Our homes are likely the most expensive thing we own and we keep our most valuable belongings inside – including our families. As such, it’s important to take a few prudent steps to ensure your home stays secure and that you’re doing all you can to detract from break-ins and would-be thieves. 

How To Foil a Burglar: 14 Security Tips for Homeowners

  1. Keep Your Doors and Windows Locked
  2. Install Outdoor Motion Sensors
  3. Get a Dog
  4. Automate Lighting When Not Home
  5. Maintain Landscaping
  6. Install Door and Window Sensors
  7. Install Surveillance Cameras
  8. Communicate with Smart Doorbell or Speaker instead of Opening the Door
  9. Get To Know Your Neighbors
  10. Use Deadbolts
  11. Secure your Garage
  12. Answer the Door
  13. Don’t Post Your Travel Information on Social Media
  14. Get Creative When Hiding Valuables

No city or neighborhood is immune from burglary, and even those of us who live in the best communities will still have to worry about the security of our homes and our possessions. By taking a few common sense home security tips (and maybe a few you haven’t thought of yet), you can guard your home against most everyday thieves. 

How To Foil a Burglar: 14 Security Tips for Homeowners

1. Keep Your Doors and Windows Locked

Let’s start with the most obvious but also likely the most useful security tip: lock your doors and windows. Seems obvious, right? Yet, a surprising number of thieves enter homes by simply walking through an unlocked door or crawling through a ground level window that’s been left open. Thieves will almost always look for an unlocked door or window first before resorting to using force. They want to get in and out as quickly and as easily as possible without getting caught and they may think twice before breaking a window or kicking in a door. 

These actions are likely to make a lot of noise which could alert neighbors. It’s important to keep these locked when you leave your home for any length of time, but it’s also a good idea to keep your front and back door locked even when you are home. 

2. Install Outdoor Motion Sensors

A good porch light can illuminate your front door, but it can also be helpful to install motion sensor lights around the perimeter of your house. A potential burglar is far more likely to attempt to break into a dark or poorly lit home rather than a brightly lit one. By installing motion detector lights your property will be well lit and this will act as a deterrent to someone who’s trying to move around undetected.  

3. Get a Dog

Now we know this tip isn’t going to be feasible for everyone, and you certainly shouldn’t get a dog solely to protect your home (we’re hoping you’ll also want the companionship of a pet), but a barking dog may deter some thieves. And while it’s true that a larger dog with a ferocious bark may legitimately scare off a thief, even small dogs can help protect your home since the constant barking will draw attention to your home and with it the burglar.

4. Automate Lighting When Not Home

Home automation is a growing trend in home security and it works by putting your home’s lights or other appliances on timers so they’ll automatically turn on and off at set times. Most thieves won’t target a home if they think someone is home, so if you’re away on vacation (or even just at work), you can set timers for your lights, TV, or stereo to come on during the day through your smart home system. Some systems even have settings that don’t follow the same schedule every day, mimicking a more natural routine. With this increased home connectivity, you can program and monitor your devices from easy-to-use apps on your smartphone.

5. Maintain Landscaping 

Lush, green landscaping can look incredible surrounding your home, but overgrown bushes close to your house make the perfect cover for would-be intruders. To increase your home security, keep trees and bushes pruned especially near doors and windows that could serve as easy access points. Larger shrubs and trees give thieves the privacy they’re looking for and they make your home an easy target. Also, make sure that your lawn is mown and your plants aren’t overgrown while you’re on vacation so it doesn’t look like a vacant home.

6. Install Door and Window Sensors

Consider installing sensors on any window, sliding door, or exterior door that can be easily accessed from outside the house. These can not only sound an alarm system when they’re opened, but they’ll also send an alert to your smartphone that one of these locations has been tampered with. As a bonus, most security features like this can be remotely armed if you leave your house and forget to set them. 

7. Install Surveillance Cameras

A good home security system can be a massive deterrent to a potential thief and it’s often enough just to have a burglar alarm triggered to send them running. However, home security cameras can add an extra layer of protection to ward off criminals. Make sure you have at least one that is clearly visible to anyone walking by, so placing one right by your front door is a good idea but you may want to place others at your backdoor and around your garage.

