Home defense is definitely not a new topic in the preparedness industry. There are hundreds if not thousands of articles out there about the best firearms to have for home defense, tactical how-to guides on how to respond to a home invasion; there’s even several insurance companies out there whose sole business is covering your legal fees if you have to use lethal force on an intruder.
While I do feel that firearms and training should be a huge part of your home defense strategy, it seems like the majority of topics on home defense in the preparedness community focus solely around responding to a home invasion while you’re actually in the home. It’s been estimated that a little over 85% of all home break-ins every year happen while the occupants are away from the home.
Some scary math about home break-ins
What this means to me is that while having a firearm, the training and the wherewithal to defend your home is great, you’re preparing for a localized disaster event that statistically has a much smaller chance of actually happening and virtually ignoring a localized disaster that is extremely common. There are over 2,000,000 reported break-ins every year. The American Housing Survey shows that there are around 125 million homes in the US. That means that every single year, you have on average a 1.6% chance of your home being broke into. Sounds like a small number right? Well to put it perspective, it is statistically more likely that you will have your home broken into than your odds of winning $10 on a dollar scratch-off lottery ticket.
Securing your home when you aren’t there is called passive home security. Passive home security can be boiled down to 3 main areas of focus: Windows, Doors and Deterrent Systems. Below we will go over some step by step instructions on what you can do to maximize your passive security measures for each of these key points, effectively making your home as burglar-proof as realistically possible.
95% of all forced entry break-ins occur because of a compromised door. It is the easiest entry point into your home. The majority of break-ins occur simply by an intruder kicking in the door. Here is the list of steps you can take to essentially burglarproof your doors.
- Strike plates – Strike plates are the small metal plates that attach to your door jamb where the bolt from the handle or deadbolt will insert into. Typical residential strike plates require as little as 100 pounds of force to defeat. This is nothing; a swift kick will break down the majority of doors out there. Upgrade your doors strike plates with hardened steel plates and use the longest door jamb screws you can find.
- Flimsy doors – All doors are not made equal. Most cost-efficient outdoor facing doors today are made from wood and may have a sheet of aluminum covering the outside the door. These are junk. You need a steel-covered, hardwood door. Not the light, hollow doors in the clearance isles at Home Depot.
- Low quality handles and bolts – Just like anything, there are high quality door handles and low quality door handles. It is more than worth the investment to get a high-quality, solid steel door handle and bolt set. Not only will the higher quality handles resist strikes from an intruder, but higher quality handles also include higher quality locks. Although the majority of intruders aren’t going to take the time to pick your door lock, there are plenty of news reports every year showing that it DOES happen. Investing in quality handles and bolt sets will ensure that you are better protected from not only a picked lock, but from someone trying to destroy the handle to gain entrance into your home.
- Double bolting – It may seem a little overkill to some, but if you want your door to be virtually impenetrable, invest in installing a second, high-quality deadbolt a few feet above the existing one. The reason why this is so effective is that when a door is struck by a large force (IE your intruder’s foot) the force is being directed completely on the bolt. If you use one bolt, the force is directed soley to that one spot. If the force is great enough on one spot, it can defeat the bolt and strike plate. If you use multiple bolts, the force is actually spread in multiple locations, with the majority of the force being dissipated by the time it reaches the second bolt. The amount of force it would take to break down a door with just 2 deadbolts is more than most humans are able to produce, without heavy tools. Most hardware stores do sell high quality handle kits that come with multiple handles so that you only need 1 key.
- Storm Doors – Having a secondary storm door is a great way to add another layer of protection to your home. First and foremost, these doors aren’t your primary means of security for your main door. That’s silly. These doors are lightweight, have cheap glass and even expensive storm doors aren’t going to be solid enough to withstand a determined intruder. That being said, they can lock, and the only way to bypass them is to physically rip them off the door frame or break the handle itself. This is going to fairly noisy, and most intruders HATE noise, especially if they know that they’re still going to have to face your double-bolted door if they do manage to get past the storm door. Storm doors are also a double whammy as they are a great way to keep wind and cold drafts out of your home, which can be a significant savings in the winter.
