Apartments Locksmith Tips
* Open lobby doors only for people you know.
* When moving in, have the locks re-keyed.
* Use only your initials and last name to identify yourself on the lobby list.
Tip #1 Make your home security system like an onion, not an egg. Layers upon layers are not only the best deterrent, but the best defense against breaking. Reason: It is easy for a criminal to bypass a single line of defense. Multiple layers not only slow him, but serve as a means to alert you or your neighbors that someone is trying to break in. Doing these “layered walk-away” makes it more difficult for a criminal to meet his criteria of quick and unobserved entry. If, like the tip of an iceberg, enough of these deterrents are visible, most of the times the would-be intruder will simply choose not to even try. If he does try, then the layers he did not see will impede him. A good example of a layered defense is rosebushes outside the window, double-locked, barred and safety coated side windows and something difficult to climb over inside under the window.
Tip #2 Pretend to be a burglar Walk around your property and ask yourself: How would I break in? Examine your house from the street, where are the blind spots? What are the most vulnerable areas and, therefore, likely to be attacked? Stand outside the windows and look in, make sure no valuables, like expensive electronics or artwork, are visible. If you can see your belongings doing this, so can criminals. Reason: We don’t tend to think of our homes in these terms. So spend just a few minutes doing this. Find where “blind spots” are (areas where a criminal can work without being seen or would be screened from view of a neighbor looking to see what that loud noise they just heard). Also look for “weaknesses” (easy access points) are (for example, sliding glass doors, doggy doors or louvered windows). These are the areas that will be “attacked” by the criminal. That is also where you must focus your defenses.
Tip #3 Consider the area that the lock sits in A lock is not enough, you must also address the area around it. You need to extend your thinking about security measures to 18 and twenty four inches around the lock itself. That is the area you must protect. Reason: A burglar doesn’t care how much damage he causes getting in. The best locks in the world will do no good if he smashes the door in. A pinewood door frame will splinter and give way after a few savage kicks. The backdoor deadbolt can often be bypassed by just breaking a window and reaching through to unlock it. Windows can be broken and locks undone. Many locked gates can be opened by simply reaching around and over. A hasp-and-lock will swiftly yield to blows from a even a small sledgehammer.
Tip #4 As well as locking something, you must also protect the lock and its components A common combination of cheap locks and small construction flaws, that we tend not to notice, often give criminals the “cracks” in security they need to break in. Reason: Many home door locks can be quickly bypassed with a knife or screwdriver slid in the gap between door and frame. After that the criminal can easily work the tongue of most cheap locks out of the door frame. A thin kitchen knife slid between sash windows can “tap” a normal window lock open. Hasps and locks can be hammered or twisted off in a few blows, or simply cut off with bolt cutters. Many sliding windows and doors can simply be lifted out of place. Door: Look at the gap between your door and your door frame from the inside – can you see the lock’s tongue? All it takes is a flip of the criminal’s wrist while holding a screwdriver while on the outside to break away the thin doorjamb molding and expose that same gap. From there, it is another simple wrist gesture to jimmy the tongue out of the faceplate. Total elapsed time for break-in, about 10 seconds — with minimal noise. On ALL outside exit doors, buy locks that have locking tongues. Test this by holding the door open and locking the knob. Then attempt to depress the tongue into the door with your finger. Better locks will have a secondary tongue that doesn’t move. The best locks will have entire tongues that don’t move. Window: Put “window stops” on the first floor and basement window frames. These often functionally amount to secondary and tertiary locks. The best kinds are those that go through a moveable frame and lock it into place. Something as simple as drilling a hole through both frames when the window is closed and placing a nail in the hole will lock the windows in place. Other: Use hasps with protective shrouds. These make it harder for the criminal to hammer away the lock. If for some reason you have an outward swinging door, not only get the best lock possible, but place a safety plate (a small formed sheet of metal) over the tongue so it cannot be seen or easily manipulated These slow down the criminal and make him work hard to get in. This entails him making more noise for longer periods of time, thereby increasing his chances of being detected.
