Security is Layered – There is NO Home Security Magic Bullet

Is your home secure? You might believe it is, but if you aren’t using layered security, it’s probably not as secure as you think. What’s layered security? It means that you aren’t putting all of your eggs in one security basket. Instead, you are using multiple methods to ensure that you are as safe as possible. The reality is there is NO home security magic bullet. Home security requires a mix of layers Here are some ways to layer your home security:

Protection Dogs

Our furry friends, whether big or small, as long as they are territorial, can offer deterrence and defense. Barking dogs bring attention to the situation and also make burglars think twice. A dog that bites is enough to scare any burglar away.

Windows, Doors, and Locks

Have you changed your locks recently? If you are like most of us, probably not. However, locks are essential to keep the bad guys out. Change those locks to quality locks that cant be easily picked or “bumped” and make sure that you are locking your doors and windows at all times…especially when you leave or at night.

The Yard

Taking care of your yard is another important part of layering security. First, a yard that is neat and tidy shows a burglar that you are around. However, a burglar can also use your yard to their advantage. How? Trees, fences, and tall hedges make great hiding places, which allow burglars to move around unnoticed. So, make sure you keep your hedges and trees trimmed, and think about how any fencing you have can help a bugler hide.

Talk to Your Neighbors

Do you have a Neighborhood Watch? These organizations can also help to keep your home safe. The more people watching your house, the better. Plus, Neighborhood Watch signs are a good deterrent to keep burglars away.

Security Cameras

A security system with cameras is also an excellent way to deter criminals. There are different types on the market, and they are made for both indoors and outdoors. Many times, even a fake security camera can keep the bad guys away.

A Home Security System

Choosing a full-blown home security system is also important when layering security. This system should ideally include entry and motion sensors. You can also get glass break sensors. When you set up your security system, also make sure that you choose a good PIN. It should be one that you remember, but one that is not easy to guess, like an anniversary or birthdate. Ask for a panic button, too, as you never know when you might need it.

Reinforced Doors

You should consider door reinforcement. There are a number of devices on the market including door bar jammers, frame reinforcements, door braces, and deadbolt and door knob wraps. Commercial door reinforcement kits like Door Devil also work well. Made of strong, heavy steel, these devices fit over the jamb of the door, and then is screwed into the door frame.

These are just a few of the things that you can do to layer security for your home. This way, if one method stops working, you have several backups to keep those burglars at bay.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com. Disclosures.

15 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe During the Holidays

You and your family aren’t the only ones who love the holidays; burglars love them, too. Not only do they know that it gets dark earlier after the time change in November, they also know that you have a lot of newly purchased gifts in your home. It is the perfect storm.

Most homeowners take extra steps around the holiday season to protect their homes. For instance, they often take precautions with Christmas lights or candles as to not start a fire. However, most don’t take any extra security measures to prevent a home robbery. Yes, fire protection is very important, but your home is much more likely to be robbed than to go up in flames. So, here are 15 tips that you can use during this upcoming holiday season:

  1. Always keep your doors locked. This is true even in the daylight and even when you are home.
  2. Always keep your windows locked, even those that are on the second floor. Burglars can and do climb.
  3. Use high quality locks and door reinforcements.
  4. Keep all of your blinds and curtains closed. This keeps your valuables away from prying eyes.
  5. Install security film on all of your windows. These help to strengthen them and help them to hold up to things like crow bars, rocks and baseball bats.
  6. Try to make your home look “lived-in” even if you aren’t home. One way to do this is with home automation technology. These systems do things like turn on/off lights automatically, so that it looks like someone is there.
  7. Bring in your mail and newspaper as soon as they are delivered.
  8. Put a large dog bowl outside near your door. Try to make it look as realistic as possible with water inside it. Also, place a thick leash and chewed up dog toys around.
  9. Take a pair of worn men’s work boots and place them by the door. This makes it less likely that a burglar will enter because they don’t want to confront a man they can’t overpower.
  10. Clear out shrubbery around entry points. These are good hiding places for burglars.
  11. Do a Google news search with the name of your city, state, and the phrase “door kicked in.” What do you see? Likely several cases of the door getting kicked into people in your area. Use door reinforcement products.
  12. If you have a garage, use it to pack and unpack gifts into your car. If you do it outdoors, a burglar might be watching.
  13. Don’t advertise your gift purchases on your social media pages. Thieves are notorious for using social media to find victims.
  14. Invest in a security system for your home. Choose one that offers a view of what is happening in your home. You can access this via computer, tablet, or smart phone.
  15. If you park your car outside, place a pair of large men’s gloves in it. Most burglars won’t go into a house if they believe a large man lives there.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Securing Your Home’s Door: Secrets Your Locksmith Won’t Tell You

Are you making a big home security mistake? If you are leaving your doors unlocked, or if you are using low quality lock systems, you are putting yourself…and your home…at risk.

