Home Security Handbook
Crime and Violence Prevention Center
(This copy has been modified to be used in The Landings Neighborhood Watch website. It has been edited to fit within the space available.)
When was the last time you heard about a house being burglarized? Maybe you
have been hit yourself. Not a good feeling, is it?
You don’t have to be a victim of burglary. While it is one of the most frequently
committed crimes, it’s preventable. Most home burglaries are done by opportunists
who spot an open window, a faulty lock or a house that looks like no one’s
going to be around for a while.
You can reduce the chance that this will happen to you. Read this booklet to find
out what you need to do. Most of the suggestions will cost you very little, but
they will contribute immensely to your peace of mind. They will also safeguard
Remember — lock your doors and windows when you leave your home. If you
have an alarm, use it. Don’t become a crime statistic, and please share this book
with your neighbor.
Protecting Against Entry
True security begins with key control. When you move into a home
or lose your keys, always have the locks re-keyed. You don’t have to replace the
lock itself, as re-keying of locks will render the previous keys useless. Any
licensed locksmith can change the tumblers in your outside door locks quickly
Do not leave an “emergency” key under the door mat, on top of the door frame or
in any other “hiding spot” so well-known to burglars.
Exterior lighting is extremely important in residential security. Each exterior
doorway should be lighted from dusk to dawn so a burglar can’t hide to break in.
Yards and windows should be lighted. Night blind spots can be eliminated by
use of ornamental porch and yard lamp posts.
Keep doorways, windows and porches clear when planting bushes and flowers.
Remember that the bushes that provide you with privacy also give a burglar a
place to hide.
Dead bolt locks. The best defense for a good solid core wood door is a
dead bolt lock with one-inch throw bolt. The security dead bolt lock can be
used on any hinge door where the strike plate can be securely fastened to
the door frame. When installing a dead bolt, attach the strike plate (the jamb
fastening that receives the bolt in the locking position) to the door with four to
six, three-inch brass wood screws. The screws should penetrate through
the frame to a structural member.
[Heads Up Note: To learn more about recent issues with Lock Bumping CLICK HERE and HERE]
Security for doors with glass
If an exterior door has a glass window or if there is glass within 40 inches of the
lock, you may want to install security screening, window guards or burglary rated
glazing. Use non-removable screws to securely mount screens, bars or window
Sliding glass doors. Sliding glass doors present a major security problem
if they do not have the proper locks and if special steps are not taken to
prevent removal of the door.
[For additional info on garage door protection CLICK HERE and HERE]
Garage doors should always be closed and locked whenever you are away from
home. Most garages offer burglars a wide selection of tools to use in breaking
into your home. Garages provide ladders for accessing second story windows
and also a convenient, hidden route for entry into your home through the connecting
door. Remember, a securely locked garage will prevent burglars from
the opportunity to steal automobiles, tools, bicycles, lawn mowers and other
Sectional roll-up doors
For overhead sectional roll-up doors, drill a hole of proper size in the door track,
just above one of the guide rollers while the door is in the closed position, and
install a padlock. Many doors are installed with pre-drilled holes that will accommodate
this security feature without having to drill. Or, install eye bolts on the
inside top of the garage door and the door frame. When the garage door is
closed, a padlock can secure the bolts and prevent opening of the door.
Electric garage door openers
An electric garage door opener should have steel gears and chain activation.
Periodically check the door to make sure it is adjusted to prevent the bottom from
being lifted up. This stops the thief from crawling under the door.
Cane bolts can be installed on the inside of the door. These can only be locked
from the inside. Sliding hasps can also be used on the inside of the door.
Other garage doors
The weakest link in an attached garage is usually the side (rear) door. Doors
with window panes or thin veneer wood or no dead bolt locks should be considered
a primary entry for a burglar. Take measures to make this door as secure
as the front door. In most cases, it is easier to either replace the door or use
plywood on the interior to reinforce the existing wood panel, or to replace the
glass with burglary resistant glazing to prevent entry through the window.
