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What are some suggestions for securing your house from an intruder? Right now we have a GE Simon XT alarm system, but it doesn't cover breaking a window. We put some PVC pipes in the tracks of the lower floor windows as well. What other suggestions do you have?

EDIT: I also would like to know what structural changes I should be looking at. A simple one is to ensure that the deadbolt goes into a stud (they don't always!). Any other suggestions like this would be great.

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A pistol on the nightstand is my preferred method. –  Doresoom Dec 2 '10 at 18:42
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A dog with a loud bark does wonders. –  Mike B Dec 2 '10 at 19:44
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@Doresoom, a pistol does nothing to prevent an intruder from breaking in. –  sal Dec 2 '10 at 20:25
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Yes, but a big sign saying 'this house protected by the NRA' sure does ! –  esac Dec 2 '10 at 21:08
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A gun only helps if your there to use it, and is subject to operator error. Also advertising that you have a gun could have an adverse affect, if the intruder is looking to get their hands on a gun (and your not home). –  Tester101 Dec 2 '10 at 21:30
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11 Answers

up vote 23 down vote accepted

Don't have anything valuable. Or at least, don't appear to.

Look like you care about upkeep and security. You don't have to outrun the bear, etc.

Secure your air conditioners if they're in-window. That's so easy to do.

Avoid doors which have glass near the doorknob. I watched This Old House putting in a beautiful glass door in a crappy part of Boston and all I could think was smash and twist.

Watch out for other means of entry — popping out screens and windows can be avoided if you keep the area around the window clear (no garbage cans to stand on, no shrubs to climb), or if you're really worried, bars on the windows(!). A large dog door can be a way in; secure it.

But mostly, don't look like a target.

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+1 This also includes not telling everyone that you've got a 100 inches flat screen and whatever luxury gadgets you might have. –  sharptooth Dec 3 '10 at 9:47
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@sharptooth cleaning up appliance boxes is a good step to take. Or reuse them, or save 'em. For some reason large-screen TVs make people go crazy. –  Alex Feinman Dec 16 '10 at 16:56
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Don't have "bumpable" locks. Check YouTube for how easy it is to get into a Kwikset lock, for example, including their anti-bump models.

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Why not have some fun with it and throw some lasers into the mix? Check out this instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Protect-Your-Home-with-Laserbeams/

You could even have it stream the intruder from a webcam! http://www.instructables.com/id/Twittering-Laser-Tripwire-with-Webcam-Capture/

You could easily set up lasers to cover your windows, so if someone does break in, they get set off immediately. You could even throw an Arduino into the mix, so you could get a text or email if they ever go off!

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This is the second answer you've provided that has links to Instructables. Please note our rules on self promotion –  ChrisF Apr 20 '12 at 11:09
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I am not affiliated with Instructables in any way. Just find it a good resource. Sorry if I came across that way! Instructables and Hack-a-day tend to be my main sources for diy projects so when answering a question I usually think of one of them first as I enjoy watching the new projects posted on them. –  xFyrios Apr 20 '12 at 11:13
    
It#s just that two answers with links to the same site set alarm bells ringing –  ChrisF Apr 20 '12 at 11:14
    
Sorry! I'll try to stop that I guess. –  xFyrios Apr 20 '12 at 11:15
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Linking to external resources is OK - as long as it's not the only thing in the answer. –  ChrisF Apr 20 '12 at 11:16
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If your concern is while you are away at night, you can also set up lights to go on/off using a Lamp/Appliance timer outlet:

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It has a security feature that turns the lights/TV/radio on/off randomly ("a random setting option, which can turn lights on at unpredictable times to make your home appear occupied when it isn't").

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Me personally ,what I did after a trip to Europe and saw them there is come back and looked up residential security shutters on Google and found Alutechsecurity.com. These are great , I feel like I'm in fort Knox when they are down, also I tied them into my zwave smart home system to secure them down from anywheres. I would we check them out to start.

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Please disclose any affiliation you have with these manufacturers. –  Doresoom Feb 23 '12 at 14:52
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I recently went through the process of securing my home with an alarm system. Being new to the neighborhood we were worried when there were break-ins down the street. We did some research and got a few quotes from best security systems and also used the site as a helpful resource when figuring out what our house actually needed.

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If you are affiliated with this company can you please make it clear. Otherwise your answers will be deleted as spam and your account blocked. –  ChrisF Jul 28 '11 at 19:33
    
This is the site we used to research more, find out what others paid, and get our own quotes. Very helpful resource. –  Dylan Mazeika Jul 28 '11 at 20:00
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In addition to everything else listed here, I am a fan of anti-kickin devices like the Door Devil. Have a deadbolt (single or double cylinder) to help protect against forced entry. A locking door knob does nothing to protect against a kick in.

