Posts

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.

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.

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.

What your Locksmith might not tell You

If your deadbolt has begun to malfunction, and you haven’t been using it because you fear the key will get jammed in it—perhaps it’s time to call a locksmith and have him fix it.

1HWell, not so fast. This is not the way to go if you want to upgrade your door’s security—its ability to withstand forceful kicking by a burglar. Kicking in doors is a common way for intruders to gain entry.

You’ve made the right move by deciding to get a new, stronger deadbolt; any dolt could gain entry via that keyhole in the doorknob. But you still want a good lock in that doorknob nonetheless. Here are more tips:

  • Have your door replaced with a solid wood or metal one if it’s currently hollow wood.
  • Your new door should not have a window (an intruder could break it and dismantle the locks).
  • If your current door is solid wood or metal, and has a big window, then at least have metal bars placed over the window.
  • Hinges should not be visible (and thus prone to removal by someone on the outside) to the burglar.
  • Have a peephole on the door.
  • The door jamb is a crucial part of the door. Low grade ones will give way to a few good kicks. You can strengthen the door jamb with steel plates.
  • Of course, you know to replace any lame deadbolt with a top-notch deadbolt, but it’s even better to have two deadbolts. But the second one should be one-sided, for interior use. Obviously, you can’t do anything with it from the outside (and neither can a burglar), but it will give you that extra security when you’re inside by having it locked.
  • Yet another layer of security is a cross bar. As its name implies, it’s a bar that goes across the door inside. A steel one is best.
  • For portability use a door brace. Stick it under the doorknob, and the other end affixes to the floor, so that the device is angled from floor to doorknob. The biggest problem with this, perhaps, is forgetting to put it in place. Many people have these devices…leaning uselessly against the wall next to the door. It takes only five seconds to set it in place. Whatever you have to increase the kick-in-proofness of your door, you should implement; no excuses.
  • For rockstar door security install door reinforcement. 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: Check out the Door Devil Anti Kick Door Jamb Security Kit.

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

Most Locks are stupid easy to pick

I hate to say this, but…any dummy can learn to pick a lock. This means that the locks on your house’s doors are probably very “pickable” unless you have a top-flight lock system—which few homes actually have.

1BAn article on lifehacker.com describes how easy it was for the writer to pick a lock from a lockpick set. He discovered that this type of lock isn’t much different than door locks. He also makes a point about the term “pick resistant.” This doesn’t mean “pick preventable.”

Don’t count on your average door locks to be pick resistant. They are pick easy. Grade 1 locks are the most pick resistant, while Grade 3 are easy.

The article also notes that a fancy looking lock might entice a thief to try to pick it, as he’ll assume a fancy lock means lots of valuables inside. A Grade 1 deadbolt doesn’t have to look snazzy, though.

The author also writes that there are other ways than picking to get past a lock.

  • Bump keys. You can get these at a hardware store or online. Their ridges can line up with a lock’s pins and open it. These are truly master keys to most house doors.
  • Lock snapping. Apply pressure to the lock and snap it in half. However, few locks these days are made this weak.
  • Credit cards. Sticking a credit card in between the door and frame really does work—but not for deadbolts.

Many burglars use non-picking methods. The bottom line is that average locks are just plain weak. But not all intruders care to buff up their lock picking skills. Impulsive intruders, such as teen boys, just want to get in without being savvy about it, so they’ll often kick open a door, smash through a window or ring the doorbell till someone answers and force their way in. Heck, they may even do what so often they do: waltz through an unlocked door.

The FBI says that most burglars get in via forced entry. But it greatly helps to have great door locks. Intruders don’t want to get noticed. They don’t want to set off every dog within a hundred yards barking. They usually really care about being as sneaky as possible. But if they lack lock picking skills, they’ll likely give up on a well-protected house.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Everything You need to know about Door Security

“I don’t need to lock my doors all the time; this neighborhood is very safe.” And I have some land in the Caribbean I’d like to sell you.

1BBurglars know that every “safe neighborhood” has a certain percentage of fools who think they’re immune to break-ins. And thieves would rather intrude upon a home with lots of nice things—and these homes are usually in “nice neighborhoods.” Hello?

Big mistakes:

  • Leaving doors unlocked
  • Keeping doors locked—but the lock system sucks

I hope you don’t fall into either of the above categories.

What you see on TV is true: Locked doors CAN be kicked open. Builders of homes don’t have the future resident’s security in mind. They cut corners whenever possible. You can bet a new home has a crappy door lock. And an old home, for that matter. Any determined thief could get past these doors even when they’re locked.

But there’s hope. Lots of it. First of all, keep your doors locked. Even if the lock isn’t too great. After all, many times a thief will give up after learning the door is locked. Many burglars are very impatient and want a quick, quiet job. But since you can’t read the mind of the next crook who prowls your neighborhood, it’s best that you get optimal door security.

