A solid door and good lock are the first line of defense against break-ins, so it's important to invest in reliable locking equipment. When you move to a new home, always change or rekey the door locks as an added precaution. The old latches can usually be uninstalled by removing four simple screws. To measure for a new lock, just determine the distance from the edge of the door to the center of the knob hole, and also measure the thickness of the door itself. This will give you the information you'll need to buy a new door locking mechanism.
Lock Upgrade Options
When you do change your locks, there are some upgrades you might want to consider. One option is to purchase a latch and deadbolt combo. This will replace the old knob with a more secure deadbolt style lock that extends further into your jamb. Even if you already have a deadbolt, it will provide additional protection. Another option is to purchase a do not duplicate (DND) key lock. If, for some reason, your house key falls into the wrong hands, having a no-copy key will make it harder for someone to duplicate your key without your knowledge.
If you don't have a deadbolt on your door now, install one today. Deadbolts are excellent deterrents. Instead of placing your new deadbolt directly below the knob, though, consider moving it down 12 to 24 inches. Allowing more space between locks will make it harder to kick in your door. If the idea of having to carry all those keys around bothers you, have all the locks set to open with the same key, or consider a deadbolt that works on a remote controlled system. Look for a remote deadbolt that automatically changes the code after each use as an added safety feature.
Whatever system you choose, make sure your family uses it consistently by locking the doors behind them every time they enter or leave the house.
Adding Door or Window Bars
Putting bars on lower story windows is one effective way to send a message that your home is on security alert. Most break-ins are crimes of opportunity, and the harder you make it for someone to gain access to your home, the more likely it is they'll find someone else's house to rob. Even though some window bars have an ironwork look that's intended to appear decorative, they can still look like -- well, bars on the windows. Some styles are better at camouflage than others, especially over basement windows. Before you buy security bars, make sure to evaluate their quick release features. Some bar styles have raised entrapment concerns, especially during fire emergencies.