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Residential Burglary

Outside Your Home

The exterior of your home should be free from offering concealment to a burglar. A house with doors and windows in full view is a psychological deterrent. Intruders are forced to work in the open where the risks of detection are higher. Here's how you can discourage a burglar:

  • Keep shrubs trimmed away from windows and doors.
  • Maintain adequate exterior lighting, especially on vulnerable access points to your home. (Some power companies offer a bright security lamp and post for a nominal monthly charge.)
  • Don't leave ladders around the exterior of your house where they can be used by a burglar to gain entrance.
  • Don't leave valuables such as lawn mowers, bicycles or tools in the yard or in an open or unlocked garage or shed (your tools could be used to break into your home).
  • Keep your garage door closed and locked at all times. The door leading from the garage to the house is a favorite access point for a burglar.
  • Display your house number conspicuously and have it well illuminated. This will aid the law enforcement, medical or other emergency personnel in finding your home.
  • Never leave notes that can inform a burglar that your house is unoccupied.
  • Never leave newspapers, mail, or other deliveries which might also inform a potential burglar that your house is unoccupied.

Closing Your Doors to Burglars

Hinge Doors


The most common door type used in homes and apartments is the hinge door. It is important that all exterior doors be of solid wood core construction or steel clad construction. Avoid light gauge aluminum.

Hollow core or composition board doors are not effective deterrents because they can be easily battered or bored. It is defeating the purpose of a good deadbolt lock to mount it on a hollow or foam core door.

Lock all doors even when gone momentarily - down the street, to the store, visiting neighbors, etc.

If door hinges are exposed on the exterior of the door, non-removable hinge pins should be used. To prevent removal of a door that has removable hinge pins, you can employ a headless screw or nail. Drill two holes opposite each other in the center of both leaves of the hinge. Insert a headless screw or nail into the leaf on the door frame side. Allow screw or nail to protrude ½”. When the door is closed, the screw will engage the other hinge leaf.

Drill a hole in the center of the hinge and insert a headless screw or nail in the door frame side allowing it to protrude approximately one half inch with screws at least 2 inches long.

Inspect door frames and repair any splitting or rotting. Wooden frames should be at least 2" thick. If a hollow steel frame is used, the residual air space behind the frame should be filled with a crush resistant material such as cement or grout.

Do not rely on a chain latch. It is not a security device.

This will prevent an intruder from wedging a crowbar between the door and frame to free the door. You can strengthen the frame by removing some of the short screws in the door hinges and replace them longer screws. This can also be done on the lock strike plate.

A solid wood core front door should have a wide angle 180 degree viewer (or larger) installed for easy viewing of visitors without opening the door. It is inexpensive and easy to install.


Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding glass doors are particularly easy targets for the burglar. The doors can be easily removed from their tracks unless they are properly secured. To prevent removal of doors, install a 1-1/4” pan head (large head) sheet metal screw in upper track so the frame just clears the head of the screw. To secure a door in position, you can drill a hole at a downward angle in the overlapping frames at the top center of the door, and insert a steel pin or heavy nail. Be careful not to crack the glass.

There are different types of sliding glass door auxiliary locks that can be used. Key operated locks usually offer the best security - especially those using a deadbolt or pin mechanism.

A metal bar (Charlie Bar) that attaches to the side frame and fits across the middle of the sliding door, running parallel to the floor, can be used to prevent opening of the door.



Jalousie Doors


Jalousie doors are a security risk because a burglar can easily enter through them. The best solution is to replace them with solid wood core doors. If this is not feasible, the door can be covered on the inside with heavy gauge expanded metal mesh, bolted to the door with carriage bolts.









Double Doors

The inactive door can be adequately secured by installing cane bolts ½" diameter x 12" long on both the top and bottom of the door.

Lock the front door when working in the back yard and vise versa! Always keep your doors locked while inside your house.





Garage Doors


A good, case hardened padlock, on which both ends of the shackle engage, should secure your garage door.

If the garage door rolls on a track, a hole should be drilled in the track so the padlock can be utilized as a brace. Steel pins can also be used.

Electronic garage door openers with automatic locking devices offer good security.

The door leading from the garage to the house should be a solid wood core door and should have a good quality deadbolt lock. This door is another favored access point for burglars because it offers concealment and access to your tools.

Keep your garage, and any other doors leading from the garage to the house, closed and locked - whether you are home or not.


Locking Out Trouble

Sound locking devices cannot make a residence completely impregnable. They can force the criminal into a situation in which they must break glass in order to enter -- something they would probably like to avoid.


The amount of money spent on security hardware should be proportional to what is being protected. But by the same token, purchasing security hardware which meets minimal technical requirements listed below could also protect your family from bodily injury. Since prices for security hardware vary -- depending on the area, the manufacturer, and differences in cosmetic features -- the buyer should "shop around."

Chain latches can be ripped off the door with minimum pressure. The best way to check a caller's identity is to use a wide angle viewer or peephole.

A common type of lock in many homes and apartments is the key in knob or spring latch type. This particular lock is easily defeated by most amateur burglars with a credit card or screwdriver inserted between latch and strike plate. This lock offers no security and should be supplemented by a single or double cylinder deadbolt or rim type or surface mounted lock. The spring latch with a plunger is similar to the spring latch lock but has a small bar or device.

A single cylinder deadbolt lock should be mounted on a solid wood core door when there is no breakable glass within 40 inches of the interior locking mechanism. The single cylinder deadbolt lock has a thumb turn piece on the inside.

A double cylinder deadbolt lock, which is key operated from both the interior and exterior, should be used when there is glass within 40 inches of the interior locking mechanism.

