7 cheap and easy ways to protect your home from burglars

If you’re after quick, cheap ways of making your home more secure and less likely to be a target for burglars, we can help. Protecting your home doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Follow the advice below to help make your home less of a target for burglary.

Burglars will usually scout out a house before attempting to break in. They are looking for three things:

  1. High-value items that are easy to grab, making it worth the risk
  2. How easily they can get in and out: unseen, fast and without interruption.
  3. How likely they are to get caught: if it’s likely they’ll be busted burgling a home, they’ll usually avoid it.

To give you quick cheap ways to boost your home’s security we’ll focus on the first two. The third, how likely they are to get caught, is best countered with home security or surveillance systems. Over 80% of burglars will avoid properties with security systems installed.

While there are security systems out there that are a relatively affordable one-off cost and easy to set up and use (like Cocoon for £159, with no ongoing subscription fees) it’s important to make home security accessible for everyone. For that reason, this article focuses on quick-fix home security options that cost less than £20.

7 cheap and easy ways to burglar-proof your home.

1) Stickers and decals

Most burglars will enter a home during daylight, through the front or back door. By placing a sticker or sign somewhere visible, near those doors, you can warn would-be burglars that your home is protected – even if it’s not! It isn’t a foolproof system but may help deter a burglar before they try breaking in.
You can buy generic security stickers for a less than £5 on Amazon.

2) Fake being at home with a TV simulation light

For about £10 you can buy a light that, from the outside of your home, resembles the flicker of a TV screen. Most have light sensors so will automatically come on as the sun fades into the evening. You shouldn’t see a drastic increase the cost of your electricity as they’re designed to be low energy and you can set a timer so it’s not on all night.

You can buy Anti-Burglar Security TV Simulators on Amazon for less than £11.

3) Register valuables with Immobilise

Totally free, and quick and easy to use, Immobilise lets you register your most prized possessions into a national database. The police search this database when they recover items from suspected criminals. If they find any matches the stolen items can be returned to their rightful owner.

“The online service is totally free and is quick and easy to use. Items marked as registered with Immobilise are less likely to be stolen, and households displaying Immobilise stickers are less likely to be targeted by burglars.” Greater Manchester Police

Find out more about Immobilise here.

4) If you have a garden, keep it tidy

As home security measures go, this is one of the most simple to do. A messy garden can mean easy hiding places for burglars, giving them cover as they’re scouting out your home and preventing anyone from seeing them break in. Leaving tools and equipment (like ladders, hammers or wheelbarrows) outside can make it even easier for them.

As Fraser, a reformed burglar explained in an interview with This Is Money – “You don’t want to get caught with tools on you. Most burglars will improvise and just use something you have left outside the home.

So the advice here is simple. If you have a garden keep it tidy. Trim hedges, mend fences and put tools away when you’re not using them.

5) Reinforce your doors

There are lots of ways to strengthen the doors into your home, and we’d recommend exploring options. In the meantime, here are some very cheap, simple tricks to reinforce your front and back doors:

Hinged doors

An incredibly simple way of making your door less easy to force entry through, is to use longer screws in the hinges, locks and bolts. Simply take out and measure the ones you have, then find some longer screws at your local hardware store. The longer the screw, the harder it is to pry out of place.

Doors are more likely to give way on the side of the locks and bolts, hinges tend to be stronger. So if you’re short of time or on a budget, it’s best to reinforce the side of the door that the lock is on.

Sliding doors

It’s really simple to make it impossible to slide open a door from the outside, even if it’s unlocked. Cut a wooden dowel or rail to fit into the door track when it’s closed. Even if a burglar can break the lock on your sliding door, they will not be able to slide it open to enter your home. You can buy wooden dowels to lock sliding doors for less than £1 and then simply cut them to the right length.

