Making your home safer from crime doesn’t always mean having to install expensive alarms—effective home security starts with properly locked doors and windows and visible, well- lighted entryways.
Lighting is one of the most cost-effective deterrents to burglary. Indoor lighting gives the impression that a home is occupied. If you are going to be away from your home, consider using automatic timers to switch interior lights on and off at preset times.
Outdoor lighting can eliminate hiding places. Install exterior lighting near porches, rear and side doorways, garage doors, and all other points of entry. Entryways to your home always should be well lighted. Place lights out of reach from the ground so the bulbs cannot be removed or broken. Aim some lights away from the house so you can see if anyone is approaching, or install motion- sensing lights, which turn on automatically as someone approaches.
Shrubs and Landscaping
Your home’s walkways and landscaping should direct visitors to the main entrance and away from private areas. The landscaping should provide maximum visibility to and from your house. Trim shrubbery that could conceal criminal activity near doors and windows. Provide light on areas of dense shrubs and trees that could serve as hiding places. Cut back tree limbs that could help thieves climb into windows, and keep yard fencing low enough too avoid giving criminals places to hide.
All exterior doors should be either metal or solid wood. For added security, use strong door hinges on the inside of the door, with nonremovable or hidden pins. Every entry door should be well lighted and have a wide-angle door viewer so you can see who is outside without opening the door.
Strong, reliable locks are essential to effective home security. Always keep doors and windows locked—even a five-minute trip to the store is long enough for a burglar to enter your home. Use quality keyed knobs as well as dead bolts—dead bolts can withstand the twisting, turning, prying, and pounding that regular-keyed knobs can’t.
When choosing a dead bolt, look for such features as a bolt that extends at least one inch when in the locked position, to resist ramming and kicking; hardened steel inserts to prevent the bolt from being sawed off, and a reinforced strike plate with extra-long mounting screws to anchor the lock effectively.
Most dead bolts are single-cylinder; they operate from the outside with a key and from the inside with a thumb latches. Security glazing can be applied to glass panels in or near the door, or shatterproof glass can be installed, though these options can be expensive.
Sliding Glass Doors
Sliding glass doors can offer easy entry into your home. To improve security on existing sliding glass doors, you can install keyed locking devices that secure the door to the frame; adjust the track clearances on the doors so they can’t be pushed out of their tracks; or put a piece of wood or a metal bar in the track of the closed door to prevent the door from opening even if the lock is jimmied or removed.
Most standard double-hung windows have thumb turn locks between the two window panels. Don’t rely on these—they can be pried open or easily reached through a broken pane.
An easy, inexpensive way to secure your windows is to use the “pin” trick. Drill an angled hole through the top frame of the lower window partially into the frame of the upper window. Then insert a nail or eyebolt. The window can’t be opened until you remove the nail. Make a second set of holes with the windows partly opened so you can have ventilation without intruders.
Keeping Property Safe
Keep records identifying items such as televisions, jewelry, gaming devices and artwork by videotaping the inside of your home and date stamping the recording. You can also keep a record of serial numbers on electronic devices and mark your property with your name using a permanent marker or etching tool. These records might come in handy should your home or vehicle be burglarized.
Lock Crime Out of Your Car
Always lock car doors and take the keys when you leave your car, even if you'll be gone "just for a minute." Don't leave valuables in view in the car. Leave them in the trunk or, better yet, take them home immediately.