Fortify Your Home on the Cheap, Part 1

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posted on September 1, 2020
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We all would like the best security, but, of course, most of us aren’t as wealthy as Michael Bloomberg, who has enough cash to turn his many homes into fortresses. Rest assured, though, that in addition to getting a firearm and training, there are half a dozen strategies you can do to help protect your home and your loved ones.

1. Install video cameras: These may not be the end-all for home defense, but they can certainly help. Cameras can not only record a face to help solve a crime, they can also prevent crime. If thieves see cameras, they are more likely to pick an easier home, one that doesn’t have cameras.

I have a camera system from FLIR that allows me to see my home while I’m away. If I’m at home and I hear a noise, I can see what’s going on outside before I go to the door, but security isn’t all about the system itself. When installing the system, professional security companies think of other things.

First, place some dummy cameras. These are cheap, but their presence helps your home’s defensive posture. Second, use a dummy camera as a decoy. Given the chance, a criminal intent on breaking into your home will likely break or cover any obvious security cameras. So place a dummy in a likely spot for a real camera, then, if possible, hide a real camera in a more hidden location. By doing this, you’ll be able to see any criminal’s actions that target what they think is the real camera.

2. Illuminate the exterior: “Keep your house’s perimeter lit up,” says Frank Orman, whose company specializes in home-security systems and tactics. “Even simple motion detectors work great. The light catches the neighbor’s eye, and they also catch the attention of the would-be burglar. It’s an excellent deterrent.”  

3. Fortify your exterior doors: Do this with deadbolts or other similar devices. Simple door knob locks are too easy to pick or kick in. If your outside doors don’t have a deadbolt, have them installed. If you’re a little bit handy, you can do it yourself; all you need is a special drill bit and a deadbolt. The dead bolt bit will run you about $20, while a decent deadbolt is less than $75 or you can go another route. “I prefer the Brinks Home Security Door Jammer Lock,” says Orman. “Fitted with one, it will take some work to kick in the door. I use it on all my exterior doors. And if I’m staying somewhere while traveling, I carry a doorstop.”

4. Use trail cams: Unlike security cameras that tend to be hardwired into power sources, trail cameras run on batteries and are made to be hidden. Put one in a place where it’s likely to pick up a bad guy coming onto or leaving your property. If you’re in the country, hiding a trail cam is easy. Set it up in a tall tree where even if a criminal sees it will be a huge commitment to for them to destroy it. If you live in town, however, you’ll have to be more creative in hiding the cam. The challenge is, you don’t want it taking a photo of every single car that drives down the road or person who walks the sidewalk, but you could put one in a tree facing your back door. Best yet, companies like Bushnell, Moultrie and Covert make cams that send photos directly to your cell phone or email. They necessitate a monthly service, but most are only around $10 per month, plus the cost of the camera.

5. Build a fence around the perimeter: “Fences lend security,” said Orman. “While they may not deter a criminal from trespassing, a fence, if crossed, leaves you no question that the trespasser has a plan and is not there by accident. I also advise marking your fence with ‘no trespassing,’ ‘beware of dog’ and ‘smile you are on camera’ signs placed around the perimeter.”

6. Get a dog: While a dog isn’t cheap—it will cost you thousands over the long haul—a dog who naturally barks at strange smells and strange people is one of the best crime preventers. If you’re sleeping, it will wake you up. If you’re home alone, it will be your early warning system. And if the dog is home but you are not, it takes a brave intruder indeed to enter despite your growling, yapping canine that’s just on the other side of the window. Likely, the bad guy will choose another house.

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