Secure My Home
Just the Facts
It needs to be noted in the United States a burglary occurs about every 9 seconds. Most are smash and grab types, where the burglar breaks in grabs every thing of value he can find and is out in less than 5 minutes. How can you protect your property and more importantly your family from this type of criminal action?
As a Professional Locksmith with 16 years of experience, the most common question I am asked by homeowners, 'How can I best secure my home from break-ins?' My answer to them is not of much comfort to them when I say, 'Make your home as difficult to get into as possible. Remove as much temptation, for a potential burglar, as you can.' To do this takes takes work and a constant awareness of who is in your neighborhood, as well as paying attention to your surroundings.
Let us see what I am talking about.
What Does Your Home Look Like From The Street?
Are You Inviting Criminals In?
When you are done reading this, go across the street and look back at your house. What do you see? Is there maintenance that needs doing on the structure? Is the garage door open? Is the lawn mowed? Is the shrubbery maintained? Is there trash laying around? These are just some of the answers that will give a potential burglar motivation to either take a closer look or pass your house by. Over all maintenance of your property plays an important roll in home security. It is an indication of whether you pay close attention or you are lazy about the details.
If your house looks similar to the one imaged here you are inviting criminals to take a closer look. They may not do it right away, maybe tomorrow or tonight, but they will be checking you out as a prospect. If you want to deter them you must keep a close eye on keeping basic home maintenance up to snuff.
What Options Do I Have?
3 Home Security Options to Consider
For starters keep up your building and yard maintenance. Next you have 3 options to help secure your home.
First, you could hire a home security service such as ADT or LifeShield to install a security system. They will then monitor your system for various thing such as break ins or fire. There will be a monthly charge for these services. If you choose this form of security find out what costs are involved before making your decision.
Just a note, you do not have to hire a national service, there will be local home security services in your area providing the same or similar services. They may or may not be less expensive when it comes to the monthly charges. Do your research.
Second, you could install a security system yourself. Purchase a home security system online or from your local home improvement store. The security systems are not that difficult to install when following the instructions. After the installation you will need to connect to a monitoring service. Again there will be a monthly charge for the service.
Third, have a professional locksmith install a good deadbolt on each of your exterior doors, including the door from the house to the garage. A professional locksmith will recommend a quality product which will match up with your existing door hardware. A properly installed deadbolt, properly used will deter most potential criminals.
Do You Have a Home Security System?
Home Security Systems
How About a Sliding Glass Door?
4 Options to secure a sliding glass door
Sliding glass doors can be tricky. They are usually in the rear of the house out of the sight of your neighbors and they allow a wide view of the inside of your home. These four options will help secure this door.
First, insure the lock on the sliding door is functional. I have found many that were not. The lock may need to be replace or the strike adjusted, both are usually easy to fix. If the lock is broken take the handle to your local professional locksmith or local home improvement center and purchase a new handle with the proper locking mechanism.
The strike is where the locking mechanism hooks into. With the proper handle there should be no problem here. If the door frame has settled a bit, the strike may be too high or low. The best advice is to call a professional locksmith to come and repair the strike. He will have the proper tools and equipment.
Second, have a curtain over the sliding door to hide the interior of your home. Ensure it covers the entire door frame so the interior cannot be seen. Blinds, like the ones in the image, may leave spaces were someone could see into your home, I do not recommend them.
Third, measure the length of the channel the sliding door slides in. Cut an old broom or mop handle to that length and drop it in the channel. Now the door cannot be opened even if the lock is breached. Another option is to purchase a 'charlie bar' which has a fitting on the door and a hinge on the wall. When the bar is in the fitting the door is blocked, when out of the fitting the hinge folds it up or down and out of the way allowing for door to be opened
Fourth and most drastic, replace the sliding door with a 'French Door' set or a standard exterior door frame. If you choose to use this option it is recommended to hire a professional to do the work.
Is it secure?
Do You Have a Sliding Glass Door in Your Home?
How to Secure Your Windows
Not only the for looking out, but getting in.
