By Don Logay
Today’s thieves have new “tools” that make burglaries easier than ever and they are getting smarter at determining when is a good time to break into your home or business.
As an example, consider “lock bumping.” Haven’t heard of it? Just Google lock bumping and you’re in for a shock. After viewing a few video clips, you’ll be surprised to see how easy it easy it is to do and how available these low-tech tools are to virtually anyone who wants them.
All a thief has to do is insert a special “bump key” into a lock, give it a couple of taps and they can open any standard dead bolt or lockset just like they had your individually cut key.
You may also be shocked to find that you are one of many who are actually inviting thieves to “target” your home or business for a robbery.
How? Today’s social networking sites – such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace – are filled with information that thieves just love. Telling the world that you are going on vacation or simply out shopping for the day is all is takes to start an online search that provides your address (and even a map to your house) that, in turn, leads to quick breaking and entering.
If in doubt, just check out a new web site called “Please Rob Me” at www.pleaserobme.com. Also click on the “Why?” link on the right side.
Improve Entry Door Security
Burglars pretty much gain entry the same way we do – though a door. FBI stats show 65 percent of break-ins occur by unlocking, forcing or kicking in the front door (34%), back door (21%) or garage entry door (10%). This year alone there will be over six million such burglaries at a rate of one every 15 seconds.
While new tricks like lock bumping will open almost any standard lockset or dead bolt, there are also counter measures one can take to foil such entry.
First, there are high-security dead bolt locks – such as those by Medeco and Schlage Primus – that are bump key and pick proof and cost upwards of $100, and they are a great start. Still, even with an upgraded lock system, should someone have a key (or think to look under the door mat or anywhere else we often hide keys) – they can still gain entry.
Another option then are “keyless” locks that use a personal four-digit code for entry. Readily found at most home center stores, today they are surprisingly affordable and rapidly gaining in popularity.
Beyond Better Locks – What’s New?
As the unofficial “What’s New Guru” of the home improvement industry, I attend numerous trade shows throughout the year and scour lots of magazines and trade publications looking for new products that make life just a little better – and in this case – a bit safer.
My checklist includes simplicity, ingenuity, affordability and great end results. Here are a few recent finds and tips for upgrading entry door security:
Dead Bolt Secure™, introduced at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, offers a low-cost, ingenious solution that makes standard dead bolt locks (with a lever or twist-type inside handle) virtually bump-key and pick-proof. It even blocks entry with a legitimate key. A simple spring-loaded device installs in minutes and flips down to prevent a dead bolt’s handle form turning – no matter how it is being unlocked. The best part? It only costs $9.95 at www.arclink.net.
I’ve Been Framed (It’s a Good Thing)
Even with better locks or a secured dead bolt, a thief intent on getting in will simply kick in a door. Usually, one good kick will break out the frame at the point where the dead bolt goes into the hole of the metal strike plate – and it only takes less than 2 seconds to kick in a door.
Strengthening the strike plate is a great first step. Dead bolt strike plates come with two very short screws that only hold it in place. An easy upgrade is to remove the short screws and install much longer ones (3” to 3-1/2”) that go into the building’s structural doorframe. Be sure to drill deeper pilot holes first.
An even better frame upgrade is another inexpensive – yet highly effective – product called Universal Burglar Shield. It is a pre-engineered strip of steel that adds strength to the existing soft wood of door jambs. The unique design aligns strike plate holes with any deadbolt and door lock configuration from 0″ to 17 1/2″ apart. Easy to install, it costs only $14.95 at www.burglarshield.com.
Beyond improving lock security and strengthening the door fame, there are a wide array of additional items available and many ways to make entry doors safer. These range from also adding interior security bars to installing electronic alarm systems and outdoor motion-sensor security lighting.
Burglaries are on the rise. The best defense: upgrade security (starting with entry doors), eliminate obvious invitations (looking unoccupied, accumulating newspapers, etc.) and be ever so smart information-wise – and together, let’s all take a bite out of crime. Woof!
Don Logay is an award-winning home improvement writer. Former Editor-in-Chief of top three professional remodeling magazines, he also created the widely quoted annual study for remodeling investment and return. Today Logay also writes homeowner tips heard daily on hundreds of radio stations nationwide. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org .