However, just because your door is locked, it doesn’t mean that a burglar can’t kick the door down. But, having the door locked can make it more difficult. This is only one secret that your local locksmith won’t tell you, but there are several more. Here are a few:

Securing Your Doors

  • Reinforce the door frame around the hinge and lock. Consider door reinforcement kits, such as Door Devil.
  • Install a peephole.
  • Don’t answer the door unless you are expecting a visitor. Tell the same to your kids.
  • Install hardened steel deadbolts. These are highly encouraged. Make sure they have a five-pin tumbler, too.
  • Consider multi-lock deadbolts or vertical deadbolts.

Accessories for Your Door to Make it More Secure

  • Consider a door brace. These will help to prevent a burglar from opening the door.
  • A wedge or door stop will likely not totally stop a burglar, but if you choose one with an alarm, anyone in the home will definitely hear it.
  • A door chain will not protect you. It doesn’t take a lot of pressure to break them.

Additional Tips for Door Security

  • Replace your hollow wood door with a metal or solid wood door.
  • Choose a door that does NOT have a window. An intruder can easily break a window and access the lock.
  • If you have a current door that DOES have a window, install attractive metal bars over the glass.
  • Make sure the hinges of the door are not visible on the outside of the door.
  • Consider installing a cross bar. This is a heavy steel bar that you can place across the inside of the door.
  • Inspect deadbolts. Any deadbolt that is low quality should be replaced. If you want to have even more security, install a second deadbolt.
  • Use door braces when you can. Take one of these braces and stick it under the knob of the door. The other end will remain on the floor at an angle to the doorknob. These are great devices, but too many people forget to put the brace up before they go to bed or leave the home. It is useless if it is just leaning against the wall, and it only takes a couple of seconds to put into place.
  • For the best door security, think about installing some type of door reinforcement kit. Imagine how secure your door would be with 1/16-inch of heavy steel. No one could kick through that! Also, imagine a four-foot metal bar that you install right over the strike plates and screw directly into the frame of the door. This will give you one tough security system on your door, and it’s exactly what the door jamb security kit from Door Devil offers. See here on YouTube.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com. Disclosures.

7 Ways to Prevent Getting Locked Out of Your Home

Be honest. Do you have a key to your house under your doormat or a flowerpot? If you do, you might as well put a sign out that says “Come rob me.” This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have a key somewhere, though. After all, you might need it one of these days. However, there are better places to hide your house key:

  • In a Lockbox – A key lockbox is a good idea. These have a combination that you will need to get into it, but, of course, you have to remember that combination.
  • In Your Car – You also might consider leaving an extra house key in your car. The glove compartment or under a floor mat are good options. Even if someone breaks in, they aren’t going to be looking for a house key.
  • In a Fake Rock – You can also use a fake tock to hide your house key, as long as it looks like a real rock, and as long as it blends in. If the fake rock stands out like a sore thumb, it’s not one that you should use.
  • Under the Siding – Hiding the house key under your siding is another method to consider. Tie thin wire or strong string to the key, and then push the key under the siding so that only the string hangs out. When you need it, simply pull the string.
  • At Another Home – Do you have neighbors that you trust? If so, consider hiding the key at their house, and then offer to allow them to hide their key at yours. Even if their key is discovered, it won’t work in your locks.
  • Upgrade to an Automatic Garage Door – If you can access your home through the garage door, consider a keypad for the garage. Then, you can simply use a code to open it. Just be cautious that you aren’t sharing the code with anyone and everyone.
  • Ditch Your House Key – Finally, consider upgrading your locks to a key-coded lock. These programs can be programed at anytime and anywhere, and they aren’t super expensive. The simplest locks are about $35, and go up to a couple of hundred, depending on the features. This will definitely solve all of your house key problems.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Busting Down the Door: 12 Ways to Stop Burglars from Entering Your Home

There is no such thing as a home that is fully burglar-proof, but there is also no such thing as burglars who have the skills of Ethan Hunt from Mission Impossible. With the right security in place, you can get your home almost burglar-proof.

