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Whether you’re an experienced home defense guru or a complete amateur, the best way to prepare against a burglary or home invasion is to prevent it from happening in the first place. But no matter how watchful you are, sometimes you have to sleep, and some thieves know how to get around the standard home security measures.
In case that happens, there are many unusual methods to protect your family and valuables–methods that don’t involve moving out of your 3-bedroom house and into a fortified castle.
Here are 7 unusual home security tips you probably didn’t know.
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1. Use Dowell Rods in Sliding Glass Door Tracks
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a home that doesn’t feature an aesthetically pleasing sliding glass door. They provide a great view and allow natural light to flood the house.
However, they’re not very secure. A well-prepared and knowledgeable burglar has ways of getting around the average sliding glass door. And if the door is improperly installed, they can easily lift it off the tracks, so be sure to check your sliding glass doors for baseline security.
The best way to secure a sliding glass door is to put a dowel rod or something similar on the tracks and lodge it between the door and the wall. If a burglar manages to unlock the sliding door, they still won’t be able to slide it open if a dowel rod is in the way.
2. Move Your Alarm Keypad
Installing a home security system is a fantastic way to deter potential burglars, but it’s not fool-proof. Most alarm pads are placed by common entrances, such as the front door or back door. This is done because it’s convenient and because you’re only allowed a brief amount of time before the alarm goes off and the authorities question you for living in your own home.
Because the front and back doors are such common places for a keypad, burglars know exactly where to look. An observant thief will scope out the place and watch the numbers you enter into the keypad. A would-be burglar can also glance through the window to see if you engaged the alarm system before leaving the house.
Be mindful of who might be able to view your keypad when you arm or disarm it, and move it somewhere out of sight. Or at least block the keypad when using it. Another option is to have multiple keypads, one by an entrance and one in the master bedroom in case of a suspected break-in when you need to act fast.
3. Use a Key Lock Box
Everybody knows someone who keeps their spare key in an extremely commonplace—under the mat, in the mailbox, under a potted plant, or in a fake rock, just to name a few. Don’t be that person. If you want to leave yourself a set of spare keys somewhere, install a key lockbox somewhere on your property–the kind realtors use.
Backup keys will be just a simple combination away, and only you will have access to them. Just like with your security system keypad, make sure nobody can see you enter the combination.
4. Use Mother Nature’s Help
Mother Nature has had eons of time to develop the perfect home defense system: thorns. Consider planting bushes, vines, or trees in areas you don’t want strangers access. For example, you could plant a thorny shrub underneath the windows of your bedrooms so no one can climb through them without getting torn up.
Some great examples of thorny bushes, vines, and trees are:
- Many mesquite varieties
- Honey Locust
- Pyracantha (firethorn bush)
- Climbing roses
- Cats claw acacia
- Oregon grape holly
5. Don’t Hide Valuables in the Master Bedroom
The master bedroom is one of the first places burglars look after entering a house. Master bedrooms are typically easy to access, which is part of the charm for burglars.
Take a quick inventory of what you keep in your master bedroom. Is there jewelry, electronics, cash, or credit cards? Anything of value that can easily be moved should be relocated to somewhere unexpected.
And what’s more unexpected than jewelry in the laundry room? Or an emergency fund stashed in your toddler’s bedroom? Few criminals would think to check for valuables in these places. Doing the unexpected can save you in the long run.
Avoid the more common hiding spots such as in CD or DVD cases, under mattresses, behind pictures, or in lightweight safes that can be easily be carried away. Some burglars might not give up until they find something valuable. In case of that, you could keep fake jewelry in a jewelry case by your bed. This would serve as a great decoy for any burglars.
Speaking of decoys…
6. Get a Decoy Safe
To start with, never store your valuables in a safe that is not high quality and hasn’t been bolted down. But if you really want to foil criminals, from clumsy robbers to Ocean’s-11-caliber operators, buy a small decoy safe to throw burglars off the scent as to where the real goods are.
Because burglars want to get in and out as fast as possible, they’ll be much more likely to run off with a decoy safe full of fake valuables and discontinue their search. Be sure to put the decoy safe somewhere easy to find and the real safe somewhere very difficult to find.
7. Keep Your Car Keys With You
Keep your keys on you during the day and by your bed while you sleep. Most car key fobs have a panic button nowadays. If you hear or see a burglar trying to get into your house, press the panic button. The last thing a burglar wants is to rob a noisy house that draws unwanted attention.
