I keep thinking back to the lady with the 3 inch screws and the false sense of security that gave her. Sure, she had done something to improve her security, which puts her ahead of probably 80% of people, but there is so much that she left undone, and most of it is simple and relatively inexpensive.
According to a post by Off The Grid News that I trolled up, the breakdown of how a criminal gains entry to a residence is as follows:
- 4 percent enter through the front door
- 23 percent enter through first floor windows
- 22 percent enter through a back door
- 9 percent enter through the garage
- 6 percent enter through unlocked storage areas
- 4 percent enter through a basement window or door
- 2 percent enter through a second floor window
Based on a few discussions with some LEOs I know and reading the crime reports for a number of years, this looks about right. So what do you do to harden your house?
- Lock your doors and windows. You'd be amazed how often a burglar gains access through an unlocked door or window. Don't make it easy for them.
- Don't hide spare keys stupidly. Everyone knows the spare key is under the mat, or the flower pot, or the on top of the door frame. If you going to hide a key outside, get one of the heavy duty lock boxes and put it on there. I use this one. It's built like a tank. A burglar can get in, but it will take a while and make a lot of noise.
- If you can afford it, get a centrally monitored burglar alarm. Every LEO I've talked with says this is the gold standard tool to keep burglars away. They may even kick in a door or break a window to be sure there is an actual alarm (you can buy fake stickers and signs), but when the siren goes off, they nearly always run. We have one, and I don't think you'll get in the house with it on.
- Harden your exterior doors. This can take several forms. For wood framed doors, at a minimum you need to look at a product that hardens the door frame and the area around the door locks, such as those from Armored Concepts. Better is to reinforce the entire frame, using kits such as ones sold by Kickproof or StrikeMaster, and then reinforce the area around the locks.
After we were broken into (the rear door was kicked in), I went with modified hurricane-rated doors front and back. They have 3 locking points and are made of reinforced fiberglass. I used 1/16" aluminium plate on the outside of the door frames to reinforce them and all the screws are extra long and drilled into the studs. The doors themselves have oval windows (a concession to my wife) that are tempered and have a reinforcing film applied (more on that next).
- Overhead garage doors are a weak point that is difficult to reinforce. As a rule, the best you can do is to use the provided lock points and a padlock if you plan on being absent for a long period of time. If you have garage door openers, remove that dangling cord from the manual release. If your doors have windows, burglars will break the window and use a long pole to snare it and disengage the release so they can open the door.
- Windows are a weak point that can be difficult to deal with as well, especially those that can be reached from the ground or a deck. First, be sure they are locked. There are various high-security window locks, but when you can break in with a rock, I believe they are a waste of money.
While it may be a waste of time, you can drill into the sashes and slip in a bolt so that the windows can't be opened from outside even if the lock is opened. I've been told that burglars don't like to deal with broken glass, due to noise and the possibility of cutting themselves, thereby leaving DNA evidence. Just be sure you can remove that bolt with your bare fingers in case of a fire.
More expensive but possibly more useful are reinforcing films, such as this 3M product. As a bonus, you get energy savings. I think this one is going to be added to my to-do list. This is a DIY project if you are the least bit handy around the house.
- There are also a lot of miscellaneous things you can do-keep your foundation plantings trimmed down, keep ladders secured, consider a video surveillance system (be sure it has recording capability), make friends with that nosy neighbor, keep a dog and so on.
Being broken into sucks, as I can testify to from bitter experience. Given our current social situation, if you live in a metro area, small to medium city or a suburb I don't think it's going to be bad practice to have hardened home your to at least this level. I think if I lived in one of those areas I might have a roll of chicken wire and staples handy so I could cover my windows, just in case.
This is one of those areas where being ahead of the curve is a good thing.