The first thing any security professional will tell you is to make your home a visually less appealing target than your neighbors’ home. Anyone “casing” your neighborhood will be identifying his targets by doing drive-by, curb side inspections. Their objective is to visually identify the easiest homes to get in and out of quickly, with the least chance of being detected by neighbors. The smarter burglar uses this time of observation to establish the neighborhoods normal flow of activity. Most break-ins occur to empty homes in the mid-afternoon, not in the dead of night. I’d recommend you visually case your home and those closest to you. Which would you target, using the criminal minds criteria? Think like a crook. Things to consider in this investigative stage:
Front Door: a burglar’s #1 point of entry
1. Make it less appealing, consider adding a dead bolted security screen door, these should be bolted to the house with tamper proof bolts and hinges should have non removable pins
2. Make sure the front walk and approach area are well lit with motion sensor lights
3. The dead bolt should be a good quality with a 1” throw (preferably bump key impervious), all door hardware is graded to quality (class 1, 2 or 3), for residential use we recommend class 2. We feel Class 3 shouldn’t be sold, although it is what you will find on most homes. Class 2 is a much better product and Class 1 is for heavy commercial applications. All hardware is clearly marked on their packaging which grade they are.
4. Create a way to see who is at front door prior to opening it, wide angle peep holes are easy to install
5. The door should be of a solid core or of solid wood
6. The jamb should be reinforced to make kicking the door in as hard as possible (this is the #1 method of entry)
7. If you have glass sidelights adjacent to the front door, make sure deadbolt is a double cylinder (requiring a key to operate both outside and inside), do not hang key inside at a convenient location for you that can be conveniently reached by anyone breaking the sidelight glass
8. Remove any vegetation or screen walls that blocks the front stoop area from the neighbors line of sight
9. Do not use hide-a-key devices, a smart burglar knows which ones the neighborhood hardware stores sells so he knows what to look for hidden in or around the front door area, we would not recommend a key “hidden” under your Welcome mat either
10. Never open the door for anyone you don’t know, this is mid-west polite but security naive and potentially dangerous.
11. When moving into a new home, re-key everything, you have no clue as to how many keys the prior homeowner distributed or to whom, any time you re-key, do it with bump key impervious locks and deadbolts
12. If you have an electronic security system, we recommend having it monitored and a notice prominently displayed for all to see. All electronic security systems will turn off if electricity fails. Make sure you have a back up battery.
13. A security video camera prominently displayed is an excellent deterrent, even if it’s a fake one connected to nothing
Sliding Doors and Windows:
1. If your sliding door or window can be lifted more than a quarter or half inch, it’s probably very vulnerable: “locking devices” that prevent the unit from sliding, but don’t stop it from being lifted create a very false sense of security. So the wood dowel you have in the track of these units should be removed and a pin style lock should be installed.
Double French Doors:
1. If you have these double doors dead bolted they are still vulnerable, unless you have the inactive door leaf securely pin hinged into the jamb and header. These sliding bolt locks should be locked and then have a security screw drilled and set to prevent them from being unlocked with a slim-jim or similar device, once they are, the two doors can be simply forced open even when dead bolted.
2. The deadbolt in any glass door should be double cylinder and bump key impervious
Garage OH Door:
1. The automatic door operator that opens and closes your garage door sends an electronic signal that can be “stolen” and used by technology savvy burglars, gaining access to your home as soon as you leave. New secure rolling code operators prevent this.
2. The release cord hanging from the doors operating mechanism allows you to release the door and open it in the case of a power failure, these same cords can be captured from outside the door, activated and unauthorized entry is completed. Remove these cords, get a wood dowel and screw a tea cup hook into the end of it, place this in garage so it can be used to release the door should you ever be trapped inside.
3. The door between the garage and interior of the house should be a solid core, fire rated door, this door should have a good deadbolt, and you should utilize it.
4. When leaving the home for any considerable amount of time, we recommend utilizing the manual slide lock mounted to your door, ensuring no one or nothing can open the door in your absence.
1. We don’t like the security breach pet doors create, if you must have one we recommend it accessing only one room of your home, and that room is dead bolted closed from outside the room so anyone gaining access through the pet door cannot access the rest of the house. The laundry room is usually the most logical room for this access, in that case your pets bed, food and water bowl and your dirty laundry are the only things anyone can make away with.
Electronic Security Systems:
1. We prefer the hardwire systems (as opposed to the wireless) however even they have a serious weak link: if the telephone line to your home is cut you will lose contact with your monitoring company. The audible alarm on your home will still sound off once the perimeter system is violated, but we have found that alone does little to stop a burglar who broke in already knowing the house was alarmed. Their plan is to be in and out so fast that they consider the siren as nothing more than a nuisance.
2. If hardwiring your existing home is impractical, the newer generations of wireless systems are considerably better than those initially introduced and are certainly better than nothing, but again if they are not monitored, they provide little deterrent to someone intent on robbing you. Monitoring the wireless system will also provide you with an extra level of precaution to warn you the batteries need replacing.
All of these tactics produce a much more physically secure home and a much less desirable target for burglars. Once completing all these items, we encourage you to contact your homeowners insurance company, there may be discounts available on your policy for being this pro-active in protecting your home and property.
We also have recommendations on how to throw the burglars off-track once inside your home should they ever get in. Watch for that in future security updates.