Sliding windows should be secured by the same methods used for the sliding
doors. Both the pan head top screws and the bracing devices are effective on
this type of window, if the slider is on the inside. Several types of auxiliary locks
which offer improved security are also available.
An alarm system can contribute to your home’s security. However, do not depend
only upon an alarm to protect you. Be sure to use the proper locking
devices and join or start a Neighborhood Watch program in your area.
Don’t tip off burglars by telephone
Burglars often try to find out if anyone is home by phoning. If you get several
suspicious “wrong number” calls or “nobody-at-the-other-end” calls, tell the
police. Warn family members, especially children, not to give out information by
phone — especially about who is home, who is out, or how long anyone is
expected to be out.
Make it look as if you’re home
Maintaining an appearance of occupancy even when your home is vacant is
essential to thwarting burglary attempts.
Timers can automatically regulate television, radios, and the interior lighting of a
home to create such a deception. Timers should be used while you are on
vacation, when you are out to dinner or even during the day while you are at
During the day, leave drapes and shades in their normal position — the way you
have them when at home. (And do not leave easily stolen valuables in sight
close to windows!)
Don’t advertise your vacation plans
Inform one or two people of your vacation plans — a trusted neighbor who can
keep an eye on things while you are gone. Have your neighbor pick up your
newspaper and other deliveries. (Do not inform any delivery people that you will
be on vacation.) If you will be gone for more than a week, arrange to keep your
lawn maintained and for your garbage can to be put out and brought in. Notify
the police/sheriff if you live in a jurisdiction which provides vacation checks.
Don’t reward the burglar who does get in
If, despite your precautions, a burglar does get into your home, do not give him
or her a “bonus” of cash or easily-carried jewelry. Never keep large sums of
cash around the house. Keep valuable jewelry that you do not often wear in a
safe deposit box.
Make sure that police, fire and paramedics can find your home in a time of
emergency. Have your house numbers clearly mounted on a high contrast
background. Each number should be at least four-inches.
Emergency telephone numbers
Police, fire and paramedic’s emergency telephone numbers should be listed on
or programmed into each phone in your home. Telephone stickers with these
numbers may be available from your police, sheriff or fire departments.
If you discover a burglary has been committed, leave the house undisturbed and
call the police or sheriff’s department from a neighbor’s home. If you interrupt a
burglar or if you see a prowler in or around your home, do not investigate yourself.
. . call 911 immediately from a neighbor’s home.
Call 9-1-1 if an emergency situation threatens human life or property and demands
immediate attention. Do not call 9-1-1 for non emergencies, this causes
delays in the handling of real emergencies.
Protecting Your Property
Mark and record your property – Operation Identification
The experience of many communities vividly confirms that you and your community
can reduce the risk of burglary by simply marking your possessions. Some
towns have had up to a 25 percent decline in burglaries after instituting such a
program. The program is usually known as “Operation Identification.”
There is evidence that burglars avoid both homes and communities where
Operation Identification is used. So after identifying your property, let a would-be
burglar know that the property is marked. Many local law enforcement agencies
can provide decals to warn potential burglars that the home is a participant in
Protecting Your Neighborhood
Neighbors watching out for each other
Start or join Neighborhood Watch
This is a crime prevention program that uses people, in cooperation with law
enforcement, to reduce crime in their own neighborhoods. Neighborhood Watch
involves neighbors getting to know each other, taking the time to watch out for
each other and working together in a program of mutual assistance.
By cooperating with each other and the police, people can help fight crime in
their community in the most effective way — before it begins! Neighborhood
Watch can help you substantially reduce residential burglaries and other crimes.
By participating, you will learn:
- What are effective crime prevention techniques for housesand neighborhood safety
- How you can be a good neighbor by becoming law enforcement’s “eyes
and ears” and helping them do their job of investigating and arresting