You might expect a tightwad like me to recommend a cheap home security device. Guilty as charged. Spending $1, 000 or more on a real burglar alarm seems like overkill when you can get the job done for much less with good locks and a few fakes.
No less of an expert than Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia recommends the "fake" deterrents such as the security system yard signs and window stickers (but without an alarm), leaving burglars to assume we're secured. "I don't have an alarm system, but I like the idea of having an ADT or Brinks sign in the front yard. You can get them on eBay, " Garcia said.
Garcia also recommends lots of lighting for darker, sheltered areas of your home. He leaves the light on all night in his own back yard. He also leaves a radio on when no one is home to give the impression that someone is. At night, he recommends keeping shades drawn so burglars can't see in and start a mental shopping list.
Strong locks and deadbolts are important on any home with or without a security system. Consumer Reports rated door locks in its January issue.
Garcia suggested that most residents can discourage burglars by giving the impression that someone is home. If a break-in still occurs, then you might want to consider a security system.
I asked Garcia to assess several home security products.
Security signs and stickers. Taking the path of least resistance, burglars prefer a house without security signs in the front yard or stickers on the windows. But you don't have to buy the whole security system. Let the sign be your alarm. Go to eBay and buy ADT or Brinks yard signs and stickers. Prices ranged from $16 to $46 last week.