GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (Fox 17) -- Your customer doesn't have to spend thousands of dollars to protect his or her home from burglars, according to ex-thief turned security expert Bob Portenier.
He says there are lots of simple things both locksmiths and homeowners can do to reinforce home security to prevent it from being a target for burglars.
Porteneir's recommendations include:
Get a security system: Portenier recommends all homeowners get an ADT or similar security system installed. He says even having the sign in the yard can be a deterrent for burglars who are casing the neighborhood looking for easy targets. Most systems can be installed for about $99 and come with a discount on your homeowner's insurance.
Renter's options: Security companies typically won't install a security system at an apartment, but there are affordable options for renters. Motion detectors that can be placed on doors or windows are a good option for under $50 and can be self-installed. Porteneir says when the detector goes off, the burglar will think that is monitored by police and likely leave the scene.
Timers: A great option if you are going on vacation. Get a timer for your lights or television, so it appears someone is home. A dark house is an easy target for break-ins, especially if you live in a rural area, have a home on the end of street, or live near vacant property where neighbors won't be on the look out.
Good locks: Portenier says 80 percent of break-ins happen through a door. As a criminal, he knew which locks to pick and the easy doors to kick in. He says a five-pin deadbolt lock is good option for most homes.
Locks if you have glass: Portenier recommends a double solar deadbolt lock that operates with a key on both sides if you have glass within 40 inches of the door. Often times, a burglar will break a glass panel and be able to unlock a regular deadbolt.
Hide keys well: Don't put the key in the obvious places, like under the matt or in the fake pet frog. Most criminals are onto the common hiding spots.
Reinforce doors: Brass plates can be installed on the side of the door as an easy option to beef up door security. The plate can be screwed in on the side of the door where the latch goes, making it stronger and harder for a criminal to kick in the door or beat the lock. Another option is a re-enforcement for the door knob area. Both options make it difficult to kick in or pry open the door and keeps the criminal on the scene longer, increasing their risk of being seen.
Get a Floor Safe: Most homeowners have a fire safe for valuables like passports and jewelry. Porteneir says burglars doing a break-in will just pick it up and crack it open on the cement long after they leave the job. He says you want to a floor safe that you can secure to the ground, so it won't easily be lifted. Hide it in the garage or under storage, not an obvious location.
Window holes: If you like to keep your windows open for fresh air, Portenier says you can still do that and be safe. Drill a hole on both sides of the inside of the window about 6 inches up without impacting the insulation. Then get a double headed nail into the top, so you can lift the window up 6 inches for air, but someone couldn't fit through it or force it open to reach in and unlatch the top. When you close it, take the nail out.
Sliding Glass Door Stops: Most newer sliding glass doors have stoppers already built into the top, preventing the sliding part from being lifted. If it's an older door, you can put in your own by drilling a hole 4 inches from the front and the back and installing a screw so the door just slides, but can't be lifted out.
Charlie Bar/Broom: Another option for the sliding door is buy a Charlie bar and fit in on the inside of the door. It drops down and prevents the door from being forced open. A broom stick can also be cut off and fit into the bottom crack to achieve the same thing.
Portenier says you can't prevent all crime, but these options can help make your home a hard target. "You want to move yourself from a hard target to an easy target, the more of hard target the less likely your home will be broken into," said Portenier.
Copyright 2012 - WXMI-TV, Grand Rapids, Mich.