Protect Your Home With These Inexpensive And Easy Security Hacks

In the United States, a burglary occurs every 15 seconds. Many do not happen at night; they can happen in daylight and even when people are home. Fortunately, you don’t need an expensive home security system to feel safe. With some DIYs and cheap buys, you can spike your fence, lock your windows, and monitor your home. If you want to feel safer, read these home security hacks.

Make Your Own Window Pin Locks

A person inserts a pin lock into a window.
Dontay/Pinterest
Dontay/Pinterest

If your double-hung windows do not have locks, you can make some. All you have to do is drill a hole where the sliding window meets the sash. Measure it correctly so that one pin can fit through both the moving part of the window and the frame.

After drilling, stick a metal pin through both parts. This will prevent burglars from opening your window to sneak in. Pin locks are only around $5 online, and the entire process only takes around five minutes.

Get Creative With Your Spare Key Hiding Spot

A person takes a spare key out of a fake sprinkler.
EM Kat/Pinterest
EM Kat/Pinterest

Do not place your spare key under the doormat or planter. These are the first places that a burglar will look. With a pinch of creativity, you can hide the key somewhere that nobody would think to look.

Some artificial rocks and fake sprinklers have compartments to contain spare keys. You can also nail a key to a tree; burglars won’t think to look there, especially at night. If nothing else, you can hand the spare key to a trusted neighbor.

Lock The Doors, Even When You’re At Home

A man locks a door with a padlock.
Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images
Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images

According to Alarm New England, most burglaries (72%) occur when the owner is not home. However, 30% of burglaries occur simply because the door was unlocked. To remain safe, always lock your door, even when you’re at home.

The same goes for windows. Make it a habit to check your locks before you go to bed. In 2021, a survey of burglary victims found that 58% of burglaries happen at night. You can never be too safe.

Put Up A Fake Home Security Sign

A warning sign on a fence says the home has security.
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Even if you don’t have security cameras, act like you do. Put up fake signs in your yard that say something like, “you are being watched,” “protected by electronic alarm system,” or “protected by home security system.”

Will a burglar call your bluff? They might, but it is unlikely. They will probably scout out another house without home security. Believe it or not, many burglaries are spontaneous, and most criminals prefer to skip a house instead of taking their chances.

Invest In Indoor Security Cameras

A Neos SmartCam home security camera stands on a coffee table.
Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images
Phil Barker/Future Publishing via Getty Images

If you can afford home security cameras, you might want to invest in them. According to Security.org, most indoor cameras cost around $100. How many you buy depends on the size of your home.

Set up the cameras in highly-used areas, such as the entryway, hallways, and living room. Avoid private areas such as bedrooms and bathrooms. At the very least, place a camera on the floor (where you will see feet). Wireless cameras tend to be easier to install, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Or Purchase Outdoor Security Cameras

camera-outdoor
S. Norris
S. Norris

Some people feel safer with outdoor cameras, which can track when people approach your doors and windows. These cost around $200, according to Security.com. Unlike indoor cameras, they are waterproof and weatherproof to withstand the climate.

Most outdoor cameras are wireless, and they require an internet connection. When searching for these cameras, keep battery life in mind. Wireless cameras require you to replace the batteries every once in a while. Point them toward your doors, windows, and yard fences.

Or Hang Fake Security Cameras

A home security camera is in a Christmas tree.
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

If you don’t want to install real security cameras, get fake ones. Most burglars scout a home for cameras; they don’t check whether or not the cameras work. Believe it or not, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Amazon sell fake cameras.

Hang these outdoors; most are designed to withstand the weather. Make sure that they are visible, but not too obvious. Remember, you are tricking people into thinking that your home will record them if they break in.

Subtly Spike Your Fence

Small spikes are installed on top of a concrete fence to prevent people from climbing over it.
Lucy Wilson/Pinterest
Lucy Wilson/Pinterest

If you’re worried that burglars will hop over your fence, install a spike system. These do not have to be ugly barbed wire. Instead, put subtle, hard-to-see spiked mats on top of your fence.

You can buy these spiked mats from Amazon or Walmart. They come in a variety of colors and sizes; choose one that will blend into the fence. Anyone who tries to climb the fence will receive an unpleasant surprise. As a bonus, these spikes also deter birds.

Store Valuable Items In Unassuming Places

A person takes money and a bracelet out of a fake outlet.
Елена Окти/Pinterest
Елена Окти/Pinterest

If you were a burglar, where would you search for valuables: in a safe, or in a soup can? Probably the safe. If you do not have a locked box for your valuables, place them in unassuming spots that a criminal would never suspect.

Empty food cans, socks, fake outlets, boxes of laundry soap, empty lotion containers, or a box with a plain label are all good places. As long as you know where your valuables are, they will be safe.

Hang A Mirror Near Your Front Door

A circular mirror hangs to the right of the front door.
Barbara Wyche/Pinterest
Barbara Wyche/Pinterest

Have you ever wondered why you can see yourself on the TV when you walk into a grocery store? That’s because reflections prevent theft, according to behavioral scientist Robert Cialdini.

