammers or pry bars out where an intruder can pick them up and put them to use.
— Joe Provey
How do you keep your home secure? Share your tips in the comments area below.
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