As burglaries are on the rise in many areas, people realize that locks are only there to prevent the common person from entering and are not by any means the only thing you need to have a secure home or business. As a locksmith, I’ve been called to dozens of homes and businesses after they were broken into to repair and secure the doors. I get questions daily on how to prevent break-ins and secure properties and businesses, and I decided to make a list of helpful tips.
Unfortunately, most of the time, I get these questions after a break-in and not before, so if crime in your area is up like in many places, it is smart to prepare in advance and save a lot of money and heartbreak.
Here are some tips to help prevent a break-in based on what I’ve seen as a locksmith.
Here is a photo of a door after a break-in with a crowbar. Notice how the bolt was bent out of shape.
This will not happen with a high-quality lock made of hardened steel and not bendable.
Therefore, it’s not worth it to cheap out on the hardware that secures your house.
The Schlage brand deadbolt is the one I recommend and is strong enough to prevent a forced entry, like in this photo.
- All Exterior Doors Should Have a Deadbolt and Keyed Door Knob
Door Knobs and levers are easy to break into with a credit card or a coat hanger. Deadbolts are much harder to get through, especially the higher-quality ones. Both on all exterior doors will make it much harder to bypass.
- Keep Both Locked at All Times
From what I’ve seen, many people don’t lock their deadbolts and rely on the doorknob, which is not secure. Make it a habit to always lock both locks at all times.
- Double-Sided Deadbolt for Flimsy Doors
If you have a thin glass window in a wood door, in most cases, a burglar will break the glass before trying the lock. In that case, a double-sided deadbolt that is keyed on both sides will help delay someone from sticking their hand through the broken glass window and unlocking the deadbolt from the inside.
Standard back door in the USA
Here you can see the difference between a double cylinder deadbolt lock on the left photo, and a single cylinder deadbolt with a thumb turn on the right photo.
- No Visible Lockboxes
I’ve often seen cheap plastic lock boxes cut open, and thieves came back at night and entered with a key. The best option would be to hide the key somewhere safe and not visible.
Here is a photo of a cheap lock box installed on an entry door handle in plain sight.
I would recommend putting the lockbox in a less visible area to prevent the key being stolen.
- Keypads Are Not More Secure Than Manual Locks, Especially if They Are Levers
Keypads are not more secure than manual locks. They are just manual locks with an electric motor on the back. If you buy a keypad deadbolt/ door knob lock, make sure you still have a deadbolt and doorknob on the door and use both.
Lever locks are easier to bypass than deadbolts. That’s why I recommend both.
I always recommend getting an electronic lock with a key override and keeping the key as a backup in case the battery dies or/the lock malfunctions.
Here is a photo of a keyed lever deadbolt on the left side and a keyless deadbolt keypad on the right.
- Lost/Stolen Keys? Get the House Rekeyed!
If you ever lost or misplaced any of your keys, or they got stolen, or a former tenant/employee has a spare, I recommend having the locks rekeyed since you do not know who has access to your house or business.
Rekeying the locks makes all other keys inoperable besides the set you receive from the locksmith.
Getting the locks rekeyed is a relatively cheap solution for these situations.
- Loud Alarm Scares Burglars
In my opinion, the most effective tool to deter burglars is a loud alarm system operated by motion sensors. The louder, the better.
- Secure Windows at All Times
Burglars will look for vulnerabilities in your house and take advantage of open or flimsy windows and doors.
- Garage Is Not Secure and Can Be Opened With Universal Remotes Interior Garage Door Should Have a Deadbolt
Garage doors are not as secure as most people think, and there are ways to unlock them with a universal remote. In addition, if the previous owners had a remote, I recommend resetting the opener and deleting all old remotes.
The Interior door to the house should always have a deadbolt and doorknob. Standard garage door in the USA
- Bright Lighting and or Motion Sensor Lights
It is important to have a good lighting system for the exterior of the house. It helps deter burglars and is harder not to be seen.
Bonus Tip: Good Home Insurance
Unfortunately, break-ins happen all the time, and it is always smart to be prepared. A good home insurance policy can save you a lot of heartache and money in the long term in case of a break-in and property loss.
Here is a photo of motion sensor lights installed above a carport.
Here is a photo of an exterior metal gate that is welded on to a frame and adds additional security to the house.
Bypassing the metal gate is extremely hard and time consuming and loud which will make the chances of a successful break very slim.
This is not a cheap option at all but is worth the money if you can afford it.
In conclusion, if you follow these steps, there will be a much smaller chance your house will be burglarized than others. The more you delay a potential burglar, the more likely they will give up or get caught. Most of the break-ins I’ve been to had unsecured doors at the time, and in the majority of cases, it could have been avoided at a reasonable cost.
If you are worried about your home security, don’t hesitate to call a locksmith to help secure your doors. There are many options for different budgets that will give you the peace of mind you want. Cameras are also a great investment that can help to deter/ apprehend burglars.
I hope this information is useful, and if you have any questions on how to secure your home, I will be happy to help.