- Can you actually protect your home on a tight budget?
- Does it really have to be professional security services?
- What kind of security devices can you get for less than £100?
- Find the answers to this questions in this article
I hope we agree on the fact that home security is important and everyone has at least something valuable at home that might be interesting enough for potential burglars on one hand, and on the other, valuable enough for you to be a considered loss, either financial or/and emotional. If you are not sure about that, you should read this article first.
Now, I do understand that not everyone can afford to just call up one of the market leading security companies and have a top of the line security system installed with 24/7 monitoring and alarm response. Maybe you even could, but you just think that this is going to far, so here are some things you can do to make your home more safe and a harder target for burglars, without spending a fortune. I will start with things that are absolutely free before I move on to those that will cost you from a few pounds to a hundred. I have also provided links, mainly to Amazon or directly to the supplier where you could purchase the described items. This is of course not limited to the metioned resources and it was not my intention to promote any certain supplier. Although I did my best to give you a complete overview, you can and should of course do your own research. If you are not living in the UK, you will have to search up the resources by yourself anyways. I still hope that I can give you some fresh and usebale ideas here, and I will follow up on certain categories also with detailed product reviews, so if you find that useful, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter.
Safety tips that will not cost you anything!
So, here are the things that will not cost you anything: “Lock your doors and close your windows!” Do I really need to repeat that? Fine I will not, but it cannot be said often enough! Burglars statistically mostly enter the house through the front door, back door, or the windows. Very often the doors are simply unlocked and windows left open! Why do we do that? It is exactly that thinking, who would break in at my place anyways and I am just going quickly to the convenient store or walking the dog. The reality is, that burglaries are mostly crimes of opportunity, they try the doors, check the windows, or they saw you leaving with the dog or for a run, so they know you didn’t take your wallet with you, or your car keys. If they check through the window and see your brand new iPhone, tablet or laptop on the table, that is easy money for them, anything that can be easily carried and taken without great resistance is a winner for a burglar!
Security measures for around 20 pounds
Moving on to spending just a few pounds to increase your home security, is that even possible? Sure, it is, if you are simply not able to spend anything on security, get at least some alarm stickers and put them on your doors and windows! Yeah I know what you might think now and the truth is, this will certainly not scare away a professional, who can of course figure out if you really have a security system or not. But it might make some opportunists rather choose a less risky target. You can get this kind of generic alarm stickers on Amazon in a set of 8 for as little as £3.
If you can spend a few quit more, get a decoy alarm sounder or an old one from someone you know that had his alarm system replaced or maybe someone who works as a security installer. You can of course also simply look for adds on Facebook or Gumtree. An fake or old outdoor camera will have a similar effect or just order a cheap one and mount it somewhere visible. Pay attention to not making it too obvious that it is fake, make sure the cables at least look like they are going somewhere. Also be aware that outdoor cameras with integrated LED lightning are in a visible spectrum, meaning that you can actually see the LED’s being on at night as they glow red. Also, most outdoor alarm sounders nowadays have some kind of LED indicator on them, that is supposed to signal to potential intruders, that this is the real deal. Be inventive with that or pay attention when getting a decoy that it has those features and appears real!
Use a security key box if you need to store keys outside
Next thing is likewise so unacceptable nowadays, leaving house keys hidden somewhere outside the house! It has been decades now since they invented secure key boxes for storing keys safely for visitors or for family members. They can be fixed to a wall with screws and opened with a combination lock. If you need to leave a key for someone, use on of these, they are around £15-20 and make sure you do mount them somewhere visible from the street, that way any attempt to tamper with them would be noticeable for neighbours.
Build good relations with your neighbours!
Speaking of neighbours, they certainly belong here too. Having a good relationship with your neighbours is precious not only for safety reasons. A cup of coffee or tea every now and then and a little conversation goes long ways and you don’t have to be best friends with your neighbours for that. I understand that this is not always easy, as you might simply be so different to simply not have anything in common, but if you can at least maintain a “Hi neighbour, how are you today?” kind relationship, that is already worth something. The reason is that you probably do have something in common after all, the concern about the safety of your home when you are away! So, why not asking the question, if they would be so kind and take a look on your property while you are gone and leaving a phone number where you can be reached. You can always return the favour and bringing back a little souvenir from your vacation or a bottle of wine, should hopefully not stretch your budget.
What you can get for up to 100 pounds
As we have already established, the doors and windows are the main entry points into your home, and you should make it as difficult as possible for burglars to open them with force. Standard Door locks can be easy to force open, sometimes all it takes is a stronger kick against the door and they are in! Investing in a solid lock is always advisable, even if you have a monitored alarm system, ideally you want to keep potential intruders out of your home for as long as possible. We must be truly clear here, if they have the desperate intention to get in, they will probably find a way, but it is also true that they are looking for easy targets. Getting in and out quickly and without being noticed and risking getting captured is their goal. By reinforcing the door and windows you make it more difficult to get inside and it takes more force and time to do so. Statistics say that if they are not in within 4 min, they usually give up.
Reinforcing and alarming windows
As for the windows, popular methods are to use a crank bar and force open a window or to break the glass to reach the handle and open it. If you install window locks, it is impossible to open the window even if you break the glass, so this can be considered a minimum level of protection for your home. These window locks come in different shapes for almost every type of window and they are usually around a few pounds each. You can find them in hardware stores or specialized companies that deal with door hardware and security.