Better yet, also keep a garage door opener nearby. If you open the garage, it will make it easier for the neighbors to hear your car alarm. Just make sure the door leading into the house is locked.
Note: This only works in neighborhoods where the houses are very close together.
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How about living in a “” house.
1) Do not landscape your yard. Mow it your self.
2) drive a USED car( you own a n one; park it in your garage. Keep the door shut at all times).
3) do not be seen wearing “Flashy” clothes. Or lots of jewelry. Keep your cellphone in a pocket. Carry a laptop computer in a book bag.
4) Be careful about what you put out for city trash pick up. AMAZON boxes can tip off a potential thief.
5) If you own a firearm; LEARN HOW TO SAFELY USE IT. Do not tell anyone that you own it. Do not have visible gunracks in your car or truck.
6) If you have an expensive gas grill; store it in your garage. Not on your patio.
Guy Freegard says
Just read this now. Excellent advice. You guys in the US are blessed. We live in South Africa and home invasion here is state of the art:
Syndicates; operate in groups of, usually, 5 or more. Often rogue police involved; always well armed; they know armed responder response times (best around 15 – 20 mins depending on locality of patrol vehicles); they often take you outside as you enter; if they get you inside, knowing the response time of security providers, they simply shoot the man of the house in front of the wife and kids. Wife quickly reveals valuables, opens safes, hands over firearms. In and out in 15. Home owners lives forever changed. Life is cheap here. Prison is no deterrent – most syndicated crimes are often run from “inside” anyway. Its like living permanently in a war zone. We sleep with one eye open. If they get the drop on you, game over.
Stay safe, as we say here.
Great article on home security tips. I want to feel safe when I’m home and when I’m away.
Sliding glass doors are a major security issue. If you really need that kind of view, install impact-rated double doors, or AT LEAST impact-rated sliders. If you already have sliders and can’t replace them, do what you can to make them harder than normal to open or remove.
Before you plant anything next to your foundation, make sure it won’t damage the foundation and trees should be 9 or 10 feet away from the house. Be careful!
Exactly. I can’t get through people’s heads.
They move into a new home and plant little bushes and trees right up against the foundation never giving thought to growth. Just to what immediately looks nice.
I used to have scrub tress grow everywhere on my property and many were right up against the foundation. I would have to argue with the wife that they HAD to come out. SHE wanted the ‘natural’ look. Ugh ….
Curley Bull says
I’m late to the game, I’m just now reading this article. Something I did with sliding glass doors is drill a ¼ inch hole at a 45-degree angle downward at the top where both doors overlap (closed) and insert an Allen wrench in the hole. This prevents the doors from being opened from the outside and from being lifted up.
This sounds like a great idea!
Jane Doe says
I have two suggestions:
1) There are edibles you can plant around your house that also have thorns. I live in a manufactured home so everything is on one floor, including the master bedroom, which has such ridiculously low-to-the-ground windows that 5’1″ me could easily step over the sill. I have old-fashioned blackberry canes planted along this side of the house complete with nasty thorns. The second bedroom, on the other side of the house, is barricaded by Sea Buckthorns, the males of which have even nastier thorns and the females yield a tiny citrus-type fruit that has medicinal uses.
2) Back when I kept a valuable coin collection in the house, I used to store it in plastic bags from frozen vegetables. A bunch of coins in small, individual protective cardboard holders felt just like frozen spinach.
That Sea Buckthorn is a really nice-looking plant.
Regarding sliding glass doors, most can be lifted out of track. Get some flat head wood screws and partially screw them into the header enough so the door can open & close. Then test lifting it.
Also there are deadbolts for sliding glass doors. The existing locks are crap. Found one that is keyless. You have to slide the bolts up & down to operate it.
linda daniel says
I used a wedge at the top of my sliding patio doors the doors still opened but could not be lifted off track and the wedge was secured permanently
linda daniel says
BTW I also used a bar at night in the lower track to prevent the doors from being able to slide open
Burt Silver says
I never thought about how dangerous it could be to have the alarm keypad close to the front or back doors. It makes sense to put it someplace that isn’t obvious, so a thief wouldn’t know to look there. That is good advice. My wife and I are moving into a new home and we want to make sure it is as safe as possible, so I will have to look into putting my alarm someplace out of the way.
