In this post, we are pointing out and prioritizing those things that are essential for home security: 1. So you can truly secure your family and treasure. 2. So you can navigate through the massive ad campaigns that tend to “sell the sizzle,” rather than the steak.
Home security can be broken down into three categories:
1. Defense – It is essential to defend your home.
2. Deterrence – It is wise to try and deter criminals.
3. Detection – It is tricky to detect a home invasion.
Let me cover these groupings in greater detail.
IT IS ESSENTIAL TO DEFEND YOUR HOME.
The biggest mistake is that most people attack this issue backwards. They start with detection, yet detection is not essential. Here’s the thinking: “Better to never have a break in than to detect one.”
Consider the fact that burglars are caught less than 15% of the time. Isn’t is better that someone try and break into your home and fail, than that they should succeed and you catch them on camera?
Also consider the fact that there’s a less than 5% chance that you will get stolen valuables back. It’s for these reasons, and others, that the critical need in home security is defense.
- The first line of defense is doors and windows. By making these entry points nearly impregnable, you are keeping out 87% of the would-be intruders.
For more information on door security read Stop 64% of the burglars with home door security devices! and What’s the Best Door Jamb Reinforcement?
For more information on window security read Stop 23% of the burglars with home security window film!
- The second line of defense is having a panic room. To create one is not as difficult as it sounds. It’s is simply a matter of fortifying an interior room doorway as you would an exterior doorway. The above posts on door security are applicable.
- First, you’ll need to measure the thickness of the interior door (often 1 3/8 inches) for the room you pick. This is important because it is likely thinner than your front door (often 1 3/4 inches). Meaning, you cannot use the same door jamb reinforcement. Some companies we highlighted in this article here sell similar products for interior doors.
- Next, you will need to replace your hollow door. Find a solid core exterior door that fits the dimensions of your doorway.
- Next, install a grade #1 quality deadbolt on this door. I would opt for a single cylinder one so that there is no scrambling for a key.
- Also, this is the best room for your safe, firebox, and valuables.
- Now for some planning: Will you have a rechargeable flashlight plugged in this room? How about a landline phone? How about a front door key on a glow stick in case police arrive in with intruders in your home? You could toss it out of a second story window to them. Has your family walked thru a possible scenario when the panic room might be necessary?
- The third line of defense is personal protection. With this is mind, having all firearms stored in the designated panic room is a good idea. You have them and the criminals do not.
IT IS WISE TO TRY TO DETER CRIMINALS.
Let’s be honest, if you have the opportunity to disinvite your enemies you might as well give it a shot.
- Fake Security Cameras – In an article entitled, Should you buy Dummy Outdoor Security Cameras?, where I discuss phony cameras, one reader remarked that instead of purchasing fake ones that typically fall apart, buy used real ones without a system to go with it.
- Motion Activated Lights – this is a good deterrent, unlike cameras, in a particularly dark area. I would definitely suggest this for those with detached garages and out buildings. For areas around vehicles and other valuables where you want light on all the time, consider using outdoor lights that get brighter when the motion sensor is tripped.
- General Alarm and Security Signs – Some are now suggesting specific signage gives the brilliant thieves’ info to help them disarm alarm and monitoring equipment.
- Timers on Lights – When you are not at home, have your lights rotate on and off as if you were.
- TV Light – If you are not familiar with this product, it flashes lights that are meant to look like that of a television playing. This too, of course, is meant to make it appear as if someone is home.
- A Small Dog – Erin Raub writes @security.com,
“Big dogs may look scary, but what you really want is a smaller dog that will make a huge stink the second someone is at the door (or window).”
- This picture from Ohio’s NBC4 tells the tale:
(Fortunately for the dog in the image above, the robber did not harm the him. As an animal lover, leaving pets as the first line of defense is not an option.)
It’s important to remember, deterrents don’t deter all criminals. Sometimes because desperate criminals do not notice them.
When New England Patriot Tight End Rob Gronkowski’s house was broken into while he was playing in the Superbowl this year, he had all 16 of his cameras rolling.
Another reason deterrents don’t work is because experienced criminals have figured out that they are just deterrents. The only way to keep these guys out is with a solid defense.
One last thing to remember about deterrents: The only real stats you get on them is when they fail. When they work, it’s not like perps drop by to let you know what a good job you did scaring them off.
IT IS TRICKY TO DETECT A HOME INVASION.
