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20 DIY Hacks to Burglar-Proof Your Home

You don’t need to spend a fortune to keep burglars at bay. Here are some inexpensive (yet very effective!) DIY home security ideas.

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simple window lock pin hole how to secure windowsFamily Handyman

How to Secure Windows with Simple Window Locks

The latches on most double hung windows are no match for a burglar with a pry bar. Pin locks are an easy solution. To install one, all you have to do is drill a hole. If you want to lock the window in a partially opened position, drill a second hole. You can find pin locks at home centers and online. They work well on sliding patio doors too.

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Install Motion Detector Lighting

Put motion detector lighting anywhere. Motion detector lights are a proven crime deterrent, and standard hard-wired models are inexpensive. If running a power supply would be difficult, buy ones that run on solar power. The only real downside is the cost. If you’re going away for a while, then try these fool proof methods to trick burglars into thinking you’re at home.

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Secure Sheds With Screws

Your locked shed seems secure, but an experienced thief can bypass the lock by using a screwdriver to remove hinges and other hardware with exposed screw heads. Foil would-be thieves by using Allen head, Torx head or hex-head cap screws instead of standard Phillips head screws. You can also order tamper-proof security screws that require special removal tools that an opportunistic thief is unlikely to have. You’ll also need to buy the special bit or tool.

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hinge pin

Two Ways to Secure Shed Door Hinges

Shed doors usually swing out, so the hinge pins are accessible from outside; all a thief has to do is pop out the pins and remove the door. To stop this, buy a security hinge with tamper-proof pins and a locking tab at a home center.

You can also retrofit an existing hinge by removing the center screws on both sides, inserting a finish screw through one side and allowing it to protrude about 1/4 in. Drill out the receiving hole slightly so that when the door is closed the finish screw head engages the other hinge. That way, even if the hinge pin is removed, the door can’t be taken off.

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Add Inexpensive Door and Window Alarms

Keeping doors and windows locked is your first line of defense. Make wireless alarms your second. Burglars hate noises, so even a small alarm usually sends them running. Keep in mind that these alarms don’t provide the same security as professionally installed and monitored systems since the wireless devices are activated by doors or windows opening (not glass breaking). Take a look at these budget-friendly apartment door security tools, too.

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Install Door Reinforcement Hardware

You can spend hundreds on a fancy “pick-proof” deadbolt for your burglar proof front door. But you’re kidding yourself if you think that’ll stop most burglars. The truth is, most don’t know how to pick a lock. They gain entry with one really well-placed kick or body slam that splits the doorjamb (and often the door as well), and they walk right in. The good news is that that means you can stop burglars in their tracks by beefing up your door and jamb with reinforcing hardware.

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Defeat Bolt Cutters

“A determined thief with an angle grinder and enough time can cut through nearly any lock,” says Master Lock’s Justin Matuszek. “But more often, the thief has a bolt cutter and is trying to work fast.”

Matuszek says the thicker a lock’s shackle and the less it’s exposed, the more secure the lock is from bolt cutters. And the kind of locking mechanism makes a difference in how easily a lock can be picked. The Master Lock Magnum keyed padlock and the Master Lock ProSeries Combination Lock both resist bolt cutters. Both are available at Plus, here’s how to choose the best security chain.

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reinforce deadbolt

Pick-Proof Your Dead Bolt

Even amateur thieves can pick a lock. To hold the deadbolt firmly in place so the door can’t open, install a deadbolt protection device that slides a ‘lock’ over the deadbolt handle it to keep it from turning.

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Reinforce Your Entry Door Strike Plate

Reinforcing your door’s weak spot, the jamb, with a heavy-duty strike plate and extra-long screws gives it the added strength needed to withstand a burglar trying to kick in your door. If your dead bolt was installed within the last 10 years, it’s probably already reinforced. To check, simply remove the strike plate. If it’s heavy steel with at least 3-in. screws or has a heavy reinforcing plate, you can rest easy. If not, buy strike plate-reinforcing hardware. To install, remove the old strike plate, then hold the new one in place and deeply score around it. Chisel out space for the new plate, then mount it by driving 3-in. screws through predrilled holes.

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Secure Patio Doors

Secure Patio Doors

Patio door locks are easy to pick. Placing a heavy-duty stick in the door track will bar the door closed, but it looks crude and it’s inconvenient to remove every time you want to open the door. Fortunately, there’s a better way to get the security you need. Andersen Corp.’s auxiliary foot lock fastens along the bottom of the door and has a bolt that fits into a grommet to hold the door secure. A similar lock, the Door Guardian, attaches at the top of the door. Both locks allow the door to open 3 in. without compromising security. Installation takes about 10 minutes. Screw the bracket containing the pin to the door, then drill holes and insert grommets in the track for the pin to slide into. Need to replace your patio door? Here’s how to do it.