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Some tips I remember from an interview with a burglar a few years ago (can't find a link now):

  • Make it difficult for someone to conceal themselves while breaking in. If a burglar has to be in full view of the neighbors while he breaks in, it increases the risk of him getting caught. Avoid tall/thick shrubs around your windows and doors. Avoid privacy fences.

  • Having good exterior lighting on a timer helps, but the best thing is a motion sensor floodlight. When a motion light kicks on, it says "hey, something's going on over here", which will draw attention to your house.

  • Those little solar walkway lamps aren't bright enough to matter.

  • Avoid having stuff in plain sight that says "we have lots of $$$". If you have an expensive car, keep it in a garage. If you have nice stuff in your house, keep your blinds closed.

  • Burglars case a neighborhood before they rob it. They know when you leave for work. They know when your neighbors leave for work. If you have neighbors that are home during the day, it will make your house a riskier break-in.

  • If you have a security system, don't put one of those "Protected by ADT" stickers on your door. Knowing which brand of security system can provide enough info on how to disable it. Get a generic sticker.

  • Get a dog. The bark is more important than the bite. A little yappy dog can be more of a deterrent than a German Shepard.

Remember, the goal isn't to make your house completely break-in proof. It is simply to make your house a less attractive target than the other houses in your neighborhood. Look at the surrounding houses and adjust accordingly. You don't want to be the lowest-hanging fruit!

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The last point about the goal being to make your house less attractive is the key. It may sound harsh but the idea is to deter the opportunist. The determined thief who's after something specific will always find a way in. –  ChrisF Dec 3 '10 at 19:54
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It may sound odd, but make it very hard for anyone to get out of your doors without the key and don’t leave the key buy the doors – e.g stop the doors from being easy to open from the inside when they are locked. The first think someone looks for when they break in, is a quick way to escape if needed. No easy escape way and an alarm sounding will get most people to leave very quickly.

Then lock down all your laptops, so they don’t get grabbed while the person is leaving.

I don’t see a need to cover everything with an alarm, as someone is likely to look round the house first to find what to take, provided there are enough movement sensors and it is not a pre-planned job with inside information, they will set of one.

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This could be a fire hazard - not being able to get out of your house without a key could be dangerous. I know double cylinder locks are safer against intruders, but I replaced mine with single cylinders for fire safety reasons when I moved into my house. –  Doresoom Dec 3 '10 at 15:42
    
@Doresoom, depending on the lock, some of them can be "dead locked" when you go out in the day, but left at night so they can be opened from the in side. We just left a key in ours at night so there was no issue with getting out in the case of a fire. –  Walker Dec 5 '10 at 18:44
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People get into such a fix about intruders that they forget basic logic. I don't know how many apartments I've seen in large cities that have metal gates that can't be opened without a key - basically, if there's a fire, you're burning inside, because if it's dark and smoky and panicky, there ain't no way you're getting that gate open. And yet the people who live in these apartments think that this is somehow a good thing. –  Martha Apr 16 '12 at 23:01
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Buy a crappy, broken laptop from a flea market for $5. Leave it in the entrance hall. Leave the front door unlocked.

Most intruders just want to grab something valuable and get the heck out. The faster you can give them something that they think is (a) portable and (b) valuable, the faster they will leave.

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One place I worked got burgled several times in quick succession and ended up putting a bunch of old PCs in reception for this very reason. –  ChrisF Dec 2 '10 at 21:25
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Interesting idea, except I'm not sure I'd leave the door unlocked. Maybe one laptop for each possible entry point? Although your house might start to look like a flea market itself then. :) –  Doresoom Dec 2 '10 at 21:31
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Creative way to handle e-waste! –  Mike B Dec 2 '10 at 22:13
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You could add some inexpensive window break alarms to supplement your current alarm system.

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I've heard of these going off when someone breaks a glass in the kitchen! They work by detecting the acoustic signature of shattering glass. Pretty ingenious design. –  Doresoom Dec 3 '10 at 15:11
    
And are great Psitticine detectors. An acquaintance had a Macaw and a Cockatoo that created one too many false alarms. Only use the tape type detectors in rooms that contain active Parrots. They can do things with cage bars and toys that generate the frequencies glass breakage detectors sense. –  Fiasco Labs Sep 22 '12 at 22:10
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