Preventing Home Burglaries Your home faces a lot of perils but none more persistent or successful than a thief. According to the FBI's report Crime in the United States: 20061, a burglary occurs every 14.4 seconds in the U.S. Most, 66.2%, of those were residential burglaries resulting in an average loss to the home owner of $1,834. Most residential burglaries, 63.1%, occurred during the day between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. when most people are gone. In contrast, most businesses (56.7%) are burglarized at night. In addition, there was a 1.3 percent increase in burglaries between 2005 and 2006 (the latest available FBI statistics). Nationwide, burglaries cost victims an estimated $4 billion in lost property. While the majority of burglaries occur in metropolitan areas, the overwhelming majority, in all sections of the country, involved "unlawful entry", which means entry was gained without the use of force: usually through unlocked doors or windows. In his study, The Efficacy of Home Security Measures, Dr. Timothy O'Shea found that owning a dog had little impact on a burglar's decision to enter a home. A finding further supported by earlier research (Buck, Hakim, & Rengert, 1993). His research made a surprising discovery that deadbolts were somewhat unimportant in deterring a criminal. More important was the type of door the burglar was confronted with. He found that the type of locking mechanism was not nearly as important as the type of construction of the door. "A quality deadbolt lock set in a flimsy door, affixed to a weak frame is not a formidable barrier."
What he did find is a bit intuitive. Those neighborhoods that have a neighborhood watch group are less likely to be targeted than those without. He also found that neighbors who actually visit each other are less likely to be victims. Burglars know that when cohesion exists within a neighborhood setting their actions will be more closely scrutinized and reported so they avoid those areas.
Think like a burglar. He wants to get in and out of your home as easily as possible and with as little hassle as possible. The truth is he is going to steal from someone so your goal is to make your home as unattractive to him as possible so he will look elsewhere. Unattractive means that increased security measures at your home, make someone elseâ€™s less secured home more inviting than yours.
1. Security Systems: A study conducted by Simon Hakim, Ph.D. in 1991 concluded that homes without security systems are roughly 3 times more likely to be broken into than homes with security systems. Losses due to burglary average $400 less in residences with security
systems than for a residence without security systems. He also found that in homes with security systems that were burglarized, the system was not turned on 41% of the time. 2. Does your name appear anywhere outside your home? On your mailbox? On some type of placard? A burglar knows your address and if your name is displayed outside then you have given him all the information he needs to determine if you are home. He can just call 411 and ask for your telephone number. A simple phone call to your number will tell him whether anyone is home. While you need your address posted for emergency services, there is no need to have your name displayed. 3. Doors "Hinged Doors: Reinforce Frame: One method of doing this is to replace one screw in each of the hinge plates with a 2 ½” to 3” screw. This will reach past the door frame into the 2x4 studs behind the door frame. Security Strike Plate: The strike plate is the metal piece on the door frame that the deadbolt "throw" goes into. It should be 4 or more inches in length and be mounted with two or more case-hardened screws at least 3 inches long. Single Cylinder Deadbolt: This lock has a keyway on the outside and a turn knob on the inside. It is recommended on all 40 inches of the door exterior doors. (If there is glass within grille to prevent lock, it should be covered with a security it.) The throw bolt reaching through the glass area to unlock edge of the door, and should extend at least 1 inch from the the throw bolt. The it should have a hardened steel pin inside lock should be installed with at least two 1/4 inch case-hardened steel fasteners, and should have a tapered or rotating guard around the key section so that it cannot be compromised with a pair of pliers. Double Cylinder Deadbolt: This lock is keyed in both the inside and outside, requiring a key to unlock it. It is the same as the single cylinder deadbolt, except the keyway on both sides of the door." The FBI statistics in the second paragraph above told us most burglars enter a home without breaking in so make certain your doors are locked; even if you plan to be gone for only a few minutes. Even the best locks won't protect you if they aren't used. Ideally, your door should be a solid core with a peep hole and no windows in the door
or in the wall beside the door. It's easy enough to smash the window and reach inside to unlock it. Installing a deadbolt lock with a captive keylock will offer substantial protection over a single cylinder lock. Some even incorporate a removable thumblock. But take some time to think about it. Most crooks are not professionals. If they can't open the door and walk in then the next best thing to do is smash a window or kick the door in...or go some place else.
Deadbolts are excellent and we do recommend you install one on each of your exterior doors. Just remember that deadbolts are only as strong as the material they are installed in. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security just because you have a deadbolt installed.
