You want to protect your home, and the people and things within it, but a monthly home security system is outside your budget. Don’t worry, there are several inexpensive ways to make your home less attractive to thieves.
Most burglaries occur between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. (Wikipedia also adds weekdays, and August being highest for burglary rates in the U.S.): Burglars look for homes that appear unoccupied, and residential homes, as you know, tend to be empty during those hours because people are at work. If you’re out of the house during those hours and are concerned about burglaries in your neighborhood, consider setting a random timer to turn the TV or radio on during those hours.
If you have a second car, keep it out in the driveway while you’re at work. Or, perhaps you can rent your driveway during the daytime (besides making your home less attractive to thieves, you can make a few extra bucks. Win!).
Do you use gardening services or other home maintenance services like window cleaning? Schedule those services (which don’t require you to be at home) during those prime theft hours.
The typical house burglar is a male teen in your neighborhood—not a professional thief and 60 seconds is the most burglars want to spend breaking into your home. This suggests you only need enough security to thwart the regular person. Simple things like the “my scary dog can run faster than you” sign may be one of the most effective theft deterrents, other than—or in addition to—actually owning a scary dog. (Even a small dog prone to barking helps, though.) Regular “beware of dog” signs work too, especially if you add some additional supporting evidence of dog ownership, like leaving a dog bowl outside by your side door.P
Deadbolt locks, bars on windows, and pins in sash windows may be effective theft deterrents. It goes without saying to make sure all the entry points are locked (but, still, 6% of burglaries happen that way).
Homes without security systems are about 3 times more likely to be broken into. In lieu of actually signing up for a home security system, you could also just buy the decals and signs off of eBay or elsewhere. Place the decals on your front door, where the majority of thieves enter.
In order of percent of burglaries, thieves come in through: the front door, first-floor windows, and back door primarily, followed by the garage, unlocked entrances, and the basement. Look at reinforcing all of these entry points, of course, but if you want to know where the best places are to put your security cameras, the front and back door and first floor windows are your best bets. Fake security cameras placed at those points might also be effective.
With your outside lighting, make sure those points of entry are well lit (motion-detector lights are inexpensive and don’t use a lot of energy) and clear of thief-hiding shrubbery.
An average of 8 to 12 minutes is all burglars spend in your home. If a thief does get into your house, you can prevent loss of your valuable objects by making them harder to find than within those 12 minutes. The dresser drawer, bedroom closet, and freezer are some of the first places thieves look, so forget about those hiding places. Instead, consider hiding things in plain sight.P
Perhaps set up a red herring for possible thieves: Leave out an old laptop the thief can quickly grab and go. Even better: install Prey to track the stolen laptop.