How to Protect Your House From Break-Ins: Full Security Guide!
This article discusses security methods available to everyone to secure their home: involving the structure of your house, security technology and simple common sense behaviors that will reduce risks of burglary.
Protect entrances and exits (doors and windows)
64% of burglaries were carried out by breaking into the door of any home. In 22% of cases, the thief went through the window. The first thing to do is to strengthen the security devices at the entrances to the house; this applies to both direct access (doors and windows) and remote access (the fence).
Fence – the first line of defense
Protecting your house is first of all preventing anyone you have not authorized from entering your home or even crossing the fence. For this purpose, two solutions are recommended: install a security barrier and/or an electrified fence.
“Security barrier” should be understood here in a general sense, basically any fence that is large enough to keep someone out. Indeed, it is more effective to block potential offenders at this barrier, so as to minimize the risk of them entering your home.
The security barrier can thus take the form:
A fence or a hedge.
In this case, they must be high enough to make climbing over difficult and have only one, secure opening for the door. In the case of a vegetable fence, do not hesitate to use thorny plants.
Strength: simple and affordable system
Weakness: if the burglar has time, the device is ineffective.
An infrared barrier
This is a more modern solution. It’s an alarm device that can be installed outside, preferably a few meters from the house (on a fence, near the swimming pool, in the garden). It functions as a motion detector specially designed and conditioned for the exterior of the house.
Often a discreet design more or less in the form of a bar (hence the name elsewhere) and supporting the vagaries of the weather, an infrared barrier emits the sound of a siren as soon as someone passes by the monitored area.
Strength: highly dissuasive device
Weakness: efficiency depending on the model chosen, especially in terms of the area covered.
There was a time when this type of installation was reserved for farms. Now, individuals can also use it to protect their home against burglary. Electricity flows over the barrier and anyone who tries to climb it will be electrocuted. This system deters the break-in or at least delays it.
However, please note that the use of this system is subject to strict legal conditions, so it’s highly advised to inform yourself about this before setting up such a system.
Strength: system often dissuasive
Weaknesses: requires the use of an engineer to eliminate unnecessary risks and set it properly (if there is a cut in the electricity source, it will obviously not work).
Learn more: How to prevent burglars from climbing a fence
Measures for doors and windows
Immediately after the fence, your doors and windows are the most vulnerable points since burglars will enter through them in the majority of cases. Reinforcing a door is not quite the same as strengthening the security of a window, although there are some similarities.
Securing a door involves raising the security of at least three of its components: the lock, the door frame and its hinge.
The lock is the system that initiates the closing or opening of a door, which guides the entire mechanism. Burglars will attack the lock first. In general, the time it takes them to overcome the lock and their discretion will be determining criteria for the success of their break-in. Therefore, if the lock is strong enough to take more than 5 minutes or if it is forced to create noise, then the offenders will become discouraged faster.
To ensure the security of your home, opt for a lock that is difficult to break, tear off or manipulate in other ways.
- Install a cylinder so that it cannot be pierced and a bolt, so that it does not get sawed;
- Prefer multi-point locks (a minimum of three points). It is a lock in which the points of closing of a door are distributed on the whole of the door and not concentrated on only one part.. This kind of device can be installed on any door, provided that it is less than 20 years old.
- Opt for the type of “key” that corresponds to your lifestyle: if the mechanism of the lock is preserved thanks to the existence of a multiplicity of points, it is also necessary to guarantee that any burglars do not have access to the key which activates said mechanism. For this purpose, note that the key types are extremely diverse today.
|Type of key||Operation||Benefits||Disadvantages|
|The traditional metal key||Physically unlocks the door||Practical, simple and affordable tool||Device easily copied using a duplicate stolen key or any other metal matching the shape of the key|
|A card/chip||Insertion of a magnetic key or with an electronic chip||Convenient and traceable system||Card worth more than a traditional key;
Risk of piracy.
|Entrance codes||Activation of the mechanism manually or automatically upon insertion of the code||Very secure device, in particular for an individual’s home (very little long-planned theft)||Risk of forgetting the code;
Code remains decipherable.
