Don't Bother Locking the Doors to Your House. I'll Break in Anyway!

Chip GreeneStarred Page By Chip Greene, 18th Dec 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Property & Real Estate>General

A guide to keeping your home safe from burglars, with some comments about locksmiths.

Tis' the season to be jolly

This is supposed to be the season to be jolly. But, there are lots of thieves and burglars out there who are determined to ruin the Christmas season for you. There are lots of houses out there full of brand new goodies and treasures just waiting to be burglarized this time of year.

Keep out those friends and relatives

Did you know that the locks on the doors of your home were designed to keep your friends and relatives out?! I learned this the first day that I took a job in a locksmith shop as a locksmith apprentice. I did this for two years and became quite proficient in dealing with locks of all kinds. Here are some tips that you might find valuable.
The locks on the doors to your house were designed to keep your friends and relatives from coming in at their will. Lacking a key your friends and relatives won't force the lock or knock your door in. A burglar will! So, you're safe from those you know and love. You hope! Burglars will just lean on your door and pop it open. It really is that easy! They will also break a window to gain entrance. Your windows are your homes' most vulnerable access point. Keep the bushes in front of your windows cut short. Burglars don't want an audience. If you rent an apartment live on the second floor. This cuts down the access points. Don't bother with those nice little chains you can put on the inside of the door. They are useless


Burglars come in several types, kids, common thieves and professionals. It depends on what you have and what they're looking for that will determine which one of these strikes your home. Kids and common thieves will break in anywhere and steal just about anything. The professional is usually going after the big ticket items. These can range from artwork, to jewelry and a particular favorite, exotic carpets. The professional will have a plan and will probably know exactly what you have in your home. That includes your alarm system. The professional can easily bypass this. Kids and common thieves are an entirely different matter. Alarms will thwart them. Unless they're the smash and grab type. That means they quickly break in grab what they want and quickly leave. If your home lacks an alarm system they will usually leave a big mess behind. Your best defense against all three of these types is to have someone home 24/7. The last thing a burglar wants is to be confronted by a homeowner. The next best alternative is to have a big, mean, protective dog in the house.
Most burglaries occur in the daytime. That's because in the daytime it is only a misdemeanor. At night it is a felony, which means more jail time if caught.
One common occurrence at the scene of a burglary is that the burglar may defecate on your floor. This isn't a sign of his contempt for you. It just means he was very nervous.

Types of locks

Back to those locks
The first thing you should do when moving in to a new house or apartment is to have all the locks rekeyed. You want to make sure that you are the only one who has the keys to your doors. Do this even if you're moving into a house that is brand new and had no former occupants. Construction crews have been known to steal the keys to new homes during construction.
All you need on your exterior door is a deadbolt. The common deadbolt only goes into the doorframe about 1 inch. Install deadbolts that go 3 inches into the frame. You don't need a locking doorknob if you have a deadbolt. Locking doorknobs will only serve to lock you out when you just rushed out to get the paper or your mail. It adds no extra security to the door.
Beware! Some people think it's a good idea to have what is known as a double deadbolt on their exterior doors. This is a deadbolt that requires a key both inside and out to operate. Many people have been found dead on the inside of these doors because they got trapped there in a fire. They'd taken the inside key out of the lock and couldn't find it or put it in the keyhole in time. Deadbolts should always have a latch that can be turned by hand on the inside. Where I was locksmith apprentice it was illegal for me to install a double deadbolt

Are you safe yet?

Now that you think you're reasonably safe, guess again. This is because there are unscrupulous locksmiths. I recently saw a local TV broadcast that was an example of this. I've also seen it firsthand. The broadcast, a sting operation, highlighted a woman who had been locked out of her house in a rainstorm. She called a locksmith. In each of four instances the locksmith simply drilled the lock with a cordless drill and opened the door. It only took a couple of minutes. The problem is that now she had to buy a new lock! A locksmith will be more than happy to sell you one at his inflated prices and charge you an installation fee. This woman was charged from $215-$415 for the locksmiths service. That didn't include a new lock or the installation. After they'd all been caught on camera each locksmith was asked why he didn't just pick the lock? One replied, "This poor woman is standing in the rain. Do you really think she wants me to take a half-hour to pick the lock?" The segment showed another locksmith that was called who picked the lock and 5 minutes. No damage! I saw that lock and I could've picked it in less than 30 seconds. I admit that sometimes even a simple lock can be a puzzle. Sometimes it takes less than 5 seconds to pick it and sometimes it could take several hours. That's just the nature of the beast. I often laugh when I see someone on TV or in a movie pick a lock with just a nail file. It doesn't work that way.
One locksmith in Scandinavia invented an unpickable lock. He was so confident in this that he offered anyone a reward of $1 million if they could pick his lock. No one has claimed the prize.
Another trick that is used by unscrupulous locksmiths is to overcharge their customers. For instance you hire one to replace all the locks on your home or business. You want just one key to operate all of the locks. Let's say that there are 12 locks. The locksmith installs all 12. He charges you for rekeying all 12 locks to operate on the same key. This can cost between $20 and $30 each. He actually had to do nothing because he gets these locks in batches of 12 and they are already keyed alike. Merry Christmas and good luck with your locks and don't worry I won't be breaking in because you have nothing that I desire.

Photo credits

Christmas tree with presents




Locksmith van


Burglars, Crime, Deadbolts, Home Security, Locks, Locksmiths

Meet the author

author avatar Chip Greene
I am a retired police officer, baseball enthusiast, political junkie, and published writer.
My articles will focus on crime, politics, and baseball.

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author avatar Retired
20th Dec 2014 (#)

Your article confirmed my suspicion that we are not safe behind locked doors under any circumstance. Burglars of any kind will get in when they want to and there isn't much we can do to prevent it.

I am a believer in putting up deterrents, however. like lighting the exterior fully at night, not leaving the spare key under the mat, closing blinds and shades in my absence, locking entry-level windows, keeping Christmas presents out of view.

Being at home a lot helps a lot, as you mentioned. Woe to the robber who met me while stealing my stuff!

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author avatar tafmona
22nd Dec 2014 (#)

i agree, at times being at home will help one to know so much of what happens in absence

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