Another word of caution when using a deadbolt with a captive keylock. The door cannot be opened if the key is removed. The same is true for removable thumblocks if the thumblock is removed. Either can prevent you from exiting the house in case of fire or other emergency. If you install one always leave the key and/or thumblock in place unless you leave and make certain everyone in the house, especially children, understand how to operate it. Be sure to check your local building codes. Some localities prohibit installation of this type of lock because of concerns about safety. "Pin Hinges: These are recommended for exterior doors that open out. A hinged door that opens out has the hinge pins on the outside, making it possible to remove the pins and open the door from the hinge side. To prevent this, remove one of the screws of the hinge (on the door frame side) and drive a nail into the hole, leaving the nail exposed 1/2 inch. Then cut off the head
of the nail. Remove the matching screw from the other half of the hinge. The nail should now fit into this second hole when the door is closed, connecting the two parts of the hinge and securing the door from being opened by removing a hinge pin from the outside.
Install A 190-Degree Viewer: A door viewer, or "peep hole" should be installed in all exterior doors where there is no visibility from inside to see who is at the door. Do you have a lot of front double doors on your street? The most common way used to force entry through a door with a wooden door frame is to simply kick it or shoulder slam it open. The weakest point is almost always the lock strike plate that holds the latch or lock bolt in place. Solid core doors with double cylinder dead bolts and fortified frames are not normally the problem. The average door strike plate is secured only by the soft-wood door jamb molding. These lightweight moldings are often tacked on to the door frame and can be torn away with a firm kick or shoulder slam. Chiseling and removing wood to fit the locks will also result in a much weakened door frame. Unless extra reinforcement is taken to strengthen the door frame, a forced entry or kickin burglary will split open the wooden door frame around the lock. Because of these construction flaws, it makes sense to upgrade to a heavy-duty, high security strike plate. Door jamb repair or replacement will not hold unless you strengthen the door casings. Additionally, an investment in a solid core door with a single or double cylinder dead bolt is needed. ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) categorizes locks according to their quality from grades 1 to 3 (1 being the best). We recommend that all locks used on perimeter doors should be of grade 1. Deadbolt locks are the most recommended kind for perimeter doors. Deadbolt locks usually come in one of two different types: single cylinder and double cylinder. Your local hardware store has: high security strike plates, 3” screws and deadbolts. Security considerations: A deadlock can provide more security than the spring bolt lock for a number of reasons. •
Must have a key to open the door. This discourages any invader since the easy "just open the door" option is removed .. they cannot hope for a quick getaway, if they find the home is occupied.
There are techniques of opening a spring bolt boor that work by using a suitable implement to push on the bolt. As the bolt is only held in place by a spring, the force required to open it is within reach of a blade similar to a paint chipper.
But with a deadlock, it would take a serious amount of force to cause the bolt to move without the key, and this force is considered impractical to deliver ... the practicality is that it would be easier to just attack the door with the aim of removing the lock, or removing the door off its hinges, or removing the door jam, than to aim to move the bolt of the deadlock. •
The 2nd type of lock, with perhaps a second method of picking, possibly a far smarter lock design than the standard tumbler, would make it more obvious that the lock pick was not using a key to open it, thus exposing the lock pick to being identified.
As the door is only locked by using a key, and it can only be locked when it is closed properly, closing the door and ensuring it is properly closed and locked becomes a habit. With doors that can be locked before being closed, or spring bolt locks, the bolt may fail to engage the door jam due to forgetfulness, misalignment, obstruction or malfunction.
A double cylinder deadlock without a twist knob cannot be opened without a key. This design may be suitable for doors with glass sections, or doors with nearby windows, since a deadlock with an internal twist knob may be opened by penetrating the nearby glass and reaching the knob.
Safety This double cylinder design raises a safety issue however. In the event of a fire, occupants will be prevented from escaping through double-cylinder locked doors unless the correct key is used. This is often an avoidable cause of death in house fires. The risk can be mitigated by locking the deadlock only when there are no occupants inside the building, or leaving the key near the keyhole.
Double Door Entrances that have two swinging doors that close in the middle should have flush bolts installed on one of the doors. These bolts extend up into the frame at the top and down into the floor at the bottom, providing a base to lock the other door to.
