According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, each year more than 2 million burglaries are reported to authorities in the United States. For those of you good at math, that number comes out to about one burglary every 15 or so seconds. 

This is a scary prospect for those with families, living alone or with precious valuables and heirlooms they wish to keep safe. But you don’t have to invest in a fancy security system to get the job done.

In fact, most would-be criminals seek out the easiest targets, with even simple deterrents often being enough to send them looking for a “softer” target. This guide will walk you through easy to implement and affordable steps you can take today to secure your residence and keep you, your family, pets and valuables safe.

1. Secure Your Doors & Upgrade Locks

This one is obvious, we know. But research has shown that up to 34% of burglars go in right through the front door. This makes door security a top priority. Inspect all doors of your home to make sure the frames are solid and in good shape, and that the hinges are hidden or protected (making it harder to unscrew or pry them off). If your door has a slot for mail, make sure no one can reach in, or if they can, that any locks or door handles are out of reach.

Quick Tips and Recommendations:

  • Have a locksmith install a deadbolt that penetrates the door frame
  • Add a strike plate
  • Consider upgrading to smart locks
  • Make sure your lock is not susceptible to “bump keys”
  • Evaluate springing for a video doorbell
  • Add signs that the entryway is videoed (even if it’s not)
  • Add stickers in the windows for security systems (even if you don’t actually have one)
  • Replace weak doors with “solid core” doors that are difficult to break
  • Consider adding an adjustable safety bar to the track of any sliding glass doors

2. Evaluate your Windows

Windows are another “weak point” in a home’s construction, and an easy entry point for criminals. Twice a year you should inspect your locking mechanisms to make sure they are operable. If not make sure to replace them. Window break alarms may also be an option.

Quick Tips and Recommendations:

  • Install window glass break sensors/alarms
  • Add window bars
  • Reinforce the glass with window security film
  • Consider planting thorny bushes under first floor windows
  • Secure any windows with removable AC units

3. Light Things Up!

Criminals do NOT like to be put in the spotlight. Give them little choice by strategically adding lighting to the outside of your home and landscape. Consider placing lights around pathways, outside of windows, at each door/entryway into your home and even in your front and back yards.

Quick Tips and Recommendations:

  • Install motion sensor lights
  • Go green with solar-powered options
  • Incorporate light timers

4. Get Rid of the Not so Hidden House Key

Leaving a spare key under a mat, fake rock, or on top of a porch light is never a good idea. Despite how clever you may think you are being, criminals have seen it all and know just where to look. Instead, have your local locksmith make enough copies of keys so that everyone important to you has one in case you lose yours. You can even keep a spare key in the glove box of your vehicle or in your wallet.

5. Eliminate Hiding Spots

Criminals like lurking around. Don’t make this easier for them with built-in hiding spots. Make sure that any shrubbery in your yard isn’t too tall, space out bushes and keep any other foliage trimmed and well-maintained. If your yard has other items in it such as children’s playsets or other obstacles that criminals could camp out behind, consider pointing those yard lights we discussed earlier in that direction.

6. Don’t Neglect your Garage

Garages are becoming an increasingly common entry point for criminals. Once inside they are hidden from both habitats of the home, as well as those outsides on the street. This gives criminals time to pillage any items in the garage itself, but also provides them with privacy to work on breaking inside the door to your home. Don’t make it easy for them.

Quick Tips and Recommendations:

  • Make it a habit to lock all doors leading to and from the garage 
  • Consider keeping the garage door opener in your home (so it can’t be grabbed from a car)
  • Keep any security codes a secret 
  • Never enter security codes in front of anyone
  • Consider upgrading to a smart garage door opener
  • Cover any windows to the garage with shades 
  • Secure garage doors with additional locking mechanisms (or even zip ties)

7. Security System

You don’t need to invest in an expensive or elaborate security system. Fact is, any security system is better than none. The market is full of options ranging from DIY kits you can buy online, to professionally installed and monitored home protection. Choose a system that is within your budget and that appropriately matches your needs and concerns.

8. Have a Family Meeting

Making home security a habit starts with education and getting every member of the home on the same page. Agree to routines and best practices (such as locking doors at night) that make sense for your family.

