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Harden home with new technology

The quality of the deadbolt and its installation are key to security.
Locksmith Nick Totos is projected on the screen of this Mul-T-Lock security model that allows a homeowner to see clearly who is on the other side of the door. It also has a built in camera that is able to take pictures or do video of the scene outside.

When it comes to home security, there’s no getting around the fact that good quality deadbolts on your front and back doors are still the most effective means of preventing access to your family’s domicile.

The key (no pun intended) is to remember that not all deadbolts are created equal, and that no matter how much you dress them up with the latest technology, it still all comes down to the quality of the deadbolt and its installation.

Gary Harder and daughter Dawn Illerbrun, from Bell Locksmith, both agree on these points, and their almost 40 years of combined experience in the industry means they know a thing or two about frontline home security.

“We still get about three to four calls a week from people about doors being kicked in,” says Harder. “If you’re worried about somebody coming to kick the door in, the best defense is still a good deadbolt.”

So it sounds simple enough – install a deadbolt and you’re protected. Or are you?

Well, Illerbrun says it’s not quite that simple. There are good deadbolt options available, she says, and then there are the not-so-good options.

“It’s really a bit of common sense,” she offers. “Like anything, you get what you pay for. So if security is important to you, then it pays to really check out the options and pay more for the better products.”

Harder says many deadbolt products are actually quite easy for criminals to pick, pull apart or drill. They’re flimsily built, and they don’t have enough features to protect against the more common means of bypassing them. Better locks have better defensive components, which make them more secure.

Don’t forget about installation when you have a new deadbolt. The best deadbolt in the world is no good if the door frame hasn’t been hardened properly. This includes better strike plates, and ensuring the door was installed properly.

“You’d be surprised how many [exterior] doors don’t have a solid piece of wood right behind the strike plate,” says Harder. “A stud set back five inches from the door frame is going to be hard to secure the strike plate to.”

Illerbrun also recommends that you get a deadbolt with a newer “high-security” lock. These don’t use the traditional standard key everyone is familiar with, but rather a specially designed key that uses new pin technology and key control systems to stymie thieves.

There are, naturally, other options available for door security, and, of course, companies are always trying to use technology to create a better locking system.

However, Harder and Illerbrun both agree that the technology is really more about convenience than security.

For instance, keypad systems still use deadbolts, and often take just as much time to use as a key in the lock. Even the new Bluetooth/Wi-Fi systems coming out soon that operate through one’s smartphone still use a deadbolt, although their convenience certainly looks promising, says Illerbrun.

“People like their technology,” Harder says with a smile, and for that reason the sale of electronics-based equipment when it comes to locks is booming right now.”

Illerbrun adds there is a lot of innovation taking place in the market these days as companies attempt to make improvements for our ever-security conscious society.

It’s not all about the locks, however, says Illerbrun. One of the coolest gadgets currently available is a digital door viewer that replaces the old-fashioned peephole. It not only provides a video screen that shows who’s outside quite clearly, but it has a video function that is activated whenever the doorbell rings, or when someone inside pushes a button. It even has night vision.

“Seniors love it,” says Harder, “because it gives them peace of mind knowing they can see who’s outside.”

So when it comes to security, it starts with your doors, say the folks from Bell Locksmith, and there are many new options on the market for the security conscious. They say you owe it to yourself to check out what’s available.

Home security

Three handy tips from Bell Locksmith for hardening your home’s security:

• doors with the hinges on the outside should have pins installed into the door frame on the hinge side of the door to prevent crooks from removing the door after they push out the hinge’s pin;

• sliding glass doors can be improved upon significantly with an easy-to-install lift-prevention kit;

• for windows, the best defense is still a stick in the track to prevent crooks from sliding the window open.