Caution: The use of a double cylinder deadbolt lock can be a fire escape hazard. Check your local building and fire codes.

If this type of lock is used while the home is occupied, either leave the key in the lock or hanging somewhere near the lock. Children should be trained in the use of this lock and know the exact location of the key. When the dwelling is unattended, the keys should be hanging out of reach of a burglar who may break the glass.

When moving into a new dwelling, have tumblers in all exterior locks changed. This can be done inexpensively by a licensed locksmith.

Both single and double cylinder deadbolt locks should meet these basic criteria to be a good security device:

  • The bolt must extend a minimum of 1" and be case hardened or contain a hardened insert.
  • The cylinder guard must be tapered or spherical in design to make it difficult to grip with pliers or a wrench.
  • It must be made of solid metal - not hollow casting or stamped metal, and preferably be able to turn freely.
  • The connecting screws that hold the lock together must both be on the inside.
  • There must be no exposed screw heads on the exterior of the door. The connecting screws must be at least ¼" in diameter and screw into solid metal stock - not screw post.
  • When shopping for a deadbolt lock, you may wish to take the diagram and description page to a locksmith or hardware store to be sure the lock you buy meets all of the requirements.

Do not allow children to open the door to strangers!

Rim type of surface locks use a vertical or horizontal deadbolt locking mechanism. These locks are mounted on the interior surface of the door. A rim type lock is good if it is the interlocking type. With a proper strike, an interlocking rim lock can be used on either in-swing or out-swing door.

Proper installation of this lock is extremely important. The strike should be secure to the door jamb with minimum 2" wood screws. The lock must be through-bolted to the door with carriage bolts. Do not use wood screws to mount a lock.

As a second line of defense, you may want to consider a security closet for storage of valuables which are kept in the home. This closet should be equipped with a solid wood core door with hinges that have non-removable pins and a good quality deadbolt.

Securing Your Windows


Double Hung Window

  • The latches on many double hung windows can be easily jimmied or pried open. This type of window can be simply and inexpensively made secure.
  • The window can be pinned by drilling a hole at a slight downward angle through the first sash and into, but not through the second sash. The window can then be pinned with a strong nail. Additional holes may be drilled for pinning the window in a slightly open position for ventilation.
  • Several types of keyed locks which offer effective protection are available for double hung windows. They are inexpensive and easy to install. But remember to master key all window locks for convenience and train children in their use.
  • Thumb turn locks in the center of most double hung windows offer very little security.
  • A stick or wood dowel can be securely wedged between the top and bottom portions of the window to secure bottom sash. The stick can be secured to the inside of the window frame with pieces of hook and loop material. This way, the stick can be shortened to allow for window ventilation. This will not secure upper sash with double hung windows.

Awning Type Windows

awning_windowAwning type windows are difficult to secure. The removal of the inside operator handle adds some security, but keep the handle handy in case of emergency. Awning windows should be tightly closed to enhance security.






Sliding Glass Windows

Sliding glass windows can be secured in the same manner as the sliding glass door. Pins through the frame, screws in the track, or keyed locks can all be used. Many inexpensive auxiliary locks are available.


Casement Windows


Casement windows provide good security. Keyed locks are also available for this type window for additional security. Make sure the latch works properly and the operator handle has no excess play.






Jalousie Windows

Jalousie windows are very high security risks and should be replaced if at all possible.

They can be secured by installing metal grating on the inside of the window with a quick release feature in the event of fire. At a comparable cost of installing grating, the windows can be replaced with another type which offers better security.

Require identification from all repair and delivery personnel. If in doubt, check the authenticity of the identification by calling the company before letting the person into your home. Check I.D. through the peephole viewer.

Padlocks and Hasps



Padlocks should be of case hardened steel construction with a minimum 9/32" shackle. The lock should have a double locking mechanism on both the heel and toe of the shackle. It should be of heavy body construction with a minimum five pin tumbler.

The bottom end of the padlock may have a key number stamped on it. This number should be obliterated and recorded elsewhere to eliminate the possibility of unauthorized key duplication.




The hasp should be as strong as the lock and have no screws or bolts visible when secured. Screws which hold the hasp in place should be as long as the material holding them will allow. If installed on metal, carriage bolts with large washers should be used to prevent prying of the hasp.



Home Security Check List

Don't hide keys under a mat, over the doorsill - or anywhere outside.
  • Does exterior lighting illuminate all entrances to your home?
  • Is shrubbery kept trimmed back so a burglar can't hide near windows and doors?
  • Are garage doors kept closed and locked at all times?
  • Are exterior doors made of solid core construction (including door leading from garage to house)?
  • Is there a peephole viewer (180°) on the front door?
  • Are sliding glass doors secured with auxiliary locks or pinned, and are screws in the track to prevent removal of doors?
  • Are exterior doors secured with a deadbolt lock (single or double cylinder) with a minimum 1"throw?
  • Are windows secured with auxiliary keyed locks or pinned with a nail?
  • Do you report suspicious persons or activity in the neighborhood to the police immediately?
  • Are doors locked at all times?
  • Are your valuables marked with your Florida driver license number and do you have a record of them with complete serial number, make and model?
  • If you were able to answer yes to all of the above precautionary measures, you have greatly decreased the likelihood of your home being burglarized.

For more information contact the Alachua County Sheriff's Office Public Information Office, (352) 367-4050 or send us an email.

Under Florida law, email addresses are public records. If you do not want your email address released in response to a public-records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing.

This information is made available to the public and law enforcement in the interest of public safety.