There's been a small wave of burglaries and petty theft around our neighborhood the last few months, several happening right through the front door of local homes. Securing a front door with a high rated lock is the first defense against burglary, but there are several other ways home owners and renters alike can beef up their front entry...
Replacing the door lock with an ANSI Grade 1 (the highest) or Grade 2 deadbolt is just the start of a secure front door, because the reality is most burglars don't even bother picking the lock. Besides entering through an open window or door left unlocked, a great many burglars simply kick in the front door. Here's how to fortify the front entry:
1. Replace the deadbolt strike plate: The strike plate is the metal piece where the deadbolt latch secures into the door frame. In most cases the strike plate is only capable of holding the door shut, not really strong enough to prevent the door from being opened during a forced entry. Installing or replacing a strike plate with a stronger box strike model with longer screws and a full metal enclosure for the latch to lock into will improve the door's ability to withstand a few full force kicks (photo: on the right, a box strike plate on top vs. the more common decorative flat strike plate).
2. Reinforce the door and door jamb: Even with a box plate installed, a persistent burglar can eventually break down the door frame with an onslaught of forceful kicks; there's usually just an inch or so of wood securing the strike plate into place. Enough kicks and even a box plate gives way to the laws of physics. This is where a door reinforcement kit fortifies the ability of a door to withstand forceful entry. Products like the $59 Door Devil or $79 StrikeMaster II add a layer of steel to prevent door frames from splitting, making the act of kicking in a door that much more difficult.
3. Replace cheap hollow core doors with solid wood or metal doors: Hollow core doors should only be used for interior spaces, not for exterior entries. Solid wood doors are a bit more expensive, but infinitely stronger than hollow core models (some which are simply cardboard within). Pine doors are usually the most affordable of wood options, but hardwood is preferable (here's a list of many of the most common soft and hardwood varieties). Steel doors are also a surprisingly affordable and more secure option, and also resist rot due to environmental surroundings (fiberglass offers better rust/rot protection, but can crack under impact, and is more expensive than steel). Look for hurricane-rated models for the best protection.
4. Secure the door hinges if the door swings out and are exposed: If an experienced burglar notices a door swings outward, he may resort to attacking at the door's Achille's heel: the hinges. There are three methods to improve security at this vulnerable point: setscrew in the hinge, fast-riveted (crimped) pins, and safety studs. All three prevent the hinge pin from being removed and the door from being lifted up and off.
5. Add a layer of conspicuous security and lighting: Ideally, a would-be burglar would take a look at your front door and just skip it at first glance. Making it clear the front door is under surveillance with sufficient lighting can make your home more trouble than it's worth.
Adding a motion detecting LED light over a doorway is an affordable addition to a doorway (just remember to install it securely; someone actually stole my light!), while more hi-tech options can connect the front door to wi-fi/wireless network enabled devices for remote monitoring. One of the latest connected home security products is the SkyBell WiFi Doorbell; when a visitor rings the doorbell, the unit sends an alert and the ability to see, hear, and speak with whomever is at the door from iOS and Android devices.
And they make be fake, but dummy blinking security cameras can be an effective deterrent against snooping eyes scoping out a possible target. Something about blinking red lights just makes people nervous all around!