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Frugal Home Security Tips

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Those who grew up a generation or two ago lament about the good old days when they used to leave their windows open at night and their homes unlocked, even when they weren’t home. Those days are gone, yet even with locked windows and doors, burglars still invade homes.

You may picture a thief breaking a window or kicking in a door, but they are usually more sophisticated than that. My mom’s home was burglarized; the group of men came in a work van and used a ladder at the side of the house to jimmy open the window. A neighbor actually walked by and thought my mom had hired a work crew; instead, all of her possessions of any worth were stolen.

If you want to protect your home but don’t want to spend money on a pricey security system, there are plenty of techniques you can use.

High Tech Home Security Strategies

Install video cameras—If you have cameras around your house, you will likely detract burglars, but if they still do try to break in, they will be caught on camera. Most burglars are never found, but your camera footage could make the difference. However, this option is fairly expensive and labor intensive.

Motion detector lights—Invest in motion detector lights around your home. These lights will turn on when someone pulls in your driveway or approaches windows or doors, and they will send most burglars fleeing.

Programmable light switches—Fool burglars who are casing your home into thinking that you are home when you are not with programmable light switches. These are easy to install, and you can set the lights in your home to turn on and off in different rooms at random.

Low-Tech Home Security Strategies

Close the blinds when you leave the house—If you leave the blinds open all day long, burglars have a great view into your home and your belongings and can quickly determine if your home is worth breaking into (and most homes meet their qualifications of being worth breaking into). Keeping the blinds closed keeps all of your belongings out of sight of would be burglars.

Put hedge or roses by the windows—Most burglars won’t spend time breaking into a home with pokey foliage by all of the windows. They want to get in and out easily, not get caught on rose thorns.

Make sure your house is visible from the street—Look at your house from the street; how much of the house is obscured? The more the better to would-be burglars. One of the reasons my mom’s house was a target was because she had woods on one side and the back of the house and large evergreen trees in the front yard that obscured the view of much of the house from the road.

Get a watch dog—Like dogs? If so, get a large watch dog who can be your companion AND your protector. Most burglars will not enter the home if they hear large dogs barking at them from the house.  It is just easier to move on to the next house.

Limit your Facebook activity—People love to share on Facebook—often too much! Wait to write about your great vacation or upload pictures of your trip until you are home. Otherwise, you may be telling a would-be burglar your home is available for the taking. Hopefully your own Facebook friends wouldn’t target you, but often your posts are available for friends’ friends to see and that is where the danger is.

Install fake video cameras—These can be had fairly cheaply, and the burglar has no way to tell if they are real or fake, which can give you a low-cost, effective deterrent.

Put up a security system sticker—Sure, you may not actually have a security system, but the burglar doesn’t know that. Put up the sticker on your door may be deterrent enough for a burglar. My cousin’s home was burglarized, and my mom, who did invest in a security system after her home was burglarized again, gave my cousin one of her security system stickers to use, and she never had a problem again.

Police know that once a home is burglarized, it is likely to be burglarized again because the thieves know the layout and what valuables are in the home. My mom’s home was burglarized twice within a year, likely for this reason. Take steps to prevent the first burglary, and you will save yourself much headache and grief over stolen personal momentos and other valuables.

What other frugal home security strategies do you recommend?

{ 12 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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12 Responses to “Frugal Home Security Tips”

  1. Matt M says:

    A fence around your house would be great, as long as there aren’t sections missing or holes in it.

  2. There are some fairly inexpensive IP-based video systems available. However, they may be limited in the amount of recording time available and what perimeters of the house can be monitored.

  3. gina says:

    You can get a non-monitoring company keypad, and install a prepaid SIM-card from T-mobile perhaps, with motion and window break sensors that talk to the keypad. Then if anything is tripped they will call you. You can then call the police, which is all a monitoring service would do anyway.

    You pay for the equipment, but not monitoring.

    • Lei Lani says:

      Good idea. You can buy a home security system (door and window sensors, motion detectors, smoke detector, and central station) for under $300 from places like homesecuritystore dot com, install it yourself (some systems have the programming manuals available online) and hook it to your phone line. Program the system to call your cell phone when it gets tripped. One system that I recommend is the Simon 3 from GE (ITT), you can call it and listen in and talk to whoever is in your house. (I mess with my cats when I’m on vacation!!)

      Another idea, have neighbors that you can trust by being a trustworthy neighbor.

  4. Shirley says:

    Our neighbors have been our anti-burglar system. Police were called once when a fellow spent too much time at the closed front door and then at a window. Another time they were called when a neighbor saw a kid climbing out of a bedroom window. (That one turned out to be a guest of our grandson and won’t be back again.)

    Our neighborhood residents are alert and not afraid to get involved. They’re wonderful!

    • Emma Tameside says:

      That’s really good to hear. Where we used to live, our neighbours were really helpful and we looked out for each others’ houses, but since we moved to the city, we’ve found it’s a lot more impersonal here and there isn’t the same mutual security. I can understand it however, as it’s hard to build trust with people when they’re moving in and out every few months.

      I think replacement locks is a must for moving in anywhere, as you just don’t know who had access before and why risk your security and potential safety in a home where you’re meant to feel completely safe?

      Anyway, it’s really nice to hear you’re neighbours are so supportive. I wish we all had this and could sleep easier at night.

  5. Jim M says:

    I’m with Shirley – neighbors who are aware of your work habits and schedule – are your best defense from burglars.

  6. Bob says:

    Leave a TV or radio on that can be heard rite outside the door when you are not home.

  7. dwilcox says:

    I leave my TV on all day in my den, and I have a radio on all the time in most of my rooms near the windows so someone outside might not be sure if someone if in that bedroom or not. I even keep a radio on in my bathroom. If someone was walking around the outside of the house, it sounds line there is a lot of activity inside.

  8. Judy says:

    I agree with Emma Tameside about changing the locks first thing after moving into a new house. We neglected to do that once when we moved. Very soon after moving in while I was showering one day, two strange women and two children came into my home (they had the key) to visit the man that lived there previously. Fortunately after realizing the man no longer lived there, they skedaddled out of there quickly. I learned that lesson the hard way!

  9. Arlelne says:

    I have a half-glass outside door in my laundry room/mud room. The dead-bolt has a key rather than a knob, which I remove overnight. I still worry, so I keep a 1×8 board between the outside wall and my clothes dryer. When I’m alone, I drop it down with half against the door and the rest between the dryer and wall. It’s impossible to open the door, even if the glass was broken.

  10. marybeth says:

    My husband got an inexpensive game camera (about $80) and mounted it on a tree at the top of our driveway. Motion triggers it to take a picture of anyone who comes in the vicinity of the house. Of course it’s only accessible by a ladder. Every couple of weeks we pull the card, put it in the computer and see who’s been coming in the area when we’re not home.

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