The Top 5 Burglar Deterrents


Burglar deterrents are very important. I don’t mean to be alarmist, but if you have never experienced a break in then you should add “yet”. Unfortunately, crime in general is on the rise, that’s just a simple fact. There has never been a more important time to protect the safety of your loved ones and the security of your property and valuables.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that burglary protection and prevention has never been this good. Many people don’t look into protecting the safety and security of their property until after a crime has occurred. Although the actual stats for house break-ins show some decline in recent years, that’s not the full picture. It’s thought that this is more to do with people no longer reporting burglaries, especially minor thefts.[1]

It is the purpose of this post is to make you more aware of your options. I want to bring your attention to the “pick of the bunch” burglar deterrents that will make your property safer. Follow these suggestions and enjoy peace of mind when you go to sleep at night.

NOTE: You can jump to any part of this post by clicking the links in the table of contents

Table of Contents

The Five Essential Burglar Deterrents

Additional Precautions

Other Security Safeguards to Consider

The Essentials

Infographic detailing the five essential burglar deterrents.

Here is a simple list of the best ways to secure your property and protect the safety of those inside:

  1. Use Grade A door locks
  2. Use first class window locks
  3. Fit the finest security door chain you can buy
  4. Install home Security cameras with motion sensors  (PIR)
  5. Use intelligent internal & external lighting, with motion sensors (PIR)

That’s a pretty simple list right. Even so, it’s an excellent set up for securing the choicest burglary protection.  At the very least you will want to make sure you can place a check next to each of these home security precautions.[2]

These pick of the best security measures, when implemented well, will likely deter 99 percent of all opportunistic break-ins.

#1: Use Grade A door locks

Both doors and windows are the preferred point of entry for burglars. The important thing to note here is that it’s not only the doors to your home that are important. You also need to make sure the following doors are equally secure if you have them:

Doors can come in all shapes and sizes and made from all kinds of materials. The security of your doors is paramount. Before you decide how to better secure the doors you have, you first need to know what type you’re dealing with.[4] [5]

Unfortunately, a lot of people get a false sense of security when it comes to securing their homes. They lock the door before going out and assume everything is hunky-dory. To a non-criminal type it will seem that way, but not for a house burglar. Common thieves are a varied bunch, many of whom will go to desperate measures to break into a property for all kinds of reasons.[6]

Even a novice burglar will find vulnerabilities in your home security that you never knew existed. This is why we all need to become more aware of how best to safeguard our property.

#2: Use First Class window locks

If a burglar has a choice, they will always get in through a door if possible. Failing that it’s the windows. Both windows and doors offer huge apertures for accessing a home, and safeguarding them is home security rule 101. If you forget to close windows and properly lock doors, it’s akin to handing the criminal a free pass into your property.[7] [8]

If you don’t have the money to replace old windows with stronger, more secure options, there are many things you can do to reinforce what you already have.

#3: Fit the Finest Security Door Chain you Can Buy

We’ve all seen the movies where someone cautiously opens a door with a security chain keeping it from opening too wide. The caller then kicks the door down and enters the property with ease. Well, that’s the movies and this is the real world. I can tell you that any door fitted with a quality door chain means no one can get in easily.  If you sense the person is no good, you get a valuable moment to push the door shut. You could not do this so easily if there was no door chain present.

Door chains come in different styles and sizes. What’s right for you depends on your doors and your preferences. If in doubt, seek professional advice.

#4: Install home Security cameras with motion sensors  (PIR)

The outdoor home security cameras with motion-sensors have come a long way in recent years. They are all weatherproof and have built-in passive infrared motion sensor (PIR). Even the crème de la creme cameras are very affordable. However, don’t upset your neighbors by filming them. The new indoor security cameras are also extremely good. Just remember, never use indoor cameras for outside use.

Many offer a monitoring service and most have light and alarm system relay inputs/outputs too. You want to draw a map and put them where they cover all routes to and from your doors and windows. Many of the modern cameras are wireless and come with monitoring software. This means you can login from anywhere where there’s a connection to the internet and check in on your property.

CCTV security equipment is really valuable, but only when they are part of an overall security system. They’re not so effective if they’re the one and only security measure in place.

#5: Use intelligent internal & external lighting, with motion sensors (PIR)

The presence of effective indoor and outdoor security lighting with motion sensors can prove invaluable when trying to scare burglars off. They should be an integral part of any top drawer security arsenal.  The remote sensors work perfectly for automatically lighting up dark areas. They will brightly illuminate an entire area around the home yard and garden. Ask any burglar what they hate most about their job. Most will tell you it’s a blast of bright light exposing them as they try to approach a building unseen.

When these lights are not working as security illuminations they can have another purpose. You can use them to create a cozy outdoor space for entertaining and relaxing with family and friends.

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Additional Precautions

There are other preventive measures you can take to stop thieves from breaking into your home. Some of these may include:

  • Timing devices for indoor/outdoor lighting, TV, radio, etc.
  • Secure windows
  • Better doors
  • Guard Dog (Real or bluff)
  • Visible signs to highlight home security measures
  • Alarm systems

Timing Devices

As the name suggests, these are gadgets which automatically turn on lights and other devices at a set time. They are simple to set up and can be effective burglar deterrents.

