DIY: Home Security

Published: Nov. 2, 2016 at 4:06 PM EDT
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(11/10/16) - When it comes to keeping your family safe at home it doesn't take a lot of money.

But it does take a little effort and maybe a trip to the hardware store, especially if you choose to go the do it yourself route.

Safety starts long before you step inside.

"We're able to see out, we're able to see out this window, we're able to see who's on the front porch, who's on the sidewalk, who's in the driveway and who is even out to the road. So through design, we have a good sightline right here," said Henry Reyna, a Frankenmuth police officer who also teaches people about home and personal safety.

Officer Reyna says less is more when it comes to landscaping. "Trimming the trees up and keeping bushes trimmed low is very inexpensive, but maintenance means so much," he said.

He calls it crime prevention through environmental design.

Reyna says right now it's an important topic, as Michigan deals with a heroin problem.

Home break-ins are a side effect you might not think about.

Desperate drug users may look for easy targets.

"They're happy to get into any home and take anything of any value," Reyna said.

Officer Reyna invited ABC12 to the Wolinski home to show us what one family is doing right.

He says while the family's front yard looks welcoming to neighbors, it's not inviting to criminals.

Bad guys look for easy targets.

"When they do feel comfortable it's typically in a very shaded area, the landscaping is hiding them from the front road, and they feel comfortable that they can break in without being seen," Reyna said.

If a thief does decide to target their home, there are several cameras watching. The footage they capture would be turned over to police.

"It'll absolutely help us solve the mystery," Reyna said.

When you're going the do it yourself route, some cameras might be too pricey.

But Reyna says with so many options these days they may be more affordable than you think.

Something that doesn't cost a penny is locking your doors.

"Why not? Why would I keep the doors unlocked if I have the opportunity to lock them," said Patrice Wolinski.

Wolinski says many of the safety features in their home were by design, starting at the front door. "It used to be frosted. I didn't like that I couldn't see people coming up to my door so we changed that," she said.

They also bought specialty locks for their sliding glass door. Those locks are on the track at the bottom.

Officer Reyna says you can get the same results at the hardware store.

"If you put a wooden dowel there or a small piece of PVC pipe they can't open your patio doors," said Mary Seelhoff, owner of Clark True Value Hardware in Saginaw.

Seelhoff says the best part is their price. "You can buy a piece of pipe for under two bucks," she said.

The Wolinskis have an alarm system.

But if that's not in your the budget, door and window alarms available at your local hardware store, probably are.

"We sell the window locks that you put on your windows and if you, anybody opens a window, the alarm goes off. The same thing for doors," Seelhoff said.

The hardware store is where you'll also find special door strike plates that make it so criminals can't use a credit card to open your lock, dead bolts to secure your door, and even metal brackets with a two by four to keep your door shut.

While you're at the hardware store, you'll want to buy some new screws.

"Take those half-inch screws and throw them away and get a four inch screw that goes deep into that wood, that'll make that strike plate a lot safer and more secure," Reyna said.

Perhaps one of the best defenses against a break-in, can't be bought at all.

"Have a good relationship with our neighbors, so our neighbors can help us keep our property safe. They're watching out for us and we can watch out for them," Reyna said.

But you can't always keep criminals out.

"Just like you would if you had a fire, you have a plan. So if you have an intruder, have a plan," Wolinski said.

Patrice's girls have a safe room.

The first safety feature is the solid core door.

And for not a lot of money they bought a security device that is placed under the doorknob and extends down to the floor at an angle.

It keeps the door from opening.

Preventing and preparing for a break-in is something you may not want to think about, but it's something you should.

"I don't worry about it, it's not something where I you know, feel like it consumes me or anything, but it just seems like it's common sense," Wolinski said.

Officer Reyna also provided ABC12 with the following home security advice:

Doors and Locks

-use a quality, heavy duty deadbolt lock with a one-inch throw bolt

-use a quality, heavy duty knob-in-lock set with a dead-latch mechanism

-use a wide angle160 degree peephole mounted no higher than 58 inches

Sliding Glass Patio Doors

-keep the latch mechanism in good condition and properly adjusted

-keep sliding door rollers in good condition and properly adjusted

-use anti-theft devices, such as through-the-door pins or upper track screws

-use highly visible alarm decals, beware of dog decals, or block watch decal


-if you open your window for ventilation, don't open it more than six inches

-make sure someone can't reach through an open window and unlock the door

-make sure someone can't reach inside the window and remove any blocking device

-use anti-lift devices to prevent windows from being lifted out

-use crime prevention or alarm decals on ground accessible windows

Be A Good Neighbor

-use interior light timers to establish a pattern of occupancy

-exterior lighting should allow 100 feet of visibility

-use good lighting along any pathway and at your door

-use light timers or photocells to turn on and off your lights automatically

-use infrared motion sensor lights on the rear of single family homes

Alarm Systems

-they are effective deterrents with visible signage

-they need to be properly installed, programmed and maintained

-they need to have an audible horn or bell to be effective

-make sure your alarm response call list is up to date

-instruct your neighbor how to respond to an alarm bell

Home Safes

-use the safe everyday so it becomes routine

-protect the safe code and change it occassionally

-install it away from the master bedroom or closet

Operation Identification

-identify your valuables by engraving your drivers' license number

-photograph and record the serial numbers of valuables

-photocopy the contents of your wallet and other documents

-store the copies in a safe deposit box or with a relative