|The biometric key||System activated by means of specific finger, eye or voice prints||Ultra-sophisticated system, eliminating all risks of theft of opportunities.||Device that can be crossed by determined and prepared thieves with increased risk to the person (holders of the fingerprints in question).|
|The electric key||Door unlocked with a button, often combined with a code or card||Device similar to the key by code or card, with all the advantages attached to it||System dependent on the operation of the electrical network|
|The connected key||Door opening using an application installed in the smartphone||Practical system, accessible to all who live in the house (no need for a duplicate) and fully configurable (time / day when the order from such smartphone is admissible;
System coupled with an alert to owners as soon as someone uses the key.
|Device that can be hacked.|
Strength: a reinforced lock is equivalent to 80% of the risks of burglary eliminated
Weakness: insufficient system against the most sophisticated thieves.
The door frame
This is the stationary part of a door which is anchored in the wall as opposed to the “leaf” which constitutes the mobile part.
If the burglars can’t get past the lock, they’ll likely go after what maintains its structure. Also, securing your home is equivalent to strengthening the door frame by building it from an armored or metal plate.
It also involves installing burglar-resistant angles on the edge of the door. These are noisy and act as alerts, in addition to being effective against pliers, presser feet and other tools used in the context of a burglary. The cover plate can also be useful for blocking burglary materials between two doors.
Strength: time-saving system for launching the alert
Weaknesses: device ineffective in itself; and quite expensive.
The hinge combines the hinges (pointed) and the eye. The sum allows the mobility of a door and its semi-rotation to open and close. These are the male and female branches which combine to connect the door leaf to the frame.
Often, burglars will attack the hinges when they have not been able to break the lock, or have come to the end of the frame. This is the main weak spot of outward opening doors. Intruders unhinge the door by breaking the hinge or by separating the male part from the female part. To strengthen this part, you can:
- Put in place reinforcements on platinum or a tenon or socket system, which aim to strengthen the support of the hinge so that it cannot be unfastened;
- Opt for a 3D hinge that is difficult to disassemble.
The strength and weaknesses of this device can be compared to those of the door frame, previously mentioned.
- Reinforcement of the lock, the frame and the hinge constitute what professionals call “door shielding”. To further secure their home against burglary, individuals can use this formula comprising the three operations described above.
Advantage: All procedures carried out at one time by a professional.
Disadvantage: High cost of the service, in particular for the certified door shielding (all the devices meet a given standard).
Individuals can also choose to equip themselves directly with an armored door, which is a completely metallic structure on all parts of the door and incorporating all the components to discourage criminals such as the anti-burglary angle.
Advantage: very effective against intruders
Disadvantage: a minus in terms of cost, aesthetics and everyday practicality.
We mustn’t forget the garage door, which has it’s own unique vulnerabilities. For example, older garage doors can have a small gap that can be exploited with the fishing tactic.
How fishing is done:
- First a burglar will push the door inward to create a gap at the top.
- Then they will insert a wire hook and fish for the release. In some cases they will use a wedge to hold the gap open
- Once the cord gets hooked, it takes only a few push-pull movements to disconnect the door from the opener. In some cases hooking the release lever works equally well.
Easy DIY locks for fishing:
- GARAGE DOOR LOCK SHIELD – To prevent fishing, you can make a garage door lock shield. It’s basically a wood cleat and a scrap of plywood. You screw it to the opener’s arm so that it can’t be fished with a wire hook. The plywood should be fastened to the cleat with two brad nails so that it can break away in case it runs into something while the door is moving.
- PLASTIC ZIP TIE LOCK – In case your trolley has a pair of holes, it’s really easy to make a garage door lock on the emergency release with a small plastic zip tie (link to Amazon). This will work because it can resist the tug of a fishing wire. It’s best to use a small plastic tie to make this lock.
Another useful security measure is a garage door monitor. It’s a small device that will let you know if the door is properly closed or not. Installing an automatic garage door closer will ensure that this is the case every time.
