You work hard to make your home and homestead into a place of refuge, peace, and security. But what happens when a trespasser enters your land, or worse, an intruder breaks into your home?
Naturally, that sense of safety you’ve built up over time is going to be shattered.
It can be a frightening and traumatic experience, that’s for sure, and expensive too. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your homestead from unwanted visitors.
By being proactive you can make intruders feel less sure when assessing your property, and increase the chances that you’ll catch them early if they do try to trespass or break-in.
With a little luck, they will skip your fortified property entirely for one a little less difficult to crack!
But no one ever said that protecting your home and property from intruders was going to be easy. In fact, it can be confusing and downright difficult at times.
But with the right methods and a little expert insight you can make it a lot less likely that someone will successfully trespass onto your property or break into your home for any reason.
This article will share ten ways to help keep your property safe from intruders.
Table of Contents:
Who Goes There? What is at Stake When Someone Illegally Enters Your Property
The thought of dealing with someone who is willfully, deliberately and maliciously entering your property is one that most would prefer not to think about.
Particularly for those of us who live in sedate, peaceful rural areas on a larger parcel or perhaps a working homestead, the notion that such a thing could happen is particularly sickening.
I would reckon that most of us who live in these areas either move there (or stayed there) to avoid the crime and strife that is so often attendant with more populous areas.
Sadly, this is a type of crime that can happen pretty much anywhere, and has happened, and probably will continue to happen forever.
Criminals illegally enter properties most often to steal but sometimes to do far, far worse to the occupants.
It could take the form of theft of your livestock or equipment from your grounds or something far more intimate like a door-kick home invasion robbery in the earliest hours of the morning.
Most regrettably, though crime overall seems to be going down in most places throughout America trespassing, theft and home invasion are going up whether or not the criminal actors believe the property is occupied! That is seriously troubling news that does not portend anything good.
Check out some of these statistics below to better understand what you are up against:
- Rates of trespassing, burglary and forcible entry of occupied dwellings is on the rise throughout America.
- Every year in America, there are several million reported instances of trespassing, millions of reports of stolen property, and just over 1 million reports of a legitimate home invasion. You should know that there are many, many more instances that go completely unreported.
- Most thieves and home invaders act in teams, not alone. If you catch or confront a criminal on your property or near your home, it is likely that he will have between one and four other associates with him.
- Most thieves and trespassers looking for an easy score do so unarmed to avoid the risk of more serious charges but will arm themselves with a weapon of opportunity from somewhere on your property. Criminals who set out for a home invasion do so pre-armed, most often with a gun or knife.
- Most home invasions take place at night or during hours of reduced light.
- When analyzing home invasion robbery, most intruders will enter by kicking a door or breaking a window. Just over 30% of them, however, will be able to enter through an unlocked door or window. Lock your doors and windows at all times!
- Most chillingly, most occupants of a home will be assaulted during a home invasion. Nearly a quarter are seriously injured by the intruders across all instances.
Now that you know a little bit more about the state of things when it comes to criminal trespass, home invasion, burglary and related crimes, it is time to start taking a closer look at the objectives of an intruder and start analyzing their mindset.
Only by doing so will we be better able to thwart them well before they set foot anywhere on your homestead.
When and How Will Intruders Make their Move?
Now that we know what is at stake, we need to figure out how burglars, home invaders and other intruders operate.
Now, to be very clear, when we talk about intruders I’m referring to anyone who is unlawfully entering your land, but particularly malicious criminal actors.
Someone who innocently stumbles onto your land from a neighboring parcel might not have any ill intent whatsoever.
Contrast that with someone who is sneaking onto your property to steal livestock or equipment, or to break into your home.
Considering the latter category of intruder. They will generally be entering your property for material gain, either stealing something from your grounds, or from inside your home.
It could be tools, animals, produce, vehicles, or anything else. They will likely not be committing a spur-of-the-moment crime, especially when stealing equipment or large animals, or preparing to break into your home.
Comparing the two, most burglaries surprisingly take place in the daytime whereas most robberies take place at night.
Aside from this typical distinction, a clever intruder will further gather intel before they make a move.
This could be a quick drive around the bounds of your property, a momentary survey to check for witnesses, or something more intricate like a “soft pass” poking around at a fence line to see if they are confronted, heading up your driveway to count vehicles, or even knocking on your door to establish how many people (adults, kids) are likely to be in the home or on the property.
This intel-gathering phase prior to the deed could last a few minutes or be carried out over days.
