A large pecan grower along the Rio Grande near El Paso had unwanted
visitors coming through and foraging as well as helping themselves to
equipment and tools. The dogs within were often bought off with
slabs of meat. They switched to Geese and that kept out the unwanted.
It later turned out that the large population of geese brought more
cash in each year than the pecans!
He kept both running.
Naturally, if the unwanted had shotguns the geese might not have faired
I have a dog. She's a watch dog. She would only "watch" if someone broke
If I'm at home, the single biggest thing to deter a burglar is me and my
Smith & Wesson .40
And just to discourage someone from asking, "But would you use it if the
time came?" let me point out that I spent a year with the 1st. Cavalry
Division, 1950-'51. "From the Naktong to the Yalu".
Max (I need an "aggressive" dog)
Where we live, most home burglaries are done as targets of
opportunity. In even a residential neighborhood, a home gets
rented out and soon fills with "economically deprived" souls.
Soon, it's time to make a rent payment, buy some drugs, pay the
dealer or get gasoline for the pickup, and a couple of them will
locate an apparently empty house, toss a rock through the patio
door and grab what they can easily carry away and readily sell.
The sales take place at flea markets, pawn shops and the
improvised stores found in the more traditional neighborhoods for
these poor, suffering souls.
Most of the burglaries take place in homes where the home is
viewable from a public area- which is how it's selected. One
exception is the day laborers used by landscape maintenance crews,
painters and other contractors visiting a neighborhood.
Gated communities have a slight advantage, since even if a car
follows you in thorough the gate, it's something a neighbor might
see. Guard gated communities have a real advantage there, along
with registration of all visitors and videotapes of the people
inside the autos. Nothing is perfect. For instance, we have
friends in a very nice home. To get there, we have to be admitted
by a guard via the guard gate and the site is videotaped from
different angles. We then drive through the subdivision and are
faced with an electronic second gate. There, we either have to
enter the code or call the guard house to have the gate opened.
Once inside that subcompound, we reach our friend's home.
Did I mention that the home backs up to a public, yes PUBLIC golf
courses? Yup, we sit in our friend's back yard, by their pool,
and look over the 3' wrought iron fence and speak to the golfers
waiting to tee off on the 8th hole. How's that for security?
Homes in the interior of a subdivision are far less likely to be
hit than a home adjoining a fence between it and a street,
sidewalk, park or other accessible area. For a house to have a
lock picked or even the door forced would be exceptional. Here,
it's almost always a smash, grab and run situation. Usually, the
burglars are too high on drugs or just too plain stupid to realize
that many homeowners now have cameras. However, the physical
presence of a camera or "Monitored Alarm" stickers on windows and
doors probably help them decide to go see your neighbor instead of
We have also had a rash of home invasions in town. There, the
intruders have almost universally picked homes with opened doors
that were visible from driving down a street.
Personally, I follow the rule of keeping exterior doors locked and
window locked, except for ventilation. We have sun screens, so
opened windows are not visible. . . particularly at night.
However, I don't go nuts and put on $400 locksets to the front
door, since I know that any patio door or window would be the
entryway of choice for a thief of opportunity. One possibility
that some might consider is the heavy (tint/reflectivity optional)
window films that can be applied to glass. They're just a heavier
duty version of the normal window films, but WILL stop a guy using
a rock or hammer to open the glass door. Nothing's perfect, but
the guy's not going to want to stand there pounding on the door.
In our case, we have the typical alarm system, including IR
detectors, door and window switches and fire. I personally
installed several 140dBa sirens INSIDE the house. One is near
electronic equipment, another in the garage where I have my tools
and the third by our master BR and my office. Trust me, when
those suckers sound off, nobody hangs around. They won't stop an
entry, but will sure make it miserable for the burglar to go
Have you rendered your doors and windows resistant to likely levels of
force? If not then you need to do that before you have to worry about
whether your locks can be picked--most intruders don't pick locks, they
If you're really concerned about bumping then call a locksmith and have
him rekey your existing locks with bumproof cylinders. It will likely
be cheaper than replacing them all with bumproof locks.
