The best way to deal with burglars is to not have to deal with them at all. Scaring them away and just having a smart head on your shoulders is the go-to strategy.
Deterrence works by making the burglar think that the reward of breaking into your property is not worth the risk, that there is an easier target elsewhere. So if you can make the burglars think that your neighbors are an easier target than you are, especially if they’re more flashy, why would a burglar bother with you at all?
With that wisdom in mind, here are the best security tips and products to scare burglars away from your property.
1. Home security system
Imagine being a burglar and looking for your next victim. Would you rather break into that rare house featuring multiple security cameras, motion sensor floodlights, an alarm system… or a house that has none of those security products in place?
It’s simple logic, burglars want to reduce their risk of getting caught on camera or alerting the home owner, neighbors or the security company in charge of surveilling the property. Even investing a few dollars on a well-designed dummy camera (link to Amazon) for a bluff is better than nothing.
2. Guard dog
Guards dogs like Akitas, Dobermans, German Shepherds and Rottweilers are a terrible sight for any burglar. Dogs in general are a nuisance if they are prone to barking at strangers (which is most dogs).
However, the danger is that a burglar will try to get rid of the dog before a break-in, and possibly days or weeks before the event. If your dog’s gone missing, it’s a possible sign that they are already watching your house and planning a break-in.
If you don’t have a dog, get a CD of a growling hound or play this video on loop:
3. Deterrence signs and stickers
This is the most affordable way to scare off burglars. Signs and stickers can feature a warning of firearms, a surveillance system, a guard dog, an electric fence etc. It would be best if you could back up your warnings with some tried and tested security measures, but even a good old bluff is better than nothing.
4. Strong doors and locks
Considering the fact that 65% of burglars enter through a front door, a back door or a garage door, the best deterrent is to have strong doors in place. Solid hardwood or metal clad exterior doors are the best choice.
But apart from bolstering the door panel, you should also invest in a sturdy lock. You can opt for a traditional lock like a sturdy double-cylinder deadbolt or a smart lock that requires a fob key or an app to open/close.
There are also smart locks that feature a keypad or a fingerprint sensor. The security benefit of having a smart lock is that it can’t be lock-picked, unless if it also features a regular key option, which some do for emergency purposes.
You should also secure hinges on outward opening doors, since they are exposed from the outside. A burglar could remove the hinge pins and lift the door. Installing hinge bolts under and above the hinges is a good security measure that will prevent this from happening.
5. Make them think you’re at home
Contrary to popular belief, most burglaries happen between 10 am and 3 pm. This is the time when most people are away from home because they’re at work, school etc.
This is a clear indication that burglars are scared of you being at home when they break in! They want to avoid a confrontation at all costs. So how can you make them think that you’re at home when you’re not? Some easy things to do are to keep the lights, a radio and/or the TV on. You could also play a random conversation or random house noises on loop.
Of course, this could all cost you a little extra on the electric bill. A more affordable but equally good option, especially throughout the night is to use a FakeTV (link to Amazon). It’s an bright burglar deterrent television simulator that consumes just the power of a night-light.
6. Use a video doorbell to answer the door remotely
It’s a common practice for burglars to ring the doorbell before attempting a break in. This is especially true for break-ins during the day. If that happens, the tech methods mentioned in tip #5 won’t be of much use.
However, if you install a doorbell with 2-way audio communication, you can answer the door remotely even if you’re not at home and have any burglar step back and reflect on their poor life decisions. \
Arguably the best option is the Ring video doorbell. Along with 2-way communication, it also features a high resolution camera and motion sensor technology that will notify you as soon as someone approaches the door.
7. Smart blinds and window privacy film
Burglars prefer certainty. They like knowing 100% that you’re not at home and they also like to know that there is something of value to be stolen. If they can’t peak through the window, then they can only guess what’s going inside and what booby traps you got laid out for them.
Pulling the blinds down is a good option for maintaining privacy, but if you want to get some sunlight in at the same time, window privacy film is the better option.
Having said that, some security experts think that having the blinds pulled down can attract burglars instead of deterring them. It can be interpreted as no one being at home. For this reason, using motorized smart blinds is the best option. These popular Alexa compatible blinds can be opened and closed automatically via a simple mobile phone app.
8. Motion sensor floodlights
Some burglars prefer breaking in during the night because they can go unnoticed in the cover of darkness. But that’s impossible if the moment they approach the driveway or the front door they are illuminated by bright lights and made to look like angels that descended from heaven. Yeah, it’s impossible to be sneaky when all the lights are on you.
An added benefit of such security lights is that they will indubitably improve the video quality of your security cameras recordings at nighttime. So it’s a good idea to have them monitoring the same area in unison. The Ring Floodlight Camera with motion sensor provides the whole package and is a highly popular device for home security.
9. Neighborhood Watch
Organizing the neighborhood to watch out for criminals and report to the local police department is a great strategy for the whole community. Unfortunately, people decide to unite this way usually AFTER a break-in or a series of break-ins have already happened.
But is it effective? Yes, and there are studies that confirm this. This Crime Prevention Research Review looked into several studies and concluded that:
…across all eligible studies combined, neighborhood watch was associated with a reduction in crime. . Neighborhood watch might serve to increase surveillance, reduce opportunities, and enhance informal social control.
Apart from organizing a Neighborhood Watch, also consider placing a Neighborhood Watch warning signs and stickers around to make your intentions known.
10. High gate and fence
By closing off the area around house you are adding an additional barrier that burglars have to bypass. A high gate locked with a strong chain and padlock (or a modern lock), and a fence that is equally high and sturdy can pose a difficult challenge for most burglars.
A fence with spiked toppings even more so. You can also point security cameras with motion sensors at the critical points of the fence and install a video doorbell at the gate for an even stronger deterrence.
You can also improve privacy by:
- planting bamboo near the existing fence
- get a trellis for climbing plants
- plant thorny shrubs near the fence which will make getting near or jumping over seem like masochistic exhibitionism
- install a privacy screen over the fence
That’s as far as “scaring” burglars is concerned. Now, here’s a list of things that make you an easy target for burglars. Make sure to correct the following behaviors.
11. Relax your daily routine
Burglars love victims that have a daily routine. If they notice you’re out of the house Monday to Friday at 8 and you come back at 6, that no one stops by during this time, well, it’s easy for them to plan a break-in. The same is true if you go on trips every weekend. It only takes a few weeks of observing your behavior to find the perfect time for a home invasion.
Compare this to someone who is unpredictable, who one weekend has friends over and the next he is out of town. Or someone who sometimes works from home and other times goes to an office. Or someone that asks their neighbors to watch out for strangers while they’re away as opposed to someone who is not good with their neighbors and no one would bat an eye if a burglar came with a truck to pack up all their valuables.
I’m not saying you should change your entire lifestyle, but a little unpredictability can go a long way in deterring criminals and making life more fun at the same time.
12. Hire a house sitter
A house sitter is a person who basically lives in your home while you’re away. That way you don’t have to fake that someone is at home. However, it can get pricey:
Housesitting cost varies widely. Some house sitters will work for free in exchange for food and rent while others will charge $80 per day! Most house sitters charge $25 – $45 per day. Depending on your area and other factors this number might fluctuate.
There are some people, usually world travelers, who will house sit just so that they can live in a particular place for a while. It’s a topic worth researching, especially if you have a vacant house that you rarely spend time in but are worried about a home invasion.
These are all fine tips for scaring away burglars, but there’s so much more to it. If you want more information on how to transform your home into an impregnable fortress, I recommend checking out my top 43 home security tips.