Unlike the elaborate tunneling operations of bank heist movies, most home burglars in real life simply go in the front door. Breaking or removing the front door is the most common form of forced-entry burglary, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. You can ward off many thieves by simply locking the door, as at least 30 percent of burglaries don’t involve a forced entry. To keep away more aggressive burglars, take these steps to reinforce your door, locks and doorframe.
Burglar-Proof Your Door
Choose the best material for entry doors. Your front and back doors should be stronger than interior doors, which are typically made of flimsy wood sheets over cardboard facing and a hollow core. Reinforced steel entry doors are the most secure, but they are susceptible to rust and require more maintenance than fiberglass, which is a second good option. Solid wood doors are a third choice.
Look for high-quality, reinforced doors. Also, avoid glass panels in the door or sidelights next to it, when possible. If you do have glass panels within reach of the doorknob, use stronger laminated glass and a double-cylinder deadbolt that is keyed on the inside. This prevents burglars from smashing the glass, reaching in, and turning the latch. Be aware that this measure of burglar-proofing compromises security in case of a fire. It may even be against code in some areas.
Make sure that entry doors are hung correctly. The hinges should be on the inside, and there should be a secure, tight screw in each hole. A properly hung, secure door is harder to break down. If the hinges must be outside, add locking pins to the hinges.
Burglar-Proof Your Locks
Equip every exterior door with a deadbolt with a bolt at least one inch long. As an added measure of security, consider a second deadbolt that locks from the inside but only has a blank faceplate outside. This type of lock doesn’t help when no one’s home, but it can prevent a dangerous home invasion burglary while you are inside.
Look for locks certified by the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA). Medeco makes possibly the best locks on the market. The company claims the Pentagon and White House use Medeco locks, which are difficult to duplicate and protect against drilling, picking, and “bumping.” A new way to pick locks with a universal key, bumping is gaining notoriety thanks to how-to videos posted around the Internet. Medeco’s high-security locks were famously picked at a hacker conference in 2008, but the company has since fixed the vulnerability.
Hire a certified professional locksmith. For maximum home security, have a pro install Medeco or other high-quality deadbolt locks.
Burglar-Proof the Frame
The most vulnerable parts of the door are often overlooked -- the jamb and frame. A burglar can still kick in a solid door with a solid lock if the lock goes into a thin strike plate and a flimsy pine frame. Burglarproof your door frame in these ways:
Replace the flat strike plate. Install a deeper box strike, which is a steel pocket for the bolt, and add three-inch screws that drive into the studs rather than just the doorjamb.
Reinforce the door jamb with steel. Door Jamb Armor is a popular option that adds a strip of galvanized steel around the entire door. The manufacturer claims the product can withstand a battering ram.
Burglar-Proof Your Home
Install an alarm system. Because most criminals are looking for an easy way to break in, reinforcing your door, locks, and doorframe can deter many burglaries. For added protection, get an alarm system. Statistics suggest homes without security systems are three times as likely to be burglarized.
Keep your entryway visible. Avoid fencing, shrubs, or trees that will block the view of the front door and provide cover for a criminal. Regularly prune any foliage. Install outdoor security lighting.