Securing Special Doors

Beyond the front door.


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Your home may have one or more entry doors that you can't easily secure with a standard dead-bolt lock. Sliding glass doors that lead to a deck or patio, double doors, doors that open to the outside -- and the often-overlooked garage door -- are all potential points of entry that need special protection.

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Some thieves will try to lift sliding glass doors right out of their tracks to gain entry. To keep that from happening, insert strong metal spacer plates between the doors and their top tracks. To install them, with the sliding door open, screw two plates per door into the top track where you've predrilled pilot holes.

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To prevent a burglar from forcing open a sliding glass door, insert a steel pin into a hole you've drilled through the inside door frame and partway into the outside frame. Be sure to drill at least 5/8 inch away from the glass so you'll clear any glass that extends into the frame. For still more protection, place the proverbial broomstick handle in the lower inside track.

Heavy-duty keyed locks mount with "one-way" screws on the inside edge of the inner frame (at either the top or bottom). To secure the door when it's partially open for ventilation or pet access, drill a series of holes for the lock's bolt at intervals along the upper frame.

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With double doors, you'll need to double your defenses, securing each door separately and in different ways.

Protect the door you use most often as you would any hinged entry door -- with a dead-bolt lock, high-security strike plate, and reinforced hinges.

Secure the other door with sliding bar or barrel bolts at both top and bottom.

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Burglars like out-swinging entry doors because they have exposed hinge pins: No matter how strong the lock, they can simply pull out the hinge pins and work the door away from its frame. You can derail their plans by installing a steel door pin adjacent to each hinge. When the door is closed, the protruding pins mate into their own "strike plates" to prevent the door from being pried out even with the hinge pins removed.

Another vulnerable component of out-swinging doors is the door jamb. Unlike doors that open to the inside, there's no stop along the jamb to protect the door's latch or bolt from a pry bar or a hacksaw blade. To protect the lock, install a metal guard secured to the outside of the door with one-way screws or other hard-to-remove fasteners.

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To a burglar, your garage is a triple treat. It's likely home to bikes, lawn equipment, and tools he can easily move and fence, it's usually unoccupied so he can break in with less risk of detection, and -- best of all -- if it's an attached garage, it gives him a concealed entry point to the rest of your house.

Make sure your garage door is solid and in good repair, with no loose, damaged, or inadequately secured panels that a burglar could climb through without opening the door.

Treat your garage's access doors, windows, and the interior door that leads to your house as any other vulnerable point of entry.

Finally, burglar-proof your automatic garage-door opener. The preset code it had when it came from the factory was meant to be changed. Savvy thieves know the factory codes of most brands, and using openers that duplicate them is one of the first ploys they'll try to gain access.

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