The best time to stop an intruder is by catching them during the intel-gathering phase.
If the criminal notices people noticing them or determines that the job is going to be noisy, slow or in any way entail a high chance of discovery, they are far more likely to abort.
But if they think that no one will see them or if they have a clear timeframe to get the loot, they will execute.
The good news is that any of the methods and equipment we will recommend later for the purpose will work just as well against anyone who would trespass for any reason.
Making Your Property as Unappealing to the Intruder as Possible
Now, barring someone has a series of vendetta against you- you, personally- any criminal that has selected your property has likely done so after assessing or analyzing it.
Criminals, contrary to popular belief, are not stupid and generally don’t want to get caught.
They will assess your property for a number of factors related to the “job,” things like:
- the level of lighting on and around the property
- any obstacles between you and neighbors or anyone else who might witness their deeds
- the level of activity on and around the property
- easy access to or escape from the grounds
…and so forth.
Ideally, a burglar or home invader wants to get onto your property without being seen and remain unseen while they are there or, in the case of the home invader, remain unseen until they can close the gap with you and overwhelm you with force.
Being able to do the deed without risk of witnesses and without alerting people who might mount a meaningful defense is Priority Number One.
Priority Number Two is having a quick escape route away from the scene of the crime when they are done.
Every action that we will take, every implement that we install, must serve to make their job harder and slower or else raise the level of uncertainty that they feel prior to committing to the crime. The next section will offer you several such Solutions.
10 Surefire Ways to Protect Your Home and Homestead from Intruders
1. Install Fencing Around the Perimeter of Your Property
Fencing can be a great way to deter intruders from your property.
A well-constructed fence can provide a physical barrier that is difficult, or noisy, to penetrate, making it less likely that someone will attempt to enter your property. For keeping animals on your property and people out, fencing works well.
However, fencing also has its disadvantages. Namely, it can be expensive to install and maintain, and prohibitively so on large parcels.
Taller fences offer better deterrence to humans but are even more expensive.
Also, solid fencing can obscure your view of the surrounding area, making it more difficult to spot potential threats lurking just beyond.
As a result, fencing should be just one part of a comprehensive security strategy for your property.
2. Add Barbed Wire or Razor Wire to the Top of Your Fencing
Now we are talking. Nothing says “no entry” like a topper of barbed wire on fencing, and a coil of vicious razor wire says “stay the hell out” in every language.
Barbed wire and razor wire are two popular options for deterring intruders from your property.
Both types of wire feature sharp prongs or blades that can snag or cause serious injury, and they are typically installed in strands or coils atop fences or walls.
While barbed wire is often used in agricultural settings to control the movements of large animals, razor wire is more commonly used in legitimate security and defensive applications.
Both types of wire have their advantages and disadvantages for protecting your property.
One advantage of barbed wire is that it is inexpensive and pretty safe to handle. Additionally, it is easy to install and does not require much maintenance aside from periodic replacement.
However, barbed wire can be easy to cut or cross once it is in place particularly when stranded and not coiled.
Razor wire is altogether different. More expensive than barbed wire, it is also far more intimidating and more effective at deterring intruders.
Additionally, razor wire is far more likely to cause serious damage if it is crossed or handled improperly.
However, razor wire can be just as dangerous to you to install, and it requires regular inspection to ensure that the blades remain sharp.
The downside to both types of wire is that they drastically raise your overt security posture and can give would-be attackers the impression that you have something worth protecting inside. Also, it might cause your neighbors or family some grief; no one likes the aesthetics of wire defenses!
3. Place Motion Lights and Sensors Around the Property
Lights are one of the best means for preventing the illegal entry of your property, so long as someone is around to see what the light illuminates.
The theory is that by illuminating an area, potential criminals will be less likely to attempt a trespass or break-in since they will be more likely to be seen by witnesses or defenders.
Motion-activated lights are a popular choice for many people since they only come on when someone is present, which can help to save on energy costs.
However, motion-activated lights can also be a disadvantage since they can be triggered by animals or the wind, resulting in the light turning on for “false positives”.
Sensors can help to solve this problem by only activating the light when there is movement or substantial body heat within a certain range.
However, sensors too can also be fooled by fast-moving objects such as cars driving by, and they may not activate at all if someone is standing still or moving slowly.
As a result, lights, motion-activated lights, and sensors all have their place as part of a holistic defensive plan.
Illuminating your entire perimeter is going to be expensive and possibly wasteful if you or someone on your property is not around to observe it.