The Windows

With windows, always opt for double glazed if you can, with toughened glass because it’s four times stronger.  To prevent a burglar from prying sliding windows open, fasten them with a wooden dowel or metal bar as an extra security precaution. You may also want to consider security bars to some or all of your windows too. Don’t worry; they won’t make your home look like a prison. In fact, some of them are very ornate and actually add to the aesthetics of the property.

Better Doors

You can either secure the doors you already have or you can invest in quality security doors.  Don’t forget to secure the door frames too. If they’re weak, strengthen the door jambs (doorpost).

Guard Dog (Real or Bluff)

Get a dog for a pet. Few opportunistic burglars will stick around once they hear the ferocious sound of a dog bark. You might want to put up “Beware of the Dog” signs or sticker in visible places too. If you don’t have a real dog you could always invest in a “dog alarm’.  The concept sounds comical, I know, but don’t let it put you off. Some of these dog alarms are incredibly lifelike and effective. Most come with a built-in 360 degree motion detector too. They can also detect movement through the walls of most building structures. That means the dog barking will start as soon as it hears approaching footsteps, which is quite natural behavior for a territorial hound.

Visible Signs to Highlight Home Security Measures

There are all kinds of visible signs you can use to inform wannabe burglars of the security of your property.  Such signs might include some of the following:

  • SmartWater stickers[12]
  • Warning! Home Security Alarm Installed
  • Neighborhood Watch Protected Area
  • Property Under 24 Hour Surveillance
  • Beware of the Dog

Some people also place fake security signs around their property. However, these can often be unconvincing to an experienced burglar, so do be careful. There could also be potential legal ramifications if you display company/brand names that you don’t actually use to secure your home.

Alarm Systems

Alarms can be great for burglary prevention and protection, but there is a word of warning. When an alarm is the only burglar deterrent it doesn’t pose too much of a threat, at least not to an experienced house thief. They may reduce your insurance premiums initially, but that could go up if you do need to make a large claim. Some security experts think that sole alarms put a property at greater risk than a home with zero visible security. The alarm suggests that there is something indoors worth protecting. The absence of any other security features could mean the burglar tries their luck.[3]

OK, that’s a rundown of the less essential security options.

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Other Security Safeguards

Now let’s take a look at some other points that contribute to better overall security, namely:

  • Securing Your Yard
  • Going on vacation
  • Adopting good habits
  • Burglar deterrents (condos only)
  • Single-family homes
  • Useful advice

Securing Your Yard

There are millions of break-ins every year in the US. Those who take security precautions to protect their home are much less likely to become victims of burglary than those who don’t. However, most people bend over backwards to secure the inside of their property, often neglecting that all important yard that surrounds the building.  There are two main reasons for securing yards in particular:

  1. There are a lot rich pickings out there for burglars
  2. Clutter in yards provide good hiding places for burglars to lie in wait

A lot of back yards have a shed or storage area of some sort. This is where people keep those items that don’t belong indoors. They will typically include power tools, gardening equipment, bicycles, motorbikes, camping equipment, etc. Your outdoor security lighting can help to protect the outside as can your alarm system. As for your equipment, that needs locking away at night (a common slip that many forget about).  Clearing up the yard is a good habit to get into as part of your evening security checks. Some garages are also out the back, separate from the main house. If this applies to you, the same security measures need to be in place for your garage too.

Here are a few items to consider for securing your yard:

  • Is your property fenced-in or has a wall around its perimeter?
  • How secure are the gates?
  • Fix a trellis along the top of your wall or fence
  • Never leave valuables laying around in the yard (especially ladders!)
  • Before you go away, mow the lawn short
  • Remove things in the yard that a burglar could hide behind to sneak up to the house
  • plant tough border shrubs around the bottoms of windows
  • Anything else you can think of

Going on Vacation

There is always so much to do and think about before going on a vacation. Well, I have a tip for you that will take the headache out of it all. Simply create a check list of things to do and then tick them off as you work through them. I know it sounds simple and logical, but a lot of people don’t bother. They then start to panic thinking they’ve forgotten to do something while on vacation. That’s no way to begin a vacation. Your checklist will be unique to you, but there are certain things that apply to most of us.[9]

Your vacation security checklist may include some of the following:

Things to cancel:

  • Newspapers/magazines
  • Milk and dairy deliveries
  • Regular grocery deliveries
  • Any home appointments made accidentally during your absence

People to tell:

  • Trusted family members, neighbors and/or close friends (be careful who you tell)
  • The local Neighborhood Watch if you’re a part of one
  • Local police (if they log this kind of information in your area)

Arrange for others to make your home look lived in while you’re away, including:

  • Someone to stop by and close/open the curtains daily
  • Switch lights on and off (auto timers are ideal for this)
  • Cut the lawn if it’s summer time and you’re away for more than eight days
  • Move the car around or have someone park their vehicle in your drive if yours is not there
  • Clear away any mail or free newspapers from the doorway daily
  • Ask someone to house-sit during your absence
  • Anything else you can think of

What you have to do to secure both the inside and outside of your property will depend on the building structure and what you need to protect. Make sure you don’t leave your checklist to the last minute. If you do, you are bound to forget something that you might later regret.

