Almost half of all break-ins are opportunistic. An open window or garage, an accidentally unlocked door, or a dimly lit window with concealment from prying eyes is all a criminal needs to enter most homes and take what they want. Sadly, most Americans rely solely on that one flimsy door lock and no window locks for all their security needs. In some parts of the country, over twenty percent of people don’t even lock their doors, and we all can remember at least once when we forgot too.
Securing your home is the most important and fundamental thing you can do. It not only keeps your things safe when you are away, but it keeps you safer when you are at home. A well-secured home can be an oasis of calm when disasters or crime is happening right outside. In this blog, we’ll take a rapid look at ten easy and incredibly inexpensive things you can deploy today to secure your home and protect your prepping supplies, valuables, yourself, and the ones you love. If you’re on a budget, you will definitely want to watch to the end, as most of the security solutions we talk about can be implemented for just a few dollars. There are small things you can implement to make a big difference now, so let’s jump in.
Locks On Windows
“Understanding Decisions to Burglarize From the Offender’s Perspective,” was a study conducted by the University of North Carolina. It revealed that “Most burglars reported entering open windows or doors or forcing windows or doors open.” Most studies you turn to or any burglars you speak to will tell you that windows are a fast, typically unprotected and unsecured means to rapidly enter a home.
It’s hard to understand why anyone wouldn’t harden these points of entry against intruders, especially when a typical window lock from the hardware store runs about two-dollars and fifty cents. While window locks can sometimes be violently forced open and windows smashed, doing so would be loud and likely attract attention. When you think about home security, it’s important to think in terms of building layers of deterrence. If you have a lock on your window, a burglar is likely to reason that you may have other security measures in place and will pass your property for an easier target.
Knowing that windows are a frequent entry point, consider thorny plants beneath vulnerable windows if that’s something you’re able to do. Keep shades and blinds drawn when you are away, and consider window sheers to prevent anyone from looking in and assessing if their extra efforts would be worth it.
Door Reinforcement Hardware
Entering through an unlocked door is easy, but a well-placed kick on a typical door is usually all it takes to break-in into most apartments or homes. Just like the window locks, however, this can easily be prevented with door reinforcement hardware. Another inexpensive do it yourself upgrade at under twenty dollars, typical reinforcement hardware can be added directly to the door bolt and/or latch mechanism.
It makes your door hundreds of pounds of force stronger, and it will take a little more than a karate kick to break in through the door. Typical doors, especially on apartments, haven’t been upgraded in years, and this is a subtle addition landlords aren’t likely to bother with or be bothered by.
Another consideration for doors is interior flip locks. These look like simple hinges and only cost a few dollars, but they are an effective way to secure yourself inside your home. Easy to install they are great for interior doors, as well. If an exterior door is breached, you can easily retreat into a bedroom, flip the lock, and buy yourself critical moments to contact the police or prepare to defend yourself.
Door Stops, Door Jams, Barricades
While less common than burglary, forced entry while you are at home is also a threat you should be aware of. In at least twenty-two percent of cases from one study, criminals cased and surveyed the targeted home. Even scoping the location out for a long period, they may not know all the occupants and could attempt entry while someone is at home or when they think nobody is at home. In this scenario, a burglary could result in an assault or worse.
Doorstops, door jams, even door barricade brackets are another inexpensive means to make your door practically impervious to forced entry. While many people don’t lock their door when they come home or don’t check that a door is locked before turning in for the night, to be at your safest, a twenty-dollar door stop, door jam, or barricade brackets can make this known weak spot a strong barrier protecting you.
A final note on doors, make sure you can actually see out of your peephole, consider a wide-angle peephole or a video doorbell. A common tactic of criminals is to ring the doorbell first. If someone answers they may ask for work, to use a phone, or for someone who doesn’t live there. These questions are simply in response to the door being answered. If there is no answer, no noise inside, or no dog barking, they know that the house is a good target for breaking in.
Home Security System
While you can piecemeal a system together to provide greater security, advances in technology have made fully integrated home security systems a very affordable option to rapidly deploy twenty-four seven monitoring solutions that allow you to keep one ear open while sleeping or an eye on your property when you are away.
Simplisafe is the sponsor of this blog. We’ve used them for awhile now and have found them to be an incredibly effective, reliable home security system that will make sure your home is safe. Just out-of-the-box, plug it in and customize it for your home or apartment. It is an expandable system that allows you to build out your own security system. From sensors that distinguish between heat signatures of pets versus humans, to window and door sensors, you can customize a system that will provide you alerts that will never leave you unaware. You cannot watch your home three-hundred-sixty degrees and twenty-four-seven, but you can if you leverage technology. Continual monitoring and alerts can be sent right to your smartphone. And should a natural disaster strike or a criminal flips your breaker box, Simplisafe is configured with redundant systems to continue to operate. If power or WiFi goes out, your system will still be working and can still let you know when there is an activity in your private spaces.
If you’d like to check them out, please visit simplisafe.com/cityprepping
Again, this is a great way to quickly integrate an entire system and provide you a real peace of mind about your security.
Secure Sliding Glass Doors
The typical sliding glass door, the low-end doors which are most commonly installed by contractors, are surprisingly easy to break into. Not only is there a method to simply wedge a prying device under them and lift them up and off their rails, but a burglar can simply jam a flathead screwdriver under the seam near the handle and flip it beside the glass and under the locking mechanism.