As this will not work if someone is able to smash the glass, we’d always recommend choosing doors that are reinforced. If it’s too late for that, or you’re renting, applying an anti-shatter film to the glass door helps. It makes it more difficult to smash the glass into your home, and as burglars tend to look for fast and easy break-ins, may also act as a deterrent.

You can get varying sizes online, like this 4m roll of security window film, from Amazon for £17.99.

6) Put the spotlight on burglars with security lighting

While most burglars in the UK strike during daylight hours, there are always those who break a trend. If they attempt to burgle your property at night to avoid being seen, shining a light on them may make them scarper! And with solar powered lights you can keep electricity bills low too.

A poorly installed outdoor light can actually aid a burglar rather than improve security. If you’re installing a motion sensor light to improve your home security, be sure to consider the following:

  • Only install lights that shine on areas that are easy to watch over, like gardens and main doorways. They can make any suspicious visitors visible to you and your neighbours. Having lights in places you can’t monitor defeats the purpose. If you are lighting hidden areas it is not only a waste of energy but may actually help a burglar to find their way around your house.
  • Motion sensors are better than timed or static lights. They work as a trap. The intruder must be relatively close for the sensor to trigger which will mean they’re more likely to scare and run.
  • Be careful of glare and the angle of the light. For example, don’t have the light pointing towards the peep-hole in your front door, as you won’t be able to see who triggered the sensor. Angle the light onto the space you want to see, and that it’s not reflecting off nearby surfaces.

You can buy a set of two powerful solar-powered security lights, with motion sensors, for £16.29 on Amazon.

7) Join Neighbourhood Watch

The benefit of knowing your neighbours goes beyond borrowing sugar and signing for parcels, it means you can keep an eye on each other’s homes. It’s reassuring to know someone else is watching out for you and easy enough for you to return the favour. It’s worth swapping numbers so you can contact each other if need be.

Neighbourhood Watch takes this one step further. There are over two million members in the UK, and their aim is: to bring neighbours together. Creating create strong, friendly, active communities where crime and anti-social behaviour are less likely to happen.

Joining or setting up a local Neighbourhood Watch group is free. All the necessary advice and paperwork – including window stickers – is available from your local police, council, or their website. As a member, you’ll receive regular emails on what’s going on in your area, help to reduce local crime and may give you discounted home insurance too.


 

These tricks can help keep your home safe, but there really is no substitute for a home security system. They’re proven to deter over 80% of burglars and can provide crucial evidence in getting convictions and your belongings back. If you’re not able to buy one at the moment, we hope these quick fixes help you feel safe at home. And why not subscribe to receive exclusive email offers from Cocoon, named the future of home security and rated Excellent on Trustpilot?

You’ll find lots more advice on keeping your home and family safe on the Cocoon blog. If you have any specific questions then our brilliant help team will be happy to help, you can email them on [email protected].

Quick guide: What to do if your home is burgled

If your home is broken into, the adrenaline and emotions that kick in can make it difficult to be practical. This guide aims to make it a little easier for you to do the things you need to do after a burglary. In just three steps you can do what’s needed and begin to move on.

Go through the guide step-by-step, pausing when you need to. If you’re finding it difficult and emotional, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help.

The first thing to do is to make sure you feel safe, and that your family, housemates and pets are safe too.

Stay safe – if in any doubt, do not go inside your home

If in any doubt as to whether the burglar might still be in your home, do not go inside. Do not try to confront them. Go and sit in a locked car, knock on a friendly neighbour’s door and ask to go inside, or walk a little distance away and dial 999, or 18000 if you require a textphone service. Try to stay calm, the police will be with you as soon as possible.

If you’re sure they’re no longer there, phone a neighbour or someone you trust and ask if they can come and be with you.

Then, take a deep breath and tick these three things off:

1. Phone the police to report the crime

Even if nothing was taken, you should let the police know about the burglary. They will not only be able to investigate the crime but are also able to give you reassurance and advice. You may, understandably, be shaken up – they can recommend local victim support organisations who will help you.

