It's a good idea to think about home security, even if you are a renter or live in a condominium with a guard or in a gated community. Anyone can be a victim of theft, and if you are home when a burglar intrudes, the crime can escalate into something even more dangerous.
For the safety of you and your family, you may want to consider having a home security system installed, but there are also a lot of common-sense things you can do that don't involve spending a lot of money on fancy alarms or security cameras. Let's take a look at some basic tips:
While most people have solid doors and locks for front and back home entrances, they sometimes forget that garage doors should be of good quality as well. This includes walk-through doors and the doors for cars. Older automatic garage door openers were relatively easy to hack, so if your model is more than 15 or 20 years old, you may want to upgrade to a newer system that employs rolling codes.
Most garages have windows, and because this area tends to be father away from your living area than other parts of the house, a broken window is less likely to be heard. You may want to consider upgrading your windows to use security glass or shutters, but at least make sure locks are secure. Also watch out for entry doors with windows in or next to them, as these can be broken to allow a thief to stick an arm through and unlock the door from within.
Even if you don't keep anything particularly valuable in your garden shed, realize that thieves can walk in and grab tools such as hoes, axes, and shovels which can be used in breaking windows to allow entry into your house. Also, unsecured ladders should be locked up somewhere inside, as they can allow burglars access to second story windows, which many homeowners forget to close and lock.
Speaking of windows, it's a good idea to keep them closed and locked when you're not at home (and if you live in a high-crime neighborhood, you may want to keep them locked when you're there as well). Also keep doors locked, even when you are home. In addition to regular knob locks, consider adding deadbolts for extra security against having a door kicked down.
Got a big plasma tv? A fancy car? Jewelry? That's fine, but don't tempt people into crimes of opportunity by allowing these items to be easily seen by anyone passing by your home. If you have valuable cars in your garage, consider curtains for the windows so people can't see in. Likewise, don't place expensive (and portable) items right in front of bedroom or living room windows.
Burglars prefer to work in dark and shadows, since they're less likely to be seen that way, so make sure your yard doesn't provide thieves a place to hide. Install outdoor lights with motion- or heat-detecting sensors, so they will turn on at night when someone approaches the house. The backyard, front yard, and side yards should all have security lighting. (For energy efficiency, get lights with motion/heat sensors rather than units that simply stay on all night.)
Nothing invites a theft so much as a house with no one home. If you are going out of town, don't make it obvious to passing thieves. Have the paper and mail put on hold (in most areas, the post office will hold mail for up to 30 days, and you can simply go to the post office to pick it up when you get back) or have a sitter pick them up for you. Automatic lights that come on at night will also help fool burglars into thinking someone is home.
Even if you're a renter, it's a good idea to have the door locks changed when you move into a new house or apartment. Unless you are moving into new construction, you have no idea of knowing how many keys have been made over the years that fit your door.
Keys get lost all the time, and you may think it's a good idea to have your name and address on your key ring (to help speed recovery), but all that really does is let the finder know where your house is, and now they have the keys that open the front door. They could call you and tell you they've found your keys and to meet them at such-and-such a place and even as you're heading off to meet them, they are back at your house, letting themselves in to steal your valuables.
To this day, a lot of people still leave spare sets of house keys under doormats, above door frames, under pots, rocks, etc. No matter how tricky you think you are being in choosing a concealing spot, a burglar can find it. Thievery is what they do for a living so of course they know all the tricks. If you're worried about losing your keys and not being able to get into your house, consider installing biometric door locks (these open your door with a thumbprint) or locks that open when PIN codes are entered.
Even as a child, you were probably told never to open the door for strangers. This is prudent advice even for adults. In order to see who is at the door, consider installing a safety spy hole or peep hole. This makes it easy to see who's outside without them seeing in, and it's a relatively inexpensive home security upgrade.
As you can see from this list, there are a lot of home security precautions you can take that will make your house less of a target for thieves. In addition, they cost little or no money to implement, so what are you waiting for? Make your home safe!