Did you know that in approximately half of all residential break-ins, thieves simply entered through unlocked doors or windows?
- Ensure your address is clearly visible to emergency responders at all times. If you have a laneway, post your address at the rear of your house, as well.
- Trim your trees and bushes that could hide thieves. Trees growing near your house could also help a thief enter through an unlocked upper story window.
Outside doors and frames should be made of solid wood or steel, and frames should fit snugly against the door. Glass around an outside door should be unbreakable or at least 40 inches from the lock. To keep the door from being lifted off its track, install screws or a plate that extends down from the top track.
- For added security you can also consider a floor mounted door stop, which is more effective than a door chain.
- Garage doors can be secured using a lock on the inside of the door.
- Hinges should be attached securely by screws that go through the door frame into the supporting stud, and are not exposed on the outside. Replace outside hinges with non-removable hinges that are available commercially.
- To see visitors, use a wide-angle viewer instead of a chain lock, as you don’t need to open the door.
- Change your locks if you lose your keys or when you move into a new home.
Garages are a favourite target because they often store power tools and bicycles.
- Secure garage windows with bars or plexiglass.
- Doors from the outside or your house should swing inward, be solid core, and have deadbolt locks.
- Keep your garage locked, even when you are at home.
- Install lights near your garage to keep the area lit.
- Be sure the overhead door closes completely after you drive in or out of your garage.
Deadbolts should be used instead on all exterior doors. The minimum length of the throw should be 1 in. or 2.5 cm, and the surrounding collar of the deadbolt should be made of good quality material or have a freely rotating slip ring. A strike plate, which is the flat metal plate on the door frame that receives the locks throw or bolt, should be minimum 6-8 inches and installed with long screws that pass through the door frame and into the wall stud.
Another type of bolt that can be used is the bolt rim lock, which has two vertically moving deadbolts that lock into a frame-mounted striker above and below the door. These locks are suitable for wooden frames or where there are windows on the sides of the door preventing proper installation of a deadbolt. These locks provide good to excellent security, depending on the quality, and are more resistant to crowbars.
Two more modern types of locks are the push button rim-locks and digitally coded deadbolts. A push button rim-lock features a keyless lock, opened by entering the correct combination on the numbered entry pad. Keep in mind that the security code should be changed regularly so the number pad does not wear out from overuse. Digitally coded deadbolt systems with keypad or electronic remote are more expensive, but can be fitted to existing openings. They operate in the same manner as the traditional deadbolt system, but the locking mechanism can be activated without keys using an electronic remote. These systems can be of great benefit to seniors or people with disabilities.
To further add to the already increased security offered by a good quality deadbolt lock, the addition of a steel reinforcement device to both the door and frame greatly increases strength. Such a system is cost effective and simple to install.
Windows are generally a weak link when it comes to residential security. They can be pried open or broken, lifted from their tracks and the panes removed. There are numerous ways to increase the security to windows:
- Any window not used as a fire exit can be secured by nailing or screwing it permanently closed or adding security bars.
- Vertical sliding (double hung) or horizontally sliding windows can be secured with a nail, metal pin or specially designed lock.
- Windows with keyless latches, such as casement and awning windows, can be secured by simply replacing the keyless latch with a keyed latch or keyed slide bolt. An alternative to fixing a keyless latch is to simply drill a hole through the latch and inserting a removable pin.
- Sash-less or semi-sashed windows can be closed and blocked with a piece of wood fit snugly into the bottom track to prevent sliding and a small screw drilled into the top track to prevent it from being lifted.
- Basement windows can be secured with grillwork, guards, and bar mechanisms, which can be installed with one-way screws, pins or padlocks. Ensure that at least one window can be opened for possible escape, and that all basement windows in bedroom areas are operable for safety reasons. Another method of adding security to the glazing (glass area) of a window is to apply a shatter resistant film which strengthens the glass area should it be attacked.
- Glass areas can also be covered or even replaced with Lucite (high impact acrylic sheeting) which can survive attack without being broken unless very extreme force is used which will usually take too much time and cause too much noise.