If you’re sure the burglar has gone:

  • Dial 191 to speak to the police on the telephone
  • Dial 18001 101 to access a textphone, available for those who are hard of hearing or have a speech impairment

Have a pen and paper ready to note down the crime number they give you, you’ll need it for any insurance claims.

After your phone call, the police usually come to visit you. This is to ask you for details of what happened, check you’re okay, and inspect the crime scene. They will let you know how to submit an official record of the crime, known as a police report. If you’re struggling to concentrate on what they’re saying, note it down.

Sometimes a forensic team will then visit your home, they usually arrive within 4 hours of you reporting the break-in. Make sure that, unless the police have said that you can, you don’t move or touch anything before they arrive. Even small details could be part of the evidence that catches the burglar and helps get your stolen things back.

2. Take photos and note down key information

After a stressful situation, our memory of it isn’t always as always as reliable as we’d like. To be sure you are clear on everything you might need to remember at a later date, it’s best to create a record.

Remember not to touch or move anything that could be used as evidence, before the police say that you can.

Take photos or videos of:

  • Where you think the burglar entered your home
  • Any damage to your property or your possessions
  • The spots in your home where things are missing
  • Any footprints, fingerprints, or clues that you can see

Grab something to write, type, or record voice notes, answering the following questions:

  • What’s the date and time right now?
  • When do you think the burglary took place?
  • Were you away from home during the burglary? If so, how long were you out for and when did you get home?
  • Did you get a glimpse of the burglar(s)? If so, what did they look like?
  • Were there any particular details on their clothing or characteristic facial features that may help the police in their investigations?
  • What do you think has been stolen?
  • Has anything been damaged?
  • Are any car or house keys missing?
  • If you have a home security camera installed, check to see if it captured the burglar in the act. If it did, save it to a safe place to be shared with the police.

Going through this list may take you ten minutes now, but could prove invaluable in a police investigation. If the investigation goes well, it could mean that you see the burglar convicted and your stolen belongings returned to you.

3. Let your insurer know about the break-in

If you have home insurance, give your insurer a call. Many require that you report the burglary to them within 24 hours, so it’s best to do this as soon as you can, but you’ll likely need your crime number and police report to hand.

 


 

Other practical things you may need to do:

  • Get your locks changed.
  • If keys to anywhere else have been taken, let those who live/work there know that they need to be vigilant.
  • Cancel any stolen bank cards, note down when you do this in case of any fraudulent activity on the account. If you need money while waiting for new cards, you should be able to withdraw some by visiting a bank in person
  • If your mobile phone has been stolen, get your phone provider to put a stop on your account immediately. Consider any important passwords you may have stored on your phone and change these as soon as possible. We have tips on easily managing your passwords here.
  • Passports are a popular target for thieves. If yours is taken, let the issuing office know so they can replace it – you can do this, and apply for a new passport, online.
  • If pension documents have been taken, notify the Department for Work and Pensions (or other issuing body). You may also need to notify the post office you receive payments through
  • Prescription drugs are sometimes a target for criminals, who look to sell them on. If any are missing let the police know (they can be dangerous in the wrong hands), and contact your GP or chemist to get the refills you need.

Looking after yourself

Having your home burgled is horrible. Even if you’re fortunate and not much has been stolen, knowing a stranger has been in your home going through your things can feel overwhelming.

Over the following days, try to spend more time with family, friends and neighbours. Filling your home with positivity to help you in coming to terms with the stress and anxiety caused by a stranger being in your personal space and handling your possessions.

It’s a good time to take steps to protect your home, doing so can help bring you peace of mind and a better nights’ sleep. To help get started, there’s plenty of advice on our blog, like our quick guide to home security and simple tips to help protect your home. If you have more specific questions, our team are happy to help. You can get in touch with them on [email protected].

Any feelings you have of sadness, anger and anxiety are completely normal, and organisations like Victim Support are there to help. Most importantly, try to not blame yourself – you are not the criminal.