No matter where you live or what time of year it is, keeping your home safe should always be a top priority. That being said, spring cleaning is just around the corner making it a great opportunity to ensure your home security measures are working properly (or put new measures in place). Here’s what you need to know about keeping your home secure.
Why should you care about home security?
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program for 2018 (the most recent full report available), there were an estimated 1,230,149 burglaries, which accounted for 17.1% of all estimated property crimes.
While this may seem like a lot of burglaries (and it is), the good news is that home theft is actually on the decline. Burglaries decreased 11.9% year over year from 2017 to 2018. Taking a broader look, home burglaries were down a whopping 44.2% from 2009 to 2018!
8 simple ways to keep your home secure
- Invest in a home security system
- Lock windows and doors
- Set up outdoor lighting
- Clean up the yard and driveway
- Conceal items carefully
- Don’t forget to secure the garage
- Lockdown your Wi-Fi network
- Don’t broadcast when you’re gone
1. Invest in a home security system
The best way to ensure your home is properly protected from burglars is to invest in a home security system. Having a home security system doesn’t just offer peace of mind, but many now come with extra home automation features. Forgot to lock the front door? You can use your home security app and a smart lock to make sure your home is secure, even if you’re miles away.
While you may not want to add home security to your list of monthly bills, there are actually many affordable options out there. Some of the best cheap home security systems offer professional monitoring for as low as $8-$10/mo. Or you can consider setting up your own DIY home security system.
2. Lock windows and doors
This should go without saying, but always lock your windows and doors when you leave the house or go to sleep at night. Taking the time to double-check your doors and windows will not only protect your home from potential threats, it will also give you peace of mind.
More than half of the burglaries reported in 2018 (56.7% to be exact) involved forcible entry, according to the FBI. Locking your windows and doors makes it harder for the bad guys to get in, and offers another layer of protection if you have a home alarm system that’s triggered.
Some quick ways to bolster your security is to install a deadbolt, add a strike plate, upgrade to smart locks and a video doorbell, add a glass break sensor and reinforce windows with security film.
3. Set up outdoor lighting
A dark, unlit home is tempting to intruders. Security lighting around your home makes your home much less appealing to a burglar. You’ll want to make sure that all blind spots around your home are covered by security lighting, so make sure to place lighting on the back and sides of your home as well as in the front. Motion sensor lights are great for home security as intruders are much more likely to run if their motion triggers a light to turn on.
4. Clean up the yard and driveway
Whether you’re doing yard work, biking around the neighborhood, going out sledding or playing with those new outdoor toys you got for Christmas, there’s a chance you may forget to bring your tools or toys back inside when you finish using them.
To protect your things from getting stolen, be sure to bring them back inside or lock them up in your garage or shed. Thieves strategically look for valuable yard tools left outdoors.
5. Conceal items carefully
Just as leaving pricey yard equipment or a brand new bike in the yard signals to thieves that you have something of value to potentially be stolen, keeping indoor valuables out of sight is just as important. Thieves may first try to peek into your home to see if there’s anything of value, so it’s important that you have good hiding spots (and avoid common ones) for valuable items.
Additionally, think about what you’re throwing away as well. If you’ve just purchased a brand new, extra-large 4K TV, don’t leave the box out by the trash cans for everyone to see — and essentially broadcast you have something fancy inside.
6. Don’t forget to secure the garage
Whether you have an attached or detached garage, you should still be following home security best practices to keep your items within the garage safe. Just as you would for your home, consider getting a home security system that extends to your garage, add lighting, install shutters, invest in additional locks and more.
7. Lockdown your Wi-Fi network
Home security now goes beyond just the physical items in your home, especially with the rise of home automation. Smart home gadgets that are connected to your home Wi-Fi network could be hacked and then give criminals direct access to your Wi-Fi-connected home security system. Keeping your Wi-Fi network secure with encryption and a strong password is one of the best ways to ensure you won’t get hacked.
8. Don’t broadcast when you’re gone
Don’t make it easier for burglars by letting them know when you’re not home. If you’re going to be away for a long weekend or an extended family vacation, keep your home safe by turning on your security alarm system and locking all doors and windows.
You may also want to keep an extra car parked out in the driveway to create the appearance that you’re home or use a timer to schedule a few lights to go on at night. And if possible, it’s always a good idea to have a neighbor or friend check on your home a few times while you’re gone.
Originally published 03/06/17. Last updated 01/30/20.