Lock Crime Out of Your Home

November 20, 2013

Most Burglars Spend No More Than 60 Seconds Trying to Break In

Exterior Doors

  • All exterior doors should be either metal or solid wood.
  • For added security, use strong door hinges on the inside of the door, with non-removable or hidden pins.
  • Every entry door should be well lighted and have a wide-angle door viewer so you can see who is outside without opening the door.


  • Always keep doors and windows locked.
  • Always change or re-key locks when you move into a new home or apartment.
  • Never leave your house unlocked – even for a short period (five-minute trip to the store, etc.).
  • Keep your doors and windows locked even when you are home.
  • Use strong, reliable locks on exterior doors and windows.
  • Use quality keyed knobs as well as deadbolt locks.
  • When choosing a deadbolt, look for bolts that:
  • Extends at least one inch when in the locked position
  • Resist ramming and kicking
  • Have hardened steel inserts to prevent the bolt from being sawed off
  • Have a reinforced strike plate with extra long mounting screws to anchor the lock effectively.

Most deadbolts are single-cylinder; they operate from the outside with a key and from the inside with a thumb latches. Double-cylinder deadbolts require a key to open the lock from both outside and inside your home. These locks are especially effective for doors with glass within 40 inches of the lock ¬ an intruder cannot break the glass and unlock the door by reaching through.

  • Some jurisdictions do not allow double-cylinder deadbolts.
  • Check with your local law enforcement or building code authorities before installing a double cylinder deadbolt.
  • As an alternative, consider having security glazing applied to glass panels in or near the door, or install shatterproof glass.

Sliding Glass Doors (and Windows)

Sliding glass doors offer easy entry into your home. To improve security on existing sliding glass doors, you can

  • Install keyed locking devices that secure the door to the frame
  • Adjust the track clearances on the doors so they can’t be pushed out of their tracks
  • Put a wood dowel or metal bar in the track of the closed door to prevent the door from opening even if the lock is jimmied or removed.


  • Most standard double-hung windows have thumb turn locks between the two window panels. Don’t rely on these ¬ they can be pried open or easily reached through a broken pane.
  • Some jurisdictions may allow the use of keyed locking devices to prevent the window from being raised from the outside. If used, you must ensure that everyone in the house knows where to find the keys in case of an emergency. Note: Check with your local law enforcement before installing.
  • An easy, inexpensive way to secure your windows is to use the “pin” trick. Drill an angled hole through the top frame of the lower window partially into the frame of the upper window. Then insert a nail or eyebolt. The window can’t be opened until you remove the nail. Make a second set of holes with the windows partly opened so you can have ventilation without intruders.

Indoor Lighting

  • Lighting is one of the most cost-effective deterrents to burglary.
  • Indoor lighting gives the impression that a home is occupied.
  • Leave one or two lights on at night. Vary the lights left on so there is no pattern.
  • Use variable on/off automatic timers to switch interior lights on and off when you are away.

Outdoor Lighting

  • Outdoor lighting is a critical deterrent to burglary.
  • Outdoor lighting can eliminate hiding places and make doors and windows visible from the street.
  • Install exterior lighting near porches, rear and side doorways, garage doors, and all other points of entry.
  • Entryways to your home should always be well lighted.
  • Place lights out of reach from the ground so the bulbs cannot be removed or broken.
  • Aim some lights away from the house so you can see if anyone is approaching.
  • Consider installing motion- sensing lights, which turn on automatically as someone approaches.

Shrubs and Landscaping

  • Make your home entryways, doors and windows easily visible from the street.
  • Your home’s walkways and landscaping should direct visitors to the main entrance and away from private areas.
  • Landscaping should provide maximum visibility to and from your house.
  • Trim shrubbery that could conceal criminal activity near doors and windows.
  • Provide light on areas of dense shrubs and trees that could serve as hiding places.
  • Cut back tree limbs that could help thieves climb into windows
  • Keep yard fencing low enough to avoid giving criminals places to hide.


  • Use high security locks on gates and outdoor sheds.
  • Always secure lawn mowers and other valuables in a locked garage or yard shed.
  • Always keep bicycles locked even if unattended for a few minutes.

When You Go on Vacation

  • Let trusted friends or neighbors know you will be away. Leave them your itinerary and contact information.
  • Arrange to have your mail and newspaper deliveries held, or picked up by a trusted neighbor.
  • If you have gardener, lawn or pool service, continue them while you are away.
  • Contact your Police or Sheriff and ask if they provide a “Vacation Check” program.
  • Set outdoor, and a few indoor, lights on variable on/off automatic timers.
  • Set indoor lights arrange to have lawn (and pool services) continue

Updated December 2013