Security Hardware for windows and doors
The Arizona Republic
Right now, the hot trend in burglaries is lock-bumping, a technique widely explained in videos on YouTube, in fact. One video has actually been viewed more than 8 million times. Potential thieves can buy a bump-key online for as little as $3. You can even find instructions on the Web for making a bump-key yourself.
European locksmiths originally developed lock-bumping to use in their work, but it’s catching on recently among the wrong kinds of people. In this assault on your home, a burglar inserts the specially cut key into the lock, then strikes it with a hammer or screwdriver. For a brief moment, the impact forces pins in the lock to move slightly so that the door can be opened.
“One of the scary things about lock-bumping,” says Robert Vallelunga, owner of Acme Lock in Mesa, “is that when a burglar leaves and closes the door, except for the things missing from your house, there is no evidence of a break-in or that the lock was tampered with. It simply looks as though you left your door open.”
So if you have hardware that is more than three years old, you may need to replace it with bump-proof deadbolt locks with a one-inch throw. Many manufacturers, including Baldwin, Schlage and Kwikset, now offer assorted products that can stop lock bumping.
Here are several other changes to make in your doors to increase your safety:
- Change flimsy doors to solid core or solid wood replacements.
- Add a security screen door to your front and back doors. Each should have a deadbolt fastened to the house with tamper-proof bolts.
- Create a way to see who is at your front door before you open it. Wide-angle peep holes are easy to install.
- Reinforce the jamb to make kicking in your door more difficult.
- If you have recently moved into your home or you had a lot of workers going in and out of your house, have your locks rekeyed.
So now that you have secured your doors, what about those sliding glass doors? In the past few years, door and window manufacturers have produced new models with burglar-proof locks.
But these doors in older homes may still be vulnerable. Many homeowners with out-of-date sliding glass doors put wooden dowels in the door tracks for protection. Using nothing more than a screwdriver though, bad guys can still lift these doors up out of the track. The old-fashioned butterfly locks don’t help much either.
However, in the past year, relatively inexpensive, double-bolted locks have come on the market that can be installed on your sliding glass doors to keep them from being lifted off-track. They are put on just above the existing latches and are less visually intrusive than security bars.
Finally, think about making changes in your garage door set-up. Although most newer electronic garage door openers do not have codes that burglars can “crack,” crooks have become adept at manually deactivating your system. They take a wire coat hanger, stick it between the door and frame, and then hook it on the cord that you use to disarm your electronic opener. With a sharp pull on the cord, they engage the safety release for the opener. Then they can raise the garage door and work on getting into your house from inside the garage.
To frustrate them, you can remove the cord completely. Then get a wooden dowel and screw a tea cup hook in the end of it. Place the dowel in a convenient spot in the garage so you can hook it onto the door release mechanism at any time that you might need to do it.
We also recommend installing a manual slide lock on your garage door so that no one can open the door when you’re gone on an extended vacation.
All these hardware changes can create a much more physically secure house and hopefully give you more peace of mind.
Next week we’ll talk about how to choose a security company and what these services have to offer you for improving safety at your house.
For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the Rosie on the House radio program from 8-11 a.m. Saturdays on KTAR-FM (92.3) in Phoenix, KQNA-AM (1130) in Prescott and KAZM-AM (780) in Sedona, KAFF-AM (930) in Flagstaff and KNST-AM (790) in Tucson. Call 888-767-4348.