According to a new survey by the Police Executive Research Forum, nearly half of police departments have reported an increase in certain crimes they say can be attributed to the economic crisis -- including home burglaries.
With more houses sitting empty due to foreclosures, once safe neighborhoods are becoming more tempting to looters.
But there are ways to keep your home safe from even the most dogged burglars without breaking the bank.
"Good Morning America" housing contributor and Wall Street Journal editor Wendy Bounds knows a thing or two about home security and compiled some tips, with the help of Consumer Report's Shop Smart, for burglar-proofing your home on the cheap.
Check out her tips below and then click here for more information on home security.
Before Robbers Decide on Your House: Make It Unappealing to Them
"You make it as difficult and frustrating as possible for thieves to break in, so you create multiple layers that a thief must get through in order to gain access to your home," Bounds said. "You want your house to be the least appealing to thieves on the block. And you can do that by dissuading them from even coming up your driveway."
If They Pick Your House: Make It Hard to Get In
"If they've made it through, then they're wondering how they can get inside. Make it as hard as possible for them to think about that with landscaping," Bounds said. "If they're up at the window and peering in, don't have a calling card for what's inside."
If They Try to Break In: Consider Tough Glass, Alarm System
Alarm systems are more expensive than the other tips, but if you live in a particularly vulnerable neighborhood, Bounds said, you may still want to consider one.
"They are one of the best defenses, and you can get a system for about $50 to $100 a month," she said. "But make sure you check with the Better Business Bureau before picking an alarm company. There have been many complaints about companies in recent years, and there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there talking alarm systems."
If They Get in Your House: Beat Them in the Treasure Hunt
"You can still protect your valuables even if the intruders make it inside your house, but you have to prepare for the worst case scenario, too. The burglars want to get in and out as fast as they can, so you need to make it hard for them to find anything worth taking," Bounds said.