Lock 'em up!
December 26, 2009 11:48 PM   Subscribe

What is the best door lock out there for less than $200?

The rate of burglaries has been steadily rising in my neighborhood. Just recently they broke into the house next to ours. We travel a lot and are frequently away, as are our immediate neighbors. I have a lot of equipment I don't want to lose.

This is an apartment in a small 4 apartment building from 1928. We cannot modify the rather ancient door which has a small glass window (a person cannot fit through, though they could easily fit their arm to unlock the door from the inside).

YES I AM AWARE THAT EVERY LOCK CAN BE OPENED BY A DETERMINED CRIMINAL. Therefore: I need a lock that's good enough to discourage a less than top level burglar, and/or slow them down enough so they'd be nervous hanging around the door too long trying to open it.

I'm hoping the lock will be: kick resistant; bump/pick resistant; saw resistant; drill resistant; double cylinder (glass window problem). I'm hoping to spend no more than $200, though I'd go higher if the lock is absolutely fab. Bonus if I can install it myself - I'm moderately handy (I've installed the current double cylinder Schlage).

I looked at Consumer Reports online, but none of the locks I saw them evaluate were drill resistant (though several were kick resistant). I googled for recommendations, but came up empty.
posted by VikingSword to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If you're concerned about drilling, you should have all your stuff insured against theft. There's not much that's going to stop a lock being destroyed by a drill.
posted by squorch at 11:54 PM on December 26, 2009

Best answer: You said you can't replace the door, but if you're worried about it being kicked in, you might consider a door frame reinforcement like the StrikeMaster or a London Bar. (Or make your own, it's basically just a strip of steel with a few holes cut in it.)
posted by agentofselection at 12:38 AM on December 27, 2009

Best answer: The lock might be kick resistant, but will your doorframe be kick resistant? You might want to invest in a metal doorframe reinforcement plate if that's the weak point in your house.
posted by benzenedream at 12:42 AM on December 27, 2009

If the door is indeed "ancient", nothing could stop someone from kicking it in. Why not opt for just making the whole thing too cumbersome for any potential burglars? As in, what about the front door to your building? Is it only accessible to residents, or could anyone walk in? Also, renter's insurance. It's something like USD15 a month.
posted by halogen at 12:58 AM on December 27, 2009

remember, you don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun your friend.
posted by Mach5 at 5:37 AM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Consider also a basic alarm kit from someplace like Radio Shack. You can get them for around $30.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 6:28 AM on December 27, 2009

Seconding a metal doorframe reinforcement plate (thirding actually, with the StrikeMaster mention above).
posted by intermod at 7:56 AM on December 27, 2009

Second the renter's insurance. Very inexpensive, and when we rented a house for 18 months (in between owning) we were burglerized.

Insurance come through just great - covering stuff worth almost $10K.

I have used Medeco in the past, their security according to locksmiths I know is very good, including getting keys made requiring special I'd and equipment. It may break your $200 limit though.

A decent security system is worthwhile, but if you are renting an apartment it may not be worth the investment. Portable systems have questionable effectiveness.
posted by scooterdog at 8:22 AM on December 27, 2009

Best answer: I live in an area with a lot of burglaries, and after doing a lot of research on the question of what lock was most secure, I installed a jimmy-proof deadbolt. It cannot be kicked open or pried open with a crowbar (those are the two most common ways of breaking into a door).

And take this for whatever it's worth --- as a criminal defense attorney I have represented many, many burglars, and I have never dealt with a case where a burglar has drilled into a lock. Burglars simply are not that sophisticated or determined. They want to go in quickly and quietly, get the stuff, and leave. Their toolset generally is limited to their foot and a crowbar. If you are worried about burglars determined enough to get in by drilling through your lock, you ought to also be worried about them just dynamiting the door down, because those two possibilities are comparably realistic.
posted by jayder at 8:50 AM on December 27, 2009 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I love metafilter! Tons of great suggestions - thanks.

Re: renters insurance - that's a given, my problem is that a lot of the equipment I have has been assembled through years of hunting, and/or heavily modified and is very hard if not impossible to replace... I'd rather not lose it, i.e. it's not about the money.

Re: front gate - unfortunately, anyone can enter - it's a very old building (i.e. old for Los Angeles, circa 1928), and cannot be secured.

Re: jimmy-proof deadbolts - there's a thumbturn knob on those, which is easily accessible through the door window, so that won't work.

Basic alarm and door reinforcement sound good. As a basic lock I looked at the Medeco - maybe this Medeco Maxum Double Captive Cylinder?
posted by VikingSword at 9:24 AM on December 27, 2009

Best answer: Re: jimmy-proof deadbolts - there's a thumbturn knob on those, which is easily accessible through the door window, so that won't work.

Actually, the ones I have don't have the thumbturn --- you have to use a key to open them from the inside, too. You can find them at Home Depot.
posted by jayder at 9:55 AM on December 27, 2009

As a victim of burglary, I'd point out that you should fortify all means of entry, not just the lock. Your place need not be impenetrable; it needs to be annoyingly hard to get into.

Be sure that you don't have a jimmy-proof lock on a door that is four feet away from a secluded window or something like that.
posted by chazlarson at 10:09 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Re: jimmy-proof deadbolts - there's a thumbturn knob on those, which is easily accessible through the door window, so that won't work.

Many deadbolts don't have thumbturns.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:21 AM on December 27, 2009

Response by poster: OK, I'll look into the thumbturnless jimmyproofs at HD - thanks!

My windows are secured, but I can't modify the ancient front door window (and frankly, from an architectural point of view, I wouldn't want to), I already ordered two steel door supports from benzenedream's link (thank you!) - I also have a back door I need to secure, though that one can be modified.
posted by VikingSword at 10:24 AM on December 27, 2009

Also, just to nerd out on expensive locks, you might want to take a look at the AP501 digital lock, but it is probably overkill. Looks like a nice setup, but having an obviously expensive lock on your front door seems like a bad idea.
posted by benzenedream at 11:50 AM on December 27, 2009

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