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.
Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Reinforce your entry door strike plate
Reinforcing your door’s weak spot, the jamb, with a heavy-duty strike plate and extra-long screws gives it the added strength needed to withstand a burglar trying to kick in your door. If your deadbolt was installed within the last ten years, it’s probably already reinforced. To check, simply remove the strike plate. If it’s heavy steel with at least 3-in. screws or has a heavy reinforcing plate, you can rest easy. If not, buy strike plate-reinforcing hardware.
To install, remove the old strike plate, then hold the new one in place and deeply score around it. Chisel out space for the new plate, then mount it by driving 3-in. screws through predrilled holes. You should be aware of all of these sneaky ways burglars can break into your house.
Secure patio doors
Patio door locks are easy to pick. Placing a heavy-duty stick in the door track will bar the door closed, but it looks crude and it’s inconvenient to remove every time you want to open the door. Fortunately, there’s a better way to get the security you need.
Andersen Corp.’s auxiliary foot lock fastens along the bottom of the door and has a bolt that fits into a grommet to hold the door secure. A similar lock, the Door Guardian, attaches at the top of the door. Both locks allow the door to open 3 in. without compromising security. Installation takes about ten minutes. Screw the bracket containing the pin to the door, then drill holes and insert grommets in the track for the pin to slide into. Make sure you’re aware of the sneaky signs a burglar could be watching your house in the first place.
An even simpler idea for sliding doors
“Like a lot of folks, we needed something to secure our sliding patio door. But I wanted it to be a little more stylish than a 2×4 or an ugly metal bar. So I picked up an oak handrail and stained and sealed it. I finished it with an attractive drawer pull. It works great, it’s easy to handle and it gets tons of compliments from everyone who sees it.” —Ryan Velthuis. Check out these tips to fix a sliding glass door should the time ever arrive. Make sure you know the 22 signs your house is vulnerable to being robbed.
Beef up your wooden garage entry door
A flimsy old wooden garage entry door has weak center panels that can easily be kicked in, making it a favorite target for thieves. Adding a dead bolt won’t solve that problem. A down-and-dirty way to beef up the door is to add a 1/2-in. plywood reinforcement panel and then bar it with 2x4s placed in bar-holder brackets.
Cut the plywood to fit over the door’s center section (make sure it covers the windows but doesn’t cover the door handle). Fasten it to the door with drywall screws.
Test-fit a bracket and 2×4 against the door. Measure how far the bracket is from the wall, then cut filler strips that distance and install them. Fasten the brackets in place by drilling 1/4-in. pilot holes and inserting 3/8 x 3-in. lag screws. Place the 2x4s in the brackets. Making your garage extra secure is one of the great ways to outsmart burglars.
Add a security anchor
What do you do when you don’t have a place to lock your bike, canoe or construction materials while you’re away? Sometimes—unfortunately—call the police to report a theft. The Kryptonite Stronghold Anchor, once installed, provides a safe, permanent anchoring spot for your stuff.
This clever, tamper-resistant system involves drilling three holes and installing bolts to anchor the heavy-duty security hook to cement (bits included). A dome covers the hook and bolts. The anchor can also be installed in truck beds or secured to other surfaces using your fasteners. The instructions are clear, the design is clean and simple, and it comes with a lifetime warranty (well, you know, sorta). A security system is always great to have, but here are some ways to fake that you have one even if you don’t.
Install a small safe
Most of us don’t need a big, heavy, expensive safe to secure our valuables. For $100, you can get a safe that will protect against thieves. Be sure to fasten it to the floor or wall so an intruder doesn’t walk off with it. Safes go up in price for options such as fire protection and digital or biometric (fingerprint-reading) opening systems. SentrySafe makes the ones shown here.
Install the wall safe or cylinder floor safe by bolting it to the floor (most safes have holes inside for just that purpose). Hide it in the corner of a closet or other inconspicuous area. Or mount the wall safe inside a wall and cover it with a picture. Or chip out a hole in your concrete slab and stick in the floor safe, then pour new concrete around it. Plus, check out some clever, inexpensive diversion safes that will fool burglars.
Keep spare keys in a lock box
Hiding a house key is risky business. Clever (or lucky) burglars sometimes find hidden keys. And insurance companies may refuse to cover your losses if there’s no sign of forced entry. The solution is a combination lock box. Screw it to a fence post or your house in an inconspicuous spot. But don’t use the short, wimpy screws provided by the manufacturer. A crook could pry off the box, take it home and patiently saw it open. Instead, use four No. 10 x 2-in. screws, preferably stainless steel. If your home does get broken into, here are the first things you should do.
Blink Home Security Camera Kit
This wireless security camera system is a three-camera package that requires AA batteries and a WiFi connection to operate. It can cover a lot of square footage of your home, with each device featuring built-in sensors that are triggered by motion. Upon detecting an intruder’s movement, the alarm goes off and an alert is sent to your smartphone, while a short video clip of the event is uploaded to Blink’s cloud storage. You can even integrate the security cameras with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. Install a reliable security system in just one day. DIY home security systems will help to protect your home and your family. And make sure you know the 10 spots where smart homeowners install security cameras.
Know who’s there
You never want to open a door unless you know who’s on the other side. A peephole lets you see who’s there, but entry doors don’t come with peepholes, and a lot of peepholes are so tiny that they don’t clearly show you who’s out there. Strangers can hide slightly out of view or appear so distorted that they’re hard to identify.
Avoid uncertainty by installing a wide-angle door viewer. The one shown here from M.A.G. Engineering and Manufacturing Co. (magsecurity.com, No. 8720) offers a 160-degree view and is available on the company’s website. Install it just like a standard peephole—drill a hole from each side and screw it in. If you opt for a smart doorbell, here are the safest ones you can buy.
Protect your mail
Mail theft is a growing problem, since unsecured mailboxes are easy targets. One sure way to keep thieves from stealing your mail—checks, credit card offers, personal information—is to use a security mailbox. Once the mail is dropped in, you need a key to open the box. Just screw it to the wall or post as you would a standard mailbox. Don’t miss more safety tips that could save your home from a break-in.