According to the FBI, there's a home burglary every 15 seconds. To keep your home safe from burglary, you don't need to make your house impenetrable, you just have to make it look unattractive to burglars. Thieves want to get in and out quickly, they don't want to be seen, and they don't want trouble in the form of barking dogs, tricky entrances and noisy alarms.
In most home break-ins, thieves simply walk in an unlocked door. The number one tip for DIY security is simply...locking the doors.
Here are some other tips—ranging from cheap and easy to a bit more involved—to help make your home less appealing to burglars.
Fortify the doors
Change any locks from a previous owner.
On doors, use a dead bolt in addition to a knob lock. For extra security, add a tiny lock that covers the dead bolt's screws so it can't be picked.
A common method of entry is to kick in the strike plate, the panel that holds the lock or latch bolt in place. For more protection, install a heavy duty strike plate using extra-long screws.
Install strong doors in a solid frame. A high-tech lock is useless on a flimsy door.
Put a peephole in the door.
Use landscaping for home security.
Choose plants that don't obstruct a clear view from the street—these give burglars privacy and added time to break in.
Remove climbable trees that allow easy access to second floor windows.
Plant thorny plants under windows like cactus, holly or roses. On fences, try blackberry vines which are thorny and grow quickly. A local nursery can give you good suggestions for your neighborhood.
Don't forget the garage.
Burglars frequently gain entry to a house through the garage via the windows or a flimsy garage door. Use the same care on garage doors as house doors--reinforce door hinges, make sure the frame is secure, and install a solid, strong door with a high-quality dead bolt.
Cover windows with shades or curtains so thieves can't peek in. Lock windows and make sure the frames are strong. Install bars for the highest security.
Put a lock on the garage door and lock it when you're gone. Unplug the garage door opener when on vacation. Don't leave the remote in your car. When you use a garage door remote, always make sure garage door closes and stays closed. Consider buying a timer that will lower the door automatically after a predetermined amount of time if you tend to forget to close it.
Scare burglars away with noise and light.
Install motion sensors on outdoor lights.
Install a home security system with alarms, flashing lights and/or a siren. You can use a security service or install inexpensive door and window alarms yourself. Remember to alarm all doors and windows including those in back or unused rooms.
Keep system in good working order and cover the wiring so thieves can't disable the system. Don't keep your pass code by the unit. Let a neighborhood or two know how you'd like them to respond when the alarm goes off.
Part of the effectiveness of an alarm system is letting thieves know about it. Prominently display a home security sign in the yard and put decals on windows.
Consider installing a camera system that you can monitor during vacations and other times when you're away.
Dogs are great burglar deterrents. Even tiny dogs will deter burglars with loud barking. A “Beware of Dog” sign—whether or not you actually have a dog—can also keep burglars away.
Secure the whole house.
Case the joint. Look at your house from the prospective of a thief to look for weakness. Don't forget alternate ways in like screened-in porches, basement windows and easily accessible balconies.
Reinforce wall air conditioners so they can't be easily pried out.
Use burglar-resistant glass in windows or cover them with an impact-resistant film. Reinforce window screws with solder. Don't put rocks or bricks by windows that thieves could use to shatter glass.
Install locking chains on bikes, ladders and trailers.
Put extra locks on sheds. Change out screws and bolts on exposed hardware with ones that require special equipment to undo such as hex-head caps.
Install a security mail box that requires a key to open. Don't put your name on the box.
Put a locking nut on each car tire to make them harder to steal.
Install a safe for valuables. Make sure it's not portable and secure it to a floor or wall.
Put a long dowel or bar into the track of a sliding door to keep the door from sliding open easily. You can also install a foot lock that clicks a strong bolt into the track or a lock fits onto the top of the door.
Don't hide a house key in your yard, especially not under the door mat, a fake rock, or flower pot. Instead leave a key with a trusted neighbor.
And don't forget to lock that door!