How To Protect Your Home From Burglars With 50 Simple Tips

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

Home Safety is one of my priorities, and as a parent, I'm sure one of yours too. Through my 26 years of law enforcement, I have compiled a list of 50 tips to keep a home secure, safe and a hard target for burglars. Many of these tips can be implemented immediately.

01 Phone apps such as Citizen and Pulse Point can tell you of crimes and emergencies in your neighborhood.

02 Remember the 3 deterrents for home safety; obstacles, lights and loud noises.

03 Solid core doors are best for exterior doors and not easily kicked in by a crook.

04 Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed. Even if it is for a short time, be sure that everything is locked up tight.

05 Leave lights on when you go out. If you are going to be away for a length of time, connect some indoor lights to automatic timers to turn them on in the evening and off during the day. Consider home automation. Now, you can put lights, locks and cameras on timers. However, use battery backup in case your power goes out.

06 Cameras are helping solve many crimes. Consider installing cameras inside and out.

07 When going on vacation, make your home look occupied, and difficult to break into. Do not announce your vacation on social media! If you really want to post online, do it after you return home from your trip If you’re going on a trip, pack the car while it is in the garage where opportunists can’t see you packing. If your family goes on vacation, consider lowering the ring on the phone so outsiders cannot hear the unanswered phone. If you are going away for an extended time, arrange for your lawn to be mowed to keep up the appearance that you are still at home.

08 Crooks always look in dresser drawers. If you want to hide something, hide it in a child’s room. Crooks usually avoid a child’s room because they assume there is not value there.

09 Bad guys don’t look like bad guys. Be aware of this tactic! They may try to look official by carrying a clipboard, dress as a gardener while carrying a rake, or pose as a delivery person in a disguise. I have seen rapists use crutches, or fake casts to get sympathy from unsuspecting victims. Crooks may try to gain your trust, so if someone comes to your door and seems ‘too’ nice, beware.

10 Have an escape plan for various situations in your home. If you are in a hard-to-reach area, how would you escape the fastest?

11 Pushbutton locks on doorknobs are easy for burglars to open. Install deadbolt locks (2” best) on all your exterior doors.

12 Sliding glass doors are vulnerable to breaking, but special locks are available for better security.

13 No lock (even one of good quality) can be 100% effective. Key-in dead bolt locks provide minimum security.

14 If your keys are lost or stolen, although a hassle, get your locks changed.

15 When moving into a new home, change every lock with a key, and upgrade flimsy ones.

16 To pin a window for security, have a parent drill a 3/16" hole on a slight downward slant through the inside window frame and halfway into the outside frame - place a nail in the hole to secure the window.

17 Have adequate exterior lighting. A motion-sensitive light and/or dusk to dawn lights is recommended for front, side and backyards.

18 Trim trees and shrubs so that they cannot be used as hiding places for intruders and so no one can gain access to your house from a tree. Prickly plants are good deterrents in front of windows.

19 Make sure your door hinges are on the inside and not the outside where they can be removed.

20 An alarm system is excellent for home security. It provides peace of mind to homeowners.

21 Double check your camera/alarm system’s effectiveness and change the security code(s) often. Some even have apps that can connect to your cell phone.

22 Always lock your garden sheds and garages. Lawn mowers, barbecues and bicycles are best stored out of sight.

23 Never leave notes on your door to let others know you’re away, such as “Gone Shopping” or “Be Right Back.”

24 Program television and devices that simulate the flickering of a television screen when you are away.

25 Never leave keys under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes or other “secret” hiding places where burglars would expect to look for hidden keys.

34 Before you go to bed, check all entry doors and windows are locked.

35 Walk around your house at nighttime and think like a bad guy. Is there a weakness you need to fix?

36 Have an escape plan from each room in your home for various scenarios. Apply the run, hide, fight to your home, as well as school and business.

26 Keep a detailed (photo/video) inventory of valuable possessions, including a description of the items, date of purchase and original value, and serial numbers, and keep a copy in a safe place away from home - this is a good precaution in case of fires or other disasters.

27 Trim your shrubbery around your home to reduce hiding places for burglars.

28 After any contractors/repair personnel have been inside your home, check if any windows or doors have been unlocked (allowing someone to come back and enter the house later).

29 Get to know others in your neighborhood. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call 911 so they can identify the suspicious people. If you see something weird or out-of-place, say something.

30 Form a Neighborhood Watch Group. The local police can help you work with your neighbors to improve security and reduce risk of burglary.

31 Mark your valuables with an identifying mark. Marked items are harder for a burglar to resell, and easier for police to recover. Most people know to document serial numbers or engrave their valuables, but most people do not do it.

32 Have a least two locks on entry doors.

33 When you leave your house, and return, look around. Is anyone watching? If there is, take note of features and license plates. Then report to the local police.

37 Have you ever been so scared, you can’t talk? I have! If you find yourself in this situation, like someone breaking into your home, you can dial 911. If you are dialing from a landline, it goes straight to your local police department, and they will send units to your house. If you are dialing from a cell phone, it may not go direct to your local agency. Make sure you know this BEFORE you need it.

38 Don’t leave notes on your doors, like ‘Gone out for a minute.’

39 Don’t let the newspapers and mail pile up outside. That screams out ‘No one’s home!’

Crooks really do look for a home with newspaper piled up in the driveway, so all daily deliveries (mail, newspapers should be placed on “vacation hold,” or arrange for a housesitter or trusted neighbor to pick them up regularly.

40 Signs such as ‘Beware of Dog’ or an alarm or security sign outside your window or door can act as a deterrent.

41 Don’t pile items next to your home. This can act as a ladder for a burglar to gain access to a second level.

42 Consider installing a peep hole on the front door to see who is on the other side.

43 Do not display your name on mailboxes.

44 If you come home, and your door is slightly ajar, do not go inside, call 911.

45 Take your trash cans out to your curb the day the trash service comes. Crooks often “dumpster dive” and take personal information from your trash cans or any other information they see as a way to get “one up” on you.

46 Be aware when you open your garage door that someone may be awaiting to gain access to you and force you back into your home. Use coverings on garage windows so thieves can’t look inside.

47 Keep your garage door closed and locked. Keep the interior home door that attaches to your garage locked.

48 Never, ever open the door unless you know who is on the other side, and what they want. If they claim to be a city worker, utility worker or any other “official” worker. Call to confirm. Do NOT use the phone number they provide you.

49 If you do not have a “safe room,” and you hear someone breaking into your home, immediately dial 911, and find a safe place to hide. If you have a car parked in an attached garage, this could be a good hiding place. Locking yourself in, and activate the garage door opener, and lay on the car horn or alarm to attract attention.

50 Consider adding a security film over windows.

Try this: Put your car keys beside your bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, press the panic button (on your key) to activate the car alarm. Remember, your car alarm is a security alarm system. It will go off from most everywhere inside your house by pressing the key-fob panic button. Test it. It should work if you park in your driveway or garage. If your car alarm goes off when someone is trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar won’t stick around. After a few seconds, all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to see what’s up. A quick easy alarm if needed!

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