Home security system

When you think of home security and how to burglar proof your home, do dollar signs cha-ching in your eyes? Do you suddenly start empathizing with Scrooge?

You’re not alone. A lot of people think (and fear) that home security is expensive. And in the past, they weren’t wrong. But one of the beautiful things about evolving technology is that prices fall. Tumble, even.

Today, it is surprisingly affordable to burglar proof your house. In fact, you can squeak by with a little as $200 in improvements (and a bit of sweat), and can really fortify your home with $500. (Still a lot less expensive than the $2,200+ average cost of a home burglary.)

Here’s how to go from unprotected to secure, in seven simple steps:

  1. Think Old-Fashioned
  2. Install an Alarm System
  3. Secure Windows & Doors
  4. Fortify Your Garage
  5. Install Strong Lighting
  6. Prune the Landscaping
  7. Get Smart with Smart Home Security
  1. First Things First: Think Old-Fashioned

When it comes to modern security, it’s easy to ignore old-fashioned methods. But that’s a big mistake: The home-security techniques employed by our parents and grandparents are still important today. You’d be surprised at all the low-tech methods burglars employ to get into your home, like unlocking a window when you let them use your powder room.

So, be friendly with your neighbors; they’ll look out for your home when you’re not there. Join (or start) the Neighborhood Watch. Adopt a puppy; barking is often sufficient deterrent to warn off potential burglars. Be careful who you invite inside. And keep your home well maintained; regular upkeep tells thieves that your home is occupied and cared for.

  1. Install an Alarm

It’s still true: An alarm system (with appropriate signage) acts as a deterrent to burglars. Simply put, most thieves prefer easy pickings. They don’t want to alert the neighborhood to their presence, or race against the [alarm] clock as they ransack your home.

Monitored systems from big-name companies are still your best bet, but they can be expensive, especially when you factor in hefty monthly fees (usually $30-$50+). If a monitored system is out of your price range, here’s some great news: even the best rated DIY alarm systems are affordable. (Which one’s right for you?) You’ll install the system yourself and will never pay a monthly fee, saving you a bundle in the long run. Entry-level systems, like the Vinker VK-12A DIY Alarm Kit, run well under $100 (the Vinkler is about $70), and even the top-of-the-line Fortress S02-E Security Kit – door + window sensors, motion sensors, glass-break alarms, outdoor sirens, auto-dial and many other features – comes in under $220.

  1. Secure Your Windows and Doors

Believe it or not, most burglars slip in through open (and easily opened) windows in doors. So to start, lock them! Especially ground-floor windows and doors.

Install deadbolts on your doors ($30 each, or go fancy and key-free with a keypad deadbolt.) Add strike plate reinforcement ($60). Secure sliding doors with sliding-door locks ($8) or a security bar ($30). Add extra window security with wedge locks ($8 each). And don’t forget to pull the curtains (or close the blinds) when you leave, so burglars can’t scope out your home in advance.

Still worried? Check out other ways to better your locks.

  1. Fortify Your Garage

After unsecured doors and windows, the garage is the favorite point-of-entry for burglars. Not to mention the fact that, forget the house – you probably have plenty of garage goodies (tools and bikes, toys and cars) that thieves would love.

Garage security is a thing today, folks. So, make sure your garage door is shut, whenever you’re not in it. Lock access doors. Don’t leave the garage door-opener in a car parked in the driveway. And, if you often drive away and forget to close the garage door, you may want to install a smartphone-connected garage door control ($100).

  1. Install Strong Outdoor Lighting

Burglars are lurkers, sneaking around your home as they case it in advance, or plan their imminent entry. Take away their hiding spots with motion sensor flood lights ($40). Add an outdoor timer ($17) to your front door light, so it’s always on between dusk and dawn. And don’t worry – your outdoor security lighting can also have great curb appeal.

  1. Prune the Landscaping

Another hiding place for thieves? Large bushes, trees, climbing vines, and other landscaping that provides cover directly around your home. Do yourself a favor, and prune it back; don’t leave any spots where burglars could hide. Reserve lush and bushy landscaping for yard space more than 10 feet from your home. And remember, landscaping for security doesn’t have to look utilitarian; it can be both safe and functional, colorful and beautiful.

  1. Get Smart with Smart Home Security

The cost of smart security has come way down over the last few years, making it both easy and affordable to build a piecemeal system that suits your home and lifestyle.

The most obvious burglarproof security upgrade? Install smartphone-connected surveillance cameras, which not only let you look in from anywhere, but can actually send you alerts (text message or push notifications), if they detect certain pre-programmed events (such as, a motion sensor picks up on movement when you’re not at home). Prices start around $50 for a single smart surveillance camera, and work their way up to $250+ for a connected multi-camera surveillance system. And if this idea appeals, there are plenty other IoT smart security advancements to check out.

There are many, many other smart security devices to consider, including smart video doorbells ($80+), biometric (fingerprint) locks ($300), and even smart lightbulbs ($30), to give the appearance of someone home. Have fun hunting!

And there you have it: How to burglar proof your house for as little as $200. Take that, you Scrooge-y inner voice!

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