- BONUS – While we’re talking about doors, why not take a few extra steps to make it even more secure when you ARE in the home? One of the most effective things you could add to your door for home security is a peephole. This will ensure that you NEVER have to open the door to see who is on the other side. You could also install a couple locking steel swivel plates on the inside of the door as well if you ever needed to go into “lockdown” mode. Lastly, if you decide to not invest in a conventional home security and monitoring system, you can install magnetic security sensors on your door that will produce an ear-bleeding alarm if the door is opened when they are armed. Lastly, if you truly want to go into
lock-down mode in your home, buy a door brace. These are 3-4’ poles that you tightly jam under the handle and onto the floor. There are models with non-skid feet that work very well or you could even pre-drill a hole in the floor where this brace could be screwed into the floor itself if needed.
Windows are the second most common access point for intruders on your house. Statistically, windows are the most likely entry point for an intruder in warmer months simply because people leave them open and take no precautionary measures to secure them. Here are the steps you can take to essentially burglarproof the windows on your home.
- Glass can break – (shocker right?) Windows by their very definition are vulnerable. They are made of glass, a material that is fairly easy to break. In order to mitigate the risks of someone breaking the glass on your window to gain entry into your home, you have to reinforce the glass. The best product I have found to do this is security film. This is a thin plastic sheeting material that you put over the glass on your window. Just like a car windshield, the film isn’t designed to be “unbreakable”. There are varieties of security film that will make the glass incredibly difficult to break, but it can still break under significant force. What it does do is hold together the broken glass of the window. So if the window is ever broken, the broken glass will be trapped in the film and will stay in the actual window, still maintaining the integrity of the window and providing some sort of barrier between the intruder and gaining access to the home. There are several kinds of security film out there. For the best results, don’t go cheap, find the best security film you can afford, read the reviews from other customers and pay very close attention to the installation instructions or hire an experienced installer.
- Windows really don’t need to open all the way – One of the most common ways that an intruder may breach your window is simply by opening it. Sometimes the homeowner will forget to lock or even close the window. Sometimes an intruder will use a thin piece of metal to open the latches from the outside like a Slim Jim on a car. We need a way to ensure security if something like this happens. There is a very simple way to do this. Open your window no more than 6 inches and then use a drill to drill long screws into the window frame right above that 6 inch line. Leave about 1 inch of the screw exposed. The screws will prevent the window from being opened more than 6 inches. This will ensure that whether you accidently leave the window opened, forget to lock it, or even if the lock is bypassed by the intruder, the window will only open 6 inches, not nearly enough to enter through.
- Install a window alarm – Windows are vulnerable, there’s no way around it. Even if you’re using top grade security film, if the intruder has enough time they may still be able to bypass it. Heck, I don’t see why an intruder couldn’t use a thick knife to cut away the film and broken window if he REALLY wanted to get in, and if there’s no one around to hear the alarm, then it could take a very long time for anyone to respond to it. With that in mind we need to take
some other precautions. A wireless alarm system with window sensors really is your best bet for this. However, those systems are expensive and there is a monthly fee involved as well. If you’re going to go the DIY route, use the same type of sensor like we talked about with your door. These sensors are no more than $10 apiece. There are even ones specifically for windows that will raise an extremely loud alarm if any hard impact is detected on the window.
- Make it hell for them to get in – Even with all of these deterrents, an intruder still could physically get into the window if they REALLY wanted to. Maybe no one hears the alarm and they’ve cut out the security film. Well they still need to physically need to get into the window. What could we do to make it as hard as possible to get into a window? First, make sure there is nothing outside that the intruder can use as a step stool to help him get in. Before the days of modern security features, many methods were used to strengthen the security of windows. Typically, people would plant heavily thorned bushes or plants directly under windows. Some would even dig a trench a foot or 2 deep directly under the window so that the intruder physically wouldn’t be able to reach the window to get into it. You could also mount one or more steel bars inside the window so that if the intruder somehow bypasses all of these deterrents, they’ll still have to get past the bar. Today there are several companies that make beautiful steel bars that look like ornate decorative pieces that will mount to your windows if you don’t want to put prison-like steel bars up.
We’re quickly approaching over 2,100 words with this article so we are going to split this one up into a 2-parter. Be sure to come back tomorrow for the conclusion. We will be discussing how to set up effective deterrent systems around your home along with a bunch of tips and tricks that you can use to make your home BURGLARPROOF!
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