Mirrors signal to people that they are not trusted. When people see themselves, they act more self-aware and socially acceptable. Several studies have been done on mirrors and reflective CCTV footage. Although this is not foolproof, it might arouse suspicion that your home is monitored because the homeowners do not trust strangers.

Turn Your Lights Off Before Leaving (Yes, Really)

Sun shines through an open window into a dark room.
Anne Nygård/Unsplash
Anne Nygård/Unsplash

When people go on vacation, many will leave lights on to mimic someone being home. But this can backfire, according to Samantha Nolan, a Citywide Neighborhood Watch trainer. “[They actually attract burglars,” she told NPR, “because if you’re home, you’re going to turn the lights off and it signals there’s somebody home.”

Instead, you can ask a trusted neighbor to check on your home turn the lights on and off as if someone was living there.

Put The Lights Or TV On A Timer

A house is lit at night.
Quick Image/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images
Quick Image/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

When you’re away, activate a light timer. These timers are easy to install, and they can turn the lights on and off whenever you’d like. When the lights turn on and off, burglars will think that somebody is home.

Light timers typically sell for under $20. After you install it, you can set which times you want the lights to turn on and off. Some people do the same technique for the TV, although this can cost more.

Activate Security Between 10 A.M. And 3 P.M.

A man peeks outside of the window by moving the blinds.
Cody Doherty/Unsplash
Cody Doherty/Unsplash

Most burglaries happen at night, right? Wrong. According to Jacksonville State University, most burglaries occur between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. This is when most adults are out at work and most kids are at school.

This is when you should activate security systems and alarms. If you do not have these devices, make it seem like somebody is home. Keep the TV or radio on, or install light timers. Also, keep in mind that most break-ins occur in summer.

Brace The Front Door

A door security bar is propped between the door knob and floor.
reddit/u/ramonchek
reddit/u/ramonchek

A door brace is a device that prevents the door from opening, even if it is unlocked. Some braces are attached to the bottom of the door. Even if you try to push the door open, the brace will prevent you from doing so.

To save money, you can make your own door brace. Grab a curtain rod, stilt, walking stick, old pipe. Lodge it between the floor and the door handle. Do this at night or when you feel unsafe.

Protect Your Garage’s Emergency Release Cord

A person pulls their garage's emergency release cord.
@OverheadDoorOpe/Twitter
@OverheadDoorOpe/Twitter

In 2019, YouTuber ACME Locksmith proved that anyone can open a garage door within ten seconds. He did it by untying the release cord, a red rope that allows people to open the garage in an emergency. A clever locksmith can untie it from the outside.

To prevent this, get a garage shield. These devices prevent people from untying your release cord from the outside. The best part? They don’t require any tools to install.

Sleep With Your Car Keys On Your Nightstand

Car keys lie on a wooden table.
HADI ABYAR/AFP via Getty Images
HADI ABYAR/AFP via Getty Images

Although this might seem weird, it is a free security measure. Sleep with your car keys on your nightstand, ideally in a drawer where a burglar won’t see it. If you hear someone in your home, activate the car alarm on the keys.

Burglars hate loud noises that alert people to their presence. Once they hear the car alarm, they will likely leave your home. If your car is outside, just turning on the lights might spook someone near your home.

Hang Your Garage Remote On A Keychain

A person points to a garage opener keychain.
LEARNINGCHORDS/YouTube
LEARNINGCHORDS/YouTube

Most garage doors have remotes, and burglars know that. Unfortunately, many people keep these remotes inside their cars. If they break into your car, they can open the garage. Replace these with a keychain remote that you leave on your car keys.

This way, you will always have the garage remote in your car, but you will take it inside with you. If you’re out on a walk and want to open the garage, you can do that, too.

Download A Crime-Tracking App

A couple looks at a woman's smartphone, astonished.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Crime-tracking apps keep you in the know. Unlike Amber Alerts, they report whether any crimes, emergencies, or other dangerous events (such as fires) occur in your area. Many of these apps are free and may help you feel safer.

Some of these apps, such as Citizen, allow users to upload photos and videos. This provides up-to-date information, and you can secure your home if anything dangerous happens. If you cannot afford security cameras, these might provide some more security.

Pretend That You Own A Guard Dog

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

If you own a dog, then they will likely bark if someone breaks in. But if you don’t have a dog, act like you do. Place a “beware of dog” sign on your fence, around the front door, or near a window.

Most burglars do not want to get bitten by a dog. Even if the dog is indoors, they will still alert their owners if something is wrong. If you want to make this bluff extra convincing, place a dog bowl in your backyard.

Install Noise Alarms Instead Of Lights

A noise alarm hangs on a door handle.
SafeWise/Pinterest
SafeWise/Pinterest

In some cases, noise alarms can be more effective than motion-activated lights. Burglars hate noise because it attracts attention from neighbors, who might become witnesses. Noise alarms cost between $15 and $200, depending on the type, and some include motion-activated lights.

Install these where a burglar might not expect them. For instance, you can place one near the pool, by the front windows, or near the back door. Of course, putting an alarm on the front door handle will never fail.

