13 Free Ways to Keep Thieves Away From Your Home

The FBI statistics are sobering: a burglary occurs roughly every 13 seconds in America. There were an estimated 1.4 million burglaries in 2017, and burglary victims suffered an estimated $3.4 billion in property losses. Protecting your home and property against these odds can seem like a daunting and expensive prospect, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot to deter thieves. Here are a few commonsense—and free—ways to prevent burglars from making off with your valuables.

  1. Lock Doors and Windows

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    Lock Doors & Windows to Deter Thieves

    It may seem like a no-brainer, but the first step to preventing theft is to bar the windows and doors—or, at least, to lock them. Burglaries are crimes of opportunity; thieves try a door or a window, and if it is unlocked, they simply waltz (or crawl) right in and take what they want. Always lock doors and windows when you leave the house, even for just a few minutes. The same goes for windows and doors located on upper floors—thieves are good at finding a way up to those those second-story openings!

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  2. Put Up Signs

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    Beware of dog sign to deter thieves

    A sign that reads "Beware of Dog,” may cause potential thieves to think twice before trespassing. These signs can prove effective at frightening off burglars, even if you don’t have a dog. Display signs on all sides and at all entrances to your home. Other signs to consider include ones that say “No Trespassing,” “Neighborhood Watch,” or “Cameras In Use.”

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  3. Close Window Coverings

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    Close window coverings to deter thieves

    Many burglars case the joint before they strike, looking through windows to see which expensive and portable items are within easy reach of the door. Keep window coverings closed to prevent prying eyes, especially when no one is home.

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  4. Vary Your Routine

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    Vary your routine to deter thieves

    The majority of burglaries are committed by thieves who live within two miles of their target, which makes it easy for them to observe your home and learn your family’s habits. Try to leave and return home at different times of the day; or have a friend or neighbor visit at irregular intervals.

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  5. Use Timers On Lights

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    Use timers on your lights to deter thieves

    Use random timers on interior lights and use sunset/sunrise timers on exterior lights. Don’t leave the lights on all the time, because that will signal to burglars that no one is home. Consider installing motion-activated lights in the backyard or near the garage to warn off trespassers.

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  6. Secure Sliding Doors

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    Secure sliding doors to deter thieves

    Sliding doors can provide an easy way in for burglars because their locks are rarely as sturdy as those of conventional doors. Place a wooden dowel, curtain rod, sturdy stick or a rigid bar of metal in the track of your sliding door to prevent it from being opened.

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  7. Trim Trees & Shrubs

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    Trim trees to deter thieves

    Make sure that your landscaping does not provide an easy hiding place for someone looking to break in. Keep shrubs trimmed well away from first floor windows and doors, and prune any tree limbs that are too close to the house—trees that are too close can give thieves easy access to upper floors.

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  8. Turn It Up

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    Turn on the radio to deter thieves

    Turn the radio or television up loud when you’re not at home, and turn the sound on your doorbell down so that if a thief rings the bell, they won’t hear it over the music—and they may think any residents can't hear it either. You also may want to put the radio on a timer, so that it gives the illusion of someone being home.

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  9. Stop Deliveries

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    Stop mail to deter thieves

    If you are going away on vacation, make sure to stop the mail, newspaper delivery and package deliveries. A pile of newspapers or mail is a sure sign to a burglar that no one is home. You also may want to ask a neighbor to stop by regularly to collect any random fliers, take-out menus or papers that might accumulate in your absence.

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  10. Get To Know Your Neighbors

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    Get to know neighbors to deter thieves

    Talk to your neighbors on a regular basis and discuss any unusual activity or suspicious characters in the area; offer to watch their homes while they are on vacation and ask if they will keep an eye on yours. Better still, organize a neighborhood watch in your area.

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  11. Don’t Advertise

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    Don't share plans on social media to deter thieves

    Don’t discuss vacation and travel plans on social media sites—many thieves troll these sites looking for evidence that people are away. Similarly, don’t discuss purchases of new and expensive electronics, jewelry or furnishings.

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  12. Lock Your Garage

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    Close your garage to deter thieves

    When leaving on a trip, pack your suitcases in the car inside the garage, so no one can see you. Similarly, unpack any expensive new electronics or home furnishings inside the garage, so no one can see what you bought. Always lock the garage door, even when you’re at home.

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  13. Give The Appearance Of An Alarm System

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    Fake an alarm system to deter thieves

    Even if you don’t want to invest in a pricey alarm system, you can give your home the appearance of protection by using old wiring and obsolete computer equipment to make it look like you have a system. Fasten wires around windowsills and door jambs; place an old webcam in the window, and pretend to “set” the alarm when you leave the house.

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