So, you would like to increase your home’s security? Most people don’t think deeply about this problem and put a band-aid on it: they buy a more expensive lock. Unfortunately, that will rarely make your home more secure.
To figure out what you need to do to increase your home’s security, first we must identify who it is that we are trying to keep out. For most people, we don’t need to keep international diamond thieves out. Here in Seattle, we residentials only need to keep unsophisticated men in the pitiful throes of desperation at bay. They are probably not educated, nor do they have any abilities related to lockpicking. They probably don’t know how to use a bumpkey, either. Most likely they will attempt to kick your door open, open an unlocked door or window, or possibly pry your door open with some kind of prying tool.
To keep such men honest, we must identify the weakest links in our chain of security. We must put on the glasses of the common criminal and identify what means he would use to enter our home. This may include as was mentioned before forcing the door or lock, gaining entry through an unlocked door or window, or perhaps using a key either found or entrusted to him or an acquaintance of his.
Key control is important. Don’t lend your keys to people unless you not only trust them, but everybody who has access to their keys. Children with loose lips may give out your garage door code to their friends who may be shady. If you must lend out keys to people, consider lending keys that are stamped “Do Not Duplicate” or even better, lend keys that only operate a doorknob, and won’t open the door when the deadbolt is locked.
Your ground level entry doors need to have deadbolts. If you don’t have a deadbolt and are only relying on a doorknob, your door is probably really vulnerable unless you live inside some building with external locks. I can install deadbolts for you if your door doesn’t have one, or replace the deadbolt with a better one.
Even the best lock won’t keep people out of your house if your door is hollow core and your door frame is thin and not anchored well. If you really care about security, make sure that your lock’s strike plate is anchored to a stud with some long screws (at least two, hopefully three) and that the door is somewhat sturdy. A good inexpensive way to increase your home’s security is to put long strike plates on all of your ground level entry doors. I can install these for you. I can also install a deep strike pocket with 3.5″ screws for your existing deadbolt. Even the cheapest Defiant deadbolt from Home Depot will fare better with a strike pocket installed.
If you are also concerned that people may try to defeat your locks, you can also elect to replace the cylinder inside your lock housing with a lock cylinder that has a side bar and steel rods and ball bearings to prevent drilling through the lock’s keyway. Of course, this is a little bit more expensive than replacing the strike plate. It is still a reasonable and less expensive option than replacing the locks outright, however.
There is a great deal of paranoia right now concerning the use of bump keys. I will retrofit your lock cylinders with anti-bump springs and anti-pick pins. They will work the same with your keys, it will just make it incredibly hard for somebody to manipulate your lock open.
Another great way to prevent unauthorized entry is to make your property look more difficult to break into. Get motion-activated lights, get alarm signs in your yard, get alarm stickers, get signs warning of a large mean dog, leave a pair of size 13 boots outside every door, spent shell casings near your back door, etc. This way nobody will even think of breaking into your property. Also clear away large shrubs or trees that are near your windows and doors. This gives criminals cover under which they may be more comfortable working on opening your door, knowing they are less likely to be observed.
Also don’t leave expensive looking objects in window view, especially laptops and iphones and the like. Remove temptation, and make yourself a hard target.