I had a carpenter over this past weekend working on some projects around my house. The door jamb of my master bedroom needs to be replaced and I had some drywall patchwork being done too. Things were going well until the carpenter called me out to take a look at our front door. I was expecting some kind of sales pitch from him about additional work he could take care of for me. Construction workers are like mechanics, they always seem to find additional things wrong that will cost you even more money to fix.
I was only half right. The carpenter pointed out to me that my front door had the hinges on the outside of the house, instead of the inside. I looked at the carpenter like, “Yea, so what.” I didn’t know what was wrong with that. The door opened and closed just fine.
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Apparently this is a very good thing…if you are a burglar or trying to break into my home. Instead of trying to pick the lock a criminal could easily remove the pins from the hinges and gain access to my home that way.
This information freaked me out. I had no idea how a simple thing like this could make me an easier target for robbers and burglars. I spent most of Saturday evening and Sunday looking for ways to better protect my home…but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money doing it if I didn’t have to.
What my carpenter suggested for my front door was to re-hang the door with the hinges on the inside (expensive) or I could drive a pin through the hinges so they couldn’t be removed (cheap). Guess which option I choose?
Know what else I found out? I could buy security alarm decals without actually having to pay for the service! ADT would love to charge me $99 to install an elaborate home security system in my house and then charge me $34.95 a month to monitor it. Spending $400 a year is not what I had in mind. Instead you can buy window stickers and yard signs of well-known security companies like ADT or Honeywell for only $15 online. While the sticker provides no actual protection it does serve as a deterrent for criminals, and that’s half the battle.
Another great deterrent is a dog. It’s not necessarily the size of the dog that matters but the volume of their bark that serves to keep criminals from choosing your house to enter. Signs proclaiming Beware Of Dog posted on exterior doors and fences are great deterrents too. They can be bought at local hardware or home improvement stores for only a few bucks.
Unfortunately I don’t have a dog (it breaks my heart but Mr. Patterson is allergic). But I found the next best thing. There is this awesome product I found online that simulates a ferociously barking dog when movement is detected. It’s perfect for my front door. The closer an intruder gets the more frequent the barking gets to make it even more believable. It’s also a heck of a lot cheaper than an actual dog, the one I found on amazon.com cost less than $70.
If you’re going to be on vacation or just gone for the weekend, lamp sensors are another cheap and easy to install product to look into. They had adjustable sensors that turn on lamps at dusk and turn them off at dawn, making it always look like someone is home. This is also great if like me you always forget to leave a light on for yourself when coming home late. There are few things more frightening than walking into a completely dark house late at night. I found this one online selling for less than $10.
Homes with older windows might want to think about installing window bolts. Older windows typically don’t have locks on them, just catches which offer little protection against even the most amateur of burglars. Window bolts typically have a steal bolt that runs through the inner and outer frame. Buy the kind that can be locked/unlocked with a key so on nice days when you are home you can still open up the windows to catch a nice breeze. Check out ones on alibaba.com or amazon.com. Prices range from $10-65 depending on the type of window you have.
If you want a bit more security you can still get the benefits of a security system without having to pay $30-$50 a month in monitoring fees. Many retailers carry wireless security systems that you can install yourself. Typically kits like these include a couple of motion detectors that send alerts to your cell phone. I like this option because if you get an alert you can call the police yourself. Local law enforcement is more likely to follow up on a call from a homeowner than from one from a security company like ADT, Brinks or Honeywell who are notorious for sending false alarms.
Peace of mind is priceless…ADT is not. My point is that if you want to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on home security options you can, but you don’t have to. Half the battle is won if you can simply deter a criminal from choosing your house. For more home security options visit the archives section of leagueofpower.com and re-read my January 2011 article, ‘Safety Doesn’t Have to Cost a Fortune’. If you have any more cheap home security methods you like that I did not discuss here let me know about it in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!
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