The most common door type in houses and apartments for use in front entries, porch doors and doors from garages and basements into the living area of a residence is the hinge door. It is important that all exterior hinge doors be of solid core construction, if made of wood, or that metal clad doors be used. Hollow-core or composition board doors can easily be battered or bored. When checking the security of your doors, the door itself and the hinges, locks and other hardware must be considered.

For all key-in-the-knob locks, a dead-latching plunger type is recommended. Check for these features.

plunger locks

The most frequently used lock for hinge doors is the key-in-the-knob latch lock. These locks can be forced by breaking off the knob, and frequently they can be opened by prying or slipping a piece of plastic, such as a credit card, between the jamb and the bolt. Key-in-the-knob locks can effectively be supplemented by the addition of a deadbolt.

deadbolt locks



The best defense for a good metal or solid core wood door is a deadlock with a one-inch throw bolt. If there are no windows in or near the door, the bolt may be operated from the inside by a thumb turn. Outside operation can be by key or combination.

thumb latch

When installing a deadbolt, attach the strike plate to the door with three inch brass wood screws. The screws should penetrate through the frame to a structural member.

If your door has glass panes or if there are windows within forty inches of the lock, a double cylinder deadlock is recommended, so that a key is required from either side of the door.

double cylinder lock

The jimmy-proof deadlock shown below can be used on any hinge door where the strike can be securely fastened to the door frame. These locks come in double cylinder and inside thumb operated models.

jimmy proof lock


If your door hinges are located on the outside of the door, non-removable hinge pins should be used. There is also a simple way to prevent removal of a door once the hinge pins have been extracted. Remove the two center screws from the hinge and insert a headless screw in such a manner that when the door is closed the screw will engage the other hinge.

door hinge

For doors with glass panels that require special treatment - such as doors to garages and alleys and areaways which may conceal a burglar - security screening or decorative grilles should be used. Screens or grilles should be securely mounted using non-removable screws.

For solid panel exterior doors, a see-through view is recommended.

wide angle viewer



Sliding glass doors present a major security problem if they do not have the proper locks and if special steps are not taken to prevent removal of the door.

A sliding glass door is lifted into position when installed and, therefore, must be lifted from the track to be removed. To prevent this, it is recommended that 1 1/4 inch pan head (large head), sheet metal screws be inserted into the top of the door frame at both ends and at the middle. These screws should be adjusted so that the door barely clears them when it is operated.

patio door

The best lock for a sliding glass door is a deadlock, which utilizes a bore pin tumbler cylinder and is operated by a key from the outside. The lock bolt should engage the strike sufficiently so that it will not be disengaged by any amount of movement. When the existing inside pull has to be changed in order to accommodate a new deadlock, an inside cylinder pull is recommended as a replacement.

patio door locks


Double hung sash windows, which operate upward and downward, usually have a simple sash lock which can easily be jimmied. Check your windows to see how well your lock works. Storm windows and screens offer some additional protection.

The most effective protection for double hung windows is a key-locking security sash lock. These should be mounted with two inch or three inch wood screws.

window lock

For extremely vulnerable windows heavy-gauge metal ornamental grilles may be used. Grilles should be attached with one-way screws or fastened from the inside.

window grille

If you need windows open for ventilation, insert screws or metal pins in both upper and lower sash. Commercial sash locking pins are also available.

window pins


Protect ALL your windows. Remember that second floor and basement windows are as important as your first floor windows. Screens and storm windows are always an asset if properly secured.

Sliding windows - either metal or wood frame - should be protected in the same way as sliding doors. Wood or metal dowels laid in the track and screws set in the track to prevent the window from being lifted out are effective protective measures.

sliding window

Casement windows generally open and close by means of a gear operating handle and have a locking device which secures the window to the center post. Some protection is offered by removing the crank handle from the operating mechanism. Do not leave casement windows partially open as they can easily be forced.

casement window

Louvered windows offer the same security problems as casement windows. Small slat louvers have the advantage that it is difficult to remove enough lites to gain entry easily. Make sure your louvered window locks are in working order.



Garage doors are a possible means of entry to your house, as well as offering a burglar the opportunity to steal automobiles, tools, ladders, bicycles and other property stored in the garage. Keep your door closed and locked.


Walks and driveways should be kept free from offering concealment to intruders and other criminals.


While offering possible concealment to criminals, gates and fences properly used can also deter the removal of large items and increase the difficulty of breaking in.


Low limbs can provide second story access.


A very effective clue that someone is at home and cares.


Deny intruders a hiding place to work, don’t block the view. Permit ready visibility by neighbors and police.


Residential burglar alarms are available from electrical and hardware dealers, as well as entire systems that may be leased or purchased from alarm companies. Most residential alarms emit a loud noise from a bell, siren or tone generator. An audible alarm on doors and windows can be an effective deterrent to the amateur burglar. If you do install an audible alarm, make sure that your family and your neighbors are informed about its function and that they are trained to call your law enforcement agency when they hear the alarm. Your law enforcement agency should be consulted when you install an alarm.


Exterior lighting is extremely important in residential security. Each exterior doorway should be lighted to prevent a burglar from concealing his activities. yards and windows should be lighted to prevent concealment. A number of ornamental and functional outdoor lights are available.

Yard lights and entrance lights can be equipped with sensors which will turn the light on at dusk and off at dawn.

outdoor lights

Ornamental porch and yard post lamps are a means of eliminating night blind spots.

ornamental light

To give the appearance that you are at home, use an electric timer to turn lamps on in the evening and off at your normal retirement hour. Timers can be used to turn on radios as well as lamps. Use at least one timer on each floor of the house.