And now is a good time to do it, given that we're in the holiday season when there's typically an escalation in bizarre burglaries. This is the time of year when a certain segment of our population realizes that they've over-spent on crank to the point where they have no money for holiday gifts, and so they better go steal something to cover the gap. It was just over one year ago that the lady on Walnut Pointe emerged from her shower to find that men had broken into her house.
As always, this is not legal or professional advice I'm supplying here, and I'm not a home security expert. These are just some personal observations as to what I've chosen to do, and why.
My Pearland burglars gained initial access to the house by using a battering ram to break the frame of our front door. The door itself was a heavy solid mahogany number and would not yield, but the frame was simply builder-grade pine plus common hardware and it splintered accordingly.
This was the same approach used back in August of 2012 by the individual(s) who apparently attempted to break into that home on Cypress Pointe.
|Except in that case, they targeted the BACK door rather than the front. That attempt was not successful, but the door and frame were reportedly damaged beyond repair (according to the account published in the neighborhood newsletter). |
Screengrabbed from www.crimereports.com
And by the way, it's been delightfully quiet around here lately, crime-wise. This grab shows reported incidents from August 1, 2012 through November 27, 2012.
|Well, a partial photo sequence at least, because my husband had already commenced this particular honey-do before I had the camera ready.|
Basically our front door has this very common configuration: door knob below, and deadbolt above. As delivered by the builder, each of these components had its own separate small strike plate held in place by two screws (you can see the original holes here).
My husband went to the hardware store and bought a single larger, thicker strike plate which fit this standard spacing (I believe it cost about ten bucks). However, given that the frame had been fitted with the original separate plates, he had to trace the outline of the new one and then use a chisel to chip out the extra wood, so that the new larger plate would sit flush with the frame. This job is a pain in the lower anatomy requiring patience, but it doesn't require a lot of skill or special tools. What you see here is the finished chisel-out.
|Here's the new single-piece strike plate dry-fitted in place. Notice how it has nine screw holes instead of the original four that the two smaller plates had.|
I can't remember who put me onto the idea of double-sided deadbolts. It may have been the Pearland police officers who investigated our burglary, because I've used double-siders on every house I've owned since that time.
This idea scares some people because they think, "OMG, what if there's a fire and I can't find my keys?! I'll be trapped!!"
Well, first of all, exercise a bit of self-discipline and keep a spare key near every double-deadbolted door, but keep them:
- Beyond the reach of anyone who puts an arm through the door glass, and
- Near the door but hidden.
Secondly, remember that you still have your fifteen-odd ground-floor windows to choose from if you need to get out in an emergency. Overcome psychological inertia and see the senselessness of requiring a door as an egress point in an emergency.
Double-sided deadbolts also offer the following additional advantage: They impair a burglar's ability to get back out of your house if they do get in, say, through a window. Even if they come in by the riskier means of a window (visible window transits clearly signal something wrong at the house - door transits may be ambiguous and less noticeable to neighbors and passers-by), they're most likely going to want to exit through a door because they'll be carrying your goodies and it's inconvenient to try to muscle flat-screen TVs and other items out of windows that were never designed for such activities. Faced with these kinds of efficiency barriers, they may just conclude, "Oh, to hell with this!" and go find an easier target.
Our back door is a different configuration and I'll try to deal with that in a separate post. In the meantime, may your holiday weeks be burglar-free.