17 Thrifty Ways to Burglar-Proof Your Home

Taking care of your home without breaking the bank.


September 16, 2020

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You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to burglar-proof your home. Here are some of the thriftiest (yet effective!) DIY home security ideas to keep unwanted guests out of your home.

Secure windows with simple window locks

Although latches on most double hung windows are no match for a burglar with a pry bar, pin locks are a simple and quick way to ensure your home stays thoroughly protected. To install, all you must do is drill a hole. If you want to lock the window in a partially opened position, drill a second hole. Pin locks work well on sliding patio doors as well, and you can find them at home centers and online.

Protect your exterior perimeter with motion lights

Put motion detector lighting anywhere and everywhere. These lights are a proven crime deterrent, and standard hard-wired models cost as little as $15. Additionally, if you don’t want a constant drain on your power supply, opt for solar-powered motion detector lights instead.

Secure sheds with screws

Your locked shed seems secure, but a cagey thief can bypass the lock by using a screwdriver to remove hinges and other hardware with exposed screw heads. Foil would-be thieves by using Allen head, Torx head, or hex-head cap screws instead of standard Phillips head screws. You can also order tamper-proof security screws that require special removal tools that an opportunistic thief is unlikely to have. You’ll also need to buy a special bit or tool, but that could be worth it for some added security. Type “security screws” or “tamperproof screws” into your search engine for creative ways to baffle would-be thieves.

Two ways to secure shed door hinges

Shed doors usually swing out, so the hinge pins are accessible from outside; all a thief has to do is pop out the pins and remove the door. To prevent this, buy a security hinge with tamper-proof pins and a locking tab at a home center. Or you can retrofit an existing hinge by removing the center screws on both sides, inserting a finish screw through one side, and allowing it to protrude about 1/4 in. Drill out the receiving hole slightly so that when the door is closed, the finish screw head engages the other hinge. That way, even if the hinge pin is removed, the door can’t be taken off.

Install door reinforcement hardware

You can spend hundreds on a fancy “pick-proof” deadbolt for your burglar proof front door. However, most don’t know how to pick a lock. They can gain entry with a well-placed kick or body slam that splits the doorjamb (and often the door as well), and walk right in. You can install door reinforcement hardware as a thrifty way to burglar-proof your home and stop them in their tracks by beefing up your door and jamb. The components of this method take about an hour to install.

First, measure the entry door thickness and the spacing between the entry knob and the deadbolt cylinder. Then buy either a single or a double wrap-around door reinforcement plate kit and four 1-1/2in. long stainless-steel wood screws. After that, get a doorjamb reinforcement kit.

Remove the entry knob and deadbolt cylinder. Then remove the deadbolt and latch and toss the short screws. Finally, install the wrap-around door reinforcement plate and reinstall the latch and deadbolt plates using the longer stainless-steel screws. 

Defeat bolt cutters

Locks that have thick shackle’s and minimal exposure are more secure from bolt cutters. Additionally, the kind of locking mechanism makes a significant difference in how easily a lock can be picked.

Pick-proof your dead bolt

Even amateur thieves can pick a lock. To hold the deadbolt firmly in place so the door can’t open, install a deadbolt protection device. Slide the “lock” over the deadbolt handle it to keep it from turning.

Reinforce your entry door strike plate

Reinforcing your door’s weak spot, the jamb, with a heavy-duty strike plate and extra-long screws give it the added strength needed to withstand a burglar trying to kick in your door. If your deadbolt was installed within the last 10 years, it’s probably already reinforced. To check, simply remove the strike plate. If it’s heavy steel with at least 3-in. screws or has a heavy reinforcing plate, you can rest easy. If not, buy strike plate-reinforcing hardware. To install, remove the old strike plate, then hold the new one in place and deeply score around it. Chisel out space for the new plate, then mount it by driving three-inch screws through predrilled holes.

Secure patio doors

Patio door locks are typically easy to pick. While placing a heavy-duty stick in the door track will bar the door closed, there are other options available to prevent unwanted entry, such as a foot lock. This lock fastens along the bottom of the door and has a bolt that fits into a grommet that holds the door secure. Similar locks on the market attach at the top of the door but both allow the door to open three inches without compromising security. To install, screw the bracket containing the pin to the door, then drill holes and insert grommets in the track for the pin to slide into. The entire installation process should take roughly 10 minutes.

