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Don’t Overlook Basement Security

If you are like most of us, you probably don’t think much about the security of your basement. However, you might want to start doing that. Why? Because burglars love to get into homes by crawling into the basement. They know that most people don’t put a lot of security there, so it gives them easy access. Here are some tips to ensure your basement is locked up tight:

  • If you have a door leading to the basement, make sure there is a good lock on it. Also, get a good, solid door. If the door is hollow, it’s very easy to kick in. Try to install the door so that it opens outwards. This way, it’s very difficult to kick in.
  • Speaking of kicking in, if your door opens inward as most do, you need to reinforce that door and the door frame. Check out the Door Devil door reinforcement kit. It makes kicking in a door extremely difficult.
  • Make sure all windows to the basement are visible from the outside. Windows hidden by shrubbery are perfect windows for burglars to get into since you can’t see them. A dark night paired with dark clothing with the covering of a shrub makes a burglar almost invisible.
  • Speaking of the windows, you should also consider placing bars across basement windows. There are different types of bars on the market, and some are quite beautiful. So, you can improve the look of your home while also securing it.
  • If bars aren’t your thing, you can also install security film onto the windows. This way, if a burglar tries to break the window, the glass will remain in place. You can install this film yourself quite easily.
  • If you have a security system or motion sensors, which you should, make sure that the basement windows and doors are covered by them. Make sure that your basement windows are also monitored for glass breaking, too. Also, consider putting a sticker on those windows to let burglars know that your home has a security system in place.
  • Secure your home from the inside by keeping things like chairs or ladders away from windows. Even if a burglar gets through the glass, they might think twice about jumping several feet down onto the basement floor.
  • Keep valuables out of site. Don’t showcase all of your belongings to just anyone who looks in the window. Burglars often target homes when they can see the valuables inside. If they can’t see anything of value, it’s often not worth the risk. So, put valuables away or move them to an area of the basement where they can’t be seen. Also, consider putting up curtains or frosted glass sheets so burglars can’t see inside.
  • If your basement is the equivalent of a man cave/sports bar equipped with neon lights, know you will be a target. So do everything above.

These are just a few tips to help keep your basement, and ultimately, your home, as safe as possible by simply utilizing the practices above, you can greatly decrease the chances that a burglar could get into your home through the basement.

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

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

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.