In more than 20% of cases, windows are the route by which burglars pass. And for good reason, they are vulnerable because the first concerns of owners are often the aesthetics, sound and temperature insulation rather than safety.
Moreover, the majority of the windows on the market work with sliding strikes, making them particularly easy to break-in: all it takes is a screwdriver to make it move silently and the burglar has entered your home.
In order to best secure your home, here are some good practices to adopt:
Install locks on windows
There are several types, of which a security strike and the automatic lock are the most robust. In the first case, the head of the lock which looks like a mushroom blocks the movement of the window so that it cannot be opened. In the second case, the mechanism is automatic: each time the window (or a window door) is closed, the lock does it’s job mechanically.
Advantage: simple system that can be installed on any window
Disadvantage: none really, other than the fact that it’s also important to protect the glass surface as well
Prefer laminated safety glazing over simple glazing
With simple glazing, a burglar will take less than 30 seconds to pass your window, often breaking it. With multilayer glazing, also called laminated glazing, you will save time and thereby discourage the offender. The more layers, the longer it will take to get through.
Advantage: 3-in-1 device for more safety, for better sound insulation and to reduce injuries if any part of the glass breaks
Disadvantage: insufficient system on its own to reinforce the whole window.
Window security film
This is a tough plastic film that is installed on the glass surface to make it tougher against forceful attacks. It essentially keeps the glass shards in place, so it takes way more hits to create enough space to enter through the window.
There are also stronger as well as bulletproof window films that can take a very tough beating and keep the window virtually intact. You can read about the best security films and installation in this article.
Put a protective barrier
The best alternative to prevent a person from going through the window is certainly the installation of a protective grid. Whether it takes the form of metal bars or grills, the important thing is that the grid is metallic and impossible to remove.
Strength: structure at a low price and guarantees that burglars will waste a lot of time and make noise
Weakness: it’s often not aesthetically pleasing, though it can be
Opt for a locking handle
Handles that unlock only from the inside are also handy for securing your windows. Similar to so-called “Spanish locks”, they prevent your windows from being forced or pierced.
Advantage: more security, while preserving the ventilation function of a window (when you are at home)
Disadvantage: risk that the owner forgets to operate the handle, unless it is automatic.
Upgrade windows correctly
Windows are often fragile due to a flaw in their mounting. Also, remember that the same principles applied for the doors can be repeated here: a judicious choice of the hinge (similar to the door hinge), a reinforcement of the frame and the installation of anti-theft cleat are always in order.
Learn more: How to secure ground floor windows
What about a dog?
The entrance to your home can also be protected by a pet, especially a dog. For this purpose, it can be considered as an additional security device to deter burglars.
However, note that choosing a dog to keep your house is not an easy choice:
- Financial constraints relating to the acquisition of the animal (which can exceed $1000 depending on the breed), its medical monitoring and its food, training costs (because to be effective, your dog must necessarily obey you), to compulsory subscription to liability insurance;
- On this last point, there is therefore also the constraint of liability for any damage caused by the dog to a person or the property of others, whenever the facts will not enter into the context of self-defense. Burglary is obviously a case of self-defense;
Among the dog breeds effective as house guards, we can cite: German or Belgian shepherd, Beauceron, Doberman and Rottweiler.
Install dissuasive and alert equipment
A second way to secure your home against burglary is to use high-tech products to help you. Without being specific to doors and windows this time, we will discuss the tools born from technological development that can improve your security system.
The presence detector in all its forms
You will be able to ensure the security of your home more by reacting faster. One of the most effective means of reacting in real time is the use of the presence detector/motion detector.
The principle is simple: you activate the detector whenever you want (usually when there is no one at home). If there is an intruder and possibly a burglar, it will give a warning. Depending on the model, its reaction will be passive or active:
- An active motion detector is often connected to another device to let the burglar know that he has been detected (lighting system, alarm, siren or more rarely, automatic watering). The aim is to dissuade him from doing his work;
- The motion detector is passive when, each time it is triggered, it remains silent. It is not connected to any other system in the house. Instead, it connects to a radio system or wifi to inform either the owner, the police, the neighborhood, or a security company of the intrusion. The reaction must therefore come from informed people.
