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22 Inexpensive Ways to Theft-Proof Your Home

You don’t need to spend a fortune to keep burglars at bay. Here are some of the most inexpensive (yet very effective!) DIY home security ideas.

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Burglar tries to open a front door with crowbarsLE Photo/Shutterstock

Make burglars pass you by

The thought of falling victim to a burglar can give even the most stalwart homeowners pause. No matter how safe you may think your neighborhood is, there's always the chance that a thief could pay an unwelcome visit. Luckily, though, these simple, inexpensive tips can help minimize that possibility and make would-be burglars less likely to target your turf. Plus, here's what the difference is between a "robbery" and a "burglary" in the first place.

simple window lock pin holeFamily Handyman

Simple window locks

The latches on most double hung windows are no match for a burglar with a pry bar. Pin locks are an easy solution. To install one, all you have to do is drill a hole. If you want to lock the window in a partially opened position, drill a second hole. You can find pin locks at home centers and online. They work well on sliding patio doors too. Check out these home security nightmares that could be putting you at risk.

Put Motion Detector Lighting Anywhere

Put motion detector lighting anywhere

Put motion detector lighting anywhere. Motion detector lights are a proven crime deterrent, and standard hard-wired models cost as little as $15. If running a power supply would be difficult, buy ones that run on solar power. The downside is the cost. You can find the Heath Zenith solar model shown here on Amazon. Check out some more of our choices for the best security systems you can buy.

Secure Sheds With Screws

Secure sheds with screws

Your locked shed seems secure, but a cagey thief can bypass the lock by using a screwdriver to remove hinges and other hardware with exposed screw heads. Foil would-be thieves by using Allen head, Torx head or hex-head cap screws instead of standard Phillips head screws. You can also order tamper-proof security screws that require special removal tools that an opportunistic thief is unlikely to have. You'll also need to buy the special bit or tool. Type “security screws” or “tamperproof screws” into your search engine. Plus, find out the nerve-racking way doggy doors are making your home vulnerable.

Two Ways to Secure Shed Door Hinges

Two ways to secure shed door hinges

Shed doors usually swing out, so the hinge pins are accessible from outside; all a thief has to do is pop out the pins and remove the door. To stop this, buy a security hinge with tamper-proof pins and a locking tab at a home center. Or, you can retrofit an existing hinge by removing the center screws on both sides, inserting a finish screw through one side and allowing it to protrude about 1/4 in. Drill out the receiving hole slightly so that when the door is closed, the finish screw head engages the other hinge. That way, even if the hinge pin is removed, the door can't be taken off. These are the 10 hiding places burglars always look first.

Add Inexpensive Door and Window Alarms

Add inexpensive door and window alarms

Keeping doors and windows locked is your first line of defense. Make wireless alarms your second. Burglars hate noises, so even a small alarm usually sends them running. The alarms are available at home centers. The alarms don't provide the same security as pro-installed monitored systems since the wireless devices are activated by doors or windows opening (not glass breaking). Use the alarms for doors and windows in 'hidden' areas of the house where you don't normally gather and that are often dark.

Attach the alarm to the door or window (with a screw or double-sided tape) alongside the magnetic contact strip (they don't have to be touching, but within 1/2 in.). When the door or window opens, breaking magnetic contact, the alarm shrieks (these little units have a piercing alarm). The door alarm has a delay feature, giving you time to set the alarm and leave, then open the door and deactivate the unit when you come home, without setting it off. The window unit has an on/off switch. The alarms will work on any door or window, and the batteries last two to three years. For more budget-friendly security secrets, find out the best home security devices without monthly fees.


BIBENE WiFi Home Security Door Alarm System DIY Kit

This cost-effective home security alarm system kit features a built-in magnetic contact sensor and PIR (passive infrared) motion sensor to detect any forceful break-in, activating the alarm to scare off intruders. The app allows you to control the whole security system anywhere with your smartphone or tablet. You receive warning notifications of the exact location where the alarm was triggered, while you can also use the app for arming delay, and more. The kit comes with a PIR main panel, a wireless PIR motion detector, five door/window sensors, two remote controls, an AC adapter, a user manual, and all backup battery and installation accessories. Hide valuables and personal items in plain sight with these 20 clever hiding spots that will fool burglars.

Install Door Reinforcement Hardware

Install door reinforcement hardware

You can spend hundreds on a fancy “pick-proof” deadbolt for your entry door. But you're kidding yourself if you think that'll stop most burglars. The truth is, most don't know how to pick a lock. They gain entry with one really well-placed kick or body slam that splits the doorjamb (and often the door as well), and they walk right in. You can stop burglars in their tracks by beefing up your door and jamb with reinforcing hardware. The components take about an hour to install.

Measure the entry door thickness and the spacing between the entry knob and the deadbolt cylinder. Then buy either a single or a double wrap-around door reinforcement plate kit and four 1-1/2-in.-long stainless steel wood screws. Then get a doorjamb reinforcement kit.

Remove the entry knob and deadbolt cylinder. Then remove the deadbolt and latch and toss the short screws. Install the wrap-around door reinforcement plate and reinstall the latch and deadbolt plates using the longer stainless steel screws. Find out the things home security experts never do in their own homes.

Defeat Bolt Cutters

Defeat bolt cutters

“A determined thief with an angle grinder and enough time can cut through nearly any lock,” says Master Lock's Justin Matuszek. “But more often, the thief has a bolt cutter and is trying to work fast.” He says the thicker a lock's shackle and the less it's exposed, the more secure the lock is from bolt cutters. And the kind of locking mechanism makes a difference in how easily a lock can be picked. The Master Lock Magnum keyed padlock and the Master Lock ProSeries Combination Lock both resist bolt cutters. Both are available on Amazon. Plus, here's how to choose the best security chain and how to choose the best security system.

Pick-Proof Your Dead Bolt

Pick-proof your deadbolt

Even amateur thieves can pick a lock. To hold the deadbolt firmly in place so the door can't open, install the deadbolt protection device. Slide the "lock" over the deadbolt handle it to keep it from turning. Can you guess the most common time of the day for burglaries? (It might surprise you!)

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Originally Published on The Family Handyman