Prevent Burglary

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Tips While You Are Away

  • Have good locks on all doors and windows, and USE THEM!
  • Never leave your house key hidden outside your home.
  • Plug in timers to turn lights and a radio or television on and off at appropriate times. This helps to disguise the fact that you are away.
  • Secure storage sheds and gates.
  • Engrave your valuables . This simple step will allow your stolen property to be identified and returned to you if recovered by the police.

Headed out on Vacation?

  • Stop all deliveries, or arrange for a neighbor to pick up your mail, newspapers and packages.
  • Arrange for someone to mow your lawn, rake leaves and maintain the yard to give the home a lived-in look.
  • Ask a neighbor to watch the house while you're away for a few days. It's a good idea to leave your vacation address and telephone number with a neighbor so you can be reached in case of an emergency.
  • Don't announce your absence on answering machine messages.
  • Leave your blinds, shades and curtains in a normal position. Don't close them unless that is what you do when you are home.
  • Close and lock garage doors and windows. Ask a neighbor to occasionally park in your driveway. If you leave your car at home, park it as you normally would. Vehicles parked outside should be moved occasionally to appear that they are being used.
  • Download Vacation Checklist (PDF)

Tips to Make Your Home a Harder Target for Criminals

Exterior Doors
Many residential doors feature hollow-core construction and poor locks. They are easily forced or kicked open. If you desire additional protection, you need solid doors and quality locks.

Arcadia Doors
Many burglars enter homes through poorly protected arcadia doors. Additional locks and security measures here will prevent the door from being opened or lifted out of the track.

Screws installed in the track above the sliding door frame will prevent the door from being lifted out of the track. Drill a pilot hole in the top track above, and slightly in, from each corner of the sliding door frame section and install a screw into each hole. Adjust the screws so that the head of the screw just barely clears the frame when it is moved back and forth.

Double Doors
These doors need solid security as they are easily jimmied or forced open. Flush lever bolts installed at the top and bottom of the doors are recommended. Make sure the bolt is long, sturdy and mounted into a solid door frame.

Doors with Windows
Doors with glass windows or glass ornamentation require double key deadbolt locks. This prevents the burglar from breaking the glass and reaching inside to unlock the door.

The key to a double key deadbolt lock should be left in the lock at all times when someone is home (this is necessary to ensure easy exit in the event of a fire or other emergency).

Garage Doors
Standard locks on garage doors are easily pried, allowing a burglar access to your home without detection. Cane bolts and hasps are excellent protection. Make certain each side of the garage door is secured to prevent prying open a crawl space. The door leading from the garage into the house should be securely locked. The more barriers you provide against the burglar, the better protected you are.

Hinges
Many homes have doors which open to the outside, exposing the hinge pins. Despite your good strong lock, the burglar can remove the pins and lift the door from the frame.

To prevent this, remove two opposing screws from each leaf of the hinge. Screw a long lag bolt into the frame side of the hinge leaf and saw off the head leaving about 1/2 inch protruding. Drill out the opposite hole to allow the bolt to enter when the door is closed. Do this to the top and bottom hinge plates.

The hinge pins can now be removed by the burglar but the door will remain firmly in place. This technique is good for any door, no matter how the hinges have been placed.

Door Viewers
In order to avoid opening your door without knowing who is there, install a door viewer. This device has a wide angle lens to let you see someone standing outside your door without opening it.

Spring Latch
Some homes come equipped with this lock. It offers very little protection. The bolt can be slipped with a credit card or knife.

This same lock, with a deadbolt latch, provides more protection, but it too can be forced open.

Deadbolt Locks
A deadbolt lock can provide good protection. When you turn the key, the lock mechanism slides a strong metal bolt from the door into the frame. When you buy a deadbolt lock, make sure:

  • The bolt extends at least one inch from the edge of the door.
  • The connecting screws that hold the lock together are on the inside of the door.
  • The strike plate is attached to the door frame with screws that measure at least three inches in length.
  • The cylinder has a steel guard around the key section. The cylinder guard should be tapered or rotate freely around the key section to prevent wrenching if it is twisted.

Single Cylinder Deadbolt
A solid bolt, activated by a key from the outside or a knob on the inside, slides into the door frame. The lock cannot be slipped or easily pried. Deadbolt locks are only as good as the door and frame they are installed in.

Double Cylinder Deadbolt
This lock is basically the same as the single cylinder deadbolt, except that it requires a key to be used from either side to function.

Rim Lock
This lock has either horizontal or vertical deadbolts. It cannot be easily slipped, pried or forced with a wrench. This lock, like all others, requires a strong mounting surface and hardware to be effective.

Padlocks
When selecting padlocks to secure your garage door, storage shed, fence gate or tool box, do not economize. Low priced locks are made from low quality materials and easily pried open or cut with bolt cutters. Look for these features when purchasing a padlock:

  • Double locking shackle at the toe and heel
  • Hardened steel shackle, the larger the diameter the better
  • Five pin tumbler
  • Key retaining feature (prevents removal of the key when unlocked)
  • A strong steel hasp should be used with the padlock

Sliding Windows
Sliding glass windows should be given the same security treatment as arcadia doors. Use the same supplementary locks or screws in the frame. Screws installed in the track above the sliding window frame will prevent the window from being lifted out of the track.

Drill a pilot hole in the top track above each corner of the window frame and install a screw into each hole. Adjust the screws so that the head of the screw just barely clears the frame when it is moved back and forth.

Casement - Crank Windows
These windows are easily secured. The latch should close properly with the window tight. With the latch in a closed position, drill a small hole through the latch frame and handle. Insert a metal pin through the hole to lock the window.

For additional security, a small padlock can be used in place of the pin. Key operated replacement latches are also available from a locksmith or hardware store. Keep the key handy in case of emergency.

Double Hung Windows
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 the pin (a nail or an eyebolt which is slightly smaller in diameter than the hole). The window can't be opened until you remove the pin. Make a second set of holes with windows partially open so you can have ventilation without inviting intruders. You may also purchase special key locks for windows at a hardware store.

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For additional information about home safety and burglary prevention, contact the Community Affairs Office to schedule a home security inspection.