“I don’t need to lock my doors all the time; this neighborhood is very safe.” And I have some land in the Caribbean I’d like to sell you.
Burglars know that every “safe neighborhood” has a certain percentage of fools who think they’re immune to break-ins. And thieves would rather intrude upon a home with lots of nice things—and these homes are usually in “nice neighborhoods.” Hello?
- Leaving doors unlocked
- Keeping doors locked—but the lock system sucks
I hope you don’t fall into either of the above categories.
What you see on TV is true: Locked doors CAN be kicked open. Builders of homes don’t have the future resident’s security in mind. They cut corners whenever possible. You can bet a new home has a crappy door lock. And an old home, for that matter. Any determined thief could get past these doors even when they’re locked.
But there’s hope. Lots of it. First of all, keep your doors locked. Even if the lock isn’t too great. After all, many times a thief will give up after learning the door is locked. Many burglars are very impatient and want a quick, quiet job. But since you can’t read the mind of the next crook who prowls your neighborhood, it’s best that you get optimal door security.
First-Line Door Security
- The door frame on the lock and hinge sides should be reinforced.
- Think “door reinforcement” Metal plates reinforcing the door jam is fundamental to door security See Door Devil.
- Wood doors should be solid hardwood all around.
- Getting a peephole.
- Don’t answer the door. Don’t feel you must answer the door every time someone’s there. It’s not a crime to ignore the visitor. If you’re not expecting anyone, it’s safest to just ignore them. It’s extremely unlikely that they’re about to die from dehydration or hemorrhaging; assume whatever they want is not a matter of life and death.
- If you have a door that’s not visible to people passing by, this door especially needs optimal security.
- A steel-clad door should have 24-guage steel and a wood lockblock core.
- Hardened steel deadbolts are a must and should have a five-pin tumbler. Associated screws should be as long as they come for deadbolts. Deadbolts should have wrap-arounds.
- Consider a vertical deadbolt or multi-lock deadbolt for maximal security.
- Another layer of maximal security is the grade of door hardware, whereas grade 1 is the highest; grade 2 is moderate; and grade 3 is so-so.
- Beware of flimsy screws!
Adjuncts to Door Security
- Use a door brace (metallic pole that has one end fitting under doorknob and the other end securely on the floor, out at an angle, to prevent the door from opening).
- A door stop or wedge will probably not stop a brute-force push-in, but a door stop can be equipped with an alarm that will trip if someone tries to push their way in.
- Don’t bother with the door chains that you so often see on TV. We’ve all seen it: The bad guy is on the other side of the door while the apprehensive woman is speaking to him through that small opening. He then pushes on the door and breaks the chain. This can really happen!