Skip to main content

How to Improve Home Security in 14 Easy Ways

Eugene is a trained engineer and self-taught home improvement enthusiast with almost 40 years of professional and DIY experience.


Improving Your Home Security to Stop Your House Being Robbed

Unless you turn your home into a fortress, it's virtually impossible to keep burglars out if they're intent on breaking in. All it takes is a rock or hammer to break glass and gain entry. Even if there are bars on the windows, these can be cut with a mini battery-powered angle grinder! You can, however, make it more difficult for opportunistic burglars to the extent that they can't be bothered breaking in and move on elsewhere.

14 Ways to Improve Your Home Security

  1. Fit secure locks
  2. Light everything up
  3. Install an alarm system
  4. Lock everything up that can be used to break into your home
  5. Hide money, keys and valuables
  6. Limit access to your property
  7. Use hedges, thorny shrubs and climbing roses as barriers
  8. Deceive the burglars
  9. Use surveillance and neighborhood watch
  10. Notify the police and your mail service
  11. Don't be distracted by accomplices
  12. Don't tell everyone on social media about your upcoming vacation
  13. Invest in a safe
  14. Use automatic curtain pullers

See below for details

1. Fit Secure Locks

  • Install mortice locks. Generally, wooden doors are fitted with a "Yale" type lock by default. A knob on the inside, or key turned on the outside of the door, retracts a bolt from a keeper screwed to the door jamb (the vertical part of the door frame). Doors with these locks are easily forced because the keeper is normally only held by two or three screws. A mortice lock is much more secure. When locked, the bolt on this type of lock projects into a slot in the door jamb.They require a key for opening so doors can't be opened by breaking a glass panel on a door and turning a knob or handle. Usually it's a mandatory requirement for insurance policies that you install mortice locks. Modern aluminium or PVC doors usually have these fitted as standard. The central locking mechanism is normally linked to two additional bolts that project into the door jamb top and bottom for additional strength.
  • Fit locks on windows. If windows can't be locked, consider installing locks on them. There are different types available for casement or sash type windows.

2. Light Everything Up

  • Fit bulbs in lamps indoors which operate on a time-switch or turn on randomly.
  • Fit PIR operated floodlighting (which detects body heat) around the exterior of your house. Potential burglars don't want to be lit up as they attempt a break in.

3. Install an Alarm System

Install an alarm if possible. You could also fix fake boxes to walls. Try to get ones which are powered by a solar panel and have some form of flashing light to give the appearance that they are working. Both wired and wireless security systems are available. A security system won't keep burglars out, but it may help as a deterrent. If the alarm is installed and maintained to an approved standard, you may qualify for a discount on your home insurance.

4. Lock Everything Up That Can Be Used to Break Into Your Home

Don't leave ladders, garden tools, metal bars, etc., lying about which could be used by burglars to gain access to the house.

5. Hide Money, Keys, and Valuables From View

  • Jewellery, laptops, smartphones and cameras are the sort of small and expensive things that burglars look for and can make away with easily, so don't tempt them and keep them out of view of windows when you leave your home.
  • Don't leave large sums of money in the house.
  • Keep keys safe and don't leave them on furniture near a mailbox where they can be fished out through the opening.

6. Limit Access to Your Property

  • Downpipes can be greased or painted with special slippery paint to prevent burglars from climbing up them.
  • Gates which can be locked, stop opportunist burglars "casing the joint." I have a garden gate which is particularly squeaky and probably annoys the mailman every day. I have decided not to oil it because it warns me when someone is coming into the yard!

7. Use Hedges, Thorny Shrubs, and Climbing Roses as Barriers

While walls, fences or chain link fencing can be an effective barrier if tall enough, they can be breached if not topped with barbed wire, spikes, glass or other deterrents. Chain link fence can be cut with snips or a pocket bolt cutter, and a burglar can climb a low wall if he is given a "leg up" by his accomplice. Hedges on the other hand can be much more effective. Various shrubs and trees are adorned with vicious thorns, and it would be too tedious for a burglar to cut their way through such a barrier. Examples include holly, whitethorn (hawthorn), flowering quince (japonica), gorse and berberis (some varieties of which have particularly nasty thorns). The disadvantage of prickly hedges is that cutting them is a nasty business and the thorns have no problem piercing heavy gloves. You can also grow thorny climbing roses or briars and train them across walls and gates.