Ray M says
I was in the home security business for over 30 years. Having your keypad out of sight is a good idea but remember this. Most home alarms have an entry exit delay of from 10 to 60 seconds depending on the home owners preference. If the criminal has your code they’re in anyway. If they have your code they no doubt know where the keypad is so hiding it doesn’t work. If the criminal tears it off the wall most alarms will be activated by that action. Also, most alarms in todays world are wireless and can easily be deactivated with a smart phone. That’s why I always tried to get folks with realistic security concerns to go with a hardwired system. Don’t tell me they can’t hack into your system. Hackers got into NORAD and the Pentagon on more than one occasion so it can be done quite easily. All in all, a security system is like a lock on the door. It only keeps honest people honest. if someone wants what you have they’ll find a way to get it. I have security so I can be notified if someone breaks in when I’m home and so I can take care of it. If I’m not at home, my system is silent so the criminal will feel confident and get arrested when the police arrive unannounced. Now please, don’t make your decision by what an article says or from a response to a comment. “Please” do some research and be informed before you make a mistake. God bless.
I installed these in 5 minutes per door (I have 4)and feel safer now. I’m female! 🙂
Door guardians from Amazon.
Great for child safety.
I’ve thought of securing all doors and leaving through the garage, but a power outage and we are screwed in that we can’t get inside till power is restored.
But. I sleep better now.
Snuffy Smith says
There are garage door openers available that have battery back-up. I have two. Supposedly they’re good for 50 open/close cycles but I haven’t tested that.
Those used wooden mop handles are great for door jambers.
Leave garage door open?? I have lots of things I don’t want stolen in a garage–that’s what a garage is for!!
For women and men, keep your keys, wallet, purse and cell phones WITH you in the bedroom, as opposed to their “usual place”, on the kitchen counter, etc. You WILL need them in an emergency, or, when your home is hit and you want to call for help.
Getting a decoy safe is a brilliant idea. Can’t believe I’ve never thought of that. Another clever thing to do is to have decoy security cameras outside your house. Obviously, having a monitored video surveillance system is ideal, but I bet a decoy camera works just as good (and a lot cheaper).
Moving your alarm system is something I never thought about. Ours is situated close to a common entry, so maybe moving it would be a good idea for us. Thanks for sharing the tips.
William Krejci says
Then, after you move the real one. Replace it with a non functioning fake pad!
Talk about frustrating the bad guys!
They’ll waste so much time trying to figure out why they can’t get it to work till they finally give up and leave. Either that or they’ll figure they’re safe and be there too long getting caught by the cops.
Wooden dowels in a window track, ONLY work, IF, the sliding window slides open with the window being on the “inside” of the glass panel that does not slide.
Also, ALL sliding Windows easily LIFT out of their tracks, once unlocked. There are specific defense against lifting them off and out of their tracks so look them up and see what works best for you.
I like the concept of drilling an “inline” hole through both the window track and window frame, then using a pin, dowel, or even a nail inserted to stop the window from being able to be lifted until you remove the pin, dowel, or nail.
I like this site but this article does not pass the “lame versing on the obvious” test. It would be more suitable for the Farmer’s Almanac and not a site trying to cater to urban survival.
Using a realtor lock box seems more like advertising a key’s location than truly hiding it…any burglar will have a pair of snips/bolt cutters that will open that lock box like an egg
The lock box we have is an actual small, hefty, metal BOX bolted to the wall (not the thing you hang on the door, with a hefty push-button front “door” that is inset into the box, about 3″ x 2″ x 2″, making it very difficult to get any sort of crowbar into. I’m sure you could eventually sledgehammer it open, but by then, I think I’ll have heard you bashing on it.
Most of those are made from pot metal or another crappy metal and will easily break when hit with a hand sledge. If the burglar wraps it in cloth, no one will ever hear them break it open.
The metal around those buttons are usually an easy target and the weakest part of the box.
Luckily most thieves or burglars are unprepared and unprofessional.
on the security pad security section – as an IT/electronics professional – I’ve found often that one key to ‘hacking’ such a touchpad often boils down to the simple observation of dirt on the various keys. The heaviest/dirtiest is most always the first number, the next grimiest – the second and so on. Why? Each successive key press is cleaner due to simple deposition of normal daily grunge on one’s fingers. This ‘hack’ works best if 2 number entries are NOT the same number. Still, noting which numbers are the dirty ones almost always will show what numbers are used in the PIN code. In short – wash/keep the pads clean to prevent this simple trick.