Replace Door: that is hollow core construction, or that is condition due to age or weathering should
Any exterior door in weakened be replaced. Grille Over Window In Door: Doors that are half wood/half window should be replaced or have a security grille installed over the glass part. Install this grille on the inside of the door, or use tamper resistant fasteners, such as round-headed thru-bolts, if installing the grille on the outside. (An alternative to replacing the door would be to install a security wrought iron door on that entrance.) Sliding Doors: Take Up Slack: Install panhead screws in the upper track of the movable panel of all sliding doors. The purpose is to prevent the sliding door from being lifted off the track and removed from the frame when it is in the closed position. These screws have rounded heads and should be installed about 2 feet apart. They should be screwed in so that the door can just barely slide by, while preventing it from being lifted up out of the track. Use Charlie Bar Or Stick: A Charlie bar is a commercially available device that mounts to the frame opposite the sliding door and swings down behind the door to stop it from sliding. A stick or dowel inserted snugly into the bottom track can be used in much the same way. (This recommendation will only work on doors that slide on the inside track.) Pin Doors: With the door in the closed position, drill a small-diameter hole from the inside center frame through into the outside frame, but not through the outside frame. Insert a nail or other sturdy pin. To be most effective the hole should be made at a slight downward angle to prevent the pin from falling out if someone tries to lift the door up out of the frame. Caution: When drilling holes in the frame great care should be taken to avoid drilling into or striking the glass. Tempered glass will frequently shatter on contact with the drill bit. Auxiliary Latch (Or Lock): Add another lock or latch to supplement existing one. This is recommended when the existing lock or latch provides inadequate protection. Adjust Rollers: Some modern sliding doors can be adjusted in order to prevent lifting or removing the door when it is in the closed position."
4. Garage Doors: Add Auxiliary Lock: Add another lock or latch to supplement the existing one. This may include a padlock on garage doors. Pin Track: On garage doors that roll up or slide overhead on a track, drill a hole in the track that the door moves in, while the door is in the closed position, and install a pin or padlock into the hole to prevent the door from moving along the track. If a pin is selected, it should be sturdy enough to withstand considerable pressure. Electronic Door Opener: Garage doors that are opened by remote control can often be opened by anyone possessing a remote control. These controls can be changed to different frequencies by turning small dials inside, until your frequency is found and your garage door opens. Use a pin in the track to stop the door from moving when you are gone, or add an auxiliary lock. Consider unplugging your garage door opener if you are gone for a long period of time, such as a vacation." Now, let's talk about spare keys. Never place a spare key outside your house. Burglars know all the tricks and hiding spots so you might as well leave the door unlocked if you are going to leave a key outside. And you should get rid of that key rack in the kitchen that holds all your spare keys. It makes it all too easy for the burglar to steal your car once they get inside. And unless you know your spare house key was stolen, he'll have an easy way in when he comes back. 5. Windows: Just like doors, there are a lot of different types of windows. There are: • • • • • • • •
Double Hung - Sashes that open and close vertically. The most common type of window. Single Hung - Only the bottom sash slides open. Casement - Hinged on one side and crank open. Rotating (or Tilt-Turn) - Open by pivoting around a central point. Sliding - Sashes that move horizontally on a track. Jalousie - Glass louvers that overlap. Fixed Pane - The window does not open. Awning (or Hopper Windows) - Hinged on top or bottom and swing open similar to casement windows.
Each type, except for Fixed Pane and Jalousie, has its own requirement for security locks but all of them can be equipped with a secure lock designed to keep more than just the elements out. Let's look at each one and discuss some simple but effective ways of making them more secure.
Double Hung Windows: This is the most common type of window in homes and apartments today. Older windows of this type offered little in the way of security with a single window latch (called a claw latch) that can easily be opened from the outside. The claw latch was not designed as a security device. It's purpose is to keep the windows closed so the weather stays outside. Newer windows have two security claw locks that incorporate the "claw" directly into the lock. The pictures below will illustrate the difference.
Modern double hung windows incorporate a window stop so the window can be opened a few inches for ventilation and still prevent unauthorized entry into your home. The picture on the left below shows the window stop closed allowing the window to be fully opened. The picture on the right shows the window stop when it is in the open position.
