By Steve Graham, Networx
Unlike the elaborate tunneling operations of bank heist movies, most home burglars in real life simply go in the front door. Breaking or removing the front door is the most common form of forced-entry burglary, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. You can ward off many thieves by simply locking the door, as at least 30 percent of burglaries don’t involve a forced entry. To keep away more aggressive burglars, take these steps to reinforce your door, locks and doorframe.
Burglar-proof your door
Your front door should be stronger than interior doors, which are typically made of flimsy wood sheets over cardboard facing and a hollow core. Reinforced steel doors are the most secure, but they are susceptible to rust and require more maintenance than fiberglass, which is a second good option. Solid wood doors are a third choice.
Even metal doors can be bent out of the frame with a car jack, so look for a high-quality, reinforced door. Also avoid glass panels in the door or sidelights next to the door. If you have glass panels within reach of the doorknob, use stronger laminated glass, and a double-cylinder deadbolt that is keyed on the inside. This prevents burglars from smashing the glass, reaching in and turning the latch. However, this measure of burglar-proofing also compromises security in case of a fire. It may also be against code in some areas.
Also check that the door is hung properly. The hinges should be on the inside, and there should be a secure, tight screw in each hole. A properly hung, secure door is harder to break down. If the hinges must be outside, add locking pins to the hinges.
Burglar-proof your locks
Every exterior door should have a deadbolt with a bolt at least one inch long. As an added measure of security, consider a second deadbolt that locks from the inside but only has a blank faceplate outside. These can only be locked from the inside, so they don’t help when you aren’t home, but they can prevent a dangerous home invasion burglary while you are inside.
A quality deadbolt could set you back $150. Look for locks certified by the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Assocation (BHMA). Medeco makes possibly the best locks on the market. The company claims the Pentagon and White House use Medeco locks. They are difficult to duplicate and protect against drilling, picking and bumping, which is a new way to pick locks with a universal key. Bumping is gaining notoriety thanks to how-to videos posted around the Internet. Medeco’s high-security locks were famously picked at a hacker conference in 2008, but the company has since fixed the vulnerability.
Company-certified professional locksmiths should install Medeco and other high-quality deadbolt locks for maximum security.
Burglar-proof the frame
The most vulnerable part of the door is often overlooked — the jamb and frame. A burglar can still kick in a solid door with a solid lock if the lock goes into a thin strike plate and some flimsy pine.
Replace the flat strike plate with a deeper box strike, which is a steel pocket for the bolt, and add three-inch screws that drive into the studs rather than just the doorjamb.
The next step in burglar-proofing the doorframe is steel door jamb reinforcement. Door Jamb Armor is a popular option that adds a strip of galvanized steel around the entire door. The manufacturer claims the product can withstand a battering ram.
Most criminals are looking for an easy way to break in. Reinforcing your door, locks and doorframe can deter most burglaries. For added protection, get an alarm system. Statistics suggest homes without security systems are three times as likely to be burglarized than homes with security systems.
Also keep your entryway visible. Avoid shrubs or trees that might block the front door and provide cover for a criminal.