Statistically, most burglars use some force to enter a home, but they still prefer to take the easy route through an open or poorly secured door or window. Because they’re worried about attracting attention from neighbors, they usually spend only about six seconds trying to break in before they give up and move on to an easier target. And very few have sophisticated lock-picking devices. In most cases, if they can’t get in by kicking open a door or window or by using a screwdriver, pry bar, or other basic tool, they’ll give up.
That’s good news for home homeowners. It means just by using some basic home security techniques to help your home stand up against attack for those first few seconds you may be able to prevent burglary altogether. In fact, some of the most basic home security precautions are the most important.
Strengthen your locks
Even if you don’t have the time right now to up-grade to a high-tech fingerprint lock, there is one simple thing you can do to prevent your door from being kicked or pried open: get a stronger strike plate. The lock strike plate (also called “lock strike” or “door strike”) is the protective metal plate installed in the door jamb to hold the latch or lock bolt when door is closed. Most door strike plates are secured only by the softwood door jamb moldings and the moldings are usually just tacked onto the door frame. This is the weakest point of almost any door can usually be knocked out with a well-placed kick.
The solution is to switch to a heavy-duty steel strike plate and use 3-inch wood screws to secure it to the door frame stud (not just to the door jamb). These long screws should also be used to secure the knob lock strike plate and, ideally, the door hinges.
Your garage is your home, too.
On most homes, the garage door is the largest and weakest door on the whole building and more and more burglars are discovering this easy entry-point. Many up-and-over style garage doors are easy to lift up, but a padlock with a hasp and staple can keep most thieves out. The padlock should have a laminated or forged body, a hardened 9/32″ double-locking shackle (the loop attached to the body) or a 5-pin tumbler lock.
Consider adding a mortise lock to double garage doors with a rim latch. Another option to secure an up-and-over garage door is a garage defender lock. This is a heavy-duty metal arm, padlocked to a base plate that is bolted into the concrete outside the garage door.
Watch those windows
You can prevent would-be burglars from sliding open your horizontal sliding windows by placing a wooden dowel or sticks or metal rod in the track. To secure vertical sliding windows, use a through-the-frame pin. Leave room for the window to be opened at least six inches for ventilation, but make sure you can’t reach in from the outside and remove the blocking device. If have aluminum-frame windows that are accessible from ground level, you may also want to install an anti-lift device that fits between the sash and frame and prevents anyone from simply lifting out the whole window.
Leave a light on…the right way
A lot of people leave a sitting room, garage or porch light on all day thinking that this will make it look “like someone is home,” but unfortunately it’s a dead giveaway the house is empty, especially if you leave the light on like this when you’re out of town.
Instead, use timers to simulate the way lights go on and off when someone really is home. Typically, you want to use light-timers near the front and back windows with the curtains drawn. Timers can also be used to turn on radios or television sets to make it seem even more like someone is home.
Don’t have the cash to invest in a complete home security system right now? Burglars don’t have to know that. You can pick up a fake security camera or security system decals or lawn signs for a fraction of the price. The goal with these is to put just enough doubt in a possible bugler’s mind to make him skip your house.
Don’t let a busy schedule keep you from getting the best security for your home and family. Shop around for home security devices online to get an idea of the range of devices available and learn how you can use them in your home.