There are many consumer products and services designed to help homeowners protect their dwellings from burglaries.
Depending on where you live, that may be a pressing concern. According to the FBI, burglaries accounted for nearly 24% of property crimes committed in 2010. The cost to victims that year was an estimated $4.6 billion.
Before deciding whether you need a deterrent and what type, it might be useful to hear from some actual burglars who have encountered these obstacles.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina Charlotte visited 422 convicted burglars who were serving time in prison, asking them what was most effective at keeping them out of a home.
Alarms are a deterrent
The study suggests alarms are an effective deterrent. Sixty percent of the burglars questioned said they would seek another target if they encountered a house with an alarm.
An equal number said they would be discouraged by the presence of video surveillance, and would be likely to choose another house to rob.
The overwhelming majority of the burglars who were interviewed were not pros. Most of them admitted they were breaking into homes in search of drugs or to steal stuff they could sell to support their drug habit.
In fact, unless you live in a mansion, that's likely to be who is trying to break into your house, not a cat burglar in search of diamonds.
Writing on Quora, David Cole passed along a post he said he found on Reddit from someone purporting to be a retired cat burglar. His advice to consumers was to laminate first floor windows.
"A crook's biggest weapon is speed, and their biggest enemy is time," the purported burglar wrote. "If somebody were to try to break into your home and ended up hitting a window that was laminated, they would, in almost every case, run off."
He suggested laminated windows delivered a lot more security than alarms or dogs, but then again the guy was supposedly a pro. Amateurs in search of drug money may be less likely to be skilled at disabling security systems or befriending dogs.
Signs.com suggests just having a sign that says the house is protected by a security system, or that a dog is on the premises, is usually enough to make a would-be burglar move on to your neighbor's house.
Assuming a burglar cases a house before breaking in, he or she may be deterred if it appears the target imposes challenges. A well-lit porch and good visibility from the street may also be an effective deterrent.