Adopting Good Safety Habits

As you can see from what I’ve already written, good security is also about you and your habits. You must have routines in place for start and end of day security checks, like hiding your valuables. You must also have a thorough checklist of security measures to take whenever you go away.

There are certain things that we should all be mindful of when it comes to the security of our homes. You just never know who might be listening. Even if someone seems friendly and harmless, if you don’t know them they are still strangers. It’s never a good idea to trust information with any stranger. Definitely don’t tell them of your vacation plans or that you’re away for the weekend. It can be easy to let such things slip while standing in supermarket queues or at a bus stop. You shouldn’t even trust lovely little old ladies, not if you don’t know them personally.

Tradesmen, Builders, and Others! Stranger Danger!

There are times when we have to allow strangers into our homes. These include people like plumbers, electricians, builders and so on. What you mustn’t do is invite door to door sales people inside. If you need the services of anyone for anything, make sure you vet them first. If you don’t want to go through a big company, at least choose someone who comes highly recommended. This would preferably be from someone you know and trust. It could be a good friend, neighbor or some family member.

Finally, if anyone calls at your house and claims to be someone in authority who needs to come in, ask for some photo ID. If they refuse, close the door and call the police. Even if they show you ID, don’t let them in until you have verified it with the company’s local office.[10]

Burglar Deterrents for Condos and Apartments

Condo and apartment security is like that of houses. The only real difference is that apartments above the first floor don’t have gardens or yards to worry about. You should also have the communal front door secured. Most modern apartments have intercom and security cameras to safeguard the main entrance. What you mustn’t do though is to become complacent. Burglars do still target apartments. Once they get in, they can prowl the floors looking for opportunities. They’re looking for things like open doors or bicycles left out on balconies. Cars are particularly vulnerable in apartment parking lots. It’s not the car thefts that are the problem as much as the valuables left inside them. Make sure you don’t leave valuable items in your car, or at least not on display. Some burglars steal car parts too. However, apart from adjusting your car alarm to sensitive, there’s not much you can do about that.

Everything else remains the same insomuch that you need to secure windows and doors. You also need to consider other security precautions that apply to you and your property.

Single-Family Homes

Sometimes, single-family homes are prime targets for a housebreaker. This is because there are times in the day where such properties are unoccupied. It’s especially the case when the kids are school age and both parents work. More than 60 percent of all house break-ins occur during daytime hours because a lot of homes are empty. Single family homes can be more vulnerable because they’re more difficult to secure than other dwelling types. One reason is because they have multiple access points, which robbers just love. For this and other reasons they become attractive targets for house burglars.

If you live in a single-family home, talk with your local crime prevention officer. They will be able to offer you ways to better secure your property based on the building and its location.[11]

Helpful, Useful Advice

Everyone’s home is different. Some are more vulnerable than others too. One thing is certain, and that is most people could do a better job of securing their property and protecting their loved ones from intruders. Sometimes we think we have everything covered when in fact we’re pretty vulnerable. Home security doesn’t have to be complicated. Once everything is set up, it’s then just a matter of getting into good habits. It should be no different to turning the lights out at bedtime, or shutting the windows when it starts to rain. Once you have a good security set up and routine in place, you will go through the motions without giving any of it too much conscious thought.

If you want suggestions and security advice for your particular area, talk to the local police. They will be able to provide you with security tips and guidance along with useful phone numbers. Get to know your neighbors and join a neighborhood watch program if there’s one in your area. And most important of all is to stay vigilant. It might take a bit of conscious thought at the beginning, but once you get into the mode, vigilance will be as natural to you as breathing.

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Resource Links

  1. https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/property-crime/burglary-topic-page
  2. http://www.rss.org.uk/Images/PDF/about/press-releases/2015-02-23-statistics-reveal-best-way-keep-homes-safe.pdf
  3. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1740-9713.2015.00800.x/epdf
  4. http://content.met.police.uk/Site/crimepreventionbumblebee
  5. http://www.sjpd.org/BFO/Community/Crimeprev/PreventionTips/Prevent_Burglary.html
  6. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110218135832/http:/rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs04/r249.pdf
  7. http://www.popcenter.org/prolems/burglary_home/pdfs/winchester_jackson_1982.pdf
  8. http://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/conferences/outlook97/prenzler.pdf
  9. https://thecrimepreventionwebsite.com/home-security-assessment/469/holiday-checklist-for-your-security/
  10. http://airef.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/BurglarSurveyStudyFinalReport.pdf
  11. http://www.popcenter.org/problems/burglary_home/
  12. http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/crime-law/boynton-police-to-give-residents-cutting-edge-if-w/ncKWs/

About Mark Bickmore

Hi, my name is Mark Bickmore. I'm an Engineer, who has a keen interest in home security and keeping my family, property and valuables safe from burglars. This website was set up to help me explore the research, facts and myths about burglars and burglary. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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