There's a break in every 13 seconds in the United States.
It's scary, but it's also a fact. Too many people are too lax with their home security, providing almost an invitation for the bad guys to come in, and wreak havoc on their lives. And it's not just the money. Your insurance will cover your things.
Actually living through a home invasion is a traumatic experience, I hope none of my dear readers ever need to experience. How do you comfort a terrified child, or reassure your partner that everything's going to be OK because "we're safe now?" Are you kidding?
The worst part though is that most home security alarms are little more than a deterrent. Depending on your area, and the coverage you buy, response times could be anywhere from 10 minutes to 40. You can grab a huge amount of stuff in 10 minutes, and remember that most home invasions are made up of multiple criminals. That's an awful long time to have strangers in your house, taking your valuables or causing you harm.
With that in mind here's how I'd protect my home against a break in:
Upgrade your doors
For all of your external doors you're going to need to do a few upgrades. If you haven't got them already buy solid core (or metal) doors, and install a heavy-duty strike-plate. I'd also recommend getting new locks for your doors, with deadbolts that are at least 1 inch long. Oh, and while you're at it, don't just toss the packages from the new locks in the trash. There's only so many different combinations of lock when you buy off-the shelf, and armed with the packaging a determined thief could take it back to the hardware store and pick himself up a new lock with a matching set of keys.
Upgrade your windows
It's no surprise that windows are one of the easiest points of entry for an intruder into your home, as we leave these wide open during the summer months. Especially if anyone on the street can see the window is open, it's like an invitation. But putting bars up is rather unsightly. Instead, I recommend cutting lengths of dowel to fit in the tracks of any sliding windows so they can only be opened about 4 to 6 inches. If you've got vertically sliding windows you can get frame pins so they're only able to open a set distance. You want the breeze to come in, but no one else.
Upgrade your lights
A dark home is another invitation, as it means an intruder can sneak around your property without being seen by anyone. Invest in security lights with motion sensors, so no one can approach your property unnoticed. I also have my interior lights set on timers, along with a radio and an older television. These come on randomly throughout the day and evening, so it appears like there's always someone up and about in our house.
Be a good neighbor
It may sound a little silly, but your neighbors are a fantastic way to keep your property safe. If you get along well with them, it's worthwhile asking them to keep an eye on your place. Of course, you'll do the same for them, which could mean anything from taking out their trash bins when they're on vacation and collecting their mail, or listening out for signs of any trouble, like their home alarm system going off. Your neighbors will get there far quicker than any security team.
Pay attention to the suspicious
In line with being a good neighbor, if you see anyone acting suspicious you need to take appropriate action. But this doesn't need to result in a confrontation. Give the authorities a call, alert your neighbors, and be vigilant. If you do notice a house being broken into call 911 immediately, and do not touch anything the criminal disturbed, just wait outside for the police to arrive. The unfortunate reality is not all burglaries can be stopped, so don't ever put yourself in harm's way to save things.
Have a way to protect yourself
Should the worst happen and you find yourself trapped in your home with an intruder, you need a way to defend yourself. I've got a locked gunbox in my bedside table, so I'll always have a weapon on hand, but if you're not into guns you could always get a can of pepper spray. The key is to have something that enables you to fight back, and gain a split second you can use to escape, get out into the street, and get yourself to safety.
Record and tag all your valuable goods
Our final recommendation is to ensure there's a way to identify anything of yours that's stolen. You'll need a list with the model numbers and makes for the insurance company, and I'd recommend marking everything of value too. Buy an engraver and carve your driver's licence number into each item in a subtle place, which will make it both harder to sell and ensure the police are able to return it to you should it turn up in a pawn shop. Or it this all sounds too hard look into microdots. It's quick to apply as they're tiny chips etched with your details, in a bottle that kind of looks like nail polish. Once you paint it on an item they're almost impossible to remove.
When it comes to your home security you can't be too careful, and ensuring the criminals never gain access in the first place should be your first priority. But if they do, you want to ensure you've got the means to protect yourself and recover your property. Just in case.
Our recommended home security plan
If you really want to get serious about protecting yourself, your family and your property I can't recommend "Bullet Proof Home" enough! It's written by Steve Walker, a US army veteran of 22 years. His video reveals some real eye openers for home owners so I urge you to go and watch it right now.