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Low-cost home security options

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Courtney Brown described what happened when her home was broken into several weeks ago.

“This door was unlocked,” Brown said. “So, they opened it and just propped it open. The original door was a wood door with six-pane glass. So, they broke out the glass panel here, reached in and unlocked the door. There was no deadbolt on that one.”

The three burglars broke into several homes in the neighborhood—including Brown’s.

Fortunately, her security alarm sounded and the suspects took off without taking anything.

“I’m a little bit in disbelief, because I’ve become a little complacent thinking that I lived in a safe neighborhood,” Brown said.

How crooks will target your home

Police say break-ins often happen during the day. That’s when homeowners are at work and the kids are in school.

Burglars will case your neighborhood looking for signs that you’re not around—like no cars in the driveway or garage, outdoor lights that are left on, blinds that are drawn, or trash cans near the street.

They’ll knock, or ring the doorbell, to make sure no one is home—and then they’ll strike.

Captain Brian Gilham is the public information officer with the Vestavia Hills Police Department.

“The point of entry is going to be forced entry on the door. A close second is a lower level window,” Capt. Gilham said.

Your neighbors are your best ally

So, how do you reduce the chances of a burglar breaking into your home and stealing your belongings? Capt. Gilham says your neighbors are your best ally.

“We encourage everyone, the minute they see someone who doesn’t belong or looks out of place, to give us a call,” Capt. Gilham said.

Low-cost home security options

We did some online shopping with Capt. Gilham for some low-cost home security items you might want to consider.

Here’s a $30 security system that sounds an alarm and doesn’t require a monthly fee.

“It could deter the offender and get them to run away before you lose any property,” Capt. Gilham said.

Deadbolt locks that require a key can provide an extra layer of security—especially if you have doors with windows. But, be sure to keep the key nearby in case of a fire.

This door club can make it tougher to kick in your exterior doors.

A sliding glass door security bar can help prevent the door from being opened.

Motion detectors on outdoor lights can be a deterrent.

Capt. Gilham said you should even consider buying a dog with a big bark.

“A barking dog is a great deterrent, a great alert system, and it’s a great best friend,” he said.

Courtney Brown beefed up her home security since her break-in. She has a message for homeowners.

Don’t be complacent

“I would say, don’t be complacent. If you have a security system, arm it every time you leave the house. Be aware of who is riding through your neighborhood. Who knocks on your door,” Brown said.

When burglars do break in, they typically go straight to the master bedroom to steal jewelry, electronics and guns that they can sell or pawn to fund their drug habits.

Police say it’s a good idea to take photos, and write down the serial numbers of your valuable items. That’ll give police the best chance to recover them.

That’s also helpful for your insurance company.

Vacation security advice

Meantime, with spring break just a few weeks away, here’s some advice before you go on vacation:

  • Jump on the U.S. Postal Service website and hold your mail.
  • Stop all package deliveries
  • Tell your neighbors and police to watch your house while you’re gone.
  • Don’t post vacation photos on social media while you’re out of town. That just tips off the bad guys.
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