Home Security

Burglar in Action

Home Security Tips

This checklist was designed to assist you in making a security survey of your own home. The purpose of the survey is to identify security weaknesses of your home and daily routines around your home. These are things that make your home look inviting to the criminal. It should begin at the curb and end with the interior of the home. It should include house numbers, landscaping, doors, locks, strike plates, windows, indoor-outdoor lighting and its use, the garage and driveways.

  • ALWAYS lock your windows and doors when you are away from your residence. Even if you are just stepping out for a quick errand. Most burglars are in and out of a house in less than 3 minutes.
  • Do not leave spare keys hidden on your property. Most thieves know all the common spots in which they are hidden.
  • Make sure the exterior doors are solid core wood or metal.
  • All exterior doors should be equipped with dead bolt locks that have a minimum bolt throw of 1 inch.
  • Remove the screws in your strike plates and install others that are at least three inches long.
  • If you have a sliding glass door wall use a wooden dowel as a means of bolstering the door lock. Lay the dowel in the track near the bottom of the sliding section. This will prohibit sliding the door open in the event the door lock is compromised.
  • On door walls, “back-off” the screws in the upper track about 1/8 to1/5 of an inch. This will not interfere with the operation of the door, but will prevent the door from being lifted out of the frame.
  • Drill a hole through the frame and the door glass frame. Install a bolt that fits to prevent the door from being lifted out. These kits can be purchased for a low price at most hardware stores. They are easily installed.
  • Attach similar pins in windows all over your house. This will prevent criminals from forcing window locks. An entire house can be equipped without great cost.
  • Install a peep hole viewer in all your doors. Make sure it has wide angle viewing of 180 degrees.
  • Use timers on lights and be sure to stagger the pattern of lighting. Light different rooms at different times. Be creative. Get out of the habit of leaving the living room light on, night after night.
  • Leaving the TV on in a dark room is an excellent idea. Leave the volume up too. The motion of the lighting will throw thieves off. It is no less safe than using table lamps, and just as cost effective.
  • Install exterior lighting. Make sure it is evenly distributed and does not create deep shadows. Poor lighting can be worse than no lighting. Landscaping lights are functional, as well as decorative, if properly spaced and directed.
  • Make sure that no bushes or trees obscure windows or doors. Over grown landscaping can provide excellent coverage. If you have basement windows, install glass block windows. They are an excellent, attractive means of securing lower lever windows. Prune bushes at least 18 inches from the ground up.
  • Many burglaries occur through second story windows or patios. Make sure that any trellises or trees do not provide access to upper levels.
  • Engrave and list all your valuables. Photos are a good idea to keep inventory of property. Video is even better
  • If you find your house has been burglarized, DO NOT enter until the police have secured the premises

From the Curb

  • Are your house numbers visible from the street for emergency service such as police, fire, and ambulance?
  • Does the overall appearance of your home give criminals information about you and your family that would assist them in victimizing you–things such as a full mailbox, outdoor lighting on during the day, or the garage doors open with no cars present?
  • Are all fence gates padlocked to make it more difficult for strangers to enter your yard?


  • Are your shrubs and trees trimmed to “open up the line of sight” of your home for your neighbors from several directions?
  • Are shrubs and trees trimmed to prohibit concealment of an intruder?

Outdoor lighting

  • Do you have only decorative lighting such as used in flower beds?
  • Do you have only entrance/exit lighting such as front/rear door type lights?
  • Do you have true security lighting operated by an electric eye or timer, every night, all night, giving your home a perimeter of light around it?

External doors

  • Are all external doors either metal, solid wood, solid wood frame, or at least solid core construction?
  • Are door frames strong and tight enough to withstand some degree of force?
  • Are doors with outside exposed hinges pinned to prevent easy removal from outside?
  • Are all external doors equipped with “good” dead bolt locks which have at least a one-inch throw?
  • Are the strike plates installed with three-to-four inch screws which are anchored well into the two-by-four inch stud behind the door frame?
  • Are glass sliding doors pinned to prevent being forced open? Is the upper track secured with large pan head screws to prevent lifting?
  • Are French or double doors fitted with flush bolts at the top and bottom edge of the inactive or secondary door?
  • Is there a door leading from the garage to the interior of the home, and if so, is it equally secure as an external door?


  • Are wooden windows “pinned” on both sides, from the inside?
  • Are aluminum windows fitted with secondary locking devices, easily removed, in case of fire?
  • Is shrubbery trimmed away from the outside of the windows to prohibit concealment of an intruder?

Garage doors

  • Are overhead garage doors fitted with an interior locking device, blocking the track, as well as an outside locking device?
  • Do windows in the garage door prohibit viewing the interior of the garage from the outside by use of curtains or film?
  • Is the garage door kept down and locked at all times?

Alarms offer additional security, but should never be substituted for good locks. When considering an alarm, you should have several companies appraise your needs. Insist on a written proposal and a copy of the contract you will need to sign. Before signing, check the company’s reputation through the Better Business Bureau.