To the extent that I could without going to metal doors. They're all solid
core doors and fairly "hefty".
I really need to replace the locksets anyway; they're 24 years old, much
used and "builder quality".
The deadbolts are still in good shape and I thought I would have them
re-keyed to accept the same key as the new entry locksets.
That would entail getting the same brand as the original so I might go the
expense of replacing both.
Max (still pondering)
Just a couple of thoughts here. If you look at the Medeco or Best
brands, you will find that a lockset or deadbolt will run about $200
for each unit. i have installed hundreds of the Medeco, but no Best
branded locks. The Medecos are top flight, but they retain a definite
commercial appearance as that is their market.
If you go the commercial route, make sure you check out the
installation instructions. Most of them are box style locks, and you
will either need some real time and patience to install them, or rent/
buy a deep mortise machine. For the most part these are not locks
that you remove the old lock and simply screw a new one of them in the
Through all the years of installing Schlage, Kwickset, Baldwins, Ball,
Yale and a slew of Chinese stuff, I like the Schlage for their price
point. As I have said before, I used to have a contract with a local
company to install their doors, and I have put a lot of Schlage
product on. Never had a service or warranty call. Their newer
finishes on their polished brass (starting about 5 years ago) hold up
The upper line has a good finish on it in polished nickel, oiled
bronze, etc., that lasts well. The mechanicals are solid on their
hardware. Make sure you get a deadbolt that has a 1" throw.
I put Schlage on my house about 27 years ago, and the front door lock
still works smooth as silk. The only maintenance I have ever done on
the lock was to take it out and clean it and re-oil it after every ten
The most important thing with any lock is the installation. I get
good service out of the stainless steel generic brands ("Defender",
"Titan" and such) for sheds, landlord repairs, etc., because I take
the time to adjust the lock to work properly.
A lock is working properly when you can close the door easily with one
finger and all you get is a "click". The deadbolt works correctly if
you turn the key and can barely feel the plunger assembly move.
The best additional security I do for my clients is to change out the
screws in the jamb side of the mortise. Instead of using the 5/8"
supplied screws, I get 2 1/2" screws in cadmium to install the strike
plates for both locksets and deadbolts. It takes an incredible amount
of energy to get those out of the jamb with brute force.
Bingo!! Just the sort of info I was seeking. Robert, you are a treasure.
Sometimes a guy comes here looking for advice when he has already made
up...well somewhere between 50 and 90 percent...of his mind but would really
like some confirmation.
My many thanks,
That was a particularly useful response, wasn't it?
I saw a video years ago called B and E A to Z, all about how to get into
places you don't have a key for. What an eye-opener, it showed most
residential locks to be a complete joke so far as even a slightly
experienced burglar is concerned. In addition a series of businesses I
worked for were burglarized and that was highly educational as well--a
steel-clad door barred from the inside doesn't matter much when they pry off
a vent cover into the phone/electrical room and then cut through the wall
with a battery-powered saw.
The thing about burglars is they look at a locked door in a totally
different way than a law-abiding citizen. If you don't have a key you think
you can't open that door, but a burglar thinks of the five ways he knows to
open that door without a key. One of the simplest is to cut a chunk out of
the door frame around the bolt so the door can be opened still locked with
the bolt uselessly still in place--a hammer and chisel or a reciprocating
saw renders even the best deadbolt pointless in moments if the door frame is
that easy to get through.
As others have suggested whether or not the lock is pick-resistant is of
less importance than how well the door and windows resist simple brute-force
methods since you're far more likely to encounter a meth-head with a pry-bar
than a cat-burglar with safe-cracking experience. In that regard your alarm
is already your best defense, as even a meth-head will see the alarm sign
and keep on going.
All too true.
I am a retired Fire Chief. I spent 33 years on the job and as a rookie I
rode a ladder truck. We were the guys with the axes.
But in order to keep damage to a minimum, believe it or not, <G> we tried a
variety of different ways to gain entry other than extreme measures.
There are ways the average homeowner would never imagine.
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