Crime Prevention: Burglary proof your home

By J.T. Turner
Jan. 4, 2014 at 10 p.m.
Updated Jan. 3, 2014 at 7:04 p.m.

It's unsettling to think of our homes as targets, but that's exactly how criminals see them. This year, when making our resolutions, we should resolve to make criminals see our homes as hard targets.

Now what?

Let's start with curb appeal. Is your home appealing to a burglar? Are the windows and doors blocked by overgrown vegetation? If so, it's time for some trimming.

Make sure the windows and doors are visible from the street. A good rule of thumb is the 3-7 rule. Your shrubs should be no taller than 3 feet, and the lowest limbs of your trees should be no lower than 7 feet.

If you just can't bear to trim your shrubs down that low, at least clean out the bottom foot or so, in order to see the feet of someone who may be hiding behind them.

How about lighting? Your newly trimmed shrubs and trees make the house more visible during the day, but night changes things up a bit. At a minimum, you need to have lights with at least 40-watt bulbs at every entrance to your house (anyone standing there needs to be clearly visible). If you want more illumination, motion detector or dusk to dawn lights strategically placed for maximum efficiency are a good investment.

At this point, we can move on to doors and windows. All exterior doors, including the door that leads into the house from the garage, should be solid wood or metal clad at least 13/8-inch thick. They should be equipped with deadbolt locks that have, at minimum, a 1-inch bolt. If there is glass within 40 inches of the lock, then a double cylinder deadbolt (keyed on both sides) should be used.

Most door hardware is installed with 3/4-inch screws. One of the cheapest and most effective ways to strengthen a door is simply to replace all of the 3/4-inch screws with 3-inch screws. This greatly increases the strength of the door as the screws will now penetrate the door frame and not simply the trim.

You may also consider a door viewer (peephole). A wide-angle viewer with a minimum of 180 degree visibility is recommended.

As far as windows go, in addition to a working latch, a secondary lock should be added. This can be as simple as a wooden dowel in the track or as elaborate as burglar bars.

If your home has a sliding glass door, it requires a secondary lock as well. Like windows, a dowel in the track is all that is needed. Also, to prevent lifting the door out of the track, a screw inserted into the header track just far enough to allow the door to slide will suffice.

For more information, contact Crime Prevention Officer J.T. Turner, Crime Prevention Unit, at 361-485-3808.



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