How secure is your castle?
The FBI says Americans lost $4.5 billion to burglaries last year, and residential properties made up 74 percent of the total reported.
The good news: It takes a lot less than you may think to install sophisticated security equipment yourself, and you’ll save plenty over the cost of a professional alarm company.
Even better, there are tons of easy, no-tech ways to improve your home’s security for free or next to nothing. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson tells you how in the video below. Check it out, then read on for more ideas.
Most burglars work the daytime shift, just like most of us do. They decide whether to hit your home based on appearances: Is it easy to crack or not worth the trouble? The most effective improvements are the ones that persuade a burglar to move on to the next guy’s home.
9 easy and free ideas
- Enlist local police. Local police departments typically will send a trained officer to your home to do a walk through with you, pointing out your vulnerabilities and suggesting simple fixes. Check your police department’s website for crime statistics and tips. For example, here is the Los Angeles Police Department’s detailed list of home-security tips for residents. Remember to alert police when you’ll be out of town.
- Chat up the neighbors. Join the local Neighborhood Watch program or start one. Chatting with neighbors updates you on local crime problems and enlists allies who’ll watch your home while you’re away. Neighbors are terrific watchdogs. My retired neighbor up the hill who likes peering out his window through a giant telescope spotted and chased a pre-dawn intruder from my garden once.
- Use your locks. Even if your neighborhood feels safe, make locking up a habit. Burglars often test a home by knocking on a door and, if no one answers, opening it. Keep every exterior door and window locked, including the door between the garage and house.
- Fake it. Getting a dog is a great security move. But if you can’t, pretend to have one. Buy a couple of “Beware of Dog” signs at a hardware store and put them up. When a stranger is at the door, make a show of putting the “dog” in the other room before you open the door.
- Install dummy security cameras (about $5).
- Paste a local security company’s sticker on your front window.
- Keep the place looking lived in. Rotate lights on timers when you’re gone. Sign up for USPS’ Hold Mail service, reschedule expected deliveries and get friends to drop by randomly to water plants or just walk around.
- Trim shrubs. Bushy trees and shrubs provide cover for bad deeds. Keep the foliage well-trimmed.
- Use your head. Don’t open the door, and don’t let kids open the door, to uninvited strangers. Stay home when workers are in or around your home. Don’t put keys in obvious places like fake rocks and under pots and doormats. Train children (especially teens) to keep key locations, alarm codes and other family security information private from their friends.