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The most basic component of home security are high quality, expertly installed doors and windows and their respective locking systems.
The doors and windows of any home are the easiest points of access. Consequently, they are the first areas of address in the improvement of any home security system.
The strength of the locking mechanism itself and inadequate reinforcement of door frames is another big factor.
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Home builders typically use inexpensive lock hardware when they build, even in houses that cost in the millions. These cheap items are very poorly made and are easily forced open or picked by criminals. Most inexpensive locks use the ancient pin tumbler lock cylinders and can be "picked" or "bumped" open by an intruder. (A simple Youtube search will show you hundreds of videos that have received millions of views demonstrating the ease of opening pin tumbler lock cylinders.)
Mulholland will replace your current lock sets on exterior doors with heavy-duty lock hardware from reputable manufacturers. Mulholland advises the use of ANSI Grade 2 locks at a minimum, with the use of ANSI Grade 1 locks preferred. For the best protection, we suggest the use of high-security lock cylinders (such ASSA or Medeco) that increase the difficulty of picking, bumping and unauthorized duplication of keys. Each exterior door should be fitted with a lock set with a high-security cylinder and a high-security deadbolt lock.
Ideally, residences are equipped with steel security doors coupled with high security lock sets at every entrance from the outdoors.
Security doors are of different grades and levels of resistance. There is a corresponding ratio in cost.
It is often possible for a burglar to easily kick-in the exterior doors of the home because there is inadequate support provided by the door frames. Often, the bolt or latch enters a wood frame that provides a 1/4 inch or less of support for the door bolt or latch. A quick kick to the door provides enough force to split the door frame, allowing the door to be easily opened.
Mulholland installs heavy-duty strike plates at all exterior door frames. We install longer strike plates with greater surface area that allows the use of more mounting screws. We install strike plates with long screws that extend all the way into the wall stud next to the door rather than just into the door frame itself.
The standard factory-supplied lock hardware on many residential windows and sliding doors is of very poor quality, allowing the window or door to be easily forced open or lifted from its tracks.
Mulholland will install supplementary locking devices on sliding doors and windows. These devices are available in a wide variety.
Exterior glass is used at nearly every residence. Some homes have only a few exterior glass doors and windows, while at other homes glass makes up a significant portion of the exterior wall. While all glass is a potential entry point for a burglar, certain glass can especially vulnerable. This glass includes:
1. Glass panes within doors or beside doors. These windows can be broken, allowing the burglar to reach inside to unlock the door.
2. Glass windows located at grade level in concealed locations. These windows can be broken and allow the burglar to enter unobserved.
3. Glass windows located in window wells that are below grade. These windows allow a burglar to crawl into the window well, break a window, and enter unobserved.
Residential garage doors are commonly equipped with garage door openers. Most of these openers have an emergency release mechanism that allows the door to be opened in case of power failure. In the majority of cases, the emergency release mechanism can be released from the outside of the garage using a coat hanger or other stiff wire. The coat hanger is inserted at the gap at the top of the door, and is used to grab the cord connected to the emergency release. Once this cord is pulled, the door can be freely opened from the outside. This technique is often used by more sophisticated intruders as a method to gain entry to garages.
For many years, simple radio controls were used in conjunction with garage door openers. These radio controls used a limited number of different code combinations, often 256 codes or less. An intruder with a compatible transmitter can manually try various code combinations until they find one that works. There are also homemade devices that can rapidly scan through all code combinations quickly, allowing the door to be opened in a manner of minutes.
One way to tell if your radio controls are one of the older types is to look at your garage door transmitter ("clicker"). Transmitters used with the older systems usually had a "DIP" switch that allowed the code combination to be set. Opening the case of the transmitter will allow you to see if a DIP switch is present. If it is, you probably have one of the older systems.
Solution: Older radio controls should be replaced with newer radio controls that use "rolling code" technology. A rolling code system selects a new code from 4.3 billion possible combinations each time the system is used, making it nearly impossible for an intruder to ever match the code. New radio controls can usually be added to existing garage door openers without requiring that the opener itself be replaced.
Many homeowners are using inexpensive safes purchased from an office supply store or wholesale club to store their valuables. We have seen safes of this type used to store hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry or investment grade precious metal. Safes of this type are intended to provide protection against fire, not burglary, and can be easily compromised by a knowledgeable intruder.
Mulholland installs UL Listed burglary safes to store jewelry and other valuables in the home. We also bolt safes to the floor. We have also devised many ways of concealing a safe so that intruders are unaware of their existence.
Many homes are not equipped with additional locked doors or barriers on the inside of the building. Once a burglar makes his way through an exterior door or window, he has free access to all areas of the home.
A fundamental element of providing good security involves a concept called "Concentric Circles of Protection". The premise of this concept is that security can be greatly improved by providing multiple "rings" or "layers" of security, each of which must be penetrated in order for an intruder to gain access to the high-value assets within a home.
For example, at the average home, additional "layers" of security can be created by installing deadbolt locks on both the master bedroom door and the master bedroom closet. These doors would be kept closed and locked when the resident was away from the home. High-value assets such as jewelry would be stored in the master bedroom closet. The implementation of these measures would create a condition where there were three "layers" of security: the exterior doors and windows, the master bedroom door, and the master bedroom closet door. A burglar who was intent on stealing jewelry would have to make his way through three doors before achieving his goal. If the home had a safe, and this safe were installed within the master bedroom closet, this would create a fourth layer of security.
Locked master bedroom doors and master bedroom closet doors could also be used to provide secure places to hide in the event that someone forced their way into the premises when the occupants were home. (For additional information on providing protection of residents while at home, see Introduction to Safe Rooms.)
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