How to Secure a Vacant House


Do you have an empty house that is not well protected? Vacant houses are the most popular targets of theft, which makes it really important to secure it properly.

Securing a vacant house includes reinforcing entrance points such as doors and windows with tougher locks and materials. It also includes strategically placed surveillance cameras and alarms. You could also make it more difficult to approach the entrance points by using security fences and thorny shrubbery. 

Moving forward, I’ll show you exactly the best ways to utilize these methods. You can do this without any professional assistance and on a relatively small budget, so keep reading to learn more.

1. Reinforce the doors

Securing ALL exterior doors is vital. Don’t just focus on the front door or the back door, because thieves will inspect all possible entrances to find the weakest link. To reinforce the door is about making it more difficult to break into by using force or manipulating the locks.

First, make sure that you’re using at least two different locking mechanisms. This makes it way harder and takes more time to break in. It will also require more noise which will potentially alert the neighbors that something fishy is going on. Especially if you use one or more of the locking mechanism that I’m about to suggest.

My first suggestion is to use a tough security bar. It’s a simple and affordable tool that can be used to jam hinged doors as well as sliding doors and windows. So if you’re using it on sliding doors and windows you can jam them by placing it through the door/window handles. And if you use it for a hinged door, place one side on the door and the other side on the floor. This Securityman bar is arguably the best choice because it’s size can be adjusted and it has rubber end so that it doesn’t slide on the floor.

My second suggestion is to use a door barricade. This is a small but very strong piece of metal that is installed on the floor next to the door. When you activate it, it will act as a barricade. This door barricade by Nightlock Security is very simple to install and works great.

exterior roller shutter

My third suggestion is to install exterior roller shutters. These will basically cover the entire door, making it impossible to break in without first breaking through the shutters.

If they’re automatic metal shutters that can’t be open from the inside without having a remote controller, it would take a lot of effort (and noise) to get through them.

However, these shutters and their professional installation are expensive. So it’s definitely a more advanced option for those with a larger security budget.

My fourth suggestion is to upgrade your main door locks. Using a smart lock is the most secure option available. The absolutely safest lock is the Ultraloq Bluetooth-Enabled Smart lock that can be programmed to require fingerprint, code, smartphone, knock to open and a key! You obviously don’t need to use all of these options, but you can use as many as you want to double, triple or quadruple the security on any door. This lock also features an alarm. It will also work in case of a power outage because it can run on a battery.

Smart-home devices will definitely become more widespread in the future, but they’re widely used even today by more affluent people and those who love latest tech gadgets. Securing a vacant house is one of those times when this type of technology is especially useful.

Keep in mind that the door barricade and security bar will work for all entrance points except the one through which you plan on leaving the house. Because those mechanisms can only be placed and removed from the inside of the house. Which leaves you with one door that is less secure than others. This is the door where I especially recommend placing a smart lock.   

2. Reinforce the windows

Securing the ground windows is especially important because they’re the easiest target. But don’t underestimate the athleticism of most thieves. They could find a way to climb their way up to a higher window and then your entire security project will go down the drain. Use one or more of the following methods to secure all your windows:

First, consider replacing thin and easily breakable glass with reinforced glass on your windows (and exterior french doors). Tempered glass and laminated glass are the best options. Tempered glass is difficult to break and it’s an affordable option.

Laminated glass has two sheets of glass and a layer of vinyl between them. So even if the first layer of glass is smashed, it will mostly stay in place. And even if it doesn’t there’s still the vinyl layer and another layer of glass that need to smashed in order to break the window.

I also recommend placing a Burglarbar on every sliding window you have. Burglarbar makes it impossible to open sliding windows when in place.

It’s tough, easy to install without any tools and is affordable. I suggest checking the price on Amazon.

Another effective way to secure windows is to install metal security grills in front of the window.

Metal grills are a powerful barrier, especially if they’re thick and dense. Cutting through them is a lot of work and requires a hacksaw or a similar tool. Obviously not something a regular burglar would carry around or use in a regular neighborhood.

Planting a thorny bush next to your ground floor window will also deter many burglars who don’t want to get bruised in the process. Some thorny plants that are recommended by the police are:

  • creeping juniper
  • blue spruce
  • common holly
  • giant rhubarb

The bigger these plants are, the better they will be for security. Also, make sure to plant them really close to the window so that there’s no way of getting around them.

3. Place security cameras in strategic positions

There are many security cameras on the market. But the best ones for a vacant house should have internet connectivity.

WiFi security cameras allow you to check through them anytime you want and they’ll send you alerts on your phone or computer in case they spot any strange movements. Since you won’t be using the house, this will allow you to act quickly even if you’re miles away, or even in a different country.

The camera should also have infrared/night vision. And since you’ll be placing these cameras outside, it needs to be an outdoor camera. The difference between outdoor and indoor cams is that these are weatherproof.