Tip #5 Brace door frames and put multiple locks on all outside doors What he doesn’t know *will* hurt him. With a little extra work, the bracing can be hidden behind the door frame’s internal molding and will not be noticeable from either inside or outside. For the burglar, this is like unexpectedly hitting an invisible wall. Reason: The most common means of breaking into homes is simply by kicking in the door. Most door frames are made of 1 inch pine which saves the contractor money. This makes them vulnerable to this basic assault. Multiple locks and bracing under the molding make this kind of entrance unlikely and will not destroy the beauty of your home. Bracing: Take between a 2 and 3 foot piece of flat steel stripping (1/8 x 2 inches is good) and drill a staggered series of holes down its length. When you take the interior molding off the door — in most houses — you will see the 1×6″ (or 1×5″) pine plank of the door frame. That is nailed to the 2×4″ studs of the wall. (You may or may not be able to see the studs because of drywall, but they are there). That thin 1 inch piece of cheap wood (it is usually pine) is all that was between your possessions and a burglar. A few savage kicks, and it usually breaks off in a 2- to -3 foot sliver and the door swings open. Fast and more secure version: On the inside wall, where the molding was, position the steel strip so that all the lock strike plates are behind it and its edge is along the edge of the 1×6. Screw it into place with long screws — leaving a few holes open. The staggered drill pattern should result in the screws seating into both the 1×6 and the 2×4 studs. Take the molding and shave or chisel out the thickness of the metal strip in the proper place. Replace the molding, using the remaining holes to tack it down over the strip. Putty and repaint. Slower, better looking, but slightly less secure: This version looks slightly better, but requires some precision Dremel or chisel work. Instead of abutting the strip to the exact edge of the 1×6, seat it between 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch away from the edge. When carving your groove in the molding, leave the same sized tongue running down the door side edge. This seats over and covers the steel, making it invisible. Repaint. Strike plate: Just assume that they did it wrong — and odds are you will be right. Using the same length of screws that you are using for the steel strip, remove the shorter screws that are in the door frame strike plate and replace them with the bigger screws. It is not uncommon for short screws of less than a half inch to be used (or come with the lock assembly); such short screws are easily ripped out after a few kicks. On the other hand a 1 1/2 or 2 inch set of screws that reach into the house’s very framing is not going anywhere quickly — no matter how hard you kick it. Multiple locks: Deadbolts, rim locks and floor locks are your friends. All outside doors should have at least two separate locks. Doors that are on the blind side of the house or homes in high-risk areas should have more. The deeper the tongue goes the better. Tip #6 Find alternatives to normal deadbolts in doors that have windows (or windowed frames) Talk with a locksmith about what is available. Reason: Most burglaries occur during the day when you are away at work. Unfortunately, many back doors are decorative and windowed. It is easy for a burglar to punch out a small window, reach in and unlock the door. Since they are off the street and out of view this is why most break-ins occur through the back and side doors. A single-key deadbolt has a key on one side and a handle on the other. After punching out a window a burglar can reach in and, with ease, open the deadbolt then the doorknob – elapsed time five seconds. Placing a secondary lock (i.e., a floor lock) outside of the reach of the windows is recommended. If that is too much, a double-key deadbolt is recommended for non-primary access doors. This secures the door while you are not at home. If fire safety concerns you (and it should) at night put your keys in the deadbolt. This not only allows you immediate exit should a fire occur, but you will also always know where your keys are.
Tip #7 Treat inside garage doors the same as an outside door: multiple locks and bracing. Even though it is inside your home, it must be able to withstand a full out assault. Often, the doors that access the house from the garage are hollow-core and have cheap locks (if they are locked at all) which is why breaking through garages is so common. Reason: Criminals often cruise neighborhoods looking for open garage doors. Once an open garage door is found, they pull in, close the door, park their car and then start piling your possessions into it. Although they might still do it occasionally, criminals no longer need to cruise the neighborhood with a stolen garage door opener and pushing the button to see whose door will open, and incredible number of people just leave the door wide open for them when “just running down to the store.” For criminals on foot, the side door of a garage is a prime target, as it is often easier and offering better ease of access/escape than a back door. This is why you must treat the door into your home from the garage like an outside door. If the inner door is locked it is usually hollow core and with minimal locks. Realize that with the garage door closed the criminals can unleash a sustained full out assault against that inside door. Usually the door will give way. By bracing it and replacing hollow core doors with solid core ones; you significantly lessen the chances of that happening. It should also be noted that many home invasion robberies come through open garage doors and these inner doors. More so than the front door.