Add a security anchor

What do you do when you don’t have a place to lock your bike, canoe, or construction materials while you’re away? One solution is to purchase a security anchor. These security devices, once installed, provide a safe, permanent anchoring spot for your stuff.

This clever, tamper-resistant system involves drilling three holes and installing bolts to anchor the heavy-duty security hook to cement. A dome covers the hook and bolts, and the anchor can also be installed in truck beds or secured to other surfaces using your fasteners.

Install a small safe

Small safes are a compact and thorough way to protect our valuables. However, be sure to fasten it to the floor or wall so an intruder doesn’t walk off with it. Both wall and floor safes allow you to bolt them to the floor (most safes have holes inside for just that purpose). Hide it in the corner of a closet or other inconspicuous area. Or mount the wall safe and cover it with a picture. You can also chip out a hole in your concrete slab and stick in the floor safe, then pour new concrete around it.

Keep spare keys in a lock box

Hiding a house key can be risky, as many people – including burglars – know to look for them. Plus, insurance companies may refuse to cover your losses if there’s no sign of forced entry. The solution is a combination lock box. Screw it to a fence post or your house in an inconspicuous spot. But don’t use the short, weaker screws provided by the manufacturer. A crook could pry off the box, take it home, and saw it open. Instead, use four No. 10 x 2-in. screws, preferably stainless steel.

Know who’s there

You never want to open a door unless you know who’s on the other side. A peephole allows you to see who’s there, but entry doors don’t come with peepholes, and those that do have holes so small that they don’t clearly show you who’s out there. Strangers can hide slightly out of view or appear so distorted that they’re hard to identify. Avoid uncertainty by installing a wide-angle door viewer. Install it just like a standard peephole — drill a hole from each side and screw it in. In addition to a peephole, you can contact Brinks Home™ for information about outdoor cameras, giving you access to who is at your front door via images sent straight to your smartphone.

Protect your mail

Mail theft is a growing problem since unsecured mailboxes are easy targets. One sure way to keep thieves from stealing your mail — checks, credit card offers, personal information — is to use a security mailbox. Once the mail is dropped in, you need a key to open the box. Just screw it to the wall or post as you would a standard mailbox.

Don’t keep the clicker in your car

A thief who breaks into your car can grab the garage remote for easy access to your home. This isn’t just a problem when your car is parked in the driveway; the registration card in your glove box gives a potential burglar your address. To protect your information, get rid of the remote on your visor and buy a keychain remote. You can easily take it with you every time you leave the car. Home centers stock only a small selection of remotes, but you’ll find more online. Start your search by typing in the brand of your opener, followed by “remote.”

Lock the overhead door

Some people “lock” the overhead garage door when they go on vacation by unplugging the opener. That’s a good idea, but physically locking the door is even better. An unplugged opener won’t prevent “fishing,” and — if you have an attached garage — it won’t stop a burglar who has entered through the house from opening the garage door from inside. Deter burglars by locking the door itself. If your door doesn’t have a lockable latch, drill a hole in the track just above one of the rollers and slip in a padlock.

Be smart about social media

Social media is a fantastic tool, one that works great for staying in touch with friends and for sharing travel experiences and photos. But practice posting your photos after you have returned home from your trip.

Remember that social media is built to be public, which means that it’s a bit like talking to a crowd with a megaphone. Don’t share travel plans unless you’re comfortable with your entire social media community knowing about them. Social media accounts often default to a public setting, meaning criminals can simply search for keywords like trip, travel, vacation, out of town and find descriptions of the dates and times that people will be leaving their homes. To avoid this, simply wait until after your trip to share information about your trip. If you do feel the need to let people know you’ll be out of town ahead of time, take a few moments to ensure that your post is marked as private through that social media platform. By limiting its audience and its searchability, you can make sharing your schedule much more secure.

These are just some of the countless ways to secure your home and peace of mind. However, if you’re ready to invest in 24/7/365, professionally monitored home security and protect what really matters, contact Brinks Home™ for a quote today.

Lauren Slade is a Dallas-based writer and editor.

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