It’s the unfortunate reality that we’re always looking for ways to make our property more secure. Break-ins happen all over the country everyday, and adding a few more layers of security can make your home feel like the safe retreat it should be. 

The majority of burglaries are opportunistic, with only around a fifth thought to be scoped and planned. Opportunistic burglars search for targets that are quick and easy to break into. They prey on homes with unlocked doors, open garden gates and valuable items left out and about. 

The good news is that opportunistic thieves are very easy to deter, while the right home security system can also help prevent even the most meticulously planned robberies. 

Not sure where to start when it comes to improving the security of your home? Here’s 10 effective ways to deter burglars.

1. Invest in a CCTV System 

A CCTV system can give homeowners peace of mind and, according to surveys, is one of the biggest deterrents. You can purchase both indoor and outdoor security cameras, often with HD resolution, night vision and even smartphone controls. 

There’s a number of different types of security camera that can be installed outside your home. They are great if you have a large property with multiple entrance points. Video footage recorded by the camera can be used in criminal investigations if a break in does occur. 

You’ll need to decide whether to go for a wired or wireless security camera. Wired cameras won’t ever run out of battery, but they can be more fiddly to set up outside. If you have a power cut, wired cameras may cut out, which will make your home more vulnerable. 

Wireless cameras have a surprisingly long battery life – between 6 months and a year. Some use solar panels so don’t need to be charged manually. 

Other things to look for include weather resistance, recording capabilities, quality of night vision and whether the camera has one or two-way audio. 

If you don’t have the budget for an extensive surveillance system, a video doorbell is an alternative option. These are outdoor camera doorbells used specifically on front doors. They allow residents to speak to couriers or visitors remotely using their smartphone. When someone rings your doorbell, you’ll receive an alert to your phone. 

While video doorbells don’t have quite the same impact as a full on surveillance system, they do allow you to see who is outside your home from your smartphone. 

2. Install Motion-Activated Security Lights

Security lights can add an extra layer of protection to your property, and motion-activated lights are an even more effective deterrent. 

Opportunistic thieves want to get in and out of your garden or home as quickly as possible, without being detected. Triggering a motion sensor light will stop most potential intruders in their tracks before they get any further onto your property. A thief will feel exposed and vulnerable, and they may also worry that there’s additional layers of security on top of the lights, such as surveillance or an alarm system.

Motion-activated exterior lights have a number of other benefits. They make it safer to return home in the dark, as there’s no need to fumble around for a light switch. They can also deter wildlife from your garden. Cats, deer and foxes may think twice about destroying your flower beds if they trigger a bright light!

Another option is remote controlled indoor lighting, or security timers. You could set a light to turn on in the master bedroom at 8pm every night, then off again at 11pm. Anyone watching the house will believe there is someone home. You could also set the kitchen lights to turn off at 10pm each night. 

3. Shut Blinds and Curtains at Night

Leaving your blinds and curtains open at night will make it easy for passers-by or potential criminals to peer into your home and see if anything is worth stealing. Giving thieves a clear view of flat-screen TVs, a new laptop or the latest iPhone is likely to lead to an opportunistic break-in.

Once the sun goes down, be sure to shut your curtains and blinds. This has the added benefit of making it obvious that someone is home. 

Shutting curtains and blinds is a simple but effective deterrent. 

4. Keep your Front Boundary Low

A garden filled with tall grasses, garden furniture and different areas can provide ample dark spots for a criminal to hide. With this in mind, it’s important to keep your front garden simple.

A low boundary (under 1 m tall) will ensure burglars have nowhere to hide at the front of your home. While having an exposed front can feel counter-intuitive, opportunistic thieves are less likely to try their luck if they are in plain sight, as there’s a higher chance they’ll be spotted by either you or a neighbour.

You should also keep your front garden well-maintained and cared for. If your lawn has been left to grow long and unruly, thieves may think that you’ve gone on holiday and left an empty house. 

5. Get a Dog (Or Just Pretend!)

If there’s one thing that’s going to deter a burglar, it’s a loud dog! If you’re an animal lover and have time to train a puppy or rehome a rescue, a dog can add an extra layer of security to your home. 