Recall that the detection is done either by:
- infrared (heat detection and which does not pass the walls)
- ultrasound (whose range is limited), or by combining its two technologies
- sound detection
Strength: system often unpredictable for the burglar, hence its effectiveness
Weakness: effectiveness depending on the radius covered by the detector (existence of a blind spot), the strategic choice of its location and its sensitivity (because it can also be irritating if it detects everything and anything).
Presence simulator and similar products
As we mentioned in the introduction, the majority of burglaries are opportunity thefts. They take place when the house is empty, especially during the holiday and holiday season and during office hours (if any burglars have taken the time to study your schedule). Therefore simulating a home presence is a very effective way to secure your home when you are away.
The principle of a presence simulator
This involves setting up electric/electronic devices that can be controlled from a distance to make people believe that the owner is at home. Triggering can be done either by means of a remote control, or by means of wifi (most often by means of an application), or by pre-programming (you program the time at which a device will turn on).
“Simple” presence simulators
A presence simulator does not have to be complicated. For example, a light in the living room with a timer.
Many companies are currently selling presence simulator packs, including a programmer, a remote control and a sensor to be installed on the device to be triggered, as well as fake devices (example: a fake television).
Home automation and presence simulation
Home automation is the technology by which the house (and more particularly all the devices therein) are connected to the internet and can be controlled remotely via a dedicated application.
To create a high level presence simulation, home automation is essential. Thus, the owner will be able to do everything, from where he is: lower the shutters, turn on the light, turn on the CD player, … All this, by way of the wifi network and on command from the application installed on his smartphone.
Advantage of presence simulation: solid deterrent effect
Disadvantages: the most efficient systems are expensive; be careful not to repeat the same things because if the burglar is a repeat offender, he will realize it sooner or later.
Intercom and videophone
These two elements are not, strictly speaking, tools to reinforce house security against burglary. In principle, they are used to identify someone who visits you and to communicate with them to ensure their identity (which is still useful to ensure that you let the right people into your home).
However, with the advancement of technology, some intercoms and videophones can help improve home security. This is the case, for example, with models which integrate the “spy” mode, that is to say which continuously record what is happening outside without someone having to press the communication button. or models that allow owners to see or hear what’s going on outside on command from them.
Advantage: 2 in 1 system, very practical
Disadvantage: variable price depending on the brand, which can be high for models with technologically advanced options.
The security camera with all possible options
To ensure the security of your home, installing a surveillance camera can also be useful. If not to warn you of the offense, at least you will have evidence to support your version of the story and perhaps identify the burglar.
The simplest security cameras are passive and allow you to record what is happening (on a physical or virtual hard drive). However, the majority of today’s cameras are reactive – or more precisely, allow your reaction:
- Some cameras are connected to wifi (so-called IP cameras) or to Ethernet to transmit to you live what is happening at home (inside or outside, depending on where it is installed);
- Most cameras incorporate motion detectors and therefore offer all the advantages that accompany this system (see above).
Check out our recommended wifi cameras under $100.
The biggest advantages come from the fact that these cameras are often easy to install (especially those that work wirelessly), work day and night (when they are infrared), are by themselves dissuasive (the presence of camera discourages thieves of opportunity and those who have little experience) or display great discretion (mini-cameras).
On the other hand, the most sophisticated models are worth a hefty price. In addition, care should be taken in choosing the location where the camera will be installed to ensure that the right angles are covered and to achieve the desired effect (deterrence or discretion).
Protect valuable items inside the house: the safe
If despite all your efforts to prevent a burglar from accessing your house, he still manages to enter, know that you have not yet lost everything. There is one last rampart to put in place to secure your valuables: the safe.
Indeed, more than 65% of burglaries are perpetrated in order to acquire money or jewelry; 20% of high-tech products like smartphones or speakers. The rest is shared between documents, furniture, bicycles or any expensive tools. The safe can ensure the safety of such popular targets of burglary.
Here is a review article of top rated home safes.
What type of safe to choose?
