Angie's List | 3 Ways to Increase Home Security

On her way to work one morning, Katie noticed a bicycle and snow blower were missing from the garage.

Katie says, "I'm not a fearful person. I tend to be careful, but not fearful. So more than anything, I was just really really frustrated and irritated and a little, more than a little angry. And secondly felt a little foolish because the side door of the garage had been—was unlocked. It had an old lock on it, we didn't have a key, so it wasn't secured."

"If you're concerned about security around your home a great improvement is to install deadbolts on your doors. This can be done for about $100 a lock," suggests Angie Hicks.

Katie agrees, "It cost less than two hundred dollars. And that included the cost of the deadbolt lock and the keys. It was worth it because the bike was worth well more than that, and the snow blower, which fortunately, we haven't had to use it since it was stolen – we wouldn't have had to use it, but it was worth the investment and we were really pleased that he was willing to come out so quickly."

When selecting a lock you need to realize that not all locks are created equally so you want to check with the American National Standards Institute to find the rating for each lock you are considering.

Angie says, "Before you invest in locks for your door the first thing you want to do is make sure you have a good door because it doesn't do any good to put a lock on a bad door. Check your door frame to make sure it's in good condition and then make sure you've got a solid door. If you knock on the door a solid door will sound "dead" when you knock while a hollow door is going to echo."

According to the latest FBI statistics, there were 2,159,878 burglaries in the U.S. in 2010, resulting in $4.6 billion in property loss. Out of all burglaries, more than 60 percent were the result of forced entry. Residential burglaries accounted for 74 percent, and more than half occurred during the daytime.

You can enhance the security of your home without spending a fortune with these three simple measures.

Door Locks:
• A deadbolt is a type of lock that has a steel bolt that extends into the door jamb and strike plate of a door frame. The most common type is the single cylinder deadbolt – which is operated by a twist knob on the inside of the door and a key on the outside.
• Locksmiths say unless you have working deadbolt locks and actually use them, your home isn't secure.
• For around $100 per door, you can have a high quality deadbolt installed.
• If the deadbolts are not functioning properly or they are inadequate, the intruder can kick the door in.
• Organizations like the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) give quality ratings that range from one to three. One represents the highest quality so check the lock before buying.
• New homeowners should have their locks changed, because there is no way to know who previously had keys to the home.

• The best lock in the world isn't going to make a difference if the overall quality of your door, doorjamb, and door frame are poor.
• Replace the door. Many exterior doors are designed with security in mind, using reinforced glass or small windows away from the lock to prevent a burglar from reaching in.
• The most secure door feature is a solid core, not a hollow one. To check this, knock on your door: solid doors sound "dead," while hollow doors will echo. To improve security, replace any hollow entry door with one made of metal, fiberglass, solid wood, as they can't be kicked in or broken easily.
• Hiring Tip: Have a professional locksmith assess locks and doors. Only a trained professional can spot the kinds of vulnerabilities that make burglars' lives easier.

• The installation and proper placement of outdoor lighting can enhance the security of a home. Security lighting should be mounted high enough to prevent tampering. Security lights can also be protected by a plastic guard or metal mesh cage.
• When placing and aiming exterior lights, they should illuminate the homeowner's property; however, they should not shine through the neighbors windows. While the initial adjustments can be made during the day, fine-tuning should be done after dark. If used with security cameras, lights should be placed and adjusted to prevent excessive glaring and shadows.
• It's also wise to have a security lighting plan for the interior of the home, especially if you plan to be away for an extended period of time. Security experts recommend using timers to control interior lighting. The best timers will allow random settings so there is no fixed pattern to signal the homeowner's absence.
• Security lighting can lose its effectiveness if it's overused, or not used properly. Security lighting that remains on all night is sometimes ignored, and activity in the area may go unnoticed. Motion sensors can help alleviate the problem by drawing attention to any activity.

Katie tells us, "One of the things that we had on our garage that especially in the winter I make sure is on every night is a flood light. It has a motion detector on it, so it, when I walk out to my garage door in the morning, my garage in the morning, it flips on."

Lighting Contractor Ralph Redmond says,  "A lighting system will keep you safe, your home safe in a couple of ways. One is well lit pathways, stairways and safer to navigate, plus you'll be able to see tripping hazards if those exist. The other thing is that those of criminal intent would prefer to work under the cover of darkness, so a well-lit home will discourage those sorts of activities."

When installing security lighting the key is to make sure you are using them properly. Lights that are left on all the time are often ignored and may not be a sign that you are actually home. Using lights that are on sensors are a much better choice.

"The newest type of controls have a lot of functionality and they are easy to use. They can turn the systems on and off at the times that you desire, even multiple times during the day if you choose, and they also adjust everyday automatically for the current dusk and dawn times so that is attractive to a lot of people who don't want to follow the seasons around and adjust the lights," Ralph explains.

He continues, "There are lots of brightness and beam spread options with the fixtures, the types of fixtures themselves, and the different techniques that are available may not be known to a typical homeowner. There's also technical reasons such as getting the correct voltage to the fixtures and making sure circuits are loaded correctly so there are not problems with the electrical system."

If you are hiring a locksmith to help with some of these security projects around your house do your research ahead of time. Make sure that you are using a reputable, local locksmith. They should come in a marked vehicle and you should be able to pay by check or credit card. You should not be expected to pay in cash.


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