Everyone wants to be safe in their home. But let’s face it: Sometimes, home security systems can be a bit expensive. While monthly plans are typically inexpensive (around $15 a month in some cases), the real expense is in the setup and installation. On that end, you might be out several hundred to even thousands of dollars. If you're willing to shell out the cash for a high-end system, hopefully you’ve done your research first. That includes looking at area crime statistics and investigating the alarm company now roping you in with a multi-year contract. There is another way, however. There are a number of home security hacks that can help you save money and significantly lower your risk of becoming a victim.
A Few Facts On Your Risk Factor
Did you know that where you live can make you more likely to become a victim? And we don’t just mean living in the middle of nowhere—this actually makes you less likely to become a victim.1 Burglars tend to prefer certain geographic regions over others. Around 47% of burglaries occur in the Southern states, with the Midwest and West accounting for 21% together, and the Northeast making up just 11% of all burglaries.2 Apparently, burglars prefer warm weather
Meanwhile, despite the obvious risks they take in burglarizing a home, most burglars are actually risk avoiders. The vast majority of them prefer a quick entry and an even speedier getaway, with most spending less than 12 minutes in a house.3 At times, they spend as little as 90 seconds. And most prefer burglarizing a home that appears to be a low-risk, high-reward venture. Yes, this makes burglars the worst kind of opportunists. But thankfully, this commonality about their behavior can be worked to your own advantage, and help save you a lot of money with a few, simple tools. But first, let’s get inside the mind of the average burglar.
How Burglars Pick Their Targets
A 2012 report from researchers at the University of North Carolina - Charlotte revealed some interesting facts about how burglars pick their targets. What they discovered is that:
- Over 41% of burglars tended to commit burglaries that were “spur of the moment”. This means many burglars did “case the joint”, but instead looked at a house and determined in a moment that it was an easy target. Most other burglars conducted a mixture of impromptu and planned burglaries.
- Most are deterred by “indicators of increased security." That includes 60% who turn the other way if they see an alarm is present. Other indicators can be anything from security alarm signs, “beware of dog” signs, presence of outdoor security cameras, and other obvious security measures.
- The majority either open unlocked windows or doors or force these open. Comparatively few (about 12.5%) actually pick locks.
With that in mind, there are several cheap home security hacks that one can employ that work against the typical modus operandi of your common burglar.
1. Put a Door Brace on Every Door?
Have you heard of a door brace? They’re simple, effective and amazingly inexpensive. You can easily find these helpful home security tools for under $30. These devices come in many shapes and sizes, but typically all work the same way. They create a tight seal between the door and the floor, helping to prevent the door from opening at all. Remember the old “chair under the doorknob” trick? That’s essentially a door brace, but much less secure than an official device. Even a door brace the size of your fist can withstand the weight of a fully grown man or woman attempting a forced entry.
Most burglars who attempt forced entries through a door tend to break the door at the lock. A door brace prevents the door from moving out of position, making it so that even if the lock breaks, the door will not move. As you can see from this test video of the NIGHTLOCK device, police are unable to get through the door using far more damaging methods than any burglar would think to use. If a burglar is unable to gain access in a matter of seconds, they will most likely flee the scene.
Keep in mind that burglars will likely try multiple doors. It’s best to invest in a door brace for each exterior door. Also note that you can’t put one of these devices on every door if you’re leaving the house. You will have only partial coverage with these devices when no one is home. Unless, of course, you invest in something like Door Armor.
- Inexpensive to purchase
- Extremely effective at preventing forced entries
- Multiple styles for different types of door settings
- 100% exterior door coverage only possible while at home, unless you buy Door Armor
2. Fake Security Alarm Signs Help Deter Burglars
The riskier a house looks, the less likely a burglar is to choose it as a target. Fake home security signs will give the impression that your home is secured, even when it’s not. As the UNC-Charlotte report indicated, burglars are indeed opportunists. An alarm sign (and yes, even a fake one), will deter a large percentage of would-be burglars. Fake signs are extremely cheap to purchase. Most are less than $10 and you’ll only need to purchase one.
These signs don’t come without their drawbacks, however. Most fake signs are just that: fake. That typically means they don’t use the name of a real and established home security provider, as that would be copyright infringement. While a large number of burglars may not be well-versed in all of the home security providers in an area, an accomplished and experienced one will have done his or her homework. They may see your sign, realize it’s fake, and proceed to attempt to enter your house. Meanwhile, they may simply just use a mobile device to look up the generic name and easily identify that it’s fake.
If you do purchase a fake sign, know that you should not use it as your solitary burglary prevention method. The sign can help add to the overall image of a secure home, but it should not be your sole method.