There are entry level safes and others that are high end. The classification is often based on three criteria:
- The robustness of the material of the safe, making it resistant to attempts to open by force, whether it is tearing, sawing or sinking;
- The capacity of the safe to resist fire and any type of thermal shock as well as falling.
For these first two criteria, the resistance test must in particular focus on the door which is the weakest part of the device.
- The quality of the lock. Here again, the owner will have the choice between a traditional key, a disc key, a digital combination or a biometric key.
To ensure that the burglar fails to break into the safe, or does not have enough time to do so, it is best to purchase a safe that combines all of these features.
How to handle a home safe
First of all, remember that the safe is either built-in (when it is implemented during construction, renovation or when special work is carried out to install it), or requires later installation. In the latter case, it should be “nailed to the ground” using a robust fastening system so that thieves cannot take it with them – which would be worst outcome.
In addition, although it is in principle unshakable, it is better to hide the safe so that thieves do not even have the leisure to put its quality to the test. Avoid the obvious hiding places, often mentioned in movies and on television, and be original.
A security-conscious attitude
Securing your home against burglary is, to a large extent, a matter of attitude. If you do not have a vigilant and responsible attitude, you may install all the prevention and reinforcement devices for doors and windows, it can still be useless. What exactly does vigilance and responsibility mean, taken in the context of burglary prevention?
Towards small and very expensive valuables
These are the most likely targets for burglars. Caution is therefore particularly advised towards them. So, it is better to:
Not keep them at home
Banks or other bodies for the storage of valuables have been specially created for this purpose. There is therefore no reason not to use it. Keep only the bare necessities at home.
Hide them well
If you insist on having them near you, the minimum would be to hide them well. Forget the famous hiding places: under the bed, in a drawer of your desk, and imagine the places the burglar will not expect. Legally, no one can boast of his own turpitude; also insurance will not fail to remind you if it ever finds evidence that you have not hidden your valuables.
Do not inform anyone
Burglaries often arise from gossip and all the information that circulates concerning your assets. So avoid bragging about the acquisition of a new piece of jewelry or the collection of a considerable sum. This act would be the trigger of envy in your future robbers.
For the police as well as for your insurers, it is important that you always keep evidence of your belongings: photographs to identify them (in particular, jewelry), traces of its journey to you (purchase invoice, certificates, proof of source, …) and if possible, traceability after the flight (example, marking or installation of a mini-GPS on the stolen jewel).
Regarding your absence
Vigilance will never be as necessary as when you are not at home. Besides the previously mentioned tools, there are some things you can also do by yourself to prevent a possible break-in:
Ask neighbors to monitor your home
The most united communities organize neighborhood watch, in order to limit cases of burglary, especially during summer.
Do not inform of your absence
Again, do not entice burglars by revealing everyone that you are going to leave – even less if you specify the period. On the contrary, pretend that you will always be there, by your words first and then by a presence simulator afterwards.
A few more tips:
… Securing your home has to do with:
Double check that you have closed properly behind you, do not hide a duplicate key where it is obvious.
Do not create a situation conducive to theft
For example, letting trees and other plants grow where it would be ideal hiding places for potential thieves.
Often review your security status
Having a security audit done by a professional is a good way to determine where the flaws in your security system are. Indeed, he will have enough expertise and perspective to identify more precisely the weaknesses of the security of your home and offer you the appropriate solutions.
Use a specialized company?
Perhaps it would be better to call on a company specialized in the field of security and guarding to support you. Often, contracts with them state an obligation of result and the very mention that your property is under surveillance will have a deterrent effect on the burglar.
Prepare for the worst with insurance
Securing your home also means having backup solutions in case you get robbed. Theft insurance is, in this case, is an adequate solution even if it is sometimes expensive.
Currently, effectively protecting your home against burglary is within the reach of any individual, regardless of budget. In fact, the tools used to reinforce security are accessible everywhere and at an affordable price.
It’s important to know where the security flaws are by carrying out an audit (which you will do yourself or by hiring a professional) and to correct them. You can also gradually upgrade your security system, making one improvement after another.