It doesn’t matter if you live on a quiet street in a small town or out on a country road in the middle of nowhere, burglars are always a real threat, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
My wife and I, along with our two children and pets, happen to live out in the country, with plenty of space between houses and a corn field across the street. While this is great for privacy, it’s also an idea place for someone to break into your house without getting noticed.
Both of our parents, on the other hand, live in small neighborhoods. At first, you might think this is safer due to the extra eyes watching everything, but at the same time, it provides more options for burglars looking for an easy target. My point here is that we all need to protect ourselves from burglars, no matter where we live.
If nothing else, thieves and vandals are opportunists, always looking for the path of least resistance in reaching their twisted goals. That’s why it’s important that we do everything we can to protect ourselves and our families however we can.
In this article, I’m going to list some simple, yet effective, steps that you can take to make your home less appealing to burglars (even without using an alarm system). My wife and I have slowly implemented many of these ideas in our house, while a few of them we have yet to try.
We all have different living accommodations, so while some of these ideas may work well for you, others may not. Pick and choose the ones that you think make the most sense in your situation and keep the others in mind for the future, in case things change.
While there’s no full-proof way to completely prevent burglars from targeting your house, it’s absolutely possible to make it less likely. Below, you’ll find several simple, yet effective, steps you can take to deter potential intruders, without an alarm system.
16 Effective Ways to Stop Burglars from Targeting Your Home
1 – Leave Your Lights On (Inside and Outside)
The best way to deter burglars from targeting your home is to think like one. So, if you were a burglar, what would be the first thing that would make you pass on a house and move on to the next one? Lights!
No one in their right mind is going to target a house with the lights on when there’s another one a couple of houses down that’s completely dark.
While we all want to be more energy efficient, it’s worth the small sacrifice in your energy bill if it means your home will be less appealing to a thief.
So, now that we’ve decided that we need to leave a few lights on, which ones do we leave on? Let’s start with the outside of your home or apartment.
Burglars need a way to get into your home, so the logical place to leave your lights on is near your doors and windows. The backside of a house is a common entry point, as is the small door leading into a garage.
Putting up lights in these areas in a must. Ideally, you want to use lights that cover a lot of area, like a flood light. That way, not only are you lighting the entry points, but you’re also making it more difficult to sneak around the outside of the house.
My wife and I installed lights around our home that only come on when it starts getting dark. This allows us to simply leave the switches turned on at all times, without unnecessarily running up a lighting bill during the day.
You may also want to consider leaving a light or two on inside the house. Most people find this unnecessary, but the more lit up your home is, the less likely someone is to come sneaking around it.
Just like we do with our outdoor lights, you can install indoor lights that come on automatically when it’s dark inside (like a night light). If you place these strategically in your home by doors and windows, you can give the impression of your home being brightly lit, without actually adding a ton of light to the interior.
When leaving interior lights on, make sure to keep your curtains closed. You don’t want to make it easy for someone to see the interior of your home, especially when someone is looking for valuables to steal.
2 – Leave Some Electronics On (Or Turn Them On and Off Randomly)
Sometimes, leaving a few lights on simply isn’t enough to deter the more persistent burglars. In these cases, it helps to hit another one of their five senses by leaving some on some sound-producing electronics.
Again, you want to place your electronics near the most likely entry points into your home. Simply leave a radio on, or for better effect, leave a TV on.
If you leave your curtains closed, leaving a television running gives the appearance of someone watching the TV, without anyone actually having to be in the room.
For a more high-tech version of leaving your electronics on, consider installing a smart timer. A smart timer allows you to set a loose schedule for your electronics to turn on and off, with some random variations mixed in to make it less obvious that someone is not actually controlling the devices.
Configuring your lights or electronics to turn on and off randomly is much more effective than using a standard timer. Seasoned burglars are known for staking out houses and watching for patterns. Randomizing your lights and electronics will only help to get them to move on to the next house.
Smart devices are becoming extremely popular as of late, and I have to say, we love them. We recently bought an Amazon Echo Dot. The Echo Dot is basically the poor man’s version of the Amazon Echo, but it has all the features that we need.
We use it to do all sorts of things, like playing music, turning the lights on and off with our voice, and finding out what time the game is on. We loved it so much that we ended up buying two more for our kids’ rooms, along with multiple smart electrical sockets!
Over time, smart devices should offer more and more features that can be used to improve the security of our homes.
3 – Install Motion Lights
Back to lights for just a moment, then I’ll move on. While we highly recommend leaving at least a few lights on at night, it might make sense in your situation to incorporate motion lights as well.
A few years ago at my grandma’s house, she was concerned about security and installed a flood light above her garage. At the time, the neighbor complained, and she was forced to take it down.
While a flood light is ideal, if you’d prefer to not light up the entire neighborhood, consider installing small lights by entryways and motion-sensor flood lights in broader areas, like above your garage door.