A great security camera for homes that matches our criteria is SV3C Wireless Security Camera. It’s also just under $40 which is pretty affordable for a security camera, especially with all of these useful features.

Where should I place security cameras?

You should place cameras at as many entrance points as you can. That includes doors and windows of your vacant house, but also gates of your yard/garden if it’s enclosed with a tall fence or a wall.

Place the camera in a location where it’s visible because that way it will deter many burglars who don’t want to be caught on camera.

However, also place it high enough so that they can’t remove it without serious effort. Placing the camera behind some mesh wiring or tough glass will prevent anyone from damaging it by throwing rocks or using a stick.

A good alternative is to place a dummy camera in a visible spot, and to hide the real camera. By doing this, the burglar could potentially destroy the dummy but they’ll be caught on tape by the hidden camera. Whether you can hide the camera or not depends on whether you have any good hiding spots available.

Generally speaking, placing the cameras higher away from the ground is always better, and whether it’s visible or not matters less. Most burglars will simply avoid using the entrance that is equipped with a camera altogether, rather than attempt to destroy the camera and risk alerting the owner of their presence.

4. Use alarms with remote alerts

Alarms are a very effective (and affordable) security devices. You can secure any object with alarms that can alert you and the neighbors that the bad guys are making their move.

However, if your house is vacant, you really have to rely on neighbors hearing the alarm. And what if the neighbors are using ear plugs or they’re not at home? And what if they simply don’t care because you have a bad relationship? This is why it’s best to use alarms that can send you notifications on your phone or computer in case anyone tries to break in.

Fortress Security System

Even better, I found an amazing alarm security system that can dial up to 6 numbers when it detects a forced break-in. It also produces a whooping 110 decibel noise that is sure to alert any all the neighbors whether they like it or not. I’m talking about the super popular Fortress Security Alarm System (link to Amazon).

This is a fully programmable alarm system that has WiFi and is Alexa compatible. You can play around all of its features through the app.

It’s not the cheapest alarm kit on the market, but it’s definitely the most practical one for vacant homes because of these remote alerts. It’s also on a 20% discount on Amazon at the moment. So I hope you catch the discount if you’re interested in this option.

Since you’ll get remote alerts by using either a security camera or an alarm that have this option, it’s not really necessary to use both on every entrance point. Choose between these two options depending on which one you prefer. It’s easier to install an alarm, but cameras provide the visibility and you can tune into them any time you like and see what’s happening in real-time. So decide what is more important to you, ease of installation or having the extra features. It goes without saying that you can use both on every entrance point to double your security.

5. Use warning signs and stickers

You can place warning signs that go a little something like this: “Protected by Name of Security Company” or “Warning! 24 hour video surveillance. No trespassing.”.

If you let the potential intruder know that your home is protected, he’ll definitely be less likely to try and break in. Simple.

But then make sure that you actually use some of the before-mentioned devices rather than do an empty bluff and hope for the best. You can find many warning signs and stickers on this section of Amazon.

6. Set up a privacy screen fence

If your house is already surrounded by a tall wooden fence or wall or if there’s no fence available, you can skip this step. But if you have a see-through chain-link type of fence, I highly recommend surrounding it with a privacy windscreen like the one in the photo.

This type of windscreen will prevent anyone from looking inside your property. They won’t be able to know what sort of challenges await them inside.

Plus, it will act as an additional security barrier that any intruder will have to break through in order to get inside. It’s also a very good place for posting warning stickers or signs that let others know your house has top notch security.

7. Meet your neighbors

Having a good relationship with your neighbors can go a long way to securing your house. Especially if they’re home most of the time.

Just like any other project, being sociable or at least polite will give people an extra reason to help you out. Do a small favor for your neighbors or simply show yourself in a positive light by inviting them for some coffee and freshly made brownies!

8. Lock everything before you go

Imagine setting up your extra locks, security bars, positioning the cameras in the perfect angle… and then forgetting to lock the front door! Don’t forget this final, crucial step of double-checking all the entrance points to make sure they’re locked before leaving your house for an extended period of time.

Final word on securing a vacant house

In this article my goal was to share with you three most important security methods:

  • barrier reinforcement
  • surveillance
  • remote alerts

Barrier reinforcement are all of those security measures you can use to improve the structural protection of your house, such as security bars, metal grills, smart locks etc. The surveillance method involves placing security cameras in strategic positions.

And finally, alerts from alarms, newer cameras and even smart locks will allow you to act quickly and notify authorities of any potential dangers. Even if you’re in Las Vegas playing poker or on a business trip in China. So I hope this information helps and that you’ll use it to your advantage.

 

Luka Baron

Chief editor of Security Latest with 5 years of real security work experience. I'm also a family man with wife and two sons. When I'm not turning homes into fortresses, the Baron family is usually on the Nintendo or on California's best hiking trails.

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