Low cost ways to help prevent home burglaries

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--- As we all know, crime can be costly.

A break-in at your home could cost you thousands of dollars, but, believe it or not, it really doesn't cost much to protect your valuables.

Yes, surveillance and alarms systems can be really effective, but not everyone can afford them.

However, there are plenty of low-tech, low cost methods to make your home a harder target for burglars, and you shouldn't have a hard time affording it.

If you can't afford a home security system, that doesn't mean you can't afford a secure home.

“There are inexpensive locks you can put on your windows, they make them for all types whether they're casement or double hung or whatever type of window, they're very inexpensive,” said Barbara Brownell, a Real Services Crime Victim Advocate. “Even cheaper yet is window pins or nails. I like window pins because they're easier to remove in a fire or something like that.”

As an elderly crime victim advocate for Real Services, Barbara Brownell has been advising seniors for years on how to make their homes more secure without breaking the bank.

She has some pretty "bright" ideas.

“Lighting is very inexpensive, light bulbs don't cost but a penny a month to run,” said Brownell. “They even have built-in motion sensors, daylight sensors. That's a cheap way to improve, to make it look like your home (is occupied).”

Brownell says one South Bend neighborhood had seen a rash of burglaries and said a common thread was a lack of proper lighting.

“One thing I've noticed they have in common is they don't even leave lights on inside, and timers are so inexpensive,” said Brownell. “You can get them for $3 and you can have your lights going on and off at multiple times.”

And Brownell says proper outdoor lighting is crucial as well.

What is another inexpensive outdoor security measure?

“Make sure you have your landscaping trimmed so you can see out, and so they can't hide before they break in,” said Brownell. “You can trim your bushes down to three feet, your branches up on your trees to about seven feet up.”

Besides the improvements inside and outside your home, most you can do yourself; you can also enhance security by getting to know your neighbors.

“You want to tell your neighbors you're gone, if you're close to them so they can keep an eye out,” said Brownell. “It doesn't cost you a thing. You might want to cancel your newspaper or mail or have your neighbor take it in; have them look on your door for any sort of stickers, like UPS has been here and it's still there days later, that kind of thing. All that stuff doesn't cost you a penny.”

Now, every person's situation is unique.

If you're a senior, Brownell can assess your home's security needs and make inexpensive recommendations to make your home a harder target for burglars.

You can give her a call at Real Services at 574-284-7134 or send an email to bbrownell@realservices.org.

If you are not a senior, almost every police department with a crime prevention bureau will come out and do an assessment of your home, free of charge.

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