If you don’t own the property, it isn’t likely you will be able to change your sliding glass door out for a more secure version. Even without a full change out, however, a dowel cut to fit in the track is the easiest solution to the door being opened. Bolt locks, cylinder locks, and step on locks are all under five dollars at most hardware stores. These place a difficult hurdle in a would-be burglar’s way. The more hurdles you have in place, the less likely your home will be chosen and targeted over softer targets.
Door and Window Alarms
If you are home and have the volume turned up on your favorite show, or you are sleeping soundly, you may not hear an intruder entering your home. Entry sensors on windows and doors are an affordable, quick security system. They can stand alone or be integrated into a larger WiFi or Bluetooth system. Imagine scrolling your phone while watching the game and suddenly you get an alert that a window was opened in your bedroom. Those extra seconds and minutes before an intruder has concealed himself in your house may be critical to your survival.
Lock the Garage Door & Keep the Clicker
Most garage doors have the means to lock them from the inside or holes in the tracks that allow for a padlock to be placed. When you leave on vacation, it is critical that you take this extra step to secure your property. Any additional walk-through door should be upgraded just for day-to-day living in the same way you upgrade your front door. The garage is one of the most appealing spots for a burglar. Typically, a garage has easy grabs like tools and bikes, which can be sold quickly for a few quick dollars.
For even bolder burglars, garages give them a long time to gain entry to the main living area through the other interior door. Nobody can see them or hear them when they are in your garage, and they know nobody is home. We mentioned the ability to lock your overhead garage door first because if you ever come home and your door seems to be stuck–wanting to go up but stalling and shutting again, it could mean that someone has already gained entry to your garage and locked the overhead from the inside. This tactic buys time for the criminal to escape out the back while you contemplate what is wrong with your garage door.
Another common tactic is for criminals to walk the streets to find open car doors. If you also keep one of your clickers for garage doors or gates in a car parked on the street, they can take that and gain entry to your home immediately. Or, more likely, they’ll take the clicker and come back later when nobody is home. Don’t make the rookie mistake of leaving your clicker out for anyone who wants it.
Solar Motion Lights
Motion lights around your house or even on your patio if you live in an apartment complex, are the best visual deterrent you can have. People with bad intentions don’t like to commit their crimes when they can easily be seen. Over the last several years, lights have become brighter, use less electricity, and have dropped in price. You can purchase a non-motion detecting solar light for under ten dollars to shine light near shadowy windows. LED motion-detecting solar lights are just a few dollars more. What I like about these is that they are constantly recharging themselves and are not subject to your home’s power. If the lights go off in the city, you still have light. If the power goes out for an extended period of time, you could bring one inside to have light through the night. In fact, you might just purchase an extra and put it in your prepper supplies for this reason.
Solar motion lights are easy to install, independent of the power grid, and can flood shadowy, vulnerable areas with light, deterring criminals and alerting you. Be aware, though, that many motion sensors are thermally based. If you have one near the AC unit on the outside of your house, for instance, it will likely kick on when the gust of hot air from your AC blower hits it. Position them away from heat sources like dryer vents and AC units and make sure they have a good range and can’t be easily reached by would-be burglars.
Lock Your Electrical Box
One easy home security hack that almost everyone overlooks is locking the electrical box on the outside of the house. Criminals know that they can disable many alarms, motion lights, and more, simply by flipping a switch. They also know they can draw a person out of a locked house by turning off the main breaker. When you go to check on this you provide access to your home and expose yourself.
Even a simple luggage lock provides some level of security, but a high-quality padlock is your best choice. This is another good location for a solar motion light as well. Should anyone approach your electrical box they will be deterred by the bright light. If you need to check on the box, you will have light at night to do so. If the solar light is illuminated and your power is off, you know someone has been around your box. If you go to check on it and no solar motion light goes on, you know that someone has tampered with it.
Finally, if all other systems fail and someone does gain access to your home and property, a home safe is an affordable way to secure your most precious or valuable belongings. A small safe built into your home or bolted to the concrete of your home requires a burglar to spend a lot of time and noisy energy to break it open. Most safes today are also fireproof, so you won’t have to worry about grabbing your precious belongings when those seconds are more important to your survival by getting out of a burning home alive.
A very high quality safe with a fire endurance of over an hour can be purchased for right around one hundred dollars. They are heavy and hard to carry away even if they’re not bolted down. It also would look highly suspicious if some unkempt person was carrying a safe down the road. We are certain police would be checking on that.
So, there are the ten hacks and quick fixes that will add a layer of security on your premises that you will, hopefully, never have to use. Remember, when choosing a target, criminals will gravitate to locations with the least amount of security in place, shadows, and free from prying eyes. If your home or apartment has even a few protection measures in place, you will likely get passed over for perceptively softer targets. From better locks to a fully integrated system, think of your overall home or apartment security like a spare tire for your car. You will not need it most of the time, but when you need it, you absolutely will need it at that very moment.
We would love to hear about your home security measures. What do you do when you are away to make sure your home is safe? What do you do when you are home to make sure you are safe?
As always, stay safe out there.