home security priorities
August 30, 2016 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Research showing which security measures are best bang for buck?

I did see this related question, but costs are a concern in this case.


I've seen snippets of research - for example "87% of all home burglaries are through the front door. " This would suggest that I focus on the front of the house first.

I am trying to determine how to deploy a limited budget.

The neighborhood has had a series on day time burglaries (front and side doors) and several neighbors are installing cameras. I'm not interested in another ongoing expense (to save the images). I'm also not sure those really help. I know it doesn't save me any money on my home insurance which makes me suspect they don't really help.

On the other hand, do I need a fake camera so that my house doesn't look like easy pickings? I do have a security alarm sticker (showing I registered with the police). The system isn't really in use though. Again, having the system did not save me any money on the home policy, oddly enough, and the box made an earsplitting noise right at ear level each time we entered or exited.

It might be better to change the lock away from a brand that has a bump key.

Any criminology researchers out there?
posted by egk to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Police in my area have told our community group several times that a dog is the very best security.

It's very difficult to estimate expenses for a dog.
posted by littlewater at 8:27 AM on August 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

I recommend reading Burglars on the Job, a book based on interviews with burglars who got caught. It covers in depth the things that make a target attractive to burglars and what their methods. If I recall correctly, lighting was the easiest and cheapest deterrent, but that won't help in daylight robberies. Most burglars are looking for easy in, easy out with a minimum chance of encountering anybody. Something that makes it appear that someone is home would be ideal. One of those new internet enabled doorbells that call your cellphone when somebody rings the bell might be what you're looking for. this article covers a couple of them.
posted by cosmicbandito at 8:44 AM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

in my neighborhood, historically very safe but now seeing an uptick in bold daytime burglaries, the MO seems to be for thieves to use side gates to get into backyards where they can break windows at their leisure. I was told that the first step was to get a lock on that side gate, so I got this one. My fence would be fairly easy to climb over, but at least I no longer feel like the softest target on the block.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:52 AM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

A few tips I have heard... For deterrence:
- Get a sign (e.g. ADT Security) and post prominently near the entrance.
- Get stickers for screen door, windows.

For actual protection:
- Replace the screws in the doorjamb(s) with screws (usually 3 inch) that reach into the studs.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:20 AM on August 30, 2016

After our daytime robbery, the police told us the best things to do are get an alarm system and clear away any shrubs/trees that are in front of windows, put lights on timers and televisions inside so it would look like someone was home.

Ours came in by pushing the window air conditioner in and climbed in through the window. They then opened up the back door and let our three dogs out of the house to run free (the dogs were fine. Our neighbor saw them running around the neighborhood and knew something was wrong because they would never be out alone). Granted our dogs are tiny and harmless, but they bark at everything. But junkies will risk a lot when they need to.
posted by archimago at 10:10 AM on August 30, 2016

A Crime Prevention Officer gave a talk to our Neighbourhood Watch recently about deterring burglars. He said a big, loud, barky dog is a great deterrent, but acknowledged that this isn't an option for a lot of people. Instead he suggested:

- a Beware of the Dog sign in a prominent place;
- if a real burglar alarm is too expensive, a dummy burglar alarm mounted on the front of the property (complete with flashing LEDs) - they look identical to real alarms;
- security lighting;
- locks on all windows and doors;
- lights on timers;
- one of those TV simulator lights on a timer;
-a dense growth of rose or holly bushes under windows. Nobody likes getting stuck with thorns.

He said that most burglars are opportunists who want an easy in-out. If they think there's a dog, an alarm, someone home or if entry and exit is going to be difficult, they'll move on to the next property.
posted by essexjan at 11:39 AM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you want to focus on reinforcing the front door, a reinforced strike plate* is one approach. It looks like Lowe's sells them for about $80, generic brands probably cost less. We have them on our front and back doors.

*Web page includes an autoplay video with sound
posted by davcoo at 12:16 PM on August 30, 2016

Not sure if this is part of the options that you've considered and passed, but real observation cams are available that don't really require a subscription. I have a Dlink camera watching the front door of an apartment when no one's in it, and it took some tinkering, but I got it sending alerts via an app and emailing me 5 seconds or so of video if anyone enters.
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:48 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Our 85Lbs Akita did nothing that we could find to prevent the guy who robbed our house from robbing us. The guy kicked in the front door (after trying to knock in the back door but ignored the sliding glass door). I'm certain that she barked up a storm and probably made some very dangerous noises at him and I maintain that she would have been a lot more aggressive defending her people vs. her people's things and herself. But I'd much rather that she keep herself safe than our stuff.

The strike plate, the locks, and the screws (at least three-inch deck screws that go through the door frame into the structure of the house) in the hinges are the lowest hanging fruit. Upgrade those things and a potential robber will break his leg before he breaks down your door.

The next step is making it harder to get in through other entry points (IE: Windows) by either clearing brush away to increase visibility or to add thorny shrubs that will make trying to get in a masochistic exercise.

The security system stickers and some mock cameras should round it out nicely and provide plenty of disincentive to target your house over a neighbors (which is all you can really do).

One they're in, they're going to target stuff that is portable and highly valuable. Jewelry, guns, cash, laptops, tablets, and phones. Other stuff might get stolen too but those are the things most commonly targeted. If it's convenient, do what you can to keep from those sorts of things from being visible through your windows.
posted by VTX at 2:38 PM on August 30, 2016

I'm going to suggest that the answer is situational. I recently moved inside my metro area - about seven miles from one in town neighborhood to another. Statistically, the crime looks the same. What I found was that a lot of the suggestions upthread - security system stickers, cameras or mock cameras, etc. - worked where I used to live and now seem kind of irrelevant in the new place. Just a different style of break-in in the new neighborhood. In the old place, the break-ins seemed to target the weakest link on the street and the game was to take enough precautions that a would-be burglar would pass you by. In the new neighborhood, the MO for break-ins seems to be "kick the front door down in broad daylight." These guys are in and out in two or three minutes. All of the neighbors have cameras, but it doesn't help much because the thieves always use stolen cars. The best bang for the buck in the new neighborhood is reinforcing the front door so it can't be kicked in.
posted by BlueTongueLizard at 8:14 PM on August 30, 2016

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