Dear James: There have been some break-ins in my neighborhood, so I want to improve security at home. I’m on a tight budget. What are some simple do-it-yourself security tips? —Darrel K.
Dear Darrel: Almost every homeowner is on a tight budget these days, but there are still some things you can do to make your home more secure from break-ins. You might try contacting some security companies for a monitored alarm system. The monthly monitoring fees by some smaller local companies are reasonable, and they may install the system for free.
Even with an alarm system, making security improvements to windows and doors makes sense. Studies have shown that a burglar typically spends only 60 seconds trying to get inside a house. If it takes longer, he gives up and moves on. By making simple improvements to windows and doors, your goal is to make it just a little more time-consuming to get inside.
Unlocked doors and windows are the first place someone will try to break in, so it’s wise to check the locks whenever you leave your house or go to bed. The quality of the doors and frames themselves is important as well. Even if you have the best deadbolt lock on a cheap exterior door, a few stiff kicks may be enough to make a hole in the door itself.
Sliding glass patio doors are a common target for burglars. Once the lock is broken, the burglar can either slide them open or lift them off the track. To prevent the door from sliding open, place a broomstick in the track. You can also drill a hole through both the sliding and fixed panels and insert a pin in the hole, making it impossible to lift the panels out of their tracks.
For swinging entrance doors, install a rim lock or a surface-mounted deadbolt, as both are reasonable do-it-yourself projects. These can be either key- or spring-operated to activate the lock when the door is closed. A cylinder deadbolt is slightly more difficult to install, but it’s more secure than a rim lock.
Burglars sometimes try to partially break through a door and then pull out the hinge pins. To stop this, remove opposing screws from one of the hinges, and drive a double-headed nail into one of the holes to hold the hinge in place. The end of the nail that’s still sticking up should fit into the opposing hole where the screw was removed.
Once your doors are secure, tackle the windows. There’s only so much you can do with windows, because burglars can always break the glass. But they would rather not do that, because it makes noise when it breaks, and they generally don’t want to take the time to first tape the glass. Just do the first-floor windows if your security budget is tight.
Securing sliding windows employs similar methods to securing sliding glass patio doors. Double-hung windows generally have one or two locks between the sashes. Make sure the locks are totally closed, so shaking can’t make them rattle open. Drilling a hole through the upper and lower sash frames and inserting a pin can make them difficult to open from the outside. Always remove the crank handle from casement windows so they can’t be opened, even if the glass is broken.
Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244, or visit Dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Creators.com. Copyright 2021 Creators.com