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How to Harden Your Home Against Criminals

Learn how to harden your home against criminals with easy, common-sense steps!  Living in uncertain times makes us more aware of hardening our homes to protect our families.   People that are retiring should be especially mindful of hardening their homes because they can be a bit more vulnerable than younger people.  Understandably, we feel secure with an alarm system – but think about it!  That alarm system doesn’t sound UNTIL SOMEONE IS ALREADY IN OUR HOME!  It’s a better idea to stop or slow down those criminals BEFORE they get inside your home. 

80% of burglars come in through doors and windows, so let’s explore ways to harden those spaces and make it so hard to get in that criminals move on to greener pastures.  It’s alarming to see statistics that show 60% of rapes happening during a home invasion. 

When you consider that many insurance companies will not pay for burglaries if forced entry can’t be proven.  Any amateur criminal can buy a set of bump keys for $20 and use them to get inside your house simply by unlocking the door and walking right in!  No forced entry!  The average burglary loss is $2,800, which can be steep without your insurance company paying the claim!

It’s a fact!  Most homes still have the original door hardware from when they were built.  This means that ‘builder-grade’ equipment, with screws less than 1” long and flimsy door facing is the only thing standing between you and a criminal intent on stealing what’s yours or harming your family!  This is insane – when the doors can easily be ‘hardened’ to stop or slow down a criminal from getting inside your home.

If you live in a condo, especially on the ground floor – window film is critical for your safety.  But, no matter which floor you live on, door security is a must!

What if you live in an isolated cabin?  It’s equally important to have as many levels of protection as you can get. 

Common-sense steps to Hardened Security:

  • Replace those ¾” screws in your door hinges and strike plate with much longer 3 ½” screws that will extend into the frame.
  • Install steel hardware and a Door Bull to harden the whole door and frame.
  • Install 8-mil window film on all vulnerable windows and glass door inserts.
  • Plant thorny shrubs outside low windows to discourage anyone from climbing in.
  • Lock all outbuildings to prevent someone either hiding or using your tools to break into the house.
  • Remove the manual release handle from the garage door to prevent thieves from getting into your garage.
  • Place a rod or piece of wood into the slider frame of patio doors so they can’t be opened from the outside.
  • Make sure all window locks are in good working order and place a vertical stick above the lower window into the frame so the window can’t be opened from the outside.
  • Be sure to close blinds or shades at night to prevent someone from looking inside.
  • Install motion detector lights in critical places around the outside of your house.
  • Depending on your budget, install either fake or real cameras in strategic places. Unless your burglar is a pro, they won’t be able to tell the difference in real or fake.
  • Don’t leave ladders lying outside that a criminal could use to get inside the house.
  • A guard dog is great – but could be eliminated by someone determined to get inside the house. A  small barking dog inside might be more effective to warn you…especially at night.
  • Don’t draw attention to your house by putting boxes from new electronic items out for the trash man. This only tells the criminal that you have something new inside! 
  • If you’re not comfortable with arming yourself, then have some bear or wasp spray readily available to defend yourself.


And finally, it’s a good idea to have a designated room where family members can gather in case of an emergency.  Since most interior doors are hollow, I would install a solid door on your ‘safe space’ and harden it just like I would the exterior doors.  This just might give you the precious few minutes to get to safety, and could save the lives of your loved ones.  Simple common sense will serve you well in protecting your home. 

Because I’m a Realtor in Branson, MO, I see too many homes that are not hardened or protected against criminals.  Don’t let your home be one of them!  Take steps right now to make sure you’re not a statistic.