Cheap ways to prevent home burglary

When it comes to the possibility of having my home broken into, I’m actually a little more worried about what would happen if I was there than if I wasn’t. As traumatic as getting burgled is, people have been hurt or worse by burglars who broke in, not realizing someone was home. To protect my home, I use a combination of products, all inexpensive and some very cheap.

Cheap ways to prevent home burglary

The door jammer

About 16 years ago, I bought a product called a door jammer to keep people out while I’m home. I’ve used it in apartments and houses, even when an electronic security system was present. You just stick it under your front door knob, gently kick it into place, and it “jams” in there so there’s no way to open the front door from the outside. When you want to open the door, it pulls back out very quickly and easily (important in case of a fire or needing to leave suddenly for any reason), and it’s adjustable so it fits every door knobs I’ve ever tried it on.

It collapses down to about two feet in length, so you can even take it along when you travel and use it on hotel room doors for added security (or privacy).

Jammers cost between about $16-75, depending on the brand and where you buy it. Mine was very inexpensive – about $16 way back when – and I’ve tested it, and found it works well. The link above takes you to an Amazon page with a selection of them so you can read reviews – I haven’t tested every brand, so those reviews can help you decide which one(s) to purchase.

The dowel stick jamming trick

A wonderfully inexpensive way to make windows and sliding glass doors more of a challenge for intruders is to secure them with dowel sticks. Dowel sticks cost a couple of bucks, maximum – you can find them wherever hardware or gardening items are sold.

  • Close your sliding glass doors.
  • Drop a dowel stick into the empty track where the shut door would be if it was open. Now you can’t open the door without moving the dowel stick.

It’s that simple. People from the outside will have no luck at all trying to get in that way. Now, you may be thinking this doesn’t stop them from breaking the glass, and that’s true. But burglars break minimal glass so they can get a hand inside and unlock the door. The dowel stick won’t let that work, either – the burglar would have to break enough glass to to step through into your home. That’s a noisy, time-consuming task, and burglars want to be quick and quiet.

What about emergency services?

Would these devices keep emergency services from getting into your home to save your life? Well, most of us keep our front doors locked, and probably deadbolted. If we can’t let emergency services in, they would have to either take the door of its hinges or break it down. Yes, that takes time, but it’s something they do, and they know how to do it quickly.

I doubt the Door Jammer would prevent professionals who are determined to break a door in – something your typical burglar does not want to do. But if it would, they also carry axes and other equipment. Emergency services’ job is to get to you, and people who need rescuing are frequently hard to reach. They know what they’re doing.


  1. pondhopper says

    Well, this might work well, maybe too well if you have a problem and emergency services needs to gain entry and you have blocked their way in and you can’t get to the door to remove it cause, say, for example you are having a heart attack.

    Just wonderin’

    • Athlan says

      I wondered the same, but I imagine emergency personnel will in the case of door above, break the glass. I am much more worried about security from thieves. I’ll take my chances regarding emergency services.

      • SnappyLiving says

        Not all apartments have a glass way of getting in, Jim. Most of them only have windows on one side – the outer one, which would be hard to get to if you’re on an upper floor. The front doors usually don’t have glass because they open into an internal hallway. So maybe rescue teams would chop the door to pieces to get around the jammer, but this would still take time, and time could be of the essence.

  2. donna says

    Our family live in a relatively sm. home (we have replaced the windows all around and they have safety latches) you can’t open the window beyond the latch..when it is in use (many pounds of pressure it withstands) and in the evening, i always lock our screen door…i figure sometimes just not being able to access the screen door, implies that the other door is locked also…so diverts the mind…

  3. Mary Cherry says

    Don’t sliding glass doors open from both sides? My mom has a piece of wood preventing one side from opening, but I always wonder about the other side…

    • SnappyLiving says

      I’ve never personally seen one that opened both ways, but it’s possible some are/were made that way. Usually there’s one fixed pane of glass, and then the other slides back and forth. The problem is when they get installed backwards, which is a mistake subcontractors occasionally make. Then the empty pane is on the outside, and there’s no way to secure it.

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