Please go rob my neighbor instead
July 25, 2005 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Home Security: The doors currently on my house would be laughably easy to break through. I'm planning to replace them with solid wood doors with metal strips reinforcing the jamb, and serious deadbolts (with long screws securing them.) Is there anything I'm missing (so far as securing doors go)?

I'm a novice to home security... does anyone know of anything I should be doing differently to get more bang for my buck? Or something additional I haven't thought of? Obviously, I'm not going to turn my home into Ft. Knox -- I just want to make sure it's a pain in the butt, rather than easy, to break through my doors (and I'll look to securing the windows next, given how much more relatively attractive a target I'm making them.)
posted by Zed_Lopez to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have windows right next to the doors? Also, a good light and a spycam are worth considering.
posted by mischief at 10:27 AM on July 25, 2005

2nd recommendation for a light, especially one with a motion sensor. It's disconcerting, probably especially so for bad guys. Also, take a walk all around your house, and pretend that you have lost your keys. How would you get in?
posted by theora55 at 11:06 AM on July 25, 2005

Three point locks (dead bolts at the jamb, head and sill) are very secure (aside from picking). Unfortunately, I've not seen them commonly available in the US. I do know that G-U Hardware distributes them but they require some woodworking expertise (mortising) to install. In europe, surface mount 3-point locks are available at the equivalent of a Home Depot or Lowes.
posted by Dick Paris at 11:21 AM on July 25, 2005

If I were you, I'd make the doors open out, so no one could kick them in.
Check your local building code first.
posted by stevejensen at 11:58 AM on July 25, 2005

Have you considered metal clad doors? Ask your fire insurance carrier about them.
posted by Cranberry at 12:00 PM on July 25, 2005

A burglar is looking for convenience and speed. Time lost is money not acquired and increased danger of being caught. Something like the motive of a telephone solicitor, now that I think about it.

A door can be broken in with a crowbar, if the doorframe isn't strong enough. So give some thought to reinforcing or replacing the frame while you're at it.

You could also consider window reinforcement, since a determined burglar can simply break a window and open the latch. For example, I've seen a house with ShatterGARD. It is a plastic film you can place over exterior window glass. It won't keep them out, but it will make it inconvenient and noisy to get in.

Fake labels for home security alarm systems are also available -- you place stickers in your windows and on a small plastic sign in your yard. Again, it won't keep out the determined, but it will add just enough hesitatation that a more casual thief won't bother.
posted by Araucaria at 12:00 PM on July 25, 2005

At an in service on personal safety that we had at work recently, the police officers giving the workshop said the two most important things were to replace the short screws on the hinges and going into the frame with long screws, and using a solid door.

They weren't so thrilled about deadbolts, but insisted you must have the kind that use a big hand turner thing on the inside, not keys, in case of fire, if you use them.

Your local police should be willing to talk to you about this, and may even have an officer who specialises in this kind of thing.
posted by QIbHom at 12:33 PM on July 25, 2005

Best answer: The Discovery Channel has a show called It Takes a Thief, where former theives break in to willing participants' homes to test their home security. A few relevant tips from the many on their site:
  • Homes without a home-security/alarm system have a significantly higher break-in rate, so invest in an alarm system to protect your home ... and use it.
  • All exterior doors should be solid-core doors with heavy-duty dead bolts installed in a sturdy frame with long screws so they can't be kicked open.
  • Install locks or secondary security devices on all accessible windows so they can't be opened far enough for someone to crawl through from the outside.
  • Place security bars over your basement windows and around your home's removable AC units to prevent intruders from crawling inside.
  • Install dead bolts with captive keylocks on all doors located next to windows. These locks have removable thumb latches so that even if a thief breaks a window, he still can't reach around and unlock the door.
  • Use curtains or blinds over any windows or doors that are easy to see into.
  • Apply window film to make your glass shatterproof; tinted film can further prevent thieves from window-shopping...
  • If you have the same key for all your locks, have one door re-keyed and use that key to give to contractors or visitors. If the key is lost, you will only have to change one lock on your house.
Check out their site for more tips.
posted by geeky at 12:53 PM on July 25, 2005

Best answer: I've got a degree in criminology, have studied a lot of the research dealing with burglary, and am in charge of our local neighbourhood watch program. So, I feel I have some expertise to share here.

If you're installing new deadbolts, make sure that both the strike plate (the metal plate where the bolt goes into the doorframe) and the hinges themselves, are all secured with long screws (3" is the usual recommendation). The idea is to secure the door so that it can't easily be kicked through.

The main things that a burglar is looking for when breaking into a home are 1) easy access and 2) speed. If you make your home hard to get into, or slow to get into, then you become less likely to be victimized. The trick isn't trying to turn your home into fort knox - it's trying to make your home less attractive than homes down the street, or in the next neighbourhood over.

What you need to do to secure your home will vary from house to house, but general advice is to put locks on every door and window - the types of locks will vary, but the important thing is to actually have a lock. On lower, easily accessible windows, burglar bars are better than locks.

Other things to consider: An alarm system will reduce the chances of your home being broken into significantly, but can be costly and result in false alarms. Having a dog in a household also reduces your chances of being broken into (even if it's not a "guard dog" type of dog). Adding timers to lights helps, but bear in mind that around 60% of burglaries happen during the daytime (when houses are usually empty) rather than during the overnight period. If you have any bushes or trees near windows or doors, trimming them back to increase visibility is a good idea also.

You may also want to look into joining a neighbourhood watch program, if one is present in your area (or start one!). It's good to have neighbours that are willing to keep an eye on your home for you, and it's nice for you to do the same for your neighbours.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas of things to look at. Don't get too paranoid, but don't get too complacent either.
posted by gwenzel at 1:00 PM on July 25, 2005

In addition to mechanical security devices, you should also acquire decent insurance coverage. Then, document your possesions with a camera or perhaps a camcorder. Make sure to record model numbers and serial numbers. This documentation should not be stored at your house. Keep it offsite where it will be safe from theives. And FIRE.
posted by ryanrs at 1:13 PM on July 25, 2005

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