Home Security: Get a Dog
One of the best things you can do to make your home more secure can also be one of the most fun; get a dog. It does not have to be big, expensive, or have special training. It will serve double-duty as a playmate and protector for your kids, and it is a great way to help teach them some responsibility.
Criminals like privacy and secrecy. They feel most comfortable in an environment where they will not be noticed. Do not make them feel comfortable in, or around, your home! A dog may be man's best friend, but it is something criminals prefer to avoid. Dogs bark, which draws attention. There is also the fear of being bitten -- or worse. If your home obviously has a dog on the premises, it will almost always be avoided.
We have three dogs, and got them all from the local dog pound for free. They are all between about 80 and 100 pounds. The largest is half Shepard and half Great Dane. One is a full-blood German Shepard, and the other is a full-blood Black Lab. None of them have received more than basic obedience training. They are not mean or vicious in any way. But, they do exactly what we got them to do: Play with us and the kids, and make strangers feel a little uneasy. Because of their size, people who do not know them tend to keep their distance. In truth, the only danger they pose to anyone is licking someone's ears off. But the people we want to stay away from us don't know that!
Big dogs are happiest in a big yard. We live on a hobby farm, so they have plenty of room. My oldest daughter, though, lives in an apartment. She has a much smaller dog -- about 17 pounds. While not as intimidating as its larger "cousins," it will also effectively deter would-be burglars or attackers. We know this because numerous interviews with criminals reveal that they try to avoid all dogs, whether they are large or small. So pick one that fits your circumstances.
Dogs do require maintenance. You must feed and water them. They require periodic veterinary care. And you will need to purchase a "pooper-scooper." Some of this is well within the ability of your kids to handle, after they have been properly taught how to do it. Home security is, after all, everyone's business. It takes effort, but the benefits of having a dog around are well worth it.