6 inexpensive ways to burglar-proof your home

Summer time means vacation time, as many of us escape the heat for cooler locales. 

It can also create the perfect opportunity for crooks to help themselves to your stuff.

We asked Valley locksmith Robert Vallelunga, of Acme locksmith in Mesa, to give us some simple and inexpensive fixes to make your house more secure.

Let’s start in the garage. Most of us have a cord which hangs from our opener track. That cord is supposed to let you open your garage door, even if the opener breaks down or the power goes out. The problem?  Vallelunga says, when the door is closed, the cord sits right next to the top of the door.

“You can get in by fishing a coat hanger right in there, grabbing that cord and giving it a tug. And you've just released that garage door so it opens all by itself,” he said. Vallelunga advises cutting the cord off. You can use a dowel with a basic hook to release the door if you have to, but he said the convenience of the cord isn’t worth the security risk, and cutting it costs nothing.

While you’re in your garage, look for a perforated punch-out hole, usually about midway up your garage door track. That hole is there to let you put a padlock through the track. Vallelunga says it offers an extra layer of security. When you’re off on vacation, there’s no way to open your garage door.

If you’re like most homeowners, you have a deadbolt lock on your front door, but Vallelunga says that lock is only as good as the door jam to secure it. Most of the metal plates holding the deadbolt are secured with half-inch screws, he said. The solution – replace them with longer, three and a half inch screws.

“It goes all the way through the door jam, into the two by four framing. It makes it very hard to kick the door in,”  Vallelunga said. It’s also an inexpensive fix. You can do it yourself, and it will only cost you a few cents for the new hardware.

Of course, many Arizona homes have a patio door in the back of the house. Vallelunga said, consider a secondary lock. For about 40 dollars, you can install a lock which latches from the top and bottom. Vallelunga says, that’s important, because burglars often try to lift the patio door off its track in order to get inside.

It’s also a good idea for families with a pool. "You get a level of child security because you can mount it high up and it also requires two hands to lock,” Vallelunga said. The lock itself can also be “locked” with a special key, so it can’t be opened by hand, even from the inside.

Vallelunga says, if anyone else has ever lived in your home, it’s a good idea to re-key your locks. For outside doors with deadbolts, ask the locksmith about spool pins. It’s an alternative to the regular pins in most locks, making them more difficult to pick or bump. A typical locksmith will charge less than 50 dollars.

And don’t forget the lock which guards your identity. “A lot of people don't realize you own your mailbox lock.  Get that re-keyed for the same reason you re-key your house,”  Vallelunga said. It will cost you about 40 dollars.

Total cost to do all these security fixes? A little less than 200 dollars, but Vallelunga says it can be worth the investment to make your home more secure.

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