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13 burglary deterrents to prevent break-ins

High-tech devices at low prices can protect your home

Profile picture of Tom Rains
by Tom Rains ConsumerAffairs Research Team
someone breaking in a house

You probably already know that fortifying exterior doors with a sturdy deadbolt lock helps prevent intruders. It’s also important to lock your garage door. Never leave valuable items in clear view from the street.

Most home invasions are crimes of opportunity. If you don’t want your home looking like easy pickings to a burglar, it’s best not to tempt them at all. Keep reading for ways to signal to burglars that you’re home (even when you’re not) and make them think you don’t have anything valuable (even if you do).

13 burglary deterrents to protect your home

Below, learn about our favorite gadgets to help you outsmart a thief from burglarizing your home.

1. Fake television

faketv burglar deterrent
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FakeTV Burglar Deterrent Television Simulator
  • Mimics light of a 40-inch LCD TV
  • Includes AC adapter

BUY ON AMAZON

When thieves see the flicker of a TV behind the curtains of a house, their first thought will be that someone must be home. A fake TV light is a handy device that projects varying colors and intensities to mimic the visuals of television and make it look like you or a housesitter is kicking back on your couch at home, binge-watching Netflix instead of checking in at an Italian villa.

In addition to leaving the radio on, a fake television light could be a good idea if you’re going to be out of town for a day or two. Remember also to make arrangements to take care of your lawn and mail. An overgrown yard, combined with a stack of mail or fliers by the door, sends a signal that you aren’t home and haven’t been for a little while.

Remember, don’t share your vacation plans publicly over social media — this could give “friends” of friends insights about when your property is most vulnerable.

2. Electronic watchdog

amazon electronic watchdog
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Electronic watchdog
  • Four sound settings
  • Gets louder as intruder gets closer

BUY ON AMAZON

The majority of burglars do their best to avoid dogs — why deal with a yapping, possibly dangerous animal? As simple as this deterrent is, a lot of us have neither space nor the time to own a dog. Fortunately, an electronic watchdog option is not only housebroken, but it won't chew up your shoes! This can be an especially smart home security option for renters.

The electronic watchdog uses motion-sensing technology to detect burglars, and the barking noises increase as burglars come closer. Although the device has other sound applications, we found that the most important worked as advertised.

3. Security window film

amazon security window film
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8 Mil Clear Window Security Film
  • Designed to prevent intrusion and minimize damage
  • Works with tempered or non-tempered glass

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Installing window security film is a great weekend DIY project. When applied to the interior side of the window or glass door, the film can absorb impacts from break-in attempts and hold shattered glass together.

By carefully cutting it to size and laying it over the existing pane, you can hold your window together in the case of extreme cracks and potential breakage. This helps protect your window from burglars, and it makes it less likely you'll cut your feet on broken glass. This film above is also made with UV-rejection technology.

4. Smart plugs

wemo mini smart plug
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WeMo Mini Smart Plug
  • Comes with free app
  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit

BUY ON AMAZON

Burglaries most frequently happen while a house is unoccupied during the late afternoon or early evening. If you know you’re never home between certain hours, you can use home automation features to turn on lights at specific times.

This handy, easy-to-install device lets you control all your lights from a mobile app, letting you turn devices on and off while you are home. Even better, you can set and forget with the Away Mode, which switches lights on and off in patterns to make it look like you’re home. Away Mode is a real benefit for those of us that regularly travel and cannot have someone check on our houses. The best part? You simply plug them into an existing outlet.

5. Letterbox cage

amazon letterbox cage
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Snail Sakk Mail Catcher
  • No tools required
  • Comes with free letter opener and magnifier

BUY ON AMAZON

The premise of the letterbox cage is simple but brilliant. Typically, thieves can peek inside windows to see if your mail has piled up on your entry floor. If it has, they can guess that you’ve been away for a while. This letterbox cage catches the mail dropped into the front slot while you’re away, making it look like you have promptly gathered your mail every day. A would-be robber will be none the wiser.

6. Strong security chain

rampro heavy duty square chain
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RamPro Heavy Duty Square Chain
  • Made with hardened steel
  • Good fool bikes, tools and more

BUY ON AMAZON

The classic security chain is an oldie but a goodie. If you are worried about a thief stealing your valuables, lock them up with this extra-strong security chain. Some of these chains are made of tempered steel, making it virtually impossible to cut with traditional bolt cutters. The anti-corrosion coating also makes it suitable for use outside. Look for the square-shaped chains — they work better against advanced bolt cutters employed by thieves.

