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Protect Your Home 

(from St. Louis County Police Home Safety Handbook)


Concepts of Burglary Prevention


Prevention involves five concepts:  deter, deny, delay, detect, and deceive.  An effective burglary prevention program is based upon appropriate actions to implement these five concepts.


Deter:  Light accessible locations of your residence and yard during the night.


Deny:  Place valuables in a secure location.  Remember, if a burglar cannot find it, he cannot steal it.


Delay:  Install quality locks on all of your doors and windows and use them.


Detect:  Join or start a Neighborhood Watch program in your area so neighbors will be watching your house.  Call the St. Louis County Police precinct for information on how to get involved in Neighborhood Watch.


Deceive:  Place automatic timers on lights inside your home to simulate that your home is occupied.  Have a trusted friend, neighbor, or relative pick up your mail and paper deliveries while you are out of town.  Arrange for someone to mow the law to maintain a lived in appearance.


Remember, the more crime prevention steps you take, the greater your security.



Protection Against Entry

You will find the measures described in this section are inexpensive and you can easily accomplish them.  If you have technical questions that are not covered in this section, feel free to call the precinct nearest you for advice.


Key Control: 

  • True security begins with key control.  When you move into a home always have the locks rekeyed.  You should also take this step if you lose your keys.  A locksmith can rekey your locks without replacing them in most cases.

  • Do not "hide" an emergency key outside your residence.  It is better to trust a friend or neighbor with a spare key for emergencies.

  • Never have a name printed on your house keys.  If the keys are lost or stolen, you may have an unwelcome visitor.

  • Keep car keys and house keys separate.  This way your house keys are never left with a stranger when an attendant parks your car in a parking lot.


Entry Doors:  Exterior doors on houses or apartments should be of a solid core construction, at least 1 3/4" thick.  The door frame should also be of heavy construction.


Deadbolt Locks:  Most doorknobs have locks in them.  However, it is best to install an additional deadbolt lock.  Deadbolt lock guidelines:

  • Throw should extend 1" in the locking position.

  • The portion of the lock that will be mounted outside should contain a cylinder guard to prohibit twisting the lock with a wrench.  The guard should be solid metal and not casting or stapled metal.

  • The connecting screws that hold the lock together should be made of case hardened steel.  No exposed screw heads should be on the outside.

NOTE:  If your door has glass panes or there are windows within reach of your deadbolt lock, you should take extra precautions.  You should consider installing some type of reinforced glass to keep a burglar from simply breaking the glass, reaching in, and turning the lock to the open position.


Reinforced Strike Plate:  In order to make a deadbolt effective, you must reinforce the strike plate.  The strike plate is the piece of metal which attaches to the door frame and receives the deadbolt.  In the locking position most screws that come with commercial strike place only secure the strike plate to the decorative framing around your door and not the structural piece of wood behind the door frame.  You should secure the strike plate with four to six 3" brass wood screws.  The screws should reach into the structural woos behind the frame.


Reinforcement Sleeve:  If your exterior door is not of solid core construction, you should add a metal reinforcement sleeve when installing the deadbolt lock.


Sliding Glass Doors & Windows:  Sliding glass doors present a major security problems if they do not have the proper locks and special steps are not taken to prevent removal of the door.  Sliding glass doors can be lifted from the track and removed by pushing in the bottom of the door.  To prevent the doorframe from being opened in this manner, it is recommended that 1 1/4" pan head sheet metal screws be inserted into the top of the doorframe at both ends and in the middle.  The screws should be adjusted so that the door barely clears them when it is operated.


Once the screws are in place, to prevent the door from being lifted while it is closed, lock the door handle and place a wooden dowel or metal rod in the floor track.  This should make your sliding glass door secure.  For additional security, a safety film for glass is available.  The film is applied to the glass, and if the window is ever shattered, the film holds the glass together making entry difficult if not impossible.


Double Hung Windows:  The most effective protection for double hung windows is a key locking security sash lock.  If possible, mount the lock with 2" wood screws.


Basement Window:  Basement windows are common points of entry for burglars and special attention should be paid to securing them.  Basement windows, often hidden by bushes, trees, and air conditioning units can provide an ideal place for burglars to work unobserved.  Such windows should be replaced with Plexiglass or polycarbonate or reinforced with decorative security bars.

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