When most people think of security, they only think of a few devices, and though they are great to have, they don’t protect you fully. Yes, you might have fake looking cameras that deter thieves, but what about those who try to get in anyway. Kicking the door in, which is an easy way a criminal gets into a locked home, can still be done. The only thing separating a burglar from getting in through a locked door is half inch pine molding. A 12 year old boy can kick in a door easy enough. You need to beef up your doors.

Here are some door reinforcement devices that can help:

  • Deadbolt/door knob wraps – these strengthen the immediate area around the lock
  • Door bar jammer – fits snuggly under the doorknob
  • Door brace – device that makes it more difficult to kick a door down
  • Door frame reinforcement – installed on the door jamb and made of steel

You can also use commercial kits like the Door Devil. This is a kit that contains a device made of heavy steel. It is installed over the door jamb, and is screwed directly into the frame. The system is easy to install, and it will add another level of protection to your home. When you combine this with other types of security, such as motion detection lights, surveillance cameras, and a security system, it will be very difficult for burglars to enter.

Here are some more general tips to keep your home more secure than ever before:

  1. Always keep your doors locked. Keep them locked when you are home and even during the day.
  2. Always keep your windows locked. This includes those on the second floor. A burglar can certainly climb.
  3. Keep the blinds and curtains closed. This helps to ensure that no one can look into your home to check out your valuables.
  4. Use top-flight locks and door reinforcements.
  5. Install security films on your windows. These will help to give the panes strength and will prevent penetrating objects from coming in, such as crow bars and baseball bats.
  6. Collect your mail and newspapers as soon as possible when they arrive.
  7. Give your home that ‘lived-in’ look with a system for home automation turning lights on and off.
  8. Place men’s work boots at the front or back door and make sure they look worn and scuffed. If you park your car out in the drive, place men’s gloves on the dash. If burglars see this, they will think twice as they will believe there is a large man in the home.
  9. Place a large dog bowl by the door, and make sure to make it look realistic. Add chewed up dog toys or a leash to the area, too.
  10. Make sure to trim shrubs that are hiding home entry points.
  11. Go to Google News. Type in your city and state along with the phrase “door kicked in.” You will likely be shocked by what you find. This will be more motivation to protect yourself.
  12. Make the investment into a beefy home security system. The best systems offer full alarm and police station monitoring along with cameras providing a clear view of what is happening in your home when you aren’t there. You can watch right on your mobile device.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video

These Real-Life Stories Will Show You the Importance of Door Security

If you are like most people, when you think of burglars, you think that it “won’t happen to me.” But, it very well could happen to you, because it happens each and every day across the country. I have taken some time to gather some recent real-life stories that will not only show you that it can happen to anyone at any time, it will show you how important it is to secure your doors.

Menlo Park, NJ – Series of Burglaries with the Doors Kicked Down

In less than one week, there were three burglaries in Menlo Park, NJ. All three of the homes had the doors kicked in. Jewelry, electronic devices, passports, and computers were all taken.

Milwaukee, WI – New Year’s Eve Break-In

Around 11pm on New Year’s Eve, a Milwaukee woman was the victim of a break-in when several suspects kicked her door in. Her alarm went off, scaring the burglars, and they ran off. She called 911, and police said these suspects had done the same throughout the neighborhood.

Elmwood Park, NJ – Burglar Kicks Down the Door and Steals Valuables

A woman came home to find her door kicked in and the bedroom light on. She immediately went to her neighbor’s home to call police. The burglars took jewelry and ransacked the home.

Torridge, North Devon, UK – Woman Comes Home to Find Door Kicked In

A woman came home to find her front door kicked down and her Xbox console missing. As you can see, these crimes don’t just happen in the US. This is a worldwide problem.

Lafayette, IN – Four Suspects Kick in Door

Four men kicked down an apartment door and began rummaging through a desk looking for money and marijuana. The tenant, who was home at the time, tackled one of the men, who was arrested; the other three ran away.

Chesterfield County, VA – Grandma as a Victim

An 80-year old grandmother was the victim of a home invasion in the middle of the afternoon. A group of boys kicked her door right down while she was sitting on the couch playing cards.

Boston, MA – Man Loses $4,000 in Valuables

A Boston man came home from work one day to find his door kicked in and almost $4,000 of valuables gone. This included a television, appliances, and furniture. He reported a shoe impression on the front door where burglar kicked the door.