Detection is where the overwhelming amount of money is being spent by consumers on home security. The problem is that electronic detection is tricky, challenging, and hardly full-proof. (Quite the opposite of what the ads would lead you to believe.)
- It is tricky because, according to the University at Albany, somewhere between 94 and 98% of the tens of millions of burglar alarms each year in the U.S. are false.
- It is challenging because police departments have to prioritize the calls that come in to them. This keeps them from having to make constant decisions about what to handle first or last if “business is a-booming.”
Looking at the Poudre Emergency Communications Center in Colorado as an example, a “silent or audible alarm activated at a business or residence” is a Priority #5 call. But an actual “suspect is seen or heard breaking into home, or business” is a Priority #1. (READ: Do Alarms Make Home More Secure?)
- It is hardly full-proof because, as in the case mentioned above of Rob Gronkowski, even with 16 cameras there’s was no clear enough image to identify the bad guys.
Detection is a nice bonus, but it is not essential to home security. It is icing on the cake. But you’re strategy needs to be a firm foundation of defense.
So what is necessary to keep you and yours safe?
- Defense – Neglecting this is risky business.
- Deterrence – Common sense says to do some things in this area.
- Detection – Here I suggest you do what is affordable and comfortable.
Remember, being prepared means living without regret.
Do you have any home security experiences you can share? Maybe a question or you need a recommendation. Leave a comment and keep the conversation going.
Great article here. Nice, practical solutions. I love the idea of the interior room with the exterior door and deadbolt. Great advice!
Obviously to keep up, I read plenty of horror stories. So having a panic room is an easy fix.
I just read the article What is Essential for Home Security? What great tips you give here on this site. You seem to have done thorough research and have plenty of experience in this area. I’ll imagine your family feels safer for it. I admit we have cameras, but I never thought of the fact that defense should be the first step. I know from experience as we watched on camera as someone stole something right out of the yard across the street. They had their outside light on and it still didn’t deter him. But as you said some wont be stopped.
I am glad you find the tips helpful. And it is quite amazing how bold (or dumb) criminals can be. This is why I put so much emphasis, as you noted, on defense. Whether the intruder is cruel or crazy, it is best to keep them as far from you as possible.
Timers on lights is seriously a good idea. We try improving home security and this might give an illusion. I will definitely recommend this to my family.
You’re right Furkan. Without timers, it’s pretty obvious to the career criminal that no one is actually home. Thanks for the recommendation.
Excellent article! Totally agree with the ‘defense’ criteris outlined in your 3”D’s. It makes absolute sense to implement security measures that prevent a burglar from even gaining access to your home, as opposed to monitoring the break-in after the fact.
Glad you agree James. Thanks for stopping by.
Excellent , well detailed article on Home Security. It does make sense to have a strong defense first and foremost. If you are keeping out 87% of would be intruders by shoring up windows and doors, and it doesn’t cost a lot to do so, why wouldn’t someone do that? I think the old addage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, applies here.
Well said Tom, and thanks.
I have seen both of your websites, Tom. Really professional.
Thanks Tom. Hope the information is helpful.
Interesting article. Thank you for the tips. I will definitely be sharing this with friends and family. I could even use these tips myself.
You’re welcome Kay. Glad to be of service.
Hi, there’s lots to think about here. The TV light I wasn’t aware of and I’ll do a bit more research on that one, and the light timers are an excellent idea. We had security cameras set up in our carpark, and when a pair of guys broke in a few years ago they knew where the cameras were (they’d obviously done a bit of homework first), walked straight over, dismantled them, and then ransacked the car park. This happened on 2 occasions. We’ve never gone back to video cameras. Motion sensors seem to have been a good addition to our security. Thanks for your article.
Wow, wetection is tricky. That’s a sad and amazing story Melissa. Thanks for sharing.
Good post explaining to know the basics of security of households. With increase rate of crimes and thefts, there is need of strong security solution . But it also depends on different geography and feasibility of an individual. overall informative post and helpful tips to make home more secure .
Thanks for stopping by Ganesh.
I really appreciate your common sense advice! Understanding how to secure doors and windows is incredibly valuable information. I like the panic room idea as a safe haven from intruders. Your external deterrent suggestions gave me some good ideas for how we can beef up security for our home. Thanks for your comprehensive post. You certainly gave me some food for thought.
I’m glad I could help Stacy.
The idea for the interior panic room is a great idea if your home is bog enough. However what if your home is small, one story and your only interior room is a small hall bath?
Well that is certainly your call. But it is probably worth it to set your bathroom up as the panic room.