Home Security and Stopping the Burglar

There are three components to a comprehensive security plan to deal with burglary.

Double doors present a real problem. Where homeowners may think that two doors are better than one, burglars know that the deadbolt is only as secure as to what it locks into. Usually the non-active leaf is secured by ¼”-to 5/16” aluminum bolts (top-and-bottom). These offer little or no security.

A partial running kick to the middle of these doors it all that is needed to make an entrance -- no tools necessary.

In Photo 2, the replacement doors feature 1/2” diameter steel bolts at the top and bottom of the non-active leaf.

Panels that are installed into the bottom of doors for pet access can create an opportunity for entry. There are thin burglars who specialize at entering through medium-to-large dog doors.

Several years ago there was a rash of burglaries in California where the burglar used the children he was baby-sitting to make entry into homes through pet doors. He would keep the children occupied by having them make sandwiches in the kitchens of his victims while he ransacked the home.

The door is only as strong as the jamb around it.

Jambs that are cracked, loose, or weather-worn need to be replaced.

Quality Deadbolts

Every door should have a quality deadbolt installed on it. This is the lock that should always be thrown to secure the door. Homeowners will often lock the bottom lock (the lockset) and ignore the top lock (deadbolt). Burglars know this and often rely on the fact that the deadbolt is not locked. According to statistics, approximately half of the residential deadbolt locks are used on a day-to-day basis. That works out to about one in four residences have and use a deadbolt lock.

Because reducing the opportunity is all about visible deterrence, it is a good idea to replace the lockset with a passage or handleset. It then becomes obvious that the door is either left unlocked or secured with the deadbolt. The greater the visible deterrence, the more likely the burglar will go somewhere else.

Auxiliary security screens, installed with deadbolts, are an excellent deterrence but can greatly decrease the curb-appeal of a home. In high-crime urban environments, they are a must because they are inexpensive and effective.

When a security screen is desirable, it is a better idea to have one built that conforms to the design of the house. These types of security screens have more curb appeal.

In very high crime urban areas, even the windows are secured with gratings and bars.

In one city a burglar perfected an entry technique that included the use of a simple come-along. He chose homes that were built close to each other, each having grated windows across from each home. The burglar fastened a “come-along” on one home’s grated window and then fastened the other end to the other home’s grated window. He would ratchet away and whichever window gave first that is the home that got burglarized.

Entering through a concealed open or unprotected windows is always the preferred method for the burglar. Window latches are notoriously easy to thwart. Windows should be pinned or secured closed with window locks.

Windows of Opportunity

Window sections that can be removed from the outside by lifting the section before removing need to be pinned at the top so that they cannot be lifted.

Window security should be visible from the exterior so that it gives a clear message to the burglar that entering will be no picnic.

When addressing windows, the best method is to replace older windows with modern window kits that feature double panes and heavy-duty reliable latches.

These types of modern windows are both visibly attractive and secure. The added benefit is that these windows pay for themselves by offering superior insulation and noise abatement.

Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors often attract the burglar especially those that feature outside leafs that slide and can be removed from the exterior side (these doors are often called “outside sliders”).

It is very difficult to secure “outside sliders.” Locksmiths might be tempted to install elaborate locks designed to secure “outside sliders” but this is contrary to the main goal of “telegraphing” that this is a door that cannot be opened. Replace “outside sliders” and keep the burglar from getting close enough to try the door.

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