Edmond, OK – Family Heirloom Stolen

An Oklahoma woman came home to find her door kicked in, her dogs locked up, and a treasured family heirloom missing. In addition, they took her gun, her laptop, and even the pillowcase off of her bed.

Decatur, GA – Woman Kidnapped After Her Door is Kicked Down

A daughter arrived to her mother’s home to find the door kicked down, the home ransacked, and her mother missing. She was later found safe in an adjacent county, and she claims she was kidnapped.

Portland, OR – Businesses Targeted by Thieves

Three businesses were broken into in Portland, OR at the end of January. All three of them had the doors kicked in, giving the thieves access to the stores.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com discussing Anti-Kick door reinforcement on YouTube. Disclosures.

Home Door Kick-in Prevention

Burglars love doors, because that’s their No. 1 way of gaining entry to a house. When thinking of ways to make your home safer, you should really home in on your doors.

  • Solid wood door without a window (ideally with solid wood core)
  • Top flight deadbolt (ideally two)
  • Reinforced frame and doorjamb

1BThe above elements would make it almost impossible for an MMA fighter to kick the door in. Yes, you should be thinking in terms of kick-proofing your door. By the time we’re 18, we’ve probably witnessed hundreds of door kick-ins on TV shows and in movies. No matter how many unrealistic things we’ve seen on film, one thing stands out as being very true to life: the ease of kicking in a door.

If the door has a window, we have a problem. A crook could smash through it and unlock the door. Here is where a second deadbolt, near floor level, comes in handy. If this can’t be done, then have decorative steel bars placed over the window.

A metal door is also doable for good security, as long as its interior is reinforced and it has a lockblock.

Keep in mind that even a steel door (the most secure type) can be kicked in if the lock’s screws are too short. You get what you pay for; do not cut corners when it comes to purchasing a deadbolt. They are not all the same. A good one extends deep into the doorframe.

I also recommend a one-sided keyless deadbolt for use when you’re home. As its name implies, it can’t be manipulated from the outside (which makes it impossible for an intruder to circumvent).

The doorjamb and frame should be as strong as possible. Don’t just rely on a good deadbolt. The strike plate’s screws should be three inches. Install door reinforcement technology. This beefs up the door jamb to prevent kick-ins. See Door Devil.

What about sliding doors?

  • The glass should be reinforced or replaced with polycarbonate.
  • The track should have a bar to prevent the door from being forced open.
  • Track stoppers also come in the form of small devices that screw onto the track and block the door.
  • The door should be equipped with a motion and vibration sensor that triggers an alarm.

Keep a covering over the windows as much as possible. I understand that you want your home to be bright and cheery, but find a happy medium by realizing that a burglar can get a really good look inside your house through uncovered sliding doors. For sure, keep the curtains drawn or the shades down when it’s dark out.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com discussing Anti-Kick door reinforcement on YouTube. Disclosures.

Home Security begins at the Entrance

If you were to design the ultimate security system for a house, what would you focus on? These days, many people would immediately think in terms of the most technologically advanced alarm system—one that’s voice activated, detects motion anywhere, can be remotely controlled and allows remote viewing of the home, etc.

5HBut even in this day and age of connectedness, the best security system begins with the front door. That’s because, essentially, the door is potentially your home’s weakest link—no matter how high tech the alarm system is.

Contrary to TV and movie depictions—even TV commercials for security systems—of burglars always smashing through windows in the dark (makes a noisier, more dramatic effect), by far the No. 1 entrance for an intruder is the front door. And often, it’s kicked in.

That’s because typically, only two or four mite-sized screws are holding up one or two little strike plates, attached to a weak door frame of thin pine. If you only knew how easy it is to sever pine. 10 year old kids in karate classes do this with their bare hands.

What if your door included one-sixteenth inch of heavy steel? Try kicking through that. And what about a four foot bar that’s installed over the strike plates, screwed right into the door’s frame? Wow, you have one tough-ass security system for your door: The Door Devil Anti Kick Door Jamb Security Kit. It includes:

  • Three and a half inch heavy screws, which go into 2 x 4 studs located behind the door frame
  • Steel door jamb reinforcement (48 inches): replaces the small brass strike plate
  • Three inch screws for reinforcing the door hinges

In addition, there are other things you can do to make your door more impenetrable.

  • A door bar jammer or door brace: One end fits snuggly under the doorknob, while the other end is angled out and affixed to the floor.
  • Deadbolt wrap: This will reinforce the area around the door lock.
  • A better strike plate: Thicker means better.
  • Door frame reinforcement: This steel implement is up to four feet in length, and some versions are decorative.

