Check your doors and locks
Many residential doors feature hollow-core construction and poor locks, which are easily forced or kicked open. For additional protection, you need solid core doors and quality locks.
Many burglars enter homes through improperly secured arcadia doors. Additional locks and security measures will prevent the door from being opened or lifted out of the track.
Screws installed in the track above the sliding door frame will prevent the door from being lifted out of the track. Drill a pilot hole in the top track above, and slightly in, from each corner of the sliding doorframe section and install a screw into each hole. Adjust the screws so that the head of the screw just barely clears the frame when it is moved back and forth.
These doors need solid security as they are easily jimmied or forced open. Flush lever bolts installed at the top and bottom of the doors are recommended. Make sure the bolt is long, sturdy and mounted into a solid door frame.
Doors with Windows
Doors with glass windows or glass ornamentation require double key deadbolt locks. This prevents the burglar from breaking the glass and reaching inside to unlock the door.
The key to a double key deadbolt lock should be left in the lock at all times when someone is home to ensure easy exit in the event of a fire or other emergency.
Standard locks on garage doors are easily pried, allowing a burglar access to your home without detection. Cane bolts and hasps are excellent protection. Make certain each side of the garage door is secured to prevent prying open a crawl space. A simple measure such as cutting or removing the barrel from the safety cord which allows for the garage to be manually opened will prevent burglars from gaining access. All doors leading from the garage into the house should be securely locked.
Many homes have doors that open to the outside, exposing the hinge pins. Despite a good strong lock, the burglar can remove the pins and lift the door from the frame.
To prevent this, remove two opposing screws from each leaf of the hinge. Screw a long lag bolt into the frame side of the hinge leaf and saw off the head leaving about 1/2 inch protruding. Drill out the opposite hole to allow the bolt to enter when the door is closed. Do this to the top and bottom hinge plates.
The burglar can remove the hinge pins, but the door will remain firmly in place. This technique is good for any door, no matter how the hinges have been placed.
To avoid opening your door without knowing who is there, install a door viewer. This device has a wide-angle lens to let you see someone standing outside your door without opening it.
Some homes come equipped with this lock. It offers very little protection since the bolt can be slipped with a credit card or knife.
This same lock, with a deadbolt latch, provides more protection, but it too can be forced open.
A deadbolt lock can provide good protection. When you turn the key, the lock mechanism slides a strong metal bolt from the door into the frame. When you buy a deadbolt lock, make sure that the bolt extends at least one inch from the edge of the door, the connecting screws that hold the lock together are on the inside of the door, the strike plate is attached to the door frame with screws that measure at least three inches in length and that the cylinder has a steel guard around the key section. The cylinder guard should be tapered or rotate freely around the key section to prevent wrenching if it is twisted.
Single Cylinder Deadbolt
A solid bolt, activated by a key from the outside or a knob on the inside, slides into the doorframe. The lock cannot be slipped or easily pried. Deadbolt locks are only as good as the door and frame they are installed in.
Double Cylinder Deadbolt
This lock is basically the same as the single cylinder deadbolt, except that it requires a key to be used from either side to function.
This lock has either horizontal or vertical deadbolts. It cannot be easily slipped, pried or forced with a wrench. This lock, like all others, requires a strong mounting surface and hardware to be effective.
When selecting padlocks to secure your garage door, storage shed, fence gate or toolbox, do not economize. Low-priced locks are made from low quality materials and easily pried open or cut with bolt cutters. Look for these features when purchasing a padlock:
- Double locking shackle at the toe and heel
- Hardened steel shackle, the larger the diameter the better
- Five pin tumbler
- Key retaining feature (prevents removal of the key when unlocked)
- A strong steel hasp used with the padlock
Sliding glass windows should be given the same security treatment as arcadia doors. Use the same supplementary locks or screws in the frame. Screws installed in the track above the sliding window frame will prevent the window from being lifted out of the track.
Drill a pilot hole in the top track above each corner of the window frame and install a screw into each hole. Adjust the screws so that the head of the screw just barely clears the frame when it is moved back and forth.
Double Hung Windows
An easy, inexpensive way to secure your windows is to use the "pin" trick. Drill an angled hole through the top frame of the lower window partially into the frame of the upper window. Then insert the pin (a nail or an eyebolt that is slightly smaller in diameter than the hole). The window can't be opened until you remove the pin. Make a second set of holes with windows partially open so you can have ventilation without inviting intruders.
You also may purchase special key locks for windows at a hardware store.
Remember, the more barriers you provide against the burglar, the better protected you are.