Whitethorn, also known as hawthorn or "Mayflower"

Whitethorn, also known as hawthorn or "Mayflower"

Berberis Jaeschkeana a particularly nasty, thorny shrub

Berberis Jaeschkeana a particularly nasty, thorny shrub

Thorny briars or roses are a good defense

Thorny briars or roses are a good defense

8. Deceive the Burglars

  • Draw curtains and pull blinds down when you are leaving the house and turn on lights and a radio to make it seem as if there is somebody at home.
  • A dog is a good deterrent, or you could get an electronic simulator which sounds like a dog barking when someone approaches.
  • While shopping today, I discovered a device which simulates the patterns of light produced by a TV when viewed through curtains. This small gadget known as FakeTV is an anti-burglary-device which has multiple high-intensity output LEDs of various colors. These are switched on and off randomly creating the flickering effect of a TV. This could be left on in your house when you are not at home and costs only a small fraction of what it takes to run a TV. The product is available from Amazon.
  • A car left in the yard might fool the burglars into thinking there is someone in the home.

9. Use Surveillance and Neighborhood Watch

  • If you have friendly neighbors, ask them to check up on your home while it is vacant.
  • CCTV cameras can be a good idea to record the movements of people outside doors and windows. If they are visible, they could act as a deterrent, but might indicate that you are overly concerned with security and have valuables worth stealing! Small hidden cameras are an option in addition to digital recording systems. Make sure that cameras produce good quality images and are located close enough to windows and doors so that "mug shots" of potential burglars can be recorded. Many "crimestoppers" type TV programs often show CCTV footage, the quality of which is so bad that it is difficult to make out peoples faces.
  • Keep an eye out for cars stopping momentarily outside your home.

10. Notify the Police and Your Mail Service

If you are leaving the house unoccupied for a long period, get your mail service to hold onto your mail. If it accumulates in a pile in the hallway, this is a sure sign no one is home. Paper deliveries should be suspended also. Notify the police that your house will be vacant.

11. Don't Be Distracted by Accomplices!

Thieves often work in pairs. Don't open one external door if another one is unlocked. While you are distracted, someone can slip in the back door or window.

12. Don't Tell Everyone on Social Networks About Your Upcoming Vacation

Don't advertise your movements on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks. Burglars can "tune" into this "free broadcast" and know when your home is vacant.

13. Invest in a Safe

A safe mounted in a wall or floor will keep valuables safe from amateur burglars.

14. Automated Curtains and Blinds

You can buy automated curtain rails that close curtains. Some of these can be operated remotely over the internet. Automated blinds are also available, or a kit to convert existing blinds.

The Switchbot curtain puller available from Amazon takes less than a minute to install on your curtain rod. It can be set to pull your curtains at a preset time, at dusk or can be controlled remotely via an app. The Switchbot device runs on i-rails or curtain poles and is available in black or white shades.

Image by permission SwitchBot from their Amazon store.

Image by permission SwitchBot from their Amazon store.

Tips From Professional Burglars to Stop Your House Being Broken Into and Robbed

  • A TV left blaring in the middle of the night is a dead giveaway. Put it on a time switch, so it's not left on in the middle of the night.
  • Don't post details of your upcoming holiday on Facebook.
  • Don't leave expensive items like jewellery and smartphones lying around. These are easy to pocket and take away by a burglar.
  • Dodgy taxi drivers can work with burglars and let them know when you've left your home. Get them to pick you up near your home but not outside it.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2011 Eugene Brennan


Louise89 on June 27, 2019:

Great information, thank you!

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on March 26, 2012:

Thanks for the kind comments!

Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on November 08, 2011:

Glad you liked it. It's no harm installing floodlights activated by PIR sensors. Burglars don't like drawing attention. Also I thing it is possible to get an electronic bark device activated by a PIR sensor if you don't wish to have a real dog!

Angel Ward from Galveston, TX on November 08, 2011:

good hub, great common sense issues covered, I am looking for creative ways to stop a burglar/snoop who has apparently been messing around in my yard!

Angel Ward from Galveston, TX on November 08, 2011:

good hub, great common sense issues covered, I am looking for creative ways to stop a burglar/snoop who has apparently been messing around in my yard!