One of the most overlooked keys to security in your home, is the actual receptacle for those keys, your door locks. Maybe not THE most inexpensive tools in your home security arsenal, they certainly aren’t the most costly, and the return on investment as far as safety goes is well worth it.
If you bought a standard builder’s home, this is definitely one area that the contractor probably cheaped out on. Even if your home has reputable brands of locks in the doors, they may have been the lowest level in terms of protection standards.
But hey, you’ve taught the family to be conscientious about making sure the doors are locked, and they feel pretty solid. The problem here is that you are only as safe as the weakest link in your home security chain.
Burglars would prefer to use the door. Contrary to Hollywood movies, most illegal entry occurs there, and not through a skylight or second floor window with a grappling hook. Most of the time, it’s easy to kick in a door, hammer out a lock, or in many cases, just smash a door window or panel and unlock the door for simple entry. Think of it this way, most crooks NEED to have an open door to carry off your personal stuff!
You’ve made it easy for some scumbag to get into your house if your doors:
– Have locks with anything less than a one inch deadbolt.
– Have a “strikeplate” that is made of a thin metal or a poor alloy. The strikeplate is the metal liner/plate that the deadbolt is inserted into. It’s mounted on the doorjamb.
– Utilize short or badly sized screws to mount lock hardware, specifically that strikeplate.
– Have windows that can be smashed for easy access to the latches and locks.
– Are crappy to begin with… no expensive lock will keep anyone from kicking in a cheap, hollow core door, or one that has some wood rot weakening it or the frame. It’s an invitation for a kick or a pry bar.
You can upgrade your chances for NO break in by using the following guidelines when it comes to locks:
– Invest in a solid lock with a one inch deadbolt or better. The more expensive locks may have hardened steel casings, beveled casings, (making it tough to wrap pliers around it), hardened or treated metals inside the lock or mechanism, (to make sawing and drilling the materials very difficult).
– Make sure the strike plate is solid. And make sure it is mounted with 3 inch screws – good steel screws. This will set the plate into the studs of the walls, not just the door jamb.
– Even better than a simple strike plate is a strike box. This wraps around the door, and accepts the bolt… also mounted with long, solid screws.
– Make sure your “hidden” doors are every bit as reinforced as your front door. If you put a cheap door inside the garage with a junk lock on it, guess where the burglar will enter from? To make it worse, those doors are usually hidden, giving your friendly thief more time and privacy to experiment and bust it open. (This is often a cheap, hollow core door that the builder thought he could get away with by putting it inside the garage…. Change it out!)
Take a realistic look at your doors…. Think about how easy it might be to kick one open. Or to grab a scrap piece of 4×4 from your garage and battering ram it open. Maybe a crow bar to the door jam or smash a cheap lock.
Good locks can be had for fifty bucks or so. Really great locks can run you nearly 200. A striker box can make a pretty good lock pretty rock solid.
It happens a lot. State Farm Insurance posted these figures from California Crime Technological Research Foundation — the most common techniques used by burglars to enter single-family homes are (from most often used to least often used):
– 32.00% Through unlocked window or door
– 26.64% Forced entry by impacts
– 24.02% Prying or jimmying
– 6.79% Use of pass key or picking the lock
– 5.10% Entry attempted, but failed
– 5.45% Other or unknown
So over 50% of burglaries could be prevented by stronger, safer locks, (correctly installed). And nearly a third through just USING THEM!
Chris Michaels writes about Home Security for the do-it-yourself guy and gal. Learn more at http://www.bubbashomesecurity.com