Of course, all of these measures add up to zero protection if you leave your door unlocked. Many intruders gain entry through unlocked doors. It’s that simple. But don’t forget that even a very determined burglar tires out and does not want to be standing there all day trying to kick down a heavily reinforced door.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com discussing Anti-Kick door reinforcement on YouTube. Disclosures.

What age is it OK to leave Kids home alone?

Sooner or later, you’ll need to leave your child home—unsupervised, alone—for an extended period. And even though you may have smart devices to keep a constant check on your child, this doesn’t mean you can instantly teleport home in the event your smart security system relays a realtime video of a kitchen fire.

12DIt’s one of the toughest challenges facing parents: At what age can they leave a child home alone without breaking the law, without endangering that child? Even if your child is older than the minimum age to be legally left alone, this doesn’t mean they’re ready to face this new chapter.

  • A very emotionally mature, 10-year-old child may be very small for their age, and a crook passing by the house may peer in and think that a seven-year-old is all alone inside—making a break-in tempting.
  • An eight-year-old may be the size of an 11-year-old, which could fool a prowler peering in, but having the mind of an eight-year-old won’t help in a crisis situation.
  • Your feisty but responsible nine-year-old may be begging to be left home alone, have passed a first-aid test and be a junior blackbelt.
  • Or, your skittish 13-year-old may be very bright, but…to put it succinctly, be a scaredy cat.
  • Is the neighborhood popular with burglars?
  • Is the child sick?

Laws are ambiguous. Just what is “adequate supervision” anyways? And is it redefined with different ages? Obviously, you don’t want to leave a nine-year-old alone for even one hour with the new, 95-pound rescue dog, or leave a young child home during a storm. A 12-year-old may seem old enough to be left home alone for a few hours, but not in charge of his two-year-old sibling.

The various U.S. states do not have clear explanations; it’s up to the parent to interpret each circumstance. And only three states specify the minimum age: Maryland is eight; Oregon is 10; and Illinois is 14 … even though many girls begin babysitting late into the night at age 11.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Step by step how to reinforce Door Locks

Don’t let the idea of reinforcing your house’s doors intimidate you. Here is step by step instruction on installing new stronger locks.

2HYour House’s Door Parts Inventory

  • Any door without a deadbolt gets a deadbolt, which should be a grade 1 or 2.
  • Are the screws of any existing deadbolts tight?
  • If you open the door and turn the knob, the deadbolt’s throw-bolt will pop out the side of the door. It should be at least one inch and appear secure.
  • The screws in the strike plates and deadbolts should be at least three inches.

Deadbolt Replacement

  • Chances are, your inferior deadbolt is held by four screws total.
  • Take the measurement of the distance between the center of the cylinder hole and the edge of the door. Write these down; you’ll need them for your new deadbolt.
  • Notate the horizontal and vertical center of the new hole.
  • Now drill, and slowly. Then test out the deadbolt. You may have to make refinements to the hole if the deadbolt doesn’t fit perfectly.
  • Before attaching the deadbolt, see if the attached throw-bolt strike plate has a flush fit.
  • Do not use a power drill to put in the screws, as this could strip the wood.

Lockset Strike Plate Replacement

  • Your new strike plate should be attached with three inch screws.
  • If the hole, through which you’re driving the screws, is too small, you’ll need to drill it out for a good fit.
  • The screws should be slightly angled to catch the framing.

Deadbolt Strike Plate Replacement

  • Your new deadbolt, upon purchase, will come with a strike plate. A very sturdy strike plate requires four screws.
  • Mark the old deadbolt strike plate’s center.
  • The new faceplate will be temporarily put in so that you can mark its position.
  • After taking out the plate, make sure that the holes through which you’ll be drilling screws will fit the screws. You may need to make adjustments to enlarge the holes.
  • Using a wood chisel, remove the wood so that the faceplate and strike box fit.
  • You’re now ready to mount the plate and box, using four screws of three inch length.

Installing strong locks is just one step in the process. However, I must say this: Kicking in a typical house door is a lot easier than reinforcing your door to make it kick-in-proof. A burglar needn’t be a karate expert or soccer player to kick open a locked door that’s inadequately secured.  Watch this video “Anti-Kick door reinforcement” on how to secure your doors with door jam reinforcement technology.

Robert Siciliano is a home and personal security expert to DoorDevil.com. Disclosures.