How secure is your home?

How secure is your home? (or cheap security fixes for your home)


We all need to ask ourselves that question. With the economy being what it is, unemployment being so high, and cutbacks in law enforcement, crime is on the rise and will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. Burglary and home invasion seem to be the most popular crimes because once inside the home, it is unlikely that anyone outside will notice.

My name is Craig, and I'm a professional locksmith in California. I'm in peoples homes every day to deal with their security issues whether it's re-keying a home they just purchased or installing additional deadbolts or locks. I see how many folks overlook simple, inexpensive, but effective ways to better secure their homes. Unfortunately, some of the calls I get are to secure a home after it's been burglarized or invaded.

I'm going to tell you a few things you can do to make your home as safe it can be without major structural changes and great expense. Your neighbors would most likely complain about barbed wire and dogs patrolling your perimeter, so I'll try to keep it real.

Most of us have locking knobs and deadbolts on our outside doors. You should have both on every door that goes to the outside from your house.

The first thing you should do is check the screws that hold the door hinges to the frame on all your outside doors. Remove just one of the hinge screws from the door frame. Odds are, it's 3/4" long. If it's 3 inches long, put it back. It's as good as it gets. If it's a short one, replace it with a 3 inch long screw. One at a time, (so the hinges don't move) replace all the screws in all the hinges in your door frame. The longer screws will go THROUGH the frame and into the studs. They may sheer off under stress, but they won't just pull out like the short ones will from the pine frame.

Let's talk about your front door. A locking knob and a deadbolt are the LEAST amount of protection you should have. If there's decorative glass in your door or down the sides, you run an additional risk that a burglar could simply break the glass, reach in, and unlock the door. There is a deadbolt ( a double cylinder deadbolt) which takes a key to lock or unlock from both the inside and outside of the door which could solve this problem, but they're against building codes in most parts of the country because of the danger in a fire situation; if you can't find the key, you can't get out. A Bar-ricade Door Security Bar is the STRONGEST solution. We can make them to fit almost any situation.

You should also have both knob locks and deadbolts on the door from your home to your attached garage (particularly if you have an automatic garage door opener). I once lived in a home where the garage door opened whenever my neighbor across the street opened his. There are people who drive neighborhoods pushing a garage door opener just to see who's door will come up. Could you be a winner?

I have a door from my garage to my side yard. It's the one place someone could take their time to break in without being seen by neighbors or passers by. They could do it in the back yard, but not without breaking glass which is noisy. A Bar-ricade Door Security Bar is the absolute BEST solution. Even if they pick or drill the locks, the door still won't open.

So let's talk about those sliding glass doors and windows. No matter what kind of factory locking devise you have on these, you should either install a pin that goes through the frame and track together, or lay a length of wood or metal, like a broom handle or piece of 1X2 in the track. These can't be disabled from the outside.

Please understand that if someone wants to get into your home badly enough, they will. My goal here is to make sure that you leave no quiet entry possible for an intruder to surprise you. Glass is the weak point in any home but it's noisy when it breaks. With today's cordless power tools, it's not that hard to simply cut a hole in your wood door, reach through, and unlock it, or simply kick the door in. But these all make noise which should alert someone inside that someone is breaking in.

Alarm systems are great, but some are quite expensive. The downside to an alarm is that it usually tells you that someone is already in your house, and perhaps calls the police for you. Has anyone called for police assistance lately? My hat is off to the men and women in law enforcement, but there are way too few of them to respond quickly to all of us.

One of the best deterrents is a motion activated light on each side of your house. They are simple to install, inexpensive, and available at any home improvement store. The brighter the better.

So you've made your home as secure as you can. You've installed motion activated lights on all sides of the house, replaced the hinge screws, put slide blocks in all the windows and sliding glass doors. Maybe you've even set the alarm.

So... Here we go.... Someone is trying to come through your front door while you and the family are watching TV. If they kick the door in, you've got about 5 seconds to respond before they're looking at you face to face. What are you going to do? Honestly, that isn't enough time to do ANYTHING. You need more time. You need more than a lock and deadbolt on your door.

The problem:

Almost all doors in homes built since the 1970's are pre hung doors. They're pre hung in the factory in a 3/4 inch pine frame. The hinges and hardware are all mounted to a piece of 3/4 inch thick piece of pine. It's very soft wood. The entire frame is then installed in the door opening and screwed or nailed to the studs. You need to understand that the most expensive highest quality deadbolt installed like this is only as strong as the piece of pine wood that holds it. A good kick or strong shoulder can cause it to fail fairly easily.

There's not much you can do about this weakness, so, I developed a security bar for my doors we call the bar-ricade. Whether you pick my locks, use a key, or break the door frame, you won't come through my doors quickly once the bar is in place. It's made from a square tubular steel bar which is incredibly strong, and the 5/16 inch specially flanged lag bolts are screwed to the JACK STUDS, not the door frame. They mount on any door with no cutting of the casing or trim just using a drill and a 1/2 inch wrench. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes. Even if you rent your home or have an apartment, you can use the bar-ricade because it leaves only a screw hole on each side which can be filled with a little putty and a touch of paint. Go to my website to watch a short video about how it works.

It will give you MINUTES or more to respond where you only had SECONDS!

My plan is to retreat to the bedroom where I have access to my guns and a cordless phone to call for help. Whenever possible, whether for fire, ambulance, or police, call for help from your land line phone. The emergency services know where that call is coming from even if you don't have time to tell them. Your cell phone doesn't give them that information.

Once my family and I are in for the evening, I simply slide the bar onto the bolts. To go out, simply lift it out and set it in the corner. If someone really wants to get in my house, I'll know well before they succeed, and I'll have time to follow my plan, get my gun, and call for help. Now, I'm in control.

Take all the steps you can NOW to keep it from happening to your family.