Certain breeds are better for guarding territory than others. German shepherds, rottweilers, bullmastiffs and akitas make great family pets, but they’re bred for their guarding abilities. These dogs are territorial, and will know to alert their owner to an intruder. 

Of course, any dog requires a good education and dogs specifically bred to guard a property should only be trained by experienced owners. If you’ve not got the experience for a dog that’s bred to protect, a happy-go-lucky golden retriever could still have an impact!

If you’re not really a dog person, pretending to have one can still be very effective. Put up a ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign on your garden fence, or play a realistic recording of a dog barking when you’re not in. 

6. Turn On the TV or Radio

Empty houses are an easy target, so a silent, dark home is a no-no. If you’re heading out for dinner or to the pub in the evening, it’s worth leaving the TV or radio on at a loud volume. Keep a few lights on and your curtains shut so that any potential intruder can’t see that no one is home. 

While this isn’t great for your electricity bill, it’s a great deterrent if you’re only heading out for a short period of time. Plus, it’s much cheaper than installing expensive alarms! 

7. Be Aware of Distraction Burglars

Not all home burglaries involve a criminal prising open your front door or garden gate. Distraction burglars trick someone into giving them access to their home by pretending to be an official such as a police officer, a gas or water company agent, a charity worker or a council worker. They fake their identity, often working in pairs. While one person distracts the homeowner, the other will rob them. 

Being aware of distraction burglaries is the best way to prevent them. Ensure you check the ID of anyone claiming to be an official, and use your spy hole if you have one. Keep expensive items safe and out of sight of the front door.

8. Keep a Car Parked Outside

Empty houses are far easier to break into than occupied houses. Thieves have time to assess your home and make off with your belongings with very little chance of being caught. Arguably the most important thing when it comes to security is to make it appear that someone is home.

To deter burglars while you are away for an extended period or even just out for the evening, it’s essential that you make your house look lived in. An empty driveway is a tell-tale sign that there’s no one home.

A great way to make your house seem occupied is to ensure there’s always a car parked on your driveway. If you have two cars in your household, ensure that one is always left out and visible (not in the garage) to give the illusion that someone is home. 

If you’re heading off on holiday, take the train to the airport or get a taxi as opposed to driving.

If it’s not possible for you to leave a car on the driveway, have a chat with a friendly neighbour. They may be happy to periodically park their car on your driveway while you’re away. Ask the same neighbour to report any suspicious activity they might see while you’re away.

9. Opt for a Gravel Driveway 

A number of crime prevention experts recommend installing a gravel driveway or path at the front of your home. 

The reason being is that it’s easy to tiptoe or even drive down a concrete driveway without being detected. Intruders will be able to easily access the front of your home, and sleeping residents will be none the wiser. 

Gravel driveways, on the other hand, are very difficult to cross quietly. The gravel makes a lot of noise if driven over, and very light sleepers may even notice someone walking over it. Installing a gravel driveway will increase the chances that either you or a neighbour will hear if a car pulls up in the middle of the night.  

10. Install a Visible Alarm System 

Perhaps the best deterrent there is – visible home alarm systems. An alarm system, when combined with motion sensing security lights and surveillance cameras will send most intruders running for the hills!

Burglar alarm systems work by sounding an alarm when movement is detected inside your home. If you’re heading out, the alarm can be fully set. At night, a security alarm can be part set, so that it only monitors the ground floor, or in certain rooms where someone may be able to get in. 

It’s important that your burglar alarm is clearly visible, so that an intruder knows it’s there before they even attempt to break in. Security experts have advised that there are fewer thefts in areas with more security alarms.

Intruder alarms can give you a huge amount of reassurance when go away, either for short periods of time or away on holiday. Knowing that the police and the entire street will be alerted if someone gets into your home is very reassuring. 

Signs and stickers which let intruders know that there is a security system or surveillance in place is also likely to deter criminals. 

Many people choose to purchase a fake alarm. After all, it costs a lot less than a real alarm and should still be enough to deter burglars, right? But while opportunistic or inexperienced thieves may be put off if they see a fake alarm, experienced thieves will know the difference. An obvious dummy alarm may make a burglar think you don’t have the budget for proper security, making your home a prime target.