Quick Tips and Recommendations:

  • Make it a habit to lock all doors and windows before leaving and after entering the home
  • Do not answer or open the door for strangers
  • Close and lock the garage door when the garage is not in use
  • Keep valuables locked up or out of sight
  • Have a plan in place on what to do in case of a break-in or emergency
  • Establish a “safe zone” or meeting area where all members can go to find each other in case of emergency

9. Keep Law Enforcement in the Loop

There are a number of ways you can leverage your local police department to increase the security of your home as well as keep them apprised of any potential issues.

Quick Tips and Recommendations:

  • Notify police when going out of town (such as on vacation)
  • Report any suspicious vehicles or people in the area
  • Ask the police if they have any tips on securing your residence
  • Ask about any potential criminal activity in the area

10. Put your Ladders Away

An old trick is that burglars will often pose as a construction worker, using your own ladder or equipment to scale your home and break-in. Meanwhile, neighbors and those passing by think they are simply a hired worker.

Contact a Professional Locksmith

If there’s one thing locksmiths know well, its locking mechanisms and security. Professional locksmiths can help you assess the security and reliability of your home’s locks against intruders and can walk you through options for reducing risk.

From upgrades to replacements, or even re-keying, a professional locksmith can help keep you and your family safe.

> Installing a new deadbolt lock can improve your home security, especially if you think your current lock system has been compromised or there are unaccounted-for copies of your house keys in circulation. A professional locksmith can install a new deadbolt for you in a matter of hours. The national average locksmith price ranges from $70 to $100. Locksmith prices for installing deadbolts may be higher based on whether the professional provides the lock or you have it on hand, how many components the locking system includes, and how long the installation takes. The cost to purchase a lock yourself from a big-box store can range from approximately $70 to $225 or more, depending on quality and materials. Higher-security locks often take longer and therefore cost more to install.

> Almost all new homeowners contact their local locksmith to get their locks either changed or rekeyed. In most cases an appointment is scheduled as early as the day of the closing to avoid any chance of older keys working the locks before the ink even dries. Whether or not you should rekey or replace your locks is dependant on whether the current locks you have are of good quality for the most part. There is no point in rekeying a cheap insecure lock as the cost of rekeying may exceed the value of the lock itself and you would still not benefit in any form of security. In this case it is best to contact your local locksmith and ask them for their professional opinion. An honest locksmith will not change your lock unless it really is beneficial in camparison to your current lock. A residential locksmith will know when its best to rekey our home lock and when its better to upgrade to a new one. Other reasons you may want to change locks or at least some of them is if you wanted to have them all work on the same key yet not all of them can accept the same key. Less is more when it comes to keys for your home and we believe in one key or no keys when it comes to your home.

> Smart locks are the taking over and more and more home owners and businesses alike are making the switch. The idea of not having to worry about keys is a game changer. No keys means you cannot lose them. It also means you are less likely to get locked out. Your local locksmith would be able to suggest the best smart lock for your door while maintaining the look and style you’re interested in. You don’t need to change all your locks to smart locks. We recommend replacing just one if you’re on a tight budget; and that would be the for the door you use most frequently.

> There are plenty of ways to enhance the security of your home front door. For starters you would need to make sure you have a solid door otherwise any enhancment would not really have any affect. In order to determine which security upgrades are best for you, reach out to a licensed locksmith near you that deals with front door locks for homes and adding extra layers of security. These can be either an additional deadbolt, reinforcement of your door jamb or even a high security lock. There are many options and each of them can vary based on your current door and your budget.

> The most secure locks for your home are usually deadbolts and these are preferred to be high secuirty or grade 1 quality locks. These locks cannot be found at your local hardware store and it’s best to reach out to a reliable local locksmith that carries different types of locks and offers this type of locksmtih service. High security locks come with keys and cylinders that are extremely difficult to manipulate and tamper with. The keys cannot be duplicated unless authorized which means that you have control over any key duplication. Grade 1 locks are superior in their materials and are usually solid brass; making it very difficult to break using brute force.