Home Security: The Basics
Expert Chris McGoey offers simple, common-sense advice for home security against burglary and intrusion
By Chris E. McGoey, home security expert (crimedoctor.com)
May 01, 2008 — A home burglary occurs somewhere in the U.S. every 15.4 seconds, according to the FBI, making it the most common home security threat, by far. To avoid becoming a victim, it is important to first gain an understanding of the crime.
Despite our increasingly high-tech existence, the world of home intrusion hasn't evolved much in the past couple of decades. The majority of home and apartment burglaries occur during the daytime, when most people are away at work or school. Most occur in the summer months of July and August, while the fewest occur in February. Burglaries are committed most often by young males under 25 looking for items that are small, expensive and can easily be converted to cash. Favorite items are cash, jewelry, guns, watches, laptop computers, music CDs and video DVDs, DVD players and video game machines.
Statistics show that 70% of the burglars use some amount of force to enter a dwelling, but their preference is to gain easy access through an open door or window. Ordinary household tools like screwdrivers, channel-lock pliers and small pry bars are commonly used. These crimes continue to flourish because police arrest only about 13% of all reported burglaries and rarely catch the thief in the act.
Although home burglaries may seem random in occurrence, they actually involve a selection process. The burglar chooses an unoccupied home with the easiest access, the greatest amount of cover and with the best escape routes.
Here is a prioritized list of six home security considerations to minimize your burglary risk.
1. Doors and Locks
Make your home more difficult to enter, as burglars are more likely to bypass homes that require too much effort to break into or more skill and tools than they possess. Most burglars enter via the front, back or garage doors. Experienced burglars know that the garage door is usually the weakest point of entry, followed by the back door. The garage and back doors also provide the most cover.
The most common way used to force entry through a door with a wooden jamb is to simply kick it open. The weakest point is almost always the lock strike plate that holds the latch or lock bolt in place, followed by a glass-paneled door.
The average door strike plate is secured only by a lightweight, soft-wood doorjamb molding, which is often tacked onto the door frame and can be torn away with a firm kick. Because of this construction flaw, it makes sense to upgrade to a readily available, four-screw, heavy-duty, high-security strike plate. Install this heavy-duty strike plate using three-inch wood screws to cut deep into the door frame stud. Use these longer screws in the knob lock strike plate as well, and use at least one long screw in each door hinge. This simple home security step alone will deter or prevent most through-the-door forced entries.
" Use a solid core or metal door for all entrance points.
" Use a heavy-duty deadbolt lock with a one-inch throw bolt.
" Use a heavy-duty knob-in-lock set with a dead-latch mechanism.
" Use a heavy-duty, four-screw strike plate with three-inch screws to penetrate into a wooden door frame.
" Use a wide-angle 160° peephole mounted no higher than 58 inches.