On the other hand, motion lights placed smartly at likely crossings or entry points that you can see from your home is a great way to improve awareness and let criminals know that they won’t have an easy time of things on this property.
4. Wire an Alarm System That Alerts You When Triggered
One of the most fundamental security systems is an alarm, and today the technologically savvy homesteader has many options to choose from.
No matter your living arrangements or the size of your property, there is a system and configuration that will work for you.
Alarms can be either silent, alerting controllers to an activation, or loud, emitting a piercing wail or screech that will notify everyone in the area, including the bad guys, that the jig is up!
Both have pros and cons and should be chosen based on your requirements alone.
Silent alarms only make a noise that only the homeowner can hear in the form of a notification on a device or alert at a monitoring station.
This gives you time to organize and investigate, call the police or take other measures to protect your property or home before the intruders know that resistance is underway. However, silent alarms do nothing to deter the intruder outright.
Audible alarms, on the other hand, are just the opposite; making a terrible racket when activated that will alert you along with the trespasser that something is up.
They also have the advantage of potentially alerting your neighbors that someone is trying to break into your home or elsewhere on your grounds.
However, loud alarms can also be a nuisance if they go off unnecessarily, and they may not always deter a determined crook.
Silent alarms can be used on your perimeter to good effect with careful planning, but you must be prepared for plenty of false alarms.
Loud alarms are best reserved for the doors and windows of your home and other buildings on the property that require deliberate human action to open. Neither is suitable for motion activation in areas where animals are for obvious reasons.
Ultimately, the best alarm system is one that is tailored to your specific needs and security concerns.
5. Plant Thorny, Defensive Plants Around the Perimeter of Your Grounds and Home
Thorny plants can be one of the most effective but lowest-profile methods of deterring entry or directing movement on your property and have a long history of success in this job.
They are also constantly “on” and don’t require any electricity or human intervention to function.
When planted along the perimeter of your parcel they will impede trespassers who would sneak in, or else funnel them to a point where you have a direct observation or other security measures in place.
When planted immediately outside your home under windows and near doors, they can create a barrier that makes it painful or impossible for intruders to enter or lie in ambush.
As an added benefit, thorny plants can help control animals like organic barbed wire. However, there are some hazards and shortcomings to consider before you plant them.
First, thorny plants can pose a substantial risk to children and pets that play in your yard or elsewhere.
Second, near your home, they can make it difficult to escape from your dwelling by the window in an emergency, such as a house fire.
No matter how you employ them, thorny, spiny plants require dramatically more care and tending than other obstacles like barbed wire, even if left to grow wild.
You’ll need to research what plants will grow best in your local climate and then cultivate or transplant them.
After that, they will need time and water to reach a size where they will be a genuine obstacle instead of a minor annoyance.
Despite the shortcomings, spiky plants are one of the best and most aesthetically pleasing options for preventing access to your home or property.
6. Dig Ditches around the Perimeter
A ditch might seem like a strange security measure at first glance. They are certainly important for controlling water and preventing flooding, but how are they going to help us keep our properties safe?
After all, any able person can easily scamper down one side and right up the other through all but the steepest ditches.
But as it turns out, ditches present a formidable obstacle against vehicles, particularly the kind of large vehicles that are capable of towing away equipment or trailers loaded with animals or other ill-gotten gains.
A wide, reasonably steep ditch is all that is required to block most motor vehicles except the most capable trucks or four-wheel drives.
This can help you prevent surreptitious access or escape onto a larger property from an adjoining parcel that might be well out of sight from your home or the typical area where you work on the homestead.
Now, it is true that specialized vehicles like ATVs and dirt bikes will have little issue with even the steepest ditches, but these vehicles are really only suitable for carrying people and tiny amounts of cargo.
For any ditch to work at stopping larger vehicles they should be at least 6 ft wide, 3 ft deep (from the adjoining surface) and have sharply embanked sides of at least a 45° grade.
This will stop most vehicles on its own and severely foul any vehicle trying to pull a trailer over it.
7. Install Observation Points
For the largest properties, it is in your best interest to set up observation points where you, an employee or a member of your family can more easily survey the bounds of the parcel and likely approaches from neighboring areas.
Now, an observation point is exactly that. A point to observe from, and can be as simple or as refined as you would like.
This could take the form of an elevated tower or blind that pulls double duty in the off-season or something like a deer stand for special purpose usage along with a wooded approach.
It could even be something like a partially buried and concealed bunker. Observation points can also be set up on an ad hoc basis using camouflage tarps, netting and other materials.