This way, you and your neighbors will only be subjected to the bright lights when someone (or something) actually approached your house at night.
Another interesting way to use motion lights in to install them inside your house. If a burglar isn’t deterred by your outdoor lights, you can at least add a second deterrent by having the lights in the house come on as soon as they open the door. This alone might be enough to spook them and send them running in the other direction.
4 – Install a Security Camera (Even If It’s Not Recording)
One of the first things that people think of when they start thinking about ways to secure their home is a surveillance system. Surveillance systems are great, but they can run anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
If we again think like a criminal, we already know to look for cameras around the outside of a house. If we see them, we assume the house is being monitored and move on. But does the house actually need to be monitored?
If you want to deter burglars, but don’t want to break the bank, consider simply purchasing the cameras on their own, without the DVR and accessories. While surveillance systems can be expensive, individual cameras can be found for a fraction of the cost.
Keep in mind that if you only have the cameras, you won’t be able to obtain any footage of a thief or vandal, if they do happen to pass in front of your cameras. However, most of us will sleep better knowing that we’ve at least reduced the likelihood of that happening in the first place.
5 – Lock Your Doors and Windows (And Make Sure They’re Closed!)
If you’ve followed any or all of the tips above, you’re off to a great start. But, that doesn’t mean we should stop there.
This tip is one of the easiest and most obvious step you can take, yet it seems to be one of the most neglected things you hear about.
If you have lights covering your entry points, as I mentioned above, a burglar is not going to want to spend much time near your doors and windows.
Don’t make it easy for them by leaving your doors and windows unlocked. Simply locking them means that for them to break in, they either need to break something or pick a lock, while under your lights!
On a related note, make sure you actually latch your windows. While keeping them closed might be enough to deter some criminals, many are smart enough to actually check to see if they’re locked.
6 – Keep Your Doors and Windows Covered
While we’re on the subject of doors and windows, not only is it important to keep them closed and locked, but it’s also a good idea to keep them covered. By covered, I mean close your blinds, curtains, etc.
Why? Because by leaving a door or window uncovered, you’re making it easy for someone to peak inside your home and not only see your valuables, but the layout of your house as well.
Burglars take huge risks when breaking into a home. If they have a choice between a house where they know what’s inside and one that they have no idea what’s inside, which one do you think they’ll choose?
One thing that most people forget about is their basement windows. Make sure you have these closed, locked, and covered as well, especially if you have an egress window.
7 – Put a Security System Sticker in the Window
Earlier, I mentioned how putting up cameras, even if you don’t purchase an entire surveillance system, can be an effective deterrent. Let’s take it one step further and simply put up a security sticker.
It doesn’t get much more cost effective than simply putting a sticker in your window, and while it might not seem like it would be effective, burglars know to look for these things when narrowing down their targets.
A quick search online results in tons of options, some costing a little as a few dollars. While I wouldn’t rely solely on putting a sticker in my window, any deterrent that’s this cheap and easy is worth doing, in my opinion.
8 – Get a Large Dog or Put Up a Dog Warning Sticker
While we’re on the sticker theme, consider putting another sticker in your window warning intruders of your large dog inside.
Don’t have a large dog? That’s okay. We’re simply attempting to create a less appealing target for a potential intruder. Would you try to rob a house if a vicious dog was potentially waiting for you on the other side of the door?
While on the subject of dogs, having a large, loud dog not only annoys your neighbors, but also helps to ward off potential intruders. I would never recommend getting a dog for this reason alone, but if you’re a dog lover, it sure doesn’t hurt to get a big one with a strong bark.
9 – Leave Your Car Parked Outside
It’s common sense that most burglars, at least the smart ones in the bunch, target homes when their home owners are away.
While we can’t be home all the time, we should do our best to give the illusion that we are. One simple way to do this is to leave a car parked outside, either in the driveway or in front of your house or apartment on the street.
If you only have one car and are away from home, this obviously isn’t an option. However, if you are a multi-car family, you likely take trips together to run errands or even go on vacation. If you still have one car at home, simply leave it outside to give the impression that someone is inside the house.
Even if you only have one car for your household, you can still leave your car outside at night to make it clear that someone is inside the house. Of course, this makes your car an easier target, but that’s another topic altogether!
10 – Put a Security Sign in Your Yard
I’ve already talked about a couple of alternatives to installing a surveillance system. Another idea to give the impression that you have a full-blown security system (which can be very expensive) is to put a security sign in your yard.
Again, you can easily find security signs online with a quick and simple search. They might be a bit pricier than stickers, but they’re likely more noticeable and effective as well.
With a security sign, placement is important. Make sure to put it somewhere in your front yard where it is clearly visible to anyone that passes by. If a potential burglar can’t see it, how effective can it be?