Most windows today have locking mechanisms built into the structure of the frame. Some even have alarms built in, in case a burglar tries to force the window open to gain entry. These facts go for whether the windows are in a newly built home or an older home that has had replacement windows installed. You may still want to take some extra measures to be sure your windows are secure.
If the windows in your home slide up and down or side to side, even if they are locking type, you can increase the security in a similar manner as the sliding glass door. Cut an old broom handle to the proper length and place it in the window's channel. This will also be an option if you have the old wooden sash style windows.
The old style sash windows have a wooden frame for the glass and a counter weight behind the channel to make opening and closing easier. They usually come with a thumb turned lock on the top of the bottom window frame. For additional security a 1/4" hole can be drilled in the upper right or left corner of the lower window frame and a lag screw be placed in the hole. A 2" lag screw is usually long enough and one will be sufficient to keep the window closed, but just to be sure measure the frame depth before purchasing the lag screw. The screw should go completely through one frame and half way through the other.
Casement windows are usually opened with some sort form of crank or handle. When closing these windows be sure they are closed tightly, then remove the handle or crank and put it in a safe place.
Of course, it is always best before leaving the house to make the rounds to ensure all the windows are locked securely. As a locksmith when letting families into their home, when they locked themselves out, there were a number of times I went through an open window that was supposedly locked. Even some second story windows. Being aware will increase your security.
How About Your Windows?
Are you sure your windows are secure?
Some window security from Amazon
The Garage Door
Whether you are home or just down the street for a minute, leaving this door open even a little, is an open invitation to potential criminals. Keep your garage door closed. Essentially there are really only two reasons for having the garage door open. The first, is to get your car in or out of the garage. Second, is when you are working in the garage or the yard.
If you have dogs and/or cats you let stay in the garage while you are away, if it is for only a couple of hours they will be fine with enough water and food until you return. If you are going to be away for the weekend or longer you would be better off putting them in a kennel until you return. Leaving a garage door open even just a little will give a criminal easy access to your home. A garage door left open just a little can still be lifted an inch or 2 allowing someone to slip under the door.
As with any other door to you home, when leaving you should ensure the garage door is closed and locked. If you have a garage door opener, when the door is all the way down it is essentially locked. If you do not have a garage door opener, you will need to get out and ensure the door is all the way down and then lock it.
If you are going to be away for awhile, unplug your garage door opener. Whether you have a garage door opener or not any time you go on vacation put a pad lock in one of the holes in the door track as close to a roller as possible (or drill a new hole for a padlock). This will keep the door locked even if some one is able to breach the exterior lock.
The Big Door to Your Home
Do you leave the garage door open while you are away?
Do not have a garage door opener? Check these out
The Mailman and Newspaper
Three things about the mail and one about the newspaper
We all like getting mail, right? Well three things about the mail, first always empty your mailbox every day mail is delivered. Not doing so is an indication there may not be anyone home.
Second, when leaving on vacation have the Post Office hold your mail until your return. You will need to fill out a form, but 5 minutes to fill out a form can possibly save a big headache when you return from vacation.
Third, get an lockable mailbox. Criminals may not always break into your house but they can take your mail and use it to steal your identity. With a locking mailbox you can easily reduce this possibility.
Do you get a newspaper? It does not matter whether it is a daily or weekly. If you are going away for any length of time, like your mail have the paper stopped until you return. Newspapers piled up on your front porch are a dead give away.
How About Your Mail and Newspapers?
Are you aware of your mail and newspaper?
A Final Thought
It has been my experience
I am not trying to frighten anyone with the above home security options. I have worked as a locksmith for over 16 years and in the insurance industry for 3 more years. I know the more you do to secure your home can have an effect on your home owners insurance premium. It may only be a few dollars but, over time that can add up. Deadbolts especially are look upon with favor by your insurance agent.
As a locksmith I have been called out after the fact and seen the damage burglars have caused someone. I would like to have you use this as a starting point to securing and protecting your own home and family.