If you suspect illegal activity in your neighborhood, you can use the footage to see if any suspicious people or cars are scouting out your house. If your house is targeted, just having visible cameras could deter a thief since they know their image will be caught on film and shared with law enforcement.  

8. Communicate with Smart Doorbell or Speaker instead of Opening the Door

Even if you don’t have the funds to fully outfit your home with a security system, you can still install a smart doorbell with a speaker and camera for a minimal upfront investment. This will let you see and speak to whoever is at your door, even when you’re not home. A smart doorbell can often get you a discount on your homeowners insurance. Some of the more brazen thieves may try to come to your door to see if anyone is at home, and the smart speaker is a great way to keep yourself out of harm's way.

9. Get To Know Your Neighbors

Neighbors are good for more than borrowing a cup of sugar in a pinch – they can also help you out when you’re away from your home or out of town. Ask a neighbor to collect your mail while you’re gone or even to spend time in your house while you’re away. See if they’d be willing to park in your driveway while you’re away to give the impression that someone is home. If you can, get an actual house sitter while you’re away.

10. Use Deadbolts

Installing a deadbolt door lock on all your exterior doors will make them more secure than a traditional spring lock. Spring locks can be easily picked, but if you always use a deadbolt that requires a key to open it, the thief will have to kick in your door and break the door frame – which they don’t want to do because it’s loud and will draw attention to them.

11. Secure your Garage

Make sure your garage door is closed any time you aren’t home and actively using it. Start by setting up a smart garage door opener so you can open and close it wherever you are as well as receive notification if it’s been tampered with. Thieves will often target sheds or garages, so another significant security measure you can take is to frost the glass on your garage door windows so burglars won’t be able to look inside for valuables or check if your car is there. Frosting is inexpensive and you can get a DIY kit at your local hardware store. Additionally, if you have a track-lifted garage door, you can immobilize it with a C-clamp making it impossible to open from the outside.

12. Answer the Door

Some burglars will knock at the door to see if anyone is home and will almost always move on to the next house if they know you’re home. It can be tempting to ignore a knock at the door if you’re not expecting someone, but this could be a mistake. If you’re uncomfortable answering the door, at least let them know that you are home and talk to them through the door explaining that you can’t open it right now. Remember, the vast majority of thieves do not want to rob a house with people in it.  

13. Don’t Post Your Travel Information on Social Media

Burglars have become very tech-savvy and they’ll often turn to social media accounts to mine personal information about you – especially any upcoming trips or vacations you’ll be taking. This is like a free advertisement for thieves that you’ll be out of your home. If you can, don’t post anything about your trip beforehand, especially not the dates you’ll be gone. Additionally, make sure your settings are set to private so only your friends can see your posts, and wait till after you come home to post pictures. If a thief sees that you’re posting daily pics from Italy, they’ll know they’ve got an easy mark. 

14. Get Creative When Hiding Valuables

If you have to keep valuables in the house, make sure you have them in a good hiding spot. Thieves will often search the master bedroom first, so avoid putting them anywhere obvious like under the mattress or in dresser drawers. It can be helpful to have two hiding spots: one in a more conspicuous spot where you have a few less-valuable items, and a second spot with the bulk of your personal items. Or better yet, don’t hide them in the house at all and instead keep them in a safe deposit box at your bank.

Home Security Tips

The truth about trying to enhance your home safety is that there’s only so much you can do to protect it and your valuables. In reality, we all have to leave our house at times whether it be to go to work every day, head to the grocery store, or leave on a well-deserved vacation. A professional and determined thief can be hard to stop, but the good news is there are plenty of common-sense safety tips that can bring you peace of mind.

Remember to keep your doors and windows locked, use smart lighting and smart locks wherever possible, and communicate with your neighbors about your travel plans as well as any suspicious activity you notice. By working together with your community (or even forming a neighborhood watch) and following these security tips, you can stay one step ahead of the thieves.