If the cost of a high-tech security system is beyond your means, consider these low-cost options to keep your home safe.

Window Shades

Install window and door shades that make it difficult to see if someone is home. Consider treatments that offer some light filtration so that by day, interiors benefit from natural daylight, and by night, the house looks occupied.

Lock It

Upgrade locks on all doors and windows—and use them! For exterior doors, enhance your security by choosing a locking solution that includes a Grade 1 (highest-grade security certificate) deadbolt.

Lights On, Lights Off

Put interior lights, TVs, and radios on timers so that you can create the illusion that someone is home when they're not. Modern digital light timers offer a key benefit over traditional models by having lights cycle on and off randomly.

Motion Sensors

There is nothing more suspicious than a porch light left on from dusk to dawn over a long period of time. Install motion- or infrared-controlled outdoor lighting. Motion detector lighting is inexpensive and easy to install.

A Little Landscaping

Prune or replace large foundation plantings; that way, intruders cannot hide behind shrubs while prying open a window or door. Low thorny bushes are also a deterrent.

Neighborhood Watch

Form or join a neighborhood watch group. Such groups are effective crime deterrents, because they encourage residents to be vigilant and to call the police whenever they see something amiss. They also provide information about crime in your neighborhood and work with police to improve response times.

Guard Your Garage

Don’t forget about garages and sheds. Always keep garage doors closed, even while at home, so thieves are not able to spot items they may want to steal later. Lock valuable items, such as expensive bicycles and grills, with a chain and pad lock. Install a hasp and padlock on shed doors.

All in the Answering Machine

Change the greeting on your answering machine, so it doesn’t indicate whether you are away or not. Never leave a note on the door for delivery people indicating you are away.

Cautious Car Owners

Keep car doors locked and windows closed. Never leave valuables, especially electronics or money, in the car. Or if you must, put them out of sight. Use a locking device on your steering wheel in high-crime areas.

Don't Leave That Ladder

When engaged in a home improvement project, do not leave ladders in sight. They are an invitation to burglars. Similarly, don’t leave tools lying about that might be useful to an intruder, such as a hammer or pry bar.