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Doors and locks

Doors and locks

Most burglars enter via the front, back, or garage doors. The garage door is usually the weakest point of entry followed by the back door (these also provide the most cover). So you want to make sure you have strong doors.

Outside doors should be metal or solid hardwood, and be at least 1 3/4 inches thick. Door frames should be made of equally strong material, and each door must fit its frame securely. Even the strongest most efficient lock will not keep out a determined burglar if it is placed in a weak door.

Here are some things to remember regarding doors:

  • Use a solid core or metal door for all entrance points
  • A peephole or a wide-angle viewer in the door is safer for identifying visitors than a door chain.
  • Make sure that all exterior single-swing wooden doors are of solid-core or paneled construction, with a minimum thickness of 1-3/4 inches. 
  • Hinges should be located on the inside or have non-removable pins. 
  • On all exterior double doors, install flush bolts installed at the top and bottom of the inactive door. These should be made of steel and have a minimum throw of 1 inch. 
  • For garage doors, use a multi-frequency opener on electrically-operated garage doors, and make sure that the bottom cannot be lifted up to allow a burglar to crawl under the door. 
  • Use hardened steel hinges, hasps, and padlocks on hand-lifted garage doors. 
  • Install cane bolts or sliding hasps on the inside of garage doors to provide additional security.

Sliding glass doors

Sliding glass doors are secured by latches not locks. These latches are vulnerable to being forced open from the outside. You can easily prevent this by inserting a wooden dowel or stick into the track thus limiting the door movement. Other blocking devices available are metal fold-down blocking devices called "charley bars" and various track-blockers that can be screwed down.

But blocking devices solve only half the problem. Be aware that older sliding glass doors can be lifted up and off their track (and thereby defeat the latch mechanism). To prevent lifting, you need to keep the door rollers in good condition and properly adjusted. Install anti-lift devices such as a pin that extends through both the sliding and fixed portion of the door. There are a variety of locking and blocking devices available in any good quality hardware store that will prevent a sliding door from being lifted or forced horizontally.

Place highly visible decals on the glass door near the latch mechanism that indicate that an alarm system, a dog, or block watch/operation identification is in place at your residence.


Here are some tips regarding locks:

  • Do some research before buying your locks. Ask your hardware dealer for a reputable brand or buy your locks from a locksmith. 
  • Deadbolt locks are best. They usually are locked with a key from the outside and a thumb turn on the inside. The cylinder (where the key is inserted) should be pick-resistant. 
  • Use high quality Grade-1 or Grade-2 locks on exterior doors to resist twisting, prying, and lock-picking attempts. 
  • Use a quality, heavy-duty, deadbolt lock with a one-inch throw bolt 
  • Use a quality, heavy-duty, knob-in-lock set with a dead-latch mechanism 
  • Use a heavy-duty, four-screw, strike plate with 3-inch screws to penetrate into a wooden door frame. 
  • Install single cylinder deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. Bolts should have a minimum throw of 1 inch. Strike plates should have screws that are at least 3 inches long. 
  • Re-key or change all locks when moving into a new home. 
  • Install good locks on gates, garages, sheds, etc. If padlocks are used, they should be keyed and able to survive assaults by bolt cutters or pry bars. 
  • Combination locks should not be used because they offer very poor security. 
  • Lock gates, garage doors, and shed doors after every use. 
  • Give a neighbor a key so you don’t have to hide a key outside the door (experienced burglars know to look for hidden keys in planter boxes, under doormats, and above the ledge).