Now that you’re a homeowner, do those memories and worries creep back? You’ve worked really hard to buy a nice home and everything inside, so do you worry that someone is going to come along and try to take it from you? It’s not as far-fetched as you might think. A home burglary in the US occurs every 22 seconds, so one might be happening now. Police-reported crime statistics in Canada for 2017 looks different.
While crime rates obviously vary from place to place across Canada, some common statistics emerge time and again:
- Unprotected homes (with no security system) are three times more likely to be burglarized than those with a professionally installed system.
- Single-family suburban homes have a 50-percent higher chance of being robbed vs. a similar home in a metro area.
- Surprisingly, 65-percent of home invasions happen during daytime hours when no one is home.
- Up to one-third of all burglaries occur through an unlocked door or open window instead of a forcible entry.
The average loss in cash, valuables, and damages amounts to over $2,200, not to mention the emotional turmoil you’ll feel after a home invasion. While none of this information is very calming, there are several home improvement projects you can do to prevent your home from being the target of the next burglary so you can stop worrying.
Point of Entry
Windows and doors are obviously the most vulnerable places in your home, so you’ll want to make sure they’re as secure as possible.
Install New Locksets
That flimsy door handle with the push-button lock is not going to stop unsavoury characters from pushing their way into your home. There is a multitude of styles and price ranges available for every situation. Choose from:
- Handlesets. They come in decorative, lever-handle, and doorknob styles that can be used alone or with a deadbolt for extra security.
- Electronic/Keyless Locks. These high-tech options come in analogue or touchscreen styles where you enter a custom code to disengage the deadbolt lock for entry. No more searching for your keys. Add-on features include key fob entry, fingerprint recognition, and even auto-unlock that opens the door when you approach it (nice, eh?) Many also come with a redundant key option in case something malfunctions.
- Interior Chain Locks. Just like you’ve seen inside hotel room doors, you can install a chain lock on the interior surface of the door in your home for an extra level of protection. It can only be engaged when you’re inside but it will help you see who’s outside without opening it completely.
- Bump-Proof Locks. Burglars often use a “bump key” to bypass the pin stack so the cylinder can be turned as if they had an actual key. This tool has been used by locksmiths for years to quickly open the lock before changing it. With bump keys being easily obtained through dishonest websites, lock manufacturers now offer bump- and pick-proof locks that use a special locking pin that prevents the cylinder from turning with anything but the actual key.
- Multi-Point Lock Systems. These offer top-of-the-line protection with a combination of deadbolt plus top and bottom latch bolts that all operate with one key. They come with a full-door, stainless steel faceplate, reinforced mortise construction and spring system for added strength.
Install New Doors and Frames
A lock is only as strong as the door and frame it’s installed in. You could have the best lock system in place but if the burglar can break through the frame, it won’t do much good. Consider replacement doors with these features:
- Solid Doors. Solid wood or solid-wood core doors are strong and kick-proof. Fibreglass and metal doors should have interior reinforcement and a lock block to prevent it from being pried open. Reinforced steel doors are the best option against home invasion but will require painting to prevent rust.
- Windowless. Those beautiful front entry doors with the decorative glass look so inviting, but they present all sorts of risks too. The best way to combat forced entry is to choose a door without a window. If you really can’t live without one, choose a style that can’t be seen through. There are many designs with opaque glass that protects privacy while allowing light in. You can also add reinforced glass or decorative bars or metal reinforcement so an intruder can’t just break the glass an unlock the door.
- Frame/Doorjamb/Strike Plate. While you’re at it, you must install a deeper box strike plate with 3″ screws that hold tight through the doorjamb and into the wall studs. Make sure you also reinforce the doorjamb with galvanized steel. This will deter any attempt to break the door in and give the burglar a bruised shoulder or broken foot for trying.
- Sliding Patio Doors. These are a great source of natural light and the perfect way to get to a rear deck or patio. Unfortunately, they also pose a high risk as an easy point for break-ins. New doors must be made from reinforced glass or plastic like polycarbonate, so they can’t be easily broken. Although new sliding doors have a toe lock in addition to the handle latch, place a wooden or metal dowel in the door track. This will foil any attempt at jimmying the door open. Consider between-the-glass blinds or a curtain to block burglars from seeing inside.
- Garage Overhead Door. You might not think about your attached garage as being an easy point of entry for burglars, but old locks and door mechanisms are no match for criminals. Consider installing a new, heavy-duty overhead door with a smart garage door opener. They’re built with a steel-reinforced belt and motor to stand up to the toughest conditions. They also monitor and control your garage door from a smartphone. No more separate openers that can be stolen from your car to gain access. Help yourself, too, by keeping your garage door closed when you’re not using it. There’s no sense in giving burglars an easy way to inventory all the things they want to steal.
Install Replacement Windows
First-floor windows are the next best point-of-entry for break-ins. Old, rotting windows that don’t lock properly need to be replaced. Today’s windows are made from wood, vinyl, fibreglass, and composite materials and provide a strong, airtight seal. Here are some glass choices that will help keep burglars away:
- Double- and Triple-Pane. While you might be thinking that breaking a window would be the best method of breaking into a home, burglars would prefer to enter quietly. Thick double- and triple-pane glass will definitely generate some attention as it’s quite loud when broken. Choose an extra pane or two of glass when ordering your replacement windows to deter robbers and lower your utility bills too.
- Privacy Glass. There’s nothing like an unobstructed view through clear glass. Sadly, if you can see out, burglars can see in. Many burglars-turned-informants have shared their stake-out methods that involve checking for home electronics, TVs, and other valuables by just driving down the street and looking in. Stop them in their tracks by installing tinted or patterned privacy glass at front entry doors and sidelights, bathroom windows, and other first-floor windows.
- Install a Security System—A monitored system with a siren is the best way to discourage burglars from even attempting a break-in. However, if they do try, most new systems are wireless so the phone line can’t be cut. You should have window and door sensors or glass breakage. An outside siren will help alert neighbours and police. Make sure to pay for monitoring so police are called as soon as the alarm sounds. Affix security labels on windows and doors and install a sign at the front entry so burglars will bypass your home when scouting for their next victim. Most important of all, make sure you arm the system every time you leave the house. It won’t do any good if it’s not on.
- Add Cameras/Surveillance System—Take security to another level by adding cameras at entryways. There’s even a new high-tech camera doorbell that allows you to see who’s at the front door. Smartphone apps can connect from anywhere so you can always see what’s happening. A speaker can even be activated so you can answer the door without actually being there. Another great deterrent.
- Install Smart Home Automation—Everything can be managed with a smart system unit or app these days, so why not take advantage of a little light play? Install smart light switches and dimmers throughout your home (inside and out.) You can turn lights on and off with a touch of the app, set on timers, come on automatically at dark, or with a motion sensor. You can build in add-ons to control everything from the temperature in your home to the music you listen to.
The Last Word
Burglars are typically looking for homes that are easy marks. Don’t let your home be one of them. Make sure the point-of-entry areas in your home are secure with new handles and locks, strong door frames and jambs, heavy-duty doors and windows, double- or triple-pane glass, privacy or obscure glass, and that you have security system and implemented smart home automation. You may never feel completely safe and secure from burglary but by taking a little time and money to do some of these home improvements, you’ll sleep a little easier.