If you want to add another low-cost layer of security to the doors and windows, you might want to look into simple standalone door and window contacts that either have a built-in sounder or nowadays they also come in “smart” versions, being able to connect to your smartphone or Alexa/Google devices. Those devices do not really replace an alarm, but if someone opens a window or door in the middle of the night, it might be loud enough to wake you up and warn you that you might have unwanted visitors, or it might even scare them off if you are lucky.
Windows can also be reinforced with a simple solution worth looking at, especially if you live on the ground floor or have a house and your windows are exposed and easy to reach. You can apply some security foil on the glass, which is not overly expensive as being sold per meter. It is easy enough to be mounted by yourself, so there is also no labour cost. This kind of foil comes in different grades and qualities, but one of their features is to be resistant against smashing glass. This makes your windows almost indestructible if you try to smash and penetrate them to get inside. There are also additional benefits to that foil, as it can also be reflective, preventing people from looking inside, while you can normally look outside.
Hiding and protecting valuables and cash
We have so far mostly talked about perimeter security and how to keep burglars outside your home. It might not be always possible to do so, regardless what kind of security system you have in place. Therefore we also need to look at protecting your valuables itself and by that, I mean putting money, jewellery and other valuables out of the burglar’s reach. How do we do that? Obviously, the free solution is to hide them somewhere, which might work for cash and eventually jewellery for example when you go away on vacation. Then again, burglars are actually pretty clever, they know a lot of common hiding places and believe me they will look there. So, if this is the way you want to play it, you really must give it some thought and outsmart the burglar. There are also different commercial options available for this kind of “hiding” available, so called secret safes in forms of fake cans and other household items that are hollow and where you can put your valuables inside. There are some on the market that actually look like the real deal, or in other words cannot be distinguished visually from real cans, but burglars do know those things exist, so it is still a bit risky, cause if the burglar decides to refresh himself with a coke or red bull and grabs for the wrong can…
These kinds of secret safes cost around £20, but if you are willing to spend just a few Pound more, you can actually have the real deal, by that I mean a real safe! Of course, not one that weights 500 pound and can only be opened by a master thief with precision tools, but still a solid metal safe, big enough to fit important documents, laptops, tablets or cameras, money, jewellery, etc. They can be bolted from the inside either to the floor or wall, so they are difficult to be removed. Usually burglars avoid spending a lot of time inside a house, statistically up to 10 min max., such a safe will definitely withstand the force they can apply in that short time. Unless they know what they are coming for and are prepared and equipped, this should do the trick. Even if they manage to remove the safe, chances are still that they can’t really take it with them if you choose a proper sized one, as they are still somewhat heavy to carry, and if you want to escape without getting to much attention, running around with a 40 pound safe in your arms is not an option. Again, this is something I would consider a bare minimum of protection, something everyone should have at home, whether you rent or own.
Cheap electronic security
Now we are entering an area I would call entry level home security systems. As this post was supposed to be dedicated to low budget solutions, I will apply a cap here at around £100. What can you actually get for this kind of money? Well, let us be clear, you will unfortunately not get a professional security system for that money. However, you might be able to get some devices that can increase your level of security. If you live in a house, you should look into motion triggered outdoor security lights.<U+1F855> They are an excellent deterrent during night and dark time, but might require an electrician to install them safely.
Security systems in that price range will make some loud noise triggering a sounder, or notifying you of something going on in your home, or even giving you a remote video view of your home and maybe also record any unwanted event. Before you happily conclude that this everything you need from a security system, let me point out where the actual difference is between this product category and a professional grade security system. You see, the security industry has an exceptionally long tradition. Not many know that, but ADT (American District Telegraph) was the first alarm monitoring company, that started back in 1874! Ever since security system were invented, there was one painful issue with them, reliability! If high valuables are entrusted to be protected with such a security system or even people’s lives, it is most important that you can rely on those systems, no matter what. Now looking at what you can get for that kind of money, does not allow the deployment of professional equipment, but it is mainly cheap Chinese products that advertise to have simliar features as professional alarms or CCTV systems, but you get clearly get what you pay for. Let us be realistic here, compare any other household device, a toaster, water boiler, even there a decent quality product usually starts at the £50 range. Compared to a sophisticated security system these household items include only limited electrical components, therefore the expectation to get something like that in the same price range is just not realistic. As a security professional I would normally never even look at something like that, but I will do so for you, as I am aware that a lot of people actually buy those cheap cameras and alarms online and intend to use them for home security. I will leave that for separate post after I have done some deeper research on the matter.
Marking valuables with synthetic DNA
And we are coming to the end of the list of low-cost solutions. There is one more solution within the same affordable range, but it is not really a prevention solution. Marking your valuables with an invisible liquid that contains particles with a unique code, also known as synthetic DNA. This is a solution I would recommend anyone, regardless of your level of protection, as it might be the only way to ever get stolen valuables returned. It is almost impossible to remove those labels from items unless they melt it down. Resellers can check if something is labelled and they usually refuse to take those items as they are traceable. If you have registered you own code in the database, this is actually the best way to prove those items belong to you and should the police bust some burglars, what of happens every now and then, they will check this database and will find the rightful owner. That is well spend £60 if you have anything worth more, and look at the bigger picture here like bicycles, cameras, lenses, technical equipment, tools, jewellery…