Turn Your Home Into a Fortress

Think your home is secure? So do the 100,000 other households that will suffer robberies this year.

Burglaries, home invasions and abductions can all occur in your home if you don't know how to keep criminals from getting inside. For brazen thieves, having someone in the home isn't a deterrent.

"They're like cockroaches," said safety expert and ABC News consultant Bob Stuber. "If there is a crack or an opening they're going to get through it."

Stuber and ABC News' "Primetime" teamed up to show homeowners some simple and inexpensive ways to protect their homes and themselves from would-be invaders.

Sealing Up the Cracks

As the sun sets on a suburban California street, a community of model houses for Centex Homes serves as the setting for Stuber's latest safety lesson.

First, Stuber says, don't take anything for granted -- protect everything. "They're constantly looking for us to give them an opportunity to get into the house," he said. "When you give them an opportunity, they're coming in."

One of the more commonly overlooked opportunities is the front door peep hole. Stuber say's he's surprised at how often he sees doors without them.

"Put it in the door so you can see who's out there," he explained. "If you have little kids in the house, put another one in down low, so they can see."

Stuber says dogs can be great deterrents, but if you don't have one (or if you live alone), make it look like you do.

For a woman living alone, Stuber suggests setting out a pair of old work boots, to make a crook wonder about who is inside to confront him.

You can always get a fancy alarm system installed, but Stuber says you don't need to go that far -- just buy the inexpensive warning stickers at your local hardware store.

"It's just like a stop sign," he said. "Just the sticker itself will do the job."

Stuber says that all of these things are cheap and simple ways to send a powerful message to the guy thinking about breaking into your house.

"'If I go any further, I increase my odds of getting caught,'" he said.

The Second Floor

People who live in two-story homes sometimes overlook what Stuber called a "dangerous area" -- the second floor.

Often homeowners are lax about securing the second floor, assuming it's safe simply because of its location, and don't take the necessary precautions to deter burglars.

For example, a van parked in the home's driveway may look like just a van to the average citizen.

"But to the home invader -- the burglar -- this is a ladder," he said. "They see something like this and it's a way into the second story."

Part of defending your home against criminals, is occasionally thinking like one.

Do-It-Yourself Panic Room

In the movie "Panic Room," Jodi Foster plays a single mom whose house is invaded by violent thieves and is forced to take refuge with her daughter in an impervious vault left behind by the home's previous owner.

Stubber says most of us don't need anything quite so elaborate, and that with just a few adjustments, a common closet can be turned into a virtually impenetrable fortress.

By spending a few bucks on a dead bolt lock, some different hinges and a jam lock, and by storing your cell phone there at night, you can hide and keep your assailant at bay for a long time -- time he doesn't have.

While he's thinking, you can call 911, and by keeping a list of neighbors' phone numbers there as well, you can call reinforcements for help, too.

"Now this guy, he can ransack the house," said Stuber. "So what? But by the time he got to you -- if he really wanted to -- the cops would already be there."

Booby Trapping the Backyard

In the backyard, Stuber has another "old school" lesson to keep burglars away from windows. By adding some thorn bushes and landscape netting and sticking some fly paper under the window sill, an inviting window can become a frustrating booby trap.

"So now I'm tangled up in your net," said Stuber, "I've got thorns poking me in the rear end, I'm sticking to everything I touch."

Another, perhaps less innovative but favorite method of Stuber's is motion-sensitive outdoor lighting -- a real nuisance for criminals.

Stuber says when the lights go on, it sends another powerful message to a possible criminal that they don't want to mess with this house.

"As a burglar, now I have to consider: 'My chances of getting caught just went up 50 percent,'" explained Stuber. "'Who saw that? Did a neighbor see it? Did a resident see? Are they calling the cops?'"

Taking away easy opportunities, creating obstacles and sending the right signals, Stuber says, may keep you from being a victim.