 First-Line Door Security

  • The door frame on the lock and hinge sides should be reinforced.
  • Think “door reinforcement” Metal plates reinforcing the door jam is fundamental to door security See Door Devil.
  • Wood doors should be solid hardwood all around.
  • Getting a peephole.
  • Don’t answer the door. Don’t feel you must answer the door every time someone’s there. It’s not a crime to ignore the visitor. If you’re not expecting anyone, it’s safest to just ignore them. It’s extremely unlikely that they’re about to die from dehydration or hemorrhaging; assume whatever they want is not a matter of life and death.
  • If you have a door that’s not visible to people passing by, this door especially needs optimal security.
  • A steel-clad door should have 24-guage steel and a wood lockblock core.
  • Hardened steel deadbolts are a must and should have a five-pin tumbler. Associated screws should be as long as they come for deadbolts. Deadbolts should have wrap-arounds.
  • Consider a vertical deadbolt or multi-lock deadbolt for maximal security.
  • Another layer of maximal security is the grade of door hardware, whereas grade 1 is the highest; grade 2 is moderate; and grade 3 is so-so.
  • Beware of flimsy screws!

Adjuncts to Door Security

  • Use a door brace (metallic pole that has one end fitting under doorknob and the other end securely on the floor, out at an angle, to prevent the door from opening).
  • A door stop or wedge will probably not stop a brute-force push-in, but a door stop can be equipped with an alarm that will trip if someone tries to push their way in.
  • Don’t bother with the door chains that you so often see on TV. We’ve all seen it: The bad guy is on the other side of the door while the apprehensive woman is speaking to him through that small opening. He then pushes on the door and breaks the chain. This can really happen!

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

15 Tips to Keep Your Home Safe During the Holiday Season

Most people don’t like that “fall back” time change every November, but you know who does? Burglars. Burglars love to “fall back” because it gives them more time to practice their criminal activities thanks to the earlier veil of darkness. This is also a convenient time for them as the holiday season is upon us and most people have a lot of newly purchased gifts in our homes. Perfect bait for burglars.

2BIn general, most homeowners will take precautions around Christmas time to prevent fires due to Christmas lights, yet they do not take extra security measures to prevent home robbery. Though fire prevention is certainly important, your home is far more likely to attract the eyes of a burglar than to go up in flames. So, here are 15 ways that you can keep the burglars away:

  1. Keep doors locked at all times. This is true even when you are home, and even when it’s light out.
  2. Keep your windows locked, even those on the second floor. Burglars DO have climbing skills.
  3. Use door reinforcements and top-flight locks.
  4. Keep the curtains and blinds closed. This will ensure that no one can take a peek at your valuables.
  5. Install security films on the windows. These help to prevent the penetration of objects such as a baseball bat or crow bar.
  6. Give your home a “lived-in” look with a home automation technology system. Many of these can be controlled by a model device or scheduled to turn lights on or off at a specific time.
  7. Collect your newspaper and mail as soon as they arrive.
  8. Place a large pair of men’s work boots near the door, and make sure they are scuffed up to make them look worn.
  9. Put a large dog bowl near the entryways of the home, but make sure it looks realistic. Do this by adding a chewed up toy or large leash to the scene.
  10. Make sure there is no shrubbery crowding entry points of the home.
  11. Go to Google news, and type in the phrase “door kicked in” along with your city and state. You will be shocked by the results. To protect yourself, consider a device such as Door Devil, which is a high-level door reinforcement device.
  12. If you have a garage, make sure you are packing and unpacking gifts from the car inside of the garage so no one can see what you purchased.
  13. Don’t advertise your Christmas gift purchases on social media, as many thieves use social media to find potential victims.
  14. Make an investment into a home security system. The best systems provide a clear view of what is happening in the home on your mobile device when you are not there.
  15. If you have a car parked out in the drive, place a pair of men’s gloves on the dash. Most burglars will think twice if they believe there is a large man living in the home.

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

How to Burglar Proof your Doors

Burglars love doors; they frequently gain entry by kicking them down and even using less aggression to get into a house—and that includes simply opening the door because it’s not locked.

2HDon’t believe that if a burglar wants to rob you badly enough, he’ll figure out a way to get in. While there is no such thing as 100% secure, in many cases, you CAN prevent a burglary. Since when do burglars enjoy the possibility of being seen messing around with someone’s front door for 20 minutes? Make it hard for them, make your house a tough target and they will move on.

