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Home security products on a budget

Practical upgrades like security bars, window films and wireless cameras can enhance your home’s protection without overspending

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Home security is big business and has grown exponentially over the past several years as crime statistics have exploded. With the increase in demand for professionally installed security systems has come a corresponding increase in price. In fact, pretty much everything is pricey these days, but we shouldn’t compromise on home security. Fortunately, there are some home security upgrades almost anyone can afford to make.


Adding purpose-built reinforced screws to your door’s striker plates and hinges, which actually extend past the frame and into the structure of the home are truly a difference maker. If you’ve ever had to force a door open, you know what I’m talking about. The tiny, anemic screws typically used for this purpose won’t survive even the weakest of kicks. Also, don’t neglect the striker plates. Every link in the chain of your door security is equally as important.

Another way to secure your doors is with a security bar like the one below. It’s also something you can take with you to use in hotels or rental homes. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to use.


Hardwired alarm systems are expensive, but there are more frugal options. I like these hanging door alarms and door wedges. The door alarms sense motion and alert the homeowner with a screeching siren. The linked door wedges not only provide some physical security but also have an audible alarm when someone attempts to open the door. The intruder not only experiences unexpected physical resistance but an equally surprising siren screech.

*Note: There are other quality products in this area, but Sabre is the only brand I’ve personally used and can vouch for.


Don’t ignore your windows. Though most burglars enter through a door, I’ve seen more than a few use windows as their entry point. Generally, window locks are pretty flimsy. There is a plethora of aftermarket window locks sold online. Most of them are concerning since they’d be difficult to disengage if you needed to use the window as an exit during a fire or other emergency.

3M makes security film that was originally intended as protection from flying debris from hurricanes, but works just as well to maintain the integrity of glass from blunt force. I will warn you. It takes some patience and care to properly install the film. If you have trouble putting a screen protector on your smart phone without leaving bubbles under the film, you should get some help. (Speaking from experience.)


When we think about security, one of the first things that comes to mind is cameras. Video surveillance is great, but with the normalization of medical masks, they’ve lost some utility. I’ve used both Ring and Blink with some success. Their greatest weakness is they depend on Wi-Fi. If your Internet is spotty, you’ll have spotty coverage. It’s a good idea to have hot spot service on your cell phone in the case of long periods of service outage.

The Ring equipment is a little more expensive, so I built my system one camera at a time over a few years. The Blink cameras are a little less pricey, but their batteries aren’t quite as good in my experience. These systems both upload the video instantly to a cloud server so there’s no hard drive to manage.

Notification and two-way comms

I use Ring for my home cameras. They provide the option to set them to notify you if they detect movement and even if that movement is a person or not. They also allow for two-way communication. If you can’t come to the door, don’t want to come to the door or just aren’t home, you can speak with whomever is there. We use one inside when we aren’t home. Upon detecting a person, it politely says, “Hello, you are being recorded.”

Roll your own

Some people really like the idea of wired cameras and there certainly are some advantages there. A lot of folks don’t consider this, but most anyone is capable of wiring their own system with the proper motivation. Splicing and running the wires seems daunting but really isn’t that difficult with the copious instruction provided by YouTube contributors.


I’ve used these solar motion sensor lights for years now. I have to replace them every two or three seasons, but for 16 bucks a piece, I’m more than getting my money’s worth. I place them strategically to make it impossible to enter my property from any direction without setting off at least two of them. If you’ve ever attempted to sneak up on a house at night for a domestic disturbance, you know exactly how disrupting motion lights can be to one’s attempt at stealth.

Home security is an imperative for cops. I remember working night shift early in my career and finding my mind wandering to the safety of my wife and daughter at home. That distraction can be minimized with a solid home security plan and some relatively inexpensive upgrades.

Warren Wilson is a captain, training commander and rangemaster with the Enid Police Department in Oklahoma. He is a former SWAT team leader, current firearms instructor and writer. He has been a full-time law enforcement officer since 1996.