You don’t have to make extreme changes to make your home safer. While home security systems are effective, they can be expensive and tough to install. Instead, there are easy improvements you can make to make your home less enticing to criminals. My husband is a police officer and has seen firsthand how a few simple changes can improve safety at your house. Here are some of his tips.
Start with the Perimeter
This first tip is a little less crime-prevention and a little more crime-solvers. One of my husband’s favorite tips is to install a wildlife camera on your property to show anyone coming and going. If you do have any unusual activity, the camera will show it. Most home invasions happen by someone who has “cased the joint” before. A game camera can show you if anyone unusual is hanging around so you can call for police surveillance. Or, if heaven forbid something happen, it can help solve the crime. A simple camera that takes pictures when it senses motion will work. Just be sure to position it where it can capture license plates or faces. And don’t forget to check the batteries occasionally and regularly check the memory card!
Secure Your Exterior
The next step is to make small changes to the outside of your home. Start with a locking garage door. Most larger hardware stores sell locking systems you can attach to your current garage door. This will stop anyone who tries to manually lift your door or anyone who takes advantage of a power outage where the electrical system stops working.
Another simple fix is to add some exterior lighting. You can get fancy and have some hard-wired in, or go simple with some solar lights. Either way, light is a crime deterrent. Most crimes happen in dark areas. Light up your parking area, your sidewalk, doorways and windows. You don’t have to make it look like an airport runway – a simple solar spotlight shining on the outside of your home will help. Some friends of ours added exterior lighting with solar lights they got at the hardware store, and it made a noticeable difference.
Plant sticky, prickly shrubs under windows. This is a home improvement we hope to make soon. Believe it or not, having an uninviting plant under a window could stop someone from trying to break in that window. No one wants to get pricked by thorns or stuck in a shrub. Talk to your local garden center to find out what types of plants would work best in your area. We’ve been looking at barberry bushes, but something else might work better in your gardening zone.
Lastly, make sure your home is clearly marked with your address in case emergency personnel has to find it. Put the number and street name on a sign at the road (your mailbox works, too), and also make sure your front door has your home number clearly displayed. If you want something more decorative than the simple stickers available at the hardware store, a fancy vinyl sticker from Etsy will do the trick!
Make it Harder to Get Inside
Locks with deadbolts are harder to break. My husband suggests replacing any simple locks with deadbolts. Also, replace the short screws that came with your door lock with longer screws. Longer screws reinforce the lock and make it harder to kick in the door.
And his number one tip? Get locks that have keypads so you can get rid of your hide-a-key. You’d be surprised how many criminals let themselves in using a key hidden under a rug or a flowerpot. Instead of leaving a spare key, use a keypad lock so you can just give someone the code (which you can later reset). We easily upgraded to a keypad lock and love it!
Any other ideas to improve home safety?
If you have any other tips to improve home safety, share them in the comments! To see your home through the eyes of a criminal, call your local police non-emergency number and ask for an officer to come out and talk to you. They would be able to identify any areas where you could improve the safety of your home.