  • Burglar proofing your door begins with making sure you have a decent door to start with, then building up from there. But first, let’s briefly discuss USING the lock that’s there. Often, burglars and home invaders get in by, as already mentioned, simply opening an unlocked door. If the occupant isn’t home, it’s a burglary. If they’re home, it’s a home invasion. If you’re home, even in the middle of the day, have all doors LOCKED. This costs you no time, muscle or brainstorming to pull off.
  • A locked door will stop many burglars, but not all. A hollow door is no good. If your door is hollow, you’ll need to replace it. If the door sounds hollow when you knock on it, it probably is.
  • To make a door kick-down proof, get a door that opens outward, towards someone standing outside of it. And as impossible as it seems to bust through a door like this, that’s not enough, however. A door should not have windows that could be broke and the locks accessed. Forget the décor and think security.
  • Many people don’t like the idea of a door that opens outward, which is all the more reason that more layers of security are needed besides having a solid wood door or a metal fire retardant door with no windows. And that begins with a deadbolt. The deadbolt does not replace the regular lock; it’s an addition. If you already have a deadbolt, look at it. Can you see screws on the outside? If so, replace it with one with screws only on the inside. The throw bolt should be at least one inch.
  • Install a peephole. Opening the door to see who’s there defeats the purpose of whatever deadbolt or reinforcements you have; once the door’s open, you’re game. Don’t think for a second that a determined intruder can’t bust one of those chain thingies that connect the door to the frame. The peephole should allow for a wide-angle view and have a cover so that an outsider can’t reverse the view with a reverse peephole viewer.
  • Do you know what a lock cylinder is? It’s where you stick the key in. Burglars can work these off. A metal guard plate can be installed around the cylinder to prevent removal.
  • Look at the door’s hinges. They should not be on the outside unless the door open out. If they are, they can be secured with non-removable hinge pins. For hinges on the inside, secure them with three-four-inch screws.
  • Examine the strike plate—the metal plate that’s around the door’s lock-set screwed into the door jamb. The strike plate should be heavy duty metal but the “stock” one you have is insufficient. The door jamb itself is made up of weak ½ inch pine and can easily be kicked in. Beef that puppy up with “door reinforcement” such as the Door Devil Door Reinforcement Kit. Not having reinforcement makes you an easy target.
  • What about the door frame? This counts, too. A weak door frame can be pried with a crowbar. The frame should be secured to the wall with several three-inch screws that reach the wall stud.

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

Deadbolt, gotta gotta have It

Deadbolts aren’t hyped up; they really are superior to regular knob locks. Though we keep shaking our head in amazement whenever yet another news story comes out about a burglar or rapist who waltzed through an unlocked door and committed mayhem, it remains a hard fact that many criminals gain entry via physical force.

1BYes, what you see in movies and TV shows is true: People CAN kick open a locked door—that’s either missing a deadbolt, has a faulty one or simply because a door jamb itself is just half inch pine. In that case, door reinforcement technologies are needed. Read on.

Nearly 60 percent of burglaries are forced-entry. Many occur during the day. Face it; at a minimum, you need a deadbolt. It can be either single-cylinder or double-cylinder (check the legality regarding doubles).

The door jamb will have a hole for the bolt to extend fully into—partially isn’t good enough. A metal strike plate should reinforce the hole. If both of these factors are not in place, an intruder can force open the door.

In addition, the strike plate should be fastened into the studs of the door frame with three-inch screws.

Finally…the deadbolt needs to be USED. It’s easier to always ensure this if you have a single-cylinder because it requires just a turn of its knob (from the inside). The double-cylinder requires a key from the inside—in place of that little knob. So every time you come home and lock the deadbolt, you’ll need a key. Every time you want to step outside…you’ll need a key to unlock it. Double deadbolts are a little dangerous too due to fires as well. So not recommended.

However, if you have the single-cylinder, and your door is right beside a window, an intruder could smash through the window and reach in and turn the knob of the single-cylinder, unlocking it.

Door Security

  • If you don’t want the hassle of a double-cylinder, consider replacing the door so that windows aren’t close enough to it for an intruder’s arm to reach through.
  • The decision isn’t whether or not to get a deadbolt; it’s what type of deadbolt and door…because it can’t be said enough: A door with only a regular lock can easily be kicked in—by a slight woman—because the standard lock involves a few little screws, one or two little strike plates and a thin pine wood door frame with thin molding.
  • However, this thin wood can be empowered by the Door Devil Anti Kick Door Jam Security Kit. It’s a four-foot-long bar of steel that’s one-sixteenth-inch thick. It gets installed on the center of the door jamb, over the little strike plates. An intruder must get past this; fat chance, because four feet of the door frame will absorb the intruder’s attempted force.
  • The Door Devil’s thick screws are three and a half inches long, and when placed into the 2 x 4 studs (also part of the kit) behind the frame, reinforce the door hinges.
  • You might be thinking, if an intruder is determined enough, he’ll keep kicking till the door busts. What do you think an intruder is, a kickboxing instructor? If he can’t dismantle the door after two, maybe even one, kick, he’ll move on to the next house.
  • Of course, he might not want to even try to kick down your door if he notices a surveillance camera above it—after the motion detector light beams onto him.

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