No matter where you live, your home could be targeted and identified as easy to enter if you fail to take the proper steps to secure your home. Whether your house is in a neighborhood or an isolated setting, burglars look for vulnerable homes. Unless you take measures to protect it, your home could be the next target. With this in mind, protecting your home and property from intruders should be one of your foremost concerns as a homeowner.
Easy Ways to Protect Your Home From Intruders
You’re probably wondering how you can stop burglars from targeting your home. One of the biggest things burglars look for is an unoccupied home. With the following home security tips, you can take numerous actions to make it appear you are home, even if you are traveling for weeks on end.
1. Use a Timer for Electronics
Lights make it seem as though a house is occupied, especially during the evening and late-night hours when burglars are generally active. If people from the outside can tell the lights in your living room or bedroom are on, they will usually assume someone is home. Therefore, keep lights on inside your house to serve as a deterrent against burglars.
The most crucial times to have lights on are during the early evening hours before you arrive home. Once the natural daylight starts to dim, an occupied home will usually be lit from the inside. To activate your lights before you get home each night, equip your lights with a timer. Set the lights to activate at a certain time of the evening, such as 4:30 p.m. during winter months and 7:00 p.m. during the summer. You can also program different lights to go off and on to make it appear as though people are occupying different rooms throughout the evening.
Another effective way to prevent burglars from attempting to enter your home is to have music playing throughout your living quarters, loud enough for anyone to hear outside. If you have a large stereo, use this to your advantage when your house is unoccupied. Turn it on before you head out the door. For an even more convincing use of your stereo system, link it up to a programming app to change the music remotely from your smartphone.
The television is another device you can rig to turn on and off at regular intervals while you are away. For this to be effective, however, it needs to be loud enough for outsiders to hear and positioned so the flashing screen will emit light through the curtains and blinds.
For an even more convincing display, you could time your stereo to turn off just as your television switches on for the evening. This would be ideal if you work late or are out for the evening.
2. Keep Landscaping Under Control
One of the most glaring signs of an unoccupied home is an unkempt, un-mowed lawn. During the summer when homeowners often go on vacation, a lawn that has not been mowed or watered for more than a week signal to burglars that the house is a prime target. If you do plan to go on vacation for a week or more during the summer, pay to have a landscaper visit your property to care for your yard.
In addition to lawn upkeep, make sure the bushes around your home are well-trimmed at all times. If you allow bushes and other foliage to overgrow, they could serve as hiding spots for burglars. If a home’s façade is in clear view of the road and neighborhood, an intruder is less likely to target that home because trespassing or attempts at forced entry could easily be spotted from across the street or by the next-door neighbors. However, if bushes flank your house, the burglar will have more room to sneak around and look for the easiest entry point.
Another thing to be aware of is yard and driveway debris, which can accumulate rapidly when your home is unattended. If your house is going to be unoccupied for more than a few days in the fall, arrange to have someone come and pick up any branches and leaves that may start to build up in your driveway or lawn.
Before you go on vacation during the winter months, prepare for the possibility of snow while you are away. When snow sticks, burglars target houses where the driveways have not been shoveled and where no foot tracks lead to the front door. When you head out for the holidays, ask one of your neighbors to do a cursory walk to your doorstep if it does snow, simply to create foot impressions.
If your house is undergoing renovations, never let it appear as though your house is unlocked and accessible. For example, if you’re expanding your garage, and the work is being performed piecemeal, be sure to keep a visual barrier between the construction zone and any off-property vantage points.
If any part of your interior space has its walls removed for any length of time, make sure not to keep valuables in that area. Any window of time in which you are away and the construction crew is on break could be all that a prying burglar might need to steal your belongings.
3. Clean up Your Mail
Another tell-tale sign of an unattended property is uncollected mail. Whether your mailbox is roadside or door-side, it should be cleared at least every other day, depending on how much mail you normally receive on a typical weekday. If you are gone for more than three days, ask a friend or neighbor to collect and hold your mail for the duration of your absence. You can also have the post office hold your mail until you return.
Flyers can also serve as red flags for burglars, especially if they accumulate on your front door. While some residents might neglect their mail from time to time, it is uncommon for flyers to accumulate on the door of an occupied home. Attentive homeowners will not normally let this slide because most people see flyers as a nuisance. Moreover, burglars sometimes place flyers as occupancy gauges, so they can later return to see which flyers are still hanging. If you plan to be away for more than a couple days, ask a friendly neighbor to collect any flyers or menus that get hung on your doors.
If you have a newspaper or magazine delivered to your doorstep every day, you should arrange to have your subscription suspended for any length of time that you plan to be out of town. Even if you only receive a newspaper on Sundays, arrange to have the subscription paused or ask a neighbor to collect it from your property.
4. Use Decoy Safety System Stickers
Another way to make your house intimidating to burglars is to place “Neighborhood Watch” warning stickers on the most prominent parts of your property, such as the mailbox, the front door and the living room window. Granted, these stickers will only be effective if you and your neighbors report suspicious activity. If a burglar catches wind that your neighborhood is lax on its safety-enforcement habits, any warning sticker that you place on your property could be viewed as a bluff and nothing more.
One of the most recommended precautionary features is a home alarm system, which will scare off any trespasser the moment it detects suspicious noises or unauthorized presence on your property. If you do not wish to pay the fee of an alarm service, you can buy an independent, motion-activated alarm system online for a fraction of the cost of a full-service system. You can also simply place warning stickers on your property claiming you do have an alarm that will sound if anyone gets too close to your home. However, some home security experts advise against this practice, saying some burglars will wise up to such measures and take alarm warnings less seriously in general.
