If you have ever experienced a break in, you have probably seen that more often then not, thieves look for vulnerability in the lock so they can damage it quickly and get in and out. Growing up in the trade, I’ve seen a lot of different break-ins and thefts; since I started with my dad at age 5. There was one location we went to where thieves used stolen cars and backed into the doors of the store to get entry. Thankfully, most thieves will not resort to this level of brute force. Like anything else, you can spend money beefing up security and still be vulnerable. What you need to consider is how a person can work around your locks. For instance, contrary to what most people believe, a double key deadbolt is only more secure if you have a window in or next to door. In fact the outside half of a single sided and double sided deadbolt are the same. The guts are identical, the only difference is the tail pieces are different to accommodate the additional space taken by the inside cylinder. Here are some things that will help.
1. Most commonly the damage I see is to the latch. If the gap between the door and jamb is wide or you have excessive play in the door when it’s closed, you give thieves more access to pry on or slip the latch. You want to make sure the door is able to close tight but not too tight. You can accomplish this by adjusting the strike plates on the jamb, moving them into the center will tighten the doors play. If you have an out swinging door, you can put on a latch guard; these are fairly inexpensive and block access to the latch from the outside. We install latch guards and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
2. If you have a door with a window on or near it, the main concern is somebody can break the glass and reach in to unlock the door. This is where a double key deadbolt will add security, as you need a key to unlock it from the inside. You can also use tamper proof screws to keep anyone from removing them.
3. In situations where you have a commercial building, fire code will often require levers on doors that remain locked from the outside. An example would be the back door going to the alley. Unfortunately this gives thieves cover to attack the lock itself; they will often break the handle which allows them access to unlock the door. Luckily with commercial settings they make all kinds of awesome hardware to keep your business safe. In fact for the above situation, there’s a lever made in America by MARKS that addresses this. The handle has a “clutch” built in. This allows the lever to rotate without opening the door this makes it difficult to snap the handle off, as you have less leverage. Additionally they have a breakaway point which further reduces the leverage available.
4. With any door with a lever, you want to make sure the gap at the bottom isn’t too big, as a home made under the door tool can be used to unlock the door from inside. Installing a door sweep can prevent this.
5. It’s important to keep in mind that residential doors are often inswinging. This makes them more vulnerable to being kicked in as there is no molding to brace them. Adding a slide bolt that goes into the floor on the inside will add an additional brace for this. If possible one going into the header as well may help. However you would need to exit through another door such as a garage door for this to be effective while you are away.
6. There’s been a rise in break ins using what’s called a bump key. In my opinion there are more effective ways to gain access. However, if you are concerned with this you can have your locks upgraded with “mushroom” pins, making them harder to pick or bump due to the shape of the pins. While rarely ever does anybody pick locks to break in, almost no residential locks are pick proof. In fact, most commercial locks are lockable as well. However, if you are truly worried about this, we can always install heavier grade commercial locks on your door; just remember if you get locked out, you may pay a higher cost to get in.