Security alarm systems are a standard feature in homes these days, and are usually the first thing we think of for protection. They have their benefits, but they are not the first line of defense.
The best home security plan is multi-fold, or layered.
An alarm tells you when someone has gained entry. Burglars know that police response may be so slow that they have enough time to grab valuables and scram, even if they have to exit through another door. The alert is reliable—ideal, in fact—for fire, to deter timid burglars, and to limit intrusion time for an experienced thief.
The best aversion is to make it too difficult for them to break in at all! According to the FBI, about 70 percent of break-ins are by kicking in a door, which busts out the doorframe jamb and may even break the door itself at the lock. It’s easy to do because only one inch or less of soft wood in the doorjamb backs up the deadbolt---and it has been weakened by drilling the strike plate, typically held by two short screws.
At the very least, replace those short screws with ones three inches long.
Better, replace the strike with a larger one that takes more screws.
And best, as described in a previous blog post, steel door-jamb-reinforcing hardware that is guaranteed to prevent door kick-ins.
Two other viable options are a wrought iron security door or a security storm door, both installed in front of the entry door.
Wrought iron is the less expensive of the two, and can include screen. Some people dislike them because they think of burglar bars, but they are a bonus for those who like the fresh air that only a screened door can provide. The cost begins about $130 to do it yourself, or $280 installed.
The best security storm door is “Secure Elegance” by Larson, available at Lowe’s for about $350, or $550 installed, and adds the benefit of weatherproofing your entry.
Duncan Cottrell, The Entry Enforcer, is a home improvement technician specializing in Home Intrusion Prevention. He offers door and window reinforcing, free home security assessments, and answers questions at Duncan@EntryEnforcer.com or (404)289-6960.