Windows are easier to penetrate, so doors are not always as attractive as a main entrance for a burglar. However, doors are usually the main exit.
Sixty percent of all home burglars enter through doors. The common key-in-knob lock can often be opened in a matter of seconds by a professional with a credit card or a screwdriver. There are simple ways to make this technique unusable.
First, let’s talk about the door itself. There are many different types of entrance doors. Some are more secure than others. Many entrance doors include some sort of glass, or glass panel directly adjoining the door (door lights), that can be broken. Unless your lock key locks from the inside, a burglar can simply reach through the broken glass around to the inside and open the door. If the panel is large enough, he or she can simply crawl in.
If you have such a door, but do not want to replace it, consider replacing the glass panel with tempered glass. This glass is many times stronger than common plate glass and should deter any intruder. Many doors already have tempered glass, since local codes often demand it. If not, take the exact measurements to a hardware store, home center, or glass company and order one. It may be relatively expensive. It has to be special ordered (it is too hard to be cut), but is well worth the cost In any case, whenever a door has standard glass in it or near it, install a double cylinder lock so burglars cannot open the door by reaching through the opening after breaking the glass.
Study the door itself. Is it a sturdy, well-built door? Some newer homes use doors that have a hollow interior (hollow-core doors). These are very easy to break. You may want to consider replacing the door altogether with a new metal or solid-core door. Although replacing a door may seem intimidating, it is actually quite simple, even for the most novice of the do-it- yourselfers. You can buy these doors with the hinges and hardware pre-in-stalled in all standard sizes. Simply remove the pins from the hinges of the old door, remove the door, and slip the new door on and replace the hinges. If the hinges, handles, locks, or strike plates do not match up, you will have to adjust for this.
Also note your hinges. If the hinges are exposed to the exterior of the home, you have a problem. Burglars can simply pop out the hinges and remove the door, even when it is locked light! This, a burglar’s dream, was some carpenter’s mistake. If this is the case, reinstall the hinges so they are exposed to the inside. A better method is to replace them with hinges that use setscrews so that the pins cannot be removed. You can also buy kits that allow you to retrofit existing hinges with these set- screws so they too will be non-removable. Burglars who succeed in penetrating your home, and who want to remove large items through the door, will not be able to remove the door if you are using a locking mechanism that locks from the inside as well as from the outside and non-removable hinges.
Even a high-quality metal or solid wood door with non-removable hinges maybe of little help if the frame around the door is not sturdy. The door can be penetrated with a good shove or use of a pry bar. The exposed frame around the door, the jamb, is made of 1 “-thick wood which is easy to break through. However, this jamb is attached to a 2 x 4 framing member. If all hinge screws, strike plate screws, and bolts penetrate into this thicker member, the door is more secure. Replace all these screws in the hinges and strike plates with high-quality 3” screws which will penetrate deep into this frame. Also, use the longer deadbolts, so they will do the same.
You may want to consider replacing not only the door but the surrounding frame (jamb, trim, and molding) as well Test to see if the frame is movable (if there is a gap between the frame and the wall stud). If it is, a burglar can simply push on the frame with a crowbar and pop the door open. Metal stripping can be installed around existing doors which will help make the door more secure. Though replacing both the frame and the door is somewhat complex; it is probably easier than you think. You can buy doors “pre-hung.” This means that the door is hung in its new frame with all hardware and hinges in place. You take out the old door and frame and replace it with a new, more secure one. Depending on the type of siding and interior finish, this can be anywhere from a two-hour to a two-day job. Remember, it is not just the quality of the door itself you are concerned with, but the method in which it is attached in its frame.
A few other things to consider about doors are appropriate to mention here. Install a good door viewer or peephole that has a 180-degree viewing area, and use it. If you have sliding glass doors, check to see if they can be lifted off their tracks from the inside. If so, and to prevent this, screw some screws in up top that protrude into the track but do not obstruct the door from sliding. Also, install bars that can be fitted into the inside track so that the door cannot be moved when they are in place. These are available in any hardware or home center.