If your home has older double hung windows or windows without security stops there is a fairly simple way to make them more secure and not invest a lot of money. Here's how you do it. Pin Windows: Double Hung Windows: "With the window in the closed position, drill a small-diameter hole through the inside frame into the outside frame, but not through to the outside of the frame. The hole should be drilled at a slight downward angle to be most effective. Drill two holes for each window on each side of the window near the top. Insert a sturdy nail or pin in the holes. Caution: When drilling great care should be taken to avoid drilling into the glass." If your window frame is large enough, use door hinge pins instead of nails. Door hinge pins are much strong than nails and can be purchased at most hardware stores for a few dollars. For secure ventilation, drill a second set of holes three inches above the first set. You can then open the window and insert the pins. That will prevent someone from entering your home. Single Hung Windows: With single hung windows, only the lower sash is movable. Depending on the window frame, you may find that you can not drill into the the upper sash as described in the section on double hung windows. In that case, you can usually drill into the window track of the lower sash. Drill the first hole directly above the lower sash so the window can not be opened when the pin is in place. Drilling a second hole three inches above the first will allow the window to be safely opened for ventilation. Casement Windows: Adjust Or Replace Latch: "If the latch is bent and not securing the window, adjust it so that the window closes and locks securely. If the latch is broken or cannot be adjusted it should be replaced. (Sometimes it is just covered by many layers of paint and when cleaned and realigned works again.) Pin Latching Mechanism: Remove the latch from the window and drill a hole through the latch housing and latch while the latch is in the closed position. Insert a sturdy pin or nail that is removable. Do not use a screw or bolt; they would not allow escape if necessary.
Remove Crank: Removing the crank/handle may discourage someone from breaking the window pane to gain access to the handle. It does not stop the window from being opened. Do not screw or bolt the window shut. Rotating Windows (Tilt-Turn): Most modern rotating windows offer excellent security features. If you own older rotating windows or simply want to enhance the security of your newer windows, you might consider a window restrictor. There are several types on the market. As the name implies, they are designed to restrict how far the window can open. They come in a wide variety of colors equipped with a key lock or without. Sliding Windows: secured in the same manner as sliding charlie bar or wooden dowel in the track slides. In addition, there are a wide latches available. "Most clamp into the the sliding window to stop the window
Sliding windows can be doors by using a of the window that variety of auxiliary window frame behind from sliding past that
point. Consider using the type that has a pointed screw. Greater security can be gained by drilling a small indentation in the window frame to give the latch screw a place to grab onto. Do not tighten the screw so tight that you cannot escape if necessary. Overhead Screws Or Lift Locks: These are recommended, along with auxiliary latches or a Charlie bar. Install lift locks or two round head screws (panhead) vertically into the upper track above the movable window about 6 inches in from the edges of the window frame. Adjust the screws until the window will just clear the screws as it slides. The screws will prevent the window from being lifted up and removed from the track from the outside.
Adjust Rollers: Some newer sliding windows have adjustable rollers or expanders that can be set so that the window cannot be lifted out of the track. An auxiliary latch is still recommended for additional protection."
Jalousie Windows: Because of the way they are constructed, jalousie windows are a very high security risk (not to mention a poor insulator). About the only way to enhance the security of a jalousie window is to install a protective window treatment such as burglar bars or expanded metal (security) mesh. These should be installed on the inside of the window with enough clearance for the window to operate. Compare the cost of replacing the jalousie window with any security enhancement you consider installing. You may find it just as cost effective to replace the window with a safer, more efficient, design.
Fixed Pane: As the name implies, fixed pane windows can not be opened. Once again, the addition of burglar bars or security mesh will enhance the security of this type of window.
Awning Windows (Hopper Windows): Whether they open at the top (Hopper style) or open at the bottom (awning style) this type of window can also benefit from a window restrictor. General Thoughts About Windows: Always close, latch and pin your windows if you are going to be gone. Treat second story windows just like first story windows. Burglars often have no problem gaining access to the second story and if your second story window is open they will use it. "Install Auxiliary Latch: Add an additional device to supplement the existing latch or lock, such as a simple hook and eye commonly used on screen doors.
Secure Air Conditioning Unit From Inside: Many air conditioners simply sit in window frames supported on legs or by straps on the outside. Secure the unit from the inside by attaching a bar to the unit that extends past both sides of the window frame so that the unit cannot be removed from the outside." 6. Miscellaneous Openings: "Secure Access To Attic: Any outside access doors to the attic or crawlspace should be secured with a hasp and padlock or covered by a security grille. Block Off Or Replace Pet Door: Any opening larger than 9 inches by 10 inches can be used to gain entrance to a home. You should block off pet doors by building a frame that allows you to slide a security plate into the opening when you will be gone, or look for the new security pet doors that will allow only your pet to enter, and/or do not allow a person to enter because of trap or maze. This pet door is an invitation to enter.