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An Even Simpler Idea for Sliding Doors

“Like a lot of folks, we needed something to secure our sliding patio door. But I wanted it to be a little more stylish than a 2×4 or an ugly metal bar. So I picked up an oak handrail and stained and sealed it. I finished it with an attractive drawer pull. It works great, it’s easy to handle and it gets tons of compliments from everyone who sees it.” — Family Handyman reader Ryan Velthuis

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Add a Security Anchor

The Kryptonite Anchor Bike lock uses a clever, tamper-resistant system that involves drilling three holes and installing bolts to anchor the heavy-duty security hook to cement. A dome covers the hook and bolts. The anchor can also be installed in truck beds or secured to other surfaces using your fasteners. The instructions are clear, the design is clean and simple, and it comes with a lifetime warranty.

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Woman try to blow open a safe metal safe in hotel roommdbildes/Shutterstock

Install a Small Safe

Most of us don’t need a big, heavy, expensive safe to secure our valuables. Safes go up in price for options such as fire protection and digital or biometric (fingerprint-reading) opening systems. Install the wall safe or cylinder floor safe by bolting it to the floor (most safes have holes inside for just that purpose). Hide it in the corner of a closet or other inconspicuous area, or mount the wall safe inside a wall and cover it with a picture.

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Keep Spare Keys in a Lock Box

Hiding a house key is risky business. Clever (or lucky) burglars sometimes find hidden keys. And insurance companies may refuse to cover your losses if there’s no sign of forced entry. The solution is a combination lock box. Screw it to a fence post or your house in an inconspicuous spot. But don’t use the short, wimpy screws provided by the manufacturer. A crook could pry off the box, take it home and patiently saw it open. Instead use four No. 10 x 2-in. screws, preferably stainless steel.

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Blink Home Security Camera Kit

This wireless security camera system is a three-camera package that requires AA batteries and a WiFi connection to operate. It can cover a lot of square footage of your home, with each device featuring built-in sensors that are triggered by motion. Upon detecting an intruder’s movement, the alarm goes off and an alert is sent to your smartphone, while a short video clip of the event is uploaded to Blink’s cloud storage. You can even integrate the security cameras with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. Install a reliable security system in just one day. DIY home security systems will help to protect your home and your family.

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Know Who’s There

You never want to open a door unless you know who’s on the other side. A peephole lets you see who’s there, but entry doors don’t come with peepholes, and a lot of peepholes are so tiny that they don’t clearly show you who’s out there. Strangers can hide slightly out of view or appear so distorted that they’re hard to identify. Avoid uncertainty by installing a wide-angle door viewer.

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Protect Your Mail

Mail theft is a growing problem, since unsecured mailboxes are easy targets. One sure way to keep thieves from stealing your mail—checks, credit card offers, personal information—is to use a security mailbox. Once the mail is dropped in, you need a key to open the box. Just screw it to the wall or post as you would a standard mailbox.

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dfh3_shutterstock_233751859 smart garage opener carVolkova Vera/Shutterstock

Don’t Keep the Garage Opener in Your Car

A thief who breaks into your car can grab the remote for easy access to your garage. This isn’t just a problem when your car is parked in the driveway; the registration card in your glove box gives a crook your address.

So get rid of the remote on your visor and buy a keychain remote. You can easily take it with you every time you leave the car. Home centers stock only a small selection of remotes, but you’ll find more online. Start your search by typing in the brand of your opener, followed by “remote.” Here’s why you shouldn’t attach the ignition key to any other keys, as well.

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Lock the overhead garage doorFamily Handyman

Lock Up the Overhead Door

Some people “lock” the overhead garage door when they go on vacation by unplugging the opener. That’s a good idea, but physically locking the door is even better. An unplugged opener won’t prevent “fishing,” and—if you have an attached garage—it won’t stop a burglar who has entered through the house from opening the garage door from inside, backing in a van and using the garage as a loading dock for his plunder. Make a burglar’s job more difficult and time-consuming by locking the door itself. If your door doesn’t have a lockable latch, drill a hole in the track just above one of the rollers and slip in a padlock.

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Woman-smiling-while-looking-at-cellphoneAntonio Guillem/Shutterstock

Be Smart with Social Media

Social media is a fantastic tool, one that works great for staying in touch with friends and for sharing travel experiences and photos … after your trip is over.

Remember that social media is built to be public, which means that it’s a bit like talking to a crowd with a megaphone. Don’t share travel plans unless you’re comfortable with the entire social media community knowing about them. Because social media accounts default to a public setting, criminals can simply search for keywords like trip, travel, vacation, out of town and find descriptions of the dates and times that people will be leaving their homes.

To avoid this, simply wait until after your trip to share information about your trip! If you do feel the need to let people know you’ll be out of town ahead of time, take a few moments to ensure that your post is marked as private through that social media platform. By limiting its audience and it searchability, you can make sharing your schedule much more secure.