JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Three recent incidents where burglars kicked in homeowners' doors have experts offering advice for ways to keep thieves out of your house.
Sunday, News4Jax shared the story of a man and woman whose home was burglarized while the couple was at the hospital, welcoming their first baby into the world.
The thieves got in by kicking in the door, stealing appliances, televisions and even baby clothes.
A city crime map of the couple's neighborhood showed there were 22 residential and commercial burglaries within a half-mile radius of the couple's home.
Experts say locking a door might seem like the common sense thing to do to keep people out, but oftentimes it's not enough.
"We always recommend a deadbolt above an existing knob lock," said Gary Seliger of Piner's Lock & Safe.
Seliger said adding a few extra things to a door can make a huge difference, starting with a door strike plate. It's designed to better protect the bolt from any friction, but according to Seliger, most doors come with a tiny strike plate with really small screws. For $11, homeowners can get a heavy duty strike plate with longer screws, and for $35 a door jamb reinforcer, which is even better.
"Kicking in the door, you'd have to take almost the door from here to here, frame kicked in, as opposed to just a couple of inches," Seliger said.
Seliger said it's also important to have a deadbolt that's made of steel and to be sure whoever installs it makes sure there's enough room for the deadbolt to fully extend into the door frame.
"(If the deadbolt isn't fully extended), if anyone gets a screwdriver and gets into your frame and gets the end of the bolt, they push it right back and they're into your house," Seliger warned.
Seliger said homeowners can also invest in a Medeco lock and key, which costs a little more than $200. A standard key's cuts are all the same with different heights, but a Medeco key has cuts that go left, right and straight across, making it nearly impossibly to pick.
Seliger's company offers free home security chek-ups that include checking doors, windows, locks and keys. For more information or to request a check-up, call 904-398-1646. The business is located at 3861 Hendricks Ave. in Jacksonville.
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said when going out of town, it's important not to make that public and to always have someone keep an eye on the house.
Security tips from Piner's Lock & Safe:
- Crooks will look for the vulnerable home: one without deadbolts, one with an open door, a broken window, or one without a home security system.
- It is not expensive to take the basic steps toward securing your home. Keep the main points of entry locked with deadbolt locks.
- Remember who has copies of the keys to your home. Change locks if keys are lost or stolen. If you've recently moved in, change all door locks as soon as possible.
- Be sure to draw the shades and leave a radio or television on when no one is home. Install lighting with timers. Ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway.
- Always request identification from service or utility workers. Potential thieves don't always look like "thugs."
- At night, keep your garage and the path to your home well-lit. Trim the landscaping and make sure there are no areas for someone to easily hide.
- To avoid being surprised, look around and make sure that no one followed you into the garage before stepping out of your car.
- Get involved in Neighborhood Watch programs. They work! Get to know your neighbors. Report suspicious people to the police.
- Make sure you have high-security locks on all exterior doors. Use high-security locks on desks and cabinets. Purchase a safe for keeping valuables, records and keepsakes.
- Make sure no one can copy your house key(s) without your knowledge and permission.
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