National crime statistics for 2005 were released in September, by the Department of Justice. Residential burglaries (home invasions) are just slightly up from the previous year.
Locksmiths are an important component to crime prevention programs. They are routinely called upon to suggest locking hardware and property modifications to limit the chances a residence will be burglarized and to thwart the burglar wherever possible.
Understanding how burglars think and what attracts them is advantageous for a locksmith when performing home security surveys.
In 2005, more than 1 million homes in the United States were burglarized with the average “take” being $1,725. That’s a burglary every 30 seconds and close to $2 billion taken-down.
Burglary is a crime of opportunity. Burglars are either burglarizing homes or scouting neighborhoods for potential targets. Most home burglaries occur during the day. A daytime potential target is a residence where no one is home and entry is both easy and concealed.
When the reward or “take” is believed to be sufficient, the burglar will return at a later date when the opportunity again avails itself. A big “take” can guarantee the burglar will be back, even if the home has been fortified.
As burglars perfect an entry technique, they will gravitate to homes that allow them to use that technique. The technique will be repeated again and again until it is no longer effective.
Taking A Bite Out Of Crime
Before fortifying the castle, you need the fortitude of the homeowner. It is not practical to make a home burglar-proof. Your customer would hate living in a home that feels like a prison.
To install the right locks that provide burglar protection, the locksmith must be aware of what works in the area and the commitment of the homeowner to use the locks after they are installed.
About half the burglaries in 2005 were made by entering unlocked doors or open windows.
What the locksmith wants to achieve is not to make the home a fortress but to reduce the chance the home is chosen for a burglary.
The locksmith’s goal is especially difficult to achieve if the home has been burglarized before.
A comprehensive plan is to: reduce the opportunity; increase the burglar’s risk of being caught; and limit the reward when a burglary is committed.
The opportunity is reduced when the only means into the home is through doors and windows that are adequately secured and easily visible from the street or to good neighbors.
Closing the Door on Thiefs
All doors into the home should be heavy-duty, either hollow metal or solid core wood, and at least 1-3/4” thick. Door with less thickness or doors that are damaged need to be replaced.
If wooden doors with panels are desired, the doors should be made out of oak or other hardwoods with reinforced panels. Or as an alternative, a hollow metal door with the panels is an option.
Any decorative window lites should be double-paned and tempered.
French doors or bel-air style (half the door is a glass pane) doors should always be replaced as they present an opportunity. Where burglars usually do not like to break glass, they do not mind breaking small panes of glass or glass near a lock that can be easily reached.
The face of metal doors must be sufficiently thick so that the doors cannot be easily flexed at the bottom or top. The faces of many residential steel doors are often impressed with a paned pattern. These doors must be filled with foam that adds to the rigidity of the door.
Doors can be both aesthetic and secure. There is an argument that aesthetic doors and locks are too expensive and the homeowner never recovers the cost when the home is sold. However, these doors can provide a level of security that tells a burglar to “move on.” That in itself is worth the price of the door and locks.
In Photo 1, the homeowner replaced the entry doors with massive oak doors.
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