As with the other ideas listed above, don’t assume that simply installing a sign is enough. The idea is to deter potential criminals from targeting your home, so the less appealing you make your home and property, the better.
11 – Don’t Share Your Vacation Schedule on Social Media
I’m not a fan of social media for many reasons, but even if you are one of the many people that love to share your personal stories with others online, there are certain things that you simply should not share.
One of those things is your schedule. Whether it’s your work schedule, your daily routine, or the dates of your next vacation, be aware that you’re taking a big risk any time you share this information on a public forum.
Most people don’t think about this when they post to their social media accounts, but by posting information about your whereabouts, you’re making it really easy for a potential intruder to target your house.
Even if you think only your friends can see what you post, keep in mind that it only takes one person to get that information into the wrong hands. One of your friends might simply tell a coworker about the amazing vacation you’re about to embark on, not knowing that their coworker will take advantage of this info.
Anyone targeting a home is going to prefer to target that home when no one is around. Don’t make it any easier for them, and don’t put a target on your back. Simply refrain from posting about anything related to schedules until it’s already in the past (after your vacation).
12 – Control the Plant Life Around Your House
Planting some shrubs, small trees, and various other plants around our houses makes them feel more like a home, but make sure not to let the plant life get out of control.
Overgrown plants around a house provide easy cover for intruders, making it a breeze for them to look in your windows and potentially break in.
You don’t necessarily need to eliminate your plants altogether, but make sure you’re especially conscience of the greenery around your doors and windows. These are the potential entry points, so you want to make it as difficult as possible for someone to check out these locations unnoticed.
13 – Have a Neighbor or Family Member Pick Up Your Mail
A dead giveaway that you’re on vacation or out on a work-related trip is a mailbox full of mail. If your mailbox is full, you’re sending a clear signal to potential burglars that your home is an easy target, or at least easier than most.
Whenever possible, ask a family member or neighbor to pick up your mail when you’re away. Not only will this make it more difficult for criminals to determine when you’re not home, but it will prevent your local thief from stealing your mail.
If having your mail picked up by someone is not an option, consider temporarily stopping mail delivery to your house.
14 – Get to Know Your Neighbors
Speaking of neighbors, it always helps to be on your neighbors’ good side. Not only can they provide a tool or ingredient when you’re in a pinch, but they can also help to keep an eye on and around your house.
At our previous house, we had an older couple across the street that kept an eye on everything. At times, they paid a little too much attention to things going on in the neighborhood, but at the same time, it was nice to know that someone always had an eye on our street.
At our current house, my dad let our dogs out while we were on vacation last year. He told me that as he struggled to get the keypad to work on our front door one early morning, our neighbor, who happened to be getting home from somewhere at the time, parked at the end of the driveway with their lights shining on him until they figured out that he wasn’t an intruder.
Not many neighbors will go this far for you, but most will at least let you know if they noticed someone sneaking around your house or if they saw a suspicious vehicle planted in front of your house a couple of days in a row.
Having an extra set of eyes on your house is a huge benefit. Just make sure to return the favor.
15 – Move Your Valuables Out of Sight (Including Outdoor Items)
While it might be a hassle moving your nice grill into the garage when you’re not using it, leaving valuables out in plain sight will surely attract potential burglars.
After all, if you have such nice items outside, what nice things do you have inside? That’s the thought process going on in the mind of potential intruders.
Remember, burglars break into homes to steal things. If you give them a reason to think you have a bunch of valuable items inside your home, you’re practically inviting them through your front door.
16 – Ask Your Local Police Department to Perform a Security Audit
While most of the ideas on this page will work well as deterrents for most people, everyone’s surroundings and circumstances are different. What works well for someone in a house out in the country won’t necessarily work for someone living in the heart of a large city.
Check with your local police department to see if they’re willing to do a security audit on your home. Many local authorities offer this as a free service to their residents.
During the security check, your local authorities will look for vulnerabilities in and around your home. They will then provide you with recommendations to improve the security of your home and make it less appealing to potential intruders.
A simple phone call to the local authorities might lead to uncovering a potential vulnerability in our around your house. Don’t hesitate; just give them a call.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to deter potential burglars from targeting your home, even without purchasing an expensive alarm system. With that being said, if you can afford a nice alarm system, it’s worth the price of admission. They provide yet another effective layer of security for your home and family.
If a security system simply doesn’t fit into your budget at this point in your life, don’t despair. Using a combination of the low-cost ideas listed above will surely help to make your house or apartment less appealing to potential burglars.
While this list is meant to be comprehensive, just know that things change fast. Techniques that are effective today might not be effective tomorrow, and intruders are always looking for new ways to get to your valuables.
Implement some of the ideas from above, then continuously look for ways to improve upon them. With a little time and effort, you’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing your home and family are safer today than they were yesterday.