Reinforce The Door Lock With Thick Screws

A man screws in a door strike.
ehowathomechannel/Pinterest
ehowathomechannel/Pinterest

You should assume that most burglars can pick locks. If you have a standard door lock, a thief can unlock it within 30 seconds. Fortunately, you can reinforce your lock by securing the door strike, the metal plate that holds the door closed.

Remove your door strike, and replace the standard 0.5″ screws with 3.5″ screws. Why? Because it makes it harder for lockpicks to reach inside of the strike. If you use an elongated strike instead of a standard one, they’ll be even more confused.

Unplug The Garage Door Opener When You’re Out

A YouTuber demonstrates how to unplug the garage door opener
Brandon Bailey/YouTube
Brandon Bailey/YouTube

Did you know that you can unplug the garage door opener? You can and should do so when you are on vacation. This prevents burglars from breaking into your garage when you are not home.

Find the red emergency release handle. Pull it down vertically until you hear a snap; this means that the door is now manual. To reconnect it, pull it horizontally as you usually would. For extra safety, lock the top of the garage door with a padlock.

Replace Your Standard Phillips Heads Screws

Unusual lox screws lie in a pile.
analogicus/Pixabay
analogicus/Pixabay

If a burglar wants to break into a shed or door, they might unscrew the hinges with a standard screwdriver. To avoid this, replace Phillips heads screws, which most people own. Use specialized screws that require a specific screwdriver.

Lox, Torx, Pozidriv, and Tri-Wings are all screws with unusual-looking heads. Unless a lock picker owns every screwdriver known to man, they will struggle with these. Install these on door hinges and windows to prevent people from crawling in.

Secure The Front Of Your Bedroom Door

A man stands near the door in his master bedroom.
Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images

According to Art of Lock Picking, most burglars head straight to the master bedroom after they break in. Most peoples’ valuables are in their bedrooms. You don’t want to lock that door in case of an emergency, so secure it in other ways.

If you have indoor security cameras, face one toward the entrance (not inside) of the bedroom. Place a motion-activated light in the hallway with the bedroom. Both of these might freak out any robber.

Make Exterior Door Hinges Invisible

A door hinge is seen on an old barn door.
junebab/Pixabay
junebab/Pixabay

If one of your exterior doors swings outward, then its hinges are outside. This is especially common in older homes. Burglars can easily unscrew these hinges to get around the lock. To prevent this, replace it with a set screw.

Set screw hinges are invisible when the door closes, and you can even make your own! Open the door and make a mark on the hinge parts that hold hinge pins. Remove the hinges, and drill into the spots. Replace the hinges with a hinge pin in these spots.

Create A Foot Lock For Sliding Doors

Patio doors, especially sliding ones, are easy to lockpick. The most secure solution is a foot lock. Instead of buying a foot lock, create your own that can only be accessed inside the house.

Get a curtain rod, old handrail, or large stick. Cut it down so that it fits in between the sliding door and the wall. Stick it on the rail whenever you want to lock your patio. Even if the burglar picks the lock, they won’t be able to get in.

Deflect Bolt Cutters With The Right Padlock

The front door of a home is secured with a stainless steel padlock.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Matuszek of Master Lock explains that most burglars will break through a lock with a bolt cutter. They are trying to work quickly, as most burglaries occur in under ten minutes. Get around this by purchasing a bot cutter-proof padlock.

Heavy-duty locks made with stainless steel can withstand bolt cutters. Stanley Hardware, FJM, Master Lock, and ABUS all sell padlocks that can resist bolt cutters. If you install these, a burglar with bolt cutters might skip over your house.

Use A Doorstop Alarm

A door step alarm makes a noise when the door opens.
yevhen/Pinterest
yevhen/Pinterest

Doorstop alarms are less well-known but just as effective as other alarms. These are fake doorstoppers that make a noise whenever the door hits it. If a burglar opens the door, it will hit the door stop and the alarm will go off.

Of course, you wouldn’t want to hear an alarm every time you open the door. Doorstops allow you to turn the alarm off and on. Most burglars would never suspect a doorstop alarm, and they are cheaper than cameras.

Notice How You Keep Your Curtains

A woman closes bedroom curtains.
Maja Hitij/Getty Images
Maja Hitij/Getty Images

If you are leaving for vacation, keep in mind how you keep your curtains or blinds. Do you keep them open during the day? If so, you might want to keep them open, but lock the windows. You’ll want to make it look like you are at home.

If you have someone who comes over to take care of pets or water the plants, ask them to close and open the curtains. Burglars prefer people who are not at home, after all.

Create A False Bottom Drawer

A person picks up the false bottom of a dresser drawer.
Family Handyman/Pinterest
Family Handyman/Pinterest

False bottom drawers, which disguise the actual bottom, might seem like technology out of a movie. But they are easy to make. Just grab a piece of plywood that matches the wood inside of the drawer. Measure it and cut it.

The plywood should fit the bottom of the door perfectly. Store valuables beneath the false bottom, such as spare keys, IDs, and valuables. Since burglars are usually in a hurry, they will likely not check the bottom of drawers.