Your home is your most valuable asset. Protect it with these 5 critical steps

There's no more helpless feeling than the moment you realize you've been robbed. The mix of anger, fear, and a sense of violation are enough to turn your stomach. And in addition to stolen items, there's usually clean-up and repair needed since 95 percent of burglaries involve a forced entry.

As horrible as it feels, it's even worse when you consider that it likely didn't need to happen. Crooks say only about 1 in 10 burglaries are pre-planned. Most are just spur of the moment crimes of opportunity.

Of course, that also means you can take some simple steps that can quickly and effectively deter a criminal from deciding your house is an easy score. We recommend these five steps for securing your most valuable possession.

1. Update locks and reinforce doors and windows

It's simple … Solid doors, well-secured windows, and thick, sturdy locks can often be more than enough to send lazy crooks in the other direction. Do a quick survey around your house, checking for any signs of vulnerability. Take note of all damaged or easily jimmied locks, doors that don't shut securely, unprotected windows — if you see 'em, fix 'em. Upgrade to some staunch deadbolts where you can. And if extra keys are floating around with too many friends, neighbors, exes, and more, it may be time to rekey too.

2. Don't hide a key under the plant

We aren't saying don't leave a key somewhere near your door in case of emergency lockouts. We're just saying be smart about it. Sliding a key under the doormat or lodging it about your door frame is practically the same as leaving your door wide open. Crooks are lazy, but they usually aren't stupid (unlike this fellow). Rotate your hiding places in unconventional places or even install a combination lockbox for some added security.

3. Get to know your neighbors

You may not be home at all times, but if you're on good terms with your neighbors, you've got a 24/7/365 security force helping watch your place and valuables. Neighbor watches are great, but simply knowing other residents near you, getting friendly, and letting them know you can pay big dividends. And if you keep an eye out for your neighbor's homes and let 'em know about it, they'll likely return the favor.

4. Get a home security system

Look, those other measures are definitely critical cautionary steps, but in the event of a thief deciding your place is their target, you need defenses. Strong defenses. A security system like a Vivint Smart Home System can instantly make your house a very formidable opponent to any criminal. 

Their smart-enabled system is packed with Smart Deter, a web of doorbells, remote cameras, and sensors that intelligently spot potential intruders around your home, scares them away, or contacts Vivint's 24/7 monitoring support staff if they persist. 

And be sure to post those Vivint Smart Home Security stickers outside your place too. Just seeing and knowing your house is protected is a strong deterrent for opportunistic crooks.

5. No seriously. Get a home security system with a brain.

Vivint's home protection array extends well beyond the perimeter of your home as well. The Vivint system is entirely controllable through your web-enabled smartphone or tablet, allowing users to check the cameras, lock doors, activate lights, and more, all from anywhere at any time.

And while money should never be the biggest consideration in protecting your castle, it doesn't hurt that a Vivint system can result in lower home insurance rates. And since it can also control your home temperature, it can even shrink your energy bills as well.