To deter car thieves, place bumper stickers on your car, van or truck. This will make the vehicle more readily identifiable and therefore less tempting to would-be carjackers and burglars. In fact, with today’s online sleuthing resources, a car thief is unlikely to get very far in any car emblazoned with distinct bumper stickers and decals, especially if the car itself is painted with a vibrant color or has a unique design.
5. Secure and Replace Entry Doors and Sliding Doors
Some of the most vulnerable points of entry into residential properties are the sliding doors that lead into bedrooms, dining rooms and living areas. If your house features older sliding doors that don’t have these security features, reinforce them from the inside by placing metal bars or wooden dowels in the inner tracks. This way, if a burglar does manage to get past the lock, the dowel will help prevent the door from opening. The more difficult you make it for a thief to enter your home with obstacles like this, the more likely you are to thwart a would-be burglar.
For added protection, reinforce your other doors with deadbolt locks and whatever else it takes to make them foolproof to possible break-in attempts. The three most vulnerable spots on a front door are the hinges, the jamb and the frame. A burglar who manages to kick open a door will generally do so by exploiting one of these weaknesses with blunt force. For boosted protection, reinforce your front door with a supplemental kit. You might also want to strengthen your deadbolt lock with a bigger strike plate and long screws.
6. Reinforce and Replace Windows
Older windows likely have ineffective locks and glass that can easily break. If the windows on your house are old and drafty, chances are a burglar could easily pry them open with a crowbar. To prevent this from happening, replace the older, faulty windows on your house with newer, stronger windows. Installing new windows is an effective way to reinforce the security of your home — especially if your current windows are in rough shape or simply lacking in modern security enhancements.
For maximum protection, choose double-paned windows with strengthened glass and reinforced sashes and frames. Always choose a window that has a locking feature that is anchored into the sash with composite or metal. Avoid windows with sliding mechanisms for a burglar to exploit. If you are looking for decorative windows, these too can have security features like tempered or impact-resistant glass so you can maintain your home’s style while also improving security. When considering or selecting new windows, go with an installer who will make the process easy plus offers you multiple security features.
To reinforce windows, adding security grilles or bars can offer some protection, but potentially at the cost of changing the look and curb appeal of your home. New locks might be an option too — wedge locks can prevent a double-hung window from opening easily, and pin locks or key locks might also work for your windows. To complement these reinforcement options, you might also want to plant thorny shrubbery, like barberry and some species of holly, under easy-to-access first-floor windows.
Contact Homespire Windows and Doors to Invest in Your Home’s Safety
At Homespire, we offer a range of windows and doors that offer maximum insulation and security. We offer a wide variety of window designs and styles, including but not limited to:
- Double-hung windows: These consist of two sashes, with or without grid patterns, which can be opened from the top and/or bottom. The top sash can be lowered vertically outside the lower sash, while the lower sash can be raised inside the upper sash.
- Casement windows: Casement windows have one or more panels, hinged at one side to open outward at an angle, much like a door.
- Sliding windows: These windows are made of two sashes, one that slides open horizontally in front of a stationary sash.
- Awning windows: These are small, rectangular, single-sash windows that hinge at the top and crack open at the bottom. Awnings are usually placed in basements and crawl spaces but are also sometimes installed above sliding and double-hung windows for added ventilation.
- Bay/Bow windows: Bay windows are window sets consisting of three or more sides that form a half-relieved hexagon protruding from the side of a house. The far-left and far-right sashes open at an angle. Bay windows often feature grilles and are usually seen on luxury homes.
Installing any of the above windows from Homespire could help you ward off possible burglary attempts and save money on your electric bills.
When you purchase a new window from Homespire, you can also invest in several window security options:
- Impact-resistant glass: When would-be thieves try to break a window and enter your property, they’ll be thwarted by Homespire Glass — able to withstand the impact of a 55mph baseball. This will likely cause them to abandon their attempts.
- Interlocking sashes: Older style window sashes come together and overlap one another, which makes it easier to pry apart and gain access to the locking system of the window. Windows that feature an interlocking sash system can prevent would-be intruders from prying open the window to gain access to the locking system. All Homespire windows come with an interlocking sash system that not only prevents air infiltration but more importantly can prevent a break in.
- Reinforced locks: Some window locks are anchored solely with screws into vinyl or plastic to secure them into place. Homespire offers an invisible burglar bar that runs through the inside of the sash to provide sound and secure anchoring of all locks on our windows.
- Strengthened Frames and Materials: A lot of windows are made of a recycled plastic material that will discolor over time and become extremely brittle. Homespire offers a composite material that has an exclusive blend of impact modifiers to prevent breaking or cracking over time, heat stabilizers to minimize the effects of solar radiation on the frames and sashes, lubricants to maintain a smooth finish, and UV stabilizers to prevent color fading and degradation from UV light.
- Window Anchoring: Most window installers will use two to four, 2-inch drywall screws to install windows, which after going through the frame, do not securely anchor them to the substrate or stud. All of our windows are anchored with a minimum of six, 3-inch, corrosion-resistant anchors to prevent a breech during bad weather. With our ever-changing climate, having windows that are properly anchored in the home is exceedingly important.
- Tempered glass: Compared to regular glass, tempered glass is stronger as a result of chemical treatments, which makes it harder to break. Tempered glass is often used for safety applications, car windows, and shower doors because if the glass does break, it breaks into pieces rather than shards. We offer a 12-layer tempered option so you have yet another element of protection when it comes to your windows.
- Fusion-welded construction: Instead of using screws at the corners, we offer a 12-point fusion-welded option. This feature means the corners of your windows are melded together, giving you a better seal and more strength.
Now that you know how to protect your home from intruders, you owe it to yourself to invest in features that will make your home more secure. With new windows for your house, you could make your home safer, more efficient and more beautiful. Contact Homespire Windows and Doors to learn more about securing your home with new windows and doors.