When we were kids and played games like Hide-and-Seek or Kick the Can, home was always our safe place. Even in board games, if you get to home, you know no one else could capture you, tag you, or steal your game pieces.
As adults, we want our real home to the same kind of safe haven, but unfortunately, game rules don’t apply to our property. So we have to take a few extra steps to make sure our home and yard are safe and secure. While commercials on TV want you to think the only way to stay safe is to buy an elaborate security system, the truth is with a few easy steps, everyone can make their home more secure without spending a fortune. Here are a few ways that you can protect your home on a budget:
1. Make sure all of the doors have deadbolt locks and then use them. – If a burglar can’t open the door, it is more than likely he will move on to the next residence. The more lock options on the door, the tougher it will be for someone to break in. But you have to remember to actually lock them!
2. Use lights, both inside and out. A dark house is usually a good sign no one is home, but another sign of an empty house is a single light left on 24 hours a day. Invest in a few timers that control lighting to make the house look lived in. Also make sure there is some outdoor lighting around the house, especially if you live on a dark street. A few solar lights along the driveway or sidewalk are inexpensive and don’t rely on electricity. Motion detector lights are handy to have, as well, especially if part of the yard is hidden by fencing or landscaping.
3. Rethink your landscaping. Burglars love homes with thick bushes and shrubs. Why? Bushes and shrubs and similar landscaping provide excellent hiding places. You can keep your rhododendron – you just might want to move it away from the house to a more open area of the yard.
4. Use your garage for your car. Cars are easy targets for burglars or kids looking to cause trouble. They are often left unlocked in driveways and who hasn’t accidentally left some valuable items, like a laptop bag or a purse or a cellphone in the back seat? Putting the car in the garage adds another layer of protection.
5. Don’t leave valuable items outside unprotected. An unlocked bike on a front porch is like candy to a thief. So are electronics left sitting on a table. Your front porch or back deck might be part of your property, but anything left there is in plain sight and easy to snatch.
6. Get to know your neighbors. Knowing the people who live in your neighborhood helps you figure out who belongs, as opposed to someone who might be checking out the street for a potential break in. Neighbors who know each other look out for each other, too, and will keep an eye on things for you while you are gone.
7. Know your house guests. The person who robs you isn’t always a stranger. How many times has “Dear Abby” printed a letter from someone who discovered something missing after a house guest has left? If you are throwing a party, use a designated closet for coats, rather than throw them on your bed. Don’t give overnight guests free reign of your home. Keep money, financial statements, credit cards, and anything else of value stored away, out of sight.
8. Create a DIY surveillance system. Attach a cheap webcam to a network-enabled old computer and set it up to film your front door or another entrance to your home. You can monitor the happenings at your house from your office or while on vacation.