7. Video doorbell

ring video doorbell gen three
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Ring Video Doorbell 3
  • Easy installation
  • Improved motion detection

BUY ON AMAZON

The Ring video doorbell connects to many smart home devices, including the Amazon Echo and Google Home, to send notifications when someone rings the doorbell or if sensors notice movement outside. This device works well if you have a hard time hearing your doorbell, find it difficult to answer the door or just want added security. The doorbell also has an HD infrared camera that can monitor your outdoor entrance at night.

8. Smart deadbolt locks

amazon smart locks
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PRODUCT DETAILS
  • Costs $169.99
  • No need for keys

BUY ON AMAZON

A smart lock makes it easier to keep your home safe from break-ins. Instead of fumbling with keys, you can enter a code on the doorbell's touchscreen, which also makes it easier to share access with close friends and family. The lock also cuts back on needing multiple sets of keys that can be lost and lets you quickly and easily "change the lock" by switching your code for added security. Look for smart locks that are compatible with Alexa or other remote apps you can use to lock or unlock your door remotely.

9. Engraver

amazon engraver
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Dremel Engraver Rotary Tool
  • 120 volts
  • Stencils included

BUY ON AMAZON

Did your mom ever put your name on your lunch as a kid? We bet no one ever stole your Lunchable, did they? The same principle applies to your things today. Using an engraver to mark personal items in a very visual spot makes theft much more unlikely because they’re harder for thieves to sell.

Alternatively, bright paint can also work as a burglary deterrent. Thieves tend to look for new, unmarked tools to sell, and bright green or pink paint covering large areas significantly decreases the resale value. It’s also a convenient way to keep a record for the police if they recover your property. Just remember, be careful where you paint! The point is to make them unstealable, not unusable.

10. Door brace

onguard security door brace
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OnGUARD Security Door Brace
  • Withstands up to 3,000 pounds of force
  • Self-install in under 10 minutes

BUY ON AMAZON

Standard locks work up to a certain point, but what happens if a criminal decides to bypass the lock altogether? For added protection, consider investing in a device to prevent doors from being kicked in. The door brace above is specifically designed to prevent home invasions, burglaries and looting.

11. Smart security lights

ring solar light path starter kit
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Ring Solar Light Path Starter Kit
  • Customizable settings
  • Easy installation

BUY ON AMAZON

Security lighting is a relatively simple way to prevent break-ins. Most burglars prefer to work under the cover of darkness because lower visibility equals a lower risk of getting caught or apprehended. There’s a good chance a flash of light will be enough to scare off a would-be home invader.

We like that this Ring pathlight is expandable and lets you add as many as you need, depending on the length of your walkway. It turns on with motion sensors and works with Alexa. The starter kit comes with a Ring Bridge so that you can sync smart features to the lights.

12. Fake camera

amazon fake camera
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WALI Dummy Surveillance Camera
  • Built-in LED light
  • Includes security sticker decals

BUY ON AMAZON

Has anyone ever told you to “fake it till you make it”? Intimidating criminals is half the game, and these fake cameras do the trick. Thieves are more likely to think twice before busting down your door when this realistic camera is staring them down.

13. Get a real home security system

Installing a home security system is an effective way to deter a burglar. An alarm system makes it easier to monitor all entry points and react quickly if there is an invasion attempt. Systems with professional monitoring services will automatically dispatch local emergency responders. Others require you to keep tabs on things yourself.

Most alarm systems send real-time alerts to your phone, and some let you stream live video footage. If you already have a smartphone, look for packages with home automation integration that lets you control locks, lights, thermostats and more through your phone. If there is a burglary or attempted burglary, your system will sound an alarm and send you a notification.

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Bottom line: How to prevent break-ins

Protecting your home from a break-in doesn’t have to be a chore — some of these products will actually make protecting your home fun.  Also, consider joining your local neighborhood watch — it’s smart to keep in touch with your neighbors about suspicious activity. Or, you could install a security system with professional monitoring. For more, learn about ways to keep your home secure.

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    Profile picture of Tom Rains
    by Tom Rains ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    Tom Rains graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2014 with a master’s degree in Professional Writing. Tom’s passion for delivering quality content fuels him to provide consumers with accurate, well-researched information on major life purchases.