How to Keep Your Home Safe for Less
If you’re low-income, then you might be more concerned about your financial security than your home security. But be careful. Break-ins are just as likely to happen to renters as they are to homeowners. And if you’re already struggling financially, the last thing you want is to have figure out how to afford to replace the items you used to have!
We spoke with the home security experts to learn the facts, tips, and insight that will keep your home safe without breaking the bank!
First the good news: Summer’s here! Now the bad… According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, household crimes like burglary happen most frequently in the summer. And it gets worse:
- There is one burglary in America every 13 seconds.
- The average home burglary theft results in $2,251 worth of lost property.
- Homes without security systems are 300 percent more likely to be burglarized.
So if you’re a student, under-employed, have bad credit or are just plain broke, what can you do to protect your home and belongings from thieves?
What do burglars look for?
Yes, burglars scout social media to see who’ll be away from the house.
According to security and identity theft expert and CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, Robert Siciliano, the first step is to be aware of what makes you look vulnerable to break-ins.
He says, “There are many ways the home occupant can make it easy for burglars to get in unnoticed.
- Unlocked doors and windows.
- A sloppy yard. This makes a thief think nobody’s hardly ever home, and he’ll likely target the house for a break-in.
- Shrubs and bushes that obscure entryways. Burglars love it when they can conceal themselves in the dark with the help of plant growth around windows and doors.
- Posting travel plans on social media. Yes, burglars scout social media to see who’ll be away from the house.
- Indiscriminately answering the doorbell. Burglars may pose as utility workers and talk their way inside. Or, they may push past the occupant and ransack the place while an accomplice restrains the occupant.
- A chronically dark house. Don’t be a utility bill penny pincher. Enough lights should be on at night, including when you’re home, to make a burglar think there’s fully-awake people inside. Automatic timers that turn lights on and off will make the house look occupied, and will make it appear people are up in the middle of the night, when many break-ins occur.
- Newspapers accumulating in the drive or a package sitting on the front stoop, suggesting nobody’s been home for a while.”
Protect what you have.
Home security equipment is actually very affordable and does not take a lot of effort to install.
Once you understand (and correct) the behaviors that make you a more likely target for thieves, it’s time to take proactive–and protective–measures to ensure your apartment or house is as unfriendly to thieves as possible. So what are those steps? The experts agree it’s important to…
1. Get a Security System (or at least make it look like you have one).
According to Rob Caiello, VP of Marketing for Allconnect (a service that helps millions of movers find and set up home security service, cable, electricity and other home utilities at their exact address), “Home security equipment is actually very affordable and does not take a lot of effort to install. You have the option to get a monitored and unmonitored security systems. Most unmonitored systems allow you to be notified on your Internet-enabled mobile device when a sensor is activated, but they do not notify the authorities. Monitored systems give you the best value for the money, because they are connected to a monitoring agency staffed around the clock by agents who can notify the police or fire department for you. This is a great help if you are incapacitated due to fire, smoke, carbon monoxide, or being held by an intruder.”
Siciliano says, “Get a security system for the house that has it all: motion detectors, surveillance cameras, smartphone connections. Even if money is tight, you can still fool many a burglar with a fake camera installed above the front door, and security company signs around the house—even though you don’t have a system. But really, these days, there are systems for all budgets.”
Oksana Tunikova of Rentberry, a real estate company helping landlords and tenants streamline the rental application process, agrees. “Use decals and decoys to make your home look like it’s protected. Although ‘fake it till you make it’ might seem like a childish approach, it actually works. There was a study conducted by the University of North Caroline, and it found out that 60 percent of builders would not risk breaking into apartments if it seems protected by alarm systems or security companies. So buy stickers of relevant companies and put them on windows around your property if you can’t afford a real security system at the moment.”
(By the way, Rentberry partnered with a number of home security professionals to find out the best ways to protect homes on a budget.)
2. Reinforce doors and windows.
Caiello reminds us all to make sure, “your exterior doors and windows are as secure as they can be. You can make your doors more secure by adding a metal reinforcement plate to the area where the handle and lock sets are located. You should also drive long screws that penetrate into the wall framing for the strike plate and for at least one screw for each hinge. This will make it very difficult for intruders to break through your lock.
“Standard double-hung windows can be further secured by self-installing window bar kits. These items install on the inside and are great for keeping your windows locked and not easily broken in to. Code requirements must be adhered to in that the bars need a release mechanism accessible from inside to allow escape in case of fire. You can also install security film over the glass of your windows to resist forced-entry.”
3. Lights, Cameras, and Action!
If you keep blinds and curtains open all the time, chances are good someone will set sights on your valuables.
Caiello says, “Home security cameras are more affordable now than ever before and there are many brands, styles, and types of cameras available. Wireless cameras still need an outlet nearby to plug the power pack into, but the video and audio signals are sent to a receiver by radio waves. IP cameras connect directly to your home’s Wi-Fi router. Wired cameras are easy to install yourself if you take your time in finding a route to hide the small diameter cable. Be sure to choose weatherproof cameras for outdoor use, and buying a kit with a DVR to record footage is a good idea. Almost all new home surveillance cameras allow for remote viewing over a secure Internet connection using a mobile app.”
Tunikova says, “Consider installing timers for lights and electronics. They’ll turn on and off your devices randomly while you’re not at home. This way, your property won’t look empty even when there’s nobody inside… [Also,] don’t advertise your goods. If you keep blinds and curtains open all the time, chances are good someone will set sights on your valuables.”
Don’t let a burglar ruin your summer or your peace of mind. Follow the experts’ advice to keep your home, belongings, and sense of security safe. (And, as always, no matter how bad your financial situation is, don’t make it worse by turning to those other thieves: payday and title lenders.) If you have any other low-cost home security tips, let us know at @OppLoans!
|Rob Caiello is a Vice President of Marketing at Allconnect (@allconnect). Since 1998, Allconnect has simplified and expedited the purchase and setup of home utilities and services (like Internet, TV, and Electricity) for millions of movers relocating across the United States.|
|Robert Siciliano (@RobertSiciliano) is a #1 Best-Selling Author and CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com. IDTheftSecurity.com is funny, but serious about teaching you and your audience fraud prevention and personal security. Robert is a United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla Staff Officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security whose motto is Semper Paratus (Always Ready). His programs are cutting edge, easily digestible and provide best practices to keep you, your clients and employees safe and secure. Your audience will walk away as experts in identity theft prevention, online reputation management, online privacy and data security.|
|Oksana Tunikova works for a real estate startup Rentberry (@Rentberry). She writes educational materials for landlords and tenants as well as articles about major trends in real estate. She is a guest author for HelloSign, Dwolla, CarpeDaily, and Miss Millennia Magazine.|