- Very inexpensive to purchase
- Easy to install
- Can quickly deter many potential burglars
- Will not deter a determined or informed burglar
- Some signs are obviously fake
3. Put Fake Security Cameras Around Your Home
While fake home security signs may not fool some burglars, if you combine these with fake security cameras, you’ll significantly decrease the chances of a burglar wising up to your tricks. The benefit of fake security cameras is that they can appear extremely realistic. Indeed, a burglar will have to get pretty close to the device and potentially touch and feel the fake camera to ensure that it’s actually a fake. Most burglars are not that motivated.
A good, fake security camera will cost you under $30, with some coming in under $10 apiece. This is one cheap home security hack you won’t want to purchase too cheaply, however. Spending just a little extra can help make sure you have a camera that looks just as real as the real thing. Many come with realistic looking wiring as well as active LED lights similar to real home security cameras. You can even purchase fake cameras with motion sensor activation pan and tilt functions, mimicking the movements of the real deal. Of course, there are cameras that are actually just as inexpensive as fake ones. If you want to see your options, check out this review.
Fake cameras are cheap and effective. However, make sure you install them when nobody's looking. The last thing you need is for your would-be burglar to see you setting up your fake cameras.
- Cheap to purchase
- Effective at deterrence when combined with other methods
- Some cameras may appear fake
- Will not deter some determined burglars
- Could be a bit difficult to install and may need tools and a ladder
4. Have a Sliding Glass Door? Grab a Block of Wood
Perhaps the cheapest home security hack we’ve discovered is just a plain old piece of wood. Sliding glass doors are a boon to burglars. Many homeowners forget to lock them, and even still, they can be easy to open and break through. Most have less effective locks than a standard exterior door, making them one of the easiest points of entry for a burglar. Unless you grab a cheap 2 by 4.
A block of wood, placed in-between the closed door and frame and within the sliding track will prevent anyone from opening the door — even if the door is unlocked. While this won’t prevent a burglar from breaking the glass, any burglar willing to break such a large piece of glass will likely do so in a more discreet area, like a secluded window. This simple home hack is perhaps the cheapest one on the list. You can purchase a 2 x 4 piece of wood for under $3. While the block of wood probably won't be the right size, you can either cut it down to the right size yourself or take a few measurements and have someone at the hardware store do it for you.
- Cheapest home security hack around
- Limited use and can be bypassed by breaking the door
- May require some measuring and cutting
5. Use Window Break Alarms and Door Stop Alarms, Just in Case
If you’re highly unlucky, you may have the burglar who sees the fake sign and the fake security cameras and decides to proceed anyway. If you’ve failed to get a door brace, he may be able to get in through a door or a window. But if he hears an alarm, he’s more likely to run away. Most burglars are scared off by alarms and dogs. Dogs are cute and cuddly, but far from cheap, even if you adopt. But window break alarms and door stop alarms are both cheap and highly effective.
Door stop alarms work by setting off an alarm when a door opens. The benefit of this device is that you can use it even if you’re not at home.
1. Place the door stop alarm near the door.
2. When someone opens the door and hits the door stop, it will trip the device’s alarm.
You can easily purchase a door stop alarm for under $15, making it a cheap home security hack. But what if the burglar tries to break through a window or the glass sliding door you’ve sneakily secured with a block of wood? This is where window break alarms come in. A window break alarm sits against your window’s glass. If the window shatters, this trips the alarm on the device. With many coming in at under $15, these alarms are cheap — but only if you place them on a select number of windows. For window glass alarms, you'll want to place them only on first-floor windows that are likely to be accessed by a burglar.
- Inexpensive final measure against burglars
- Excellent security measure for when no one is home
- Will not deter burglars who ignore alarms
- Will require multiple placements, increasing the cost of implementation
Good Home Security Habits
You may be on your way to hacking home security with ease, but there are a few, good habits that you might want to take up to help the process.
Tip #1: Keep blinds closed when you’re not at home. Your fake yard sign and fake cameras might cause most burglars to shy away, but you can prevent many burglars from even turning an eye toward your place by keeping your blinds closed.
Tip #2: Lock your doors and windows when you’re not at home. Burglars may see signs and cameras, yet still, check the doors and windows. If they find an open door or window, they'll waltz right in and out long before anyone actually notices.
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- A Few Facts On Your Risk Factor
- How Burglars Pick Their Targets
- 1. Put a Door Brace on Every Door?
- 2. Fake Security Alarm Signs Help Deter Burglars
- 3. Put Fake Security Cameras Around Your Home
- 4. Have a Sliding Glass Door? Grab a Block of Wood
- 5. Use Window Break Alarms and Door Stop Alarms, Just in Case
- Good Home Security Habits