18 Affordable Anti-Theft Tips to Keep Burglars Out of Your Home

by Joanne Guidoccio
Affordable Anti-Theft Tips to Prevent Burglars photo

Home security doesn’t have to be costly. Stay safe and sound on a budget with these low-cost anti-theft tips for keeping burglars at bay.

According to the FBI “in 2018, there were an estimated 1,230,149 burglaries.” Even though burglary rates have been on a decline for the past few decades, there is still a definite need for improved home security measures. In the minds of many Americans, this often translates into a 24-7 monitored home security system with a hefty price tag that is out of reach for homeowners on tight budgets.

Fortunately, there are several low-cost and no-cost measures that can deter thieves. These 18 affordable anti-theft tips can help make your home less attractive to burglars.

Exterior Home Anti-Theft Tips

1. Don’t keep burglars in the dark.

Illuminate the dark, shadowy areas on your property with easy-to-install motion-sensor lights. Prices for reasonably priced lights (basic two-bulb floodlight to stylish porch light fixture) range from $15 to $70. Alternatively, you can substitute existing lighting with a motion-detecting unit at the front, side, and back entrances.

2. Don’t give burglars a place to hide.

Improve overall visibility by regularly trimming and pruning the bushes and hedges near all points-of-entry. And trim back any trees that could provide easy access to second-floor windows.

3. Fake burglars out.

To cut back on costs, some homeowners install fake cameras. If you are considering this tactic, ensure that your camera looks legitimate. Savvy burglars will not be fooled by toy cameras.

4. Don’t give burglars an easy way up.

Don’t store ladders outside. A burglar, posing as a handyman, could use the ladder to gain access to a balcony or second-floor window.

5. Make burglars beware.

Post a “Beware of Dog” sign on a gate or in front of the house. You can also purchase stickers with home security logos and post them on the doors and windows of your home. Double check the brand name on Google to verify the company’s authenticity.

6. Keep burglars locked out.

Inspect all front, side, and back doors. Replace weak locks, ensuring that you have a Grade 1 or Grade 2 dead-bolt lock that penetrates the door frame. You can purchase these locks at any big-box home store for $40 to $70.

7. Don’t give burglars an opening.

Remember to always close the garage door. Garages are not common points of entry as long as they are closed.

8. Never leave burglars a key.

Remove the hidden key that you like to keep under the door mat, inside the mailbox, or beneath a decorative lawn piece. Instead, entrust your key to a reliable neighbor.

9. Tell burglars to smile for the camera.

Consider installing a DIY home security system. Most include cameras that can send video to your phone when someone triggers the camera.

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Interior Home Anti-Theft Tips

10. Have good timing.

Create a “we are at home” look by using timers on lights and televisions. Consider investing in a programmable timer that comes on at different times. Burglars who may be staking your home will be thrown off by the randomness.

11. Keep out of sight.

Keep house and car keys in cabinets or drawers. Do not leave them lying around or on wall racks near the entrance.

12. Make sure your home is ‘air’ tight.

Secure all window air conditioners by using a bracket, sliding window lock, or corner braces.

13. Consider doubling-up.

Consider investing in double-glazed windows that are more difficult to smash. While these are not the cheapest options, they will provide many added benefits, among them noise blocking and increased heat and insulation.

14. Call the police.

Take advantage of any complimentary home inspections offered by the municipal police department. An officer will walk through your home and identify security weaknesses and recommend simple, low-cost changes that can discourage burglars from targeting your home.

Common Sense Anti-Theft Routines

15. Don’t show burglars what you have.

Avoid broadcasting your latest electronic purchase by breaking down all the packaging before taking it to the curb.

16. Don’t tell burglars when you’re away.

Cancel newspapers and arrange for a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail and any flyers while you’re on vacation. Make sure that they pick up any regularly scheduled deliveries from Amazon or other online vendors. Ask if she is willing to check your home regularly and offer to return the favor. And when you leave, load your suitcases into the car with the garage door closed. If you don’t have a garage, back your car into the driveway and be as quick and quiet as possible. (See 6 Ways to Protect Your Home While You’re Away.)

17. Stay alert.

Report any suspicious persons or vehicles in your neighborhood. It is better to err on the side of caution and prevent a burglary. Also, burglars will think twice before staking homes in “protected” neighborhoods.

18.  Stay informed.

Subscribe to a local police department blog and read the weekly Crime Beat in your newspaper or online. If you notice any disturbing trends, approach your neighbors and brainstorm solutions.

Reviewed March 2020

About the Author

For 31 years, Joanne Guidoccio taught mathematics, computer science, business and career education courses in secondary schools throughout Ontario. Her articles, book reviews, and short stories have been published in Canadian newspapers and online. She has bachelor's degrees in mathematics and education and a Career Development Practitioner diploma.

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