What matters is that they are comfortable occupying and afford the person using it a good field of view on the targeted area.
Obviously, this is something that is likely not going to be in operation at all times, but the deterrent effect on sneaky thieves can be profound.
If regular and successful rustlers, for instance, come back upon their usual route of ingress to see an elevated tower with mesh over the viewports they are probably going to think twice before proceeding.
The notion that there could be someone inside with a camera, or worse, a rifle, will likely deter them.
Furthermore, for property owners dedicated to catching intruders in the act, a heavily concealed point along a suspected trail or other entry points can make it easy to get the drop on them, hopefully ending the threat before it starts.
8. Install Anti-Kick Devices and Window Films
When it comes to home security, it’s important to think about more than just locks and alarms.
Since forcible entry is one of the most common ways that intruders gain access to homes it makes sense to stop the entry from happening in the first place, or else delay it so you have time to mount your defense.
Luckily, it is pretty easy and not too costly to reinforce your doors and windows against kicks and shattering.
Anti-kick devices like the Door Devil can be quickly and easily installed on doors and door frames to reinforce them against kicks and rams.
They are also totally out of sight when the door is closed, and do nothing to impede your own hasty exit in an emergency.
For windows, shatter-resistant window films can help to hold glass together and in place if someone tries to break in through a window, even with a tool.
By “filming” over with a shatter-resistant appliqué product like 3M’s Scotchshield you will make it much harder for an intruder to gain entry and climb through.
These products have a sterling history in hurricane protection as well as security sectors, and are affordable on most budgets though finding an installer might be challenging away from the coasts.
For close protection, both of these measures are invaluable for giving you an edge over home invaders.
9. Get a Dog
Dogs have long been used as a way to deter burglars and intruders. And for good reason: dogs are loyal, protective, and can be trained to become excellent sentries.
Larger breeds can have genuine defensive value should a situation turn violent. But before you decide to get a dog for this purpose, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Though most dogs can make good early-warning alarms at the least, not all dogs make good guard dogs.
Tiny breeds like Chihuahuas and Yorkies, for example, are too runty to effectively scare off intruders on their own. Second, even the biggest dogs need to be properly trained in order to be effective.
This training should include basic obedience commands as well as specific commands for protecting your home and grounds.
Finally, keep in mind that having a guard dog comes with some drawbacks.
For one, they are among the most expensive “security systems” you can get: the dog is likely to cost a bundle, and the training from a reputable teacher will cost a fortune.
You’ll need to provide adequate food and shelter for your dog over its life, along with veterinary care.
Not for nothing, if your dog does happen to scare off an intruder or trespasser, you could be liable for any injuries your dog inflicts- despite them being the ones breaking the law!
Overall, though, the benefits of having a guard dog far outweigh the drawbacks, and there is little that can be done by bad guys to beat the excellent senses and instincts of a good canine.
Just be sure to do all your homework first before you commit to one!
10. Cultivate an Attitude of Mutual Awareness with Neighbors
One of the best things you can do for your own security situation is to develop a good relationship with your neighbors.
People who look out for each other are more likely to spot suspicious activity and report it, both of which help keep everyone in your neck of the woods safe.
There are lots of ways to develop this trust with your neighbors.
You could start a genuine neighborhood watch program, or simply get to know your nearest neighbors better so you’ll both know when something is amiss and you can look out for each other’s concerns better.
There are also apps like Nextdoor that can help connect you with people in your immediate vicinity on a semi-private social media platform.
In addition to developing relationships with those closest to you, getting to know your local law enforcement officers can also be helpful.
They are usually happy to provide advice on home security, local threats and incidents, and may even be able to do a periodic drive-by or walkthrough of your property to help deter any would-be intruders.
The only downside to this approach is when considering proximity and relationships. Unfortunately, you won’t always get along with neighbors, and they might not be interested in helping you one iota.
They might even turn out to be criminals themselves! You’ll still want to take reasonable precautions with your property regardless.
Also, if your nearest neighbor is separated from you by miles or there are physical obstacles that block your line of sight they won’t really be able to look out for your property very much.
Nonetheless, don’t underestimate the value of good old-fashioned cooperation and communication within your community when it comes to protecting your home!
Protect What’s Yours
The thought of being responsible for protecting your home and property from intruders can be intimidating, but it does not have to be.
There are many measures you can take to make your property less appealing to criminals and increase the chances that they will be caught if they attempt to trespass or break-in.
Armed with the right knowledge and equipment, you can keep your home and homestead secure.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.