Thank you Rosie and Romey of Rosie on the House for inviting us into the radio station to discuss home security. Didn’t catch the live broadcast? No worries.
Rosie: We’ve brought in our Rosie on the House certified locksmith and security expert from Acme locksmith, right here in Maricopa County serving the entire Maricopa County area, the owner of Acme locksmith, Robert Vallelunga. Robert thanks a million for coming and taking some of your personal Saturday time and sharing it with me and the listeners.
Robert: Thank you, great to be here.
Rosie: You’ve been owner of ACME for a lot of years. ACME’s been Rosie certified it has to be seven, eight, or nine, maybe even ten years. Every time I’m asked to go out on a public speaking engagement – I do a lot of public speaking at block watch programs, homeowners associations, Rotary clubs – I give them a list of five things I can talk about. You pick the one, and of the 5 topics the number one topic everyone always wants to hear about is, “What can I do at my house to increase the security of my home, my family, my possessions, and my identity. Do you know what the second topic is? The history of remodeling the White House. Let’s talk home security here. Some of the things people do naively right. Let’s talk about sticking broomstick handles into sliding window tracks.
Robert: You know we see that a lot, and it’s great to prevent the door from sliding open. The problem with that is that it does nothing to prevent the door from being lifted out of the tracks. And we’ve been to a number of houses that were broken into where somebody has taken a screwdriver on a sliding glass door and popped it right out of the track. Yet there’s new sliding glass door locks on the market, for aftermarket use, that you put on your existing doors. They’re very easy to install and specifically focus on preventing that from happening. Not only do they prevent the door from sliding open but they prevent anyone from being able to lift it out of its tracks. They’re very very effective and very easy to use.
Rosie: If your patio sliding door or sliding windows are aluminum frame and older than 15 or 20 years old, I can get in your house faster than you can imagine.
Robert: It’s trivial
Rosie: It is unbelievably easy to get into the house. The newer sliding patio doors and windows have stops that keep you from lifting it except when they’re in a very peculiar of a specific position then you can let them out for cleaning and stuff like that. But I tell people all the time if you have those older windows, and can’t afford to do anything else, just close the window take a 3/16 inch drill bit and drill a hole in the header of the window and put a screw there. That lets the window slide open but doesn’t let anybody lift it up.
Robert: That’s a good tip.
Rosie: It’s an easy way to do it. And for the cost of one screw, at about five cents, you’ve stopped that entry. What’s the number one port that a burglar will use to get into your house?
Robert: Believe it or not it’s the front door.
Rosie: It is the front door. And how do they do it?
Robert: There are a number of techniques. You could kick the door in, its actually not that hard to do, but one of the things we’re seeing a lot of that has really permeated throughout the United States, is a technique on lock bumping to get in. And anybody with three bucks and internet connection can get a key that open your front door if you have a door that doesn’t have newer locks on it. Maybe over 5 years old.
Rosie: Yes. You can google a particular site and then you go to Amazon and buy the product that they advertise there, and in about 15 minutes of trying you can become a pretty good lock picker. Really quick.
Robert: Yeah. A lot of the local news channels have covered it. You can get into a home very very quickly using this technique. There’s product out on the market so that you don’t have to replace all your door hardware to stop this. There’s aftermarket products you can put on your locks today, that cost less than 30 bucks, and nobody can get into your house by picking the lock or even if they have an existing key they won’t be able to get into that front door.
Rosie: What do you tell people? When you kick in the front door you’re actually exploding the jam of the door. The lock’s still intact, in fact it’s actually being used as part of the prying force and leverage to blow the inside of the jam out. I’ve got several techniques I use to reinforce that. What do y’all do as locksmiths in that application?
Robert: Probably the easiest thing to do, and any homeowner can do it, is to take out all those half inch screws and just put 3 inch screws in. Replace everything with 3 inch screws so that you hit the studs behind the frame. That’s a big. tremendous security improvement and it only cost you a few cents.
Rosie: Hardly anything at all. And the newer front doors, have that steel plate on the back side of the jam that makes it harder to do the kick it out. But before they came up with those, I don’t know, I think I started seeing those getting staples on about 10 years ago, we would just take the inside casing off the door. And we would take 3 & 4 inch screws and secure into the jam below the lock set, between the locks and the deadbolt, and then just put the casing back on you never saw it. And it kept you safe. I mean you would break your foot before you kicked that door in.
Robert: Tremendous security improvement.
Rosie: It is, and it’s just pennies. Absolute pennies. Now we were talking about locks for the sliding door apparatus. Do any of these locks void warranties from manufacturers?
Robert: They are after market products. I don’t believe they would void the warranty, but I haven’t checked on that. (Note: If you have a new sliding glass door check with the manufacture about your warranty before installing and after market product)
Rosie: It would be my guess that if a door or window was new enough to be in warranty, they’ve got an enhanced lock mechanism. As opposed to the older units we’re talking about. When we’re talking about these features, the thing I want you to picture is a pin type apparatus or something that pins that movable leaf to the frame.
Robert: Right, right. The lock that we’re thinking of, the one we install a lot of, actually secures that sliding glass door from both the top and the bottom so it sort of locks it in and the door can’t be tilted in either direction.
Rosie: There you go. Now the first one of those I ever installed I was just a little bit too close to the glass.
Robert: LOL. You do have to be a little careful. If you nick it, you can break it. We’ve installed thousands of them, and we we have broken, I believe, one window. That we took care of of course. But thousands of installations without an issue.
Rosie: OK. So we’ve covered the sliding door, we’re covered the front door, what’s your feeling on security front doors?
Robert: I personally think they’re great. Nice weather like this and you want to leave a door open for the draft and you’re still locked up. Just make sure that when it’s installed, that it’s installed properly so that you know you don’t have exposed screws and there’s not any way to remove that door from the outside.
Rosie: Pop the pin hinges.
Robert: Exactly. And we’ve seen it, we’ve seen it.
Rosie: LOL. Yeah. Some of the economy security doors are really very false sense of security because they are easier to get into than the front door. I always tell people, “Look think of me as the crook,” and I’m canvassing your neighborhood. What I’m looking for is, I’m looking for front doors that are blinded from the line of sight from your neighbors. So I love those, I love the Arizona alcove look. Where the door is stuck back in that little alcove. That’s perfect for me the crook and criminal. And the next thing I’m going to look at is do I see any security alarm signs in the yard? Which, by the way, you get those off Amazon for about $3 a piece and along with fake video cameras that you run the wire into the fascia board and that’s all. I always tell people, you know if your hike in the woods with your friend and you come across a hungry bear that starts chasing you, you don’t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun your friend. So I tell people make your house the least desirable visual target. Make your neighbors house more attractive, and once you get yours set up, then go on a neighborhood campaign and make your whole neighborhood the least desirable. But if I’m casing in the neighborhood, I’m looking for a front door that I can’t kick in. I’m only going to spend between 30 and 40 seconds trying to get in. I want to be blinded from the line of sight and a security door greatly increase the amount of time it’s going to take for me to get in there. I love a good security front door.
Robert: I agree.
Rosie: So we have to get through that lock, and we’re going to have to get through the front door lock. The door is secured and we reinforced the jam. Let’s talk about the different kinds of locks.
Robert: you know one of the things you want to make sure that you do when you’re looking at replacing your locks OR enhancing your locks is get one that is BUMP resistant, we’ve already touched on that, but also I recommend you get one that is a light commercial grade.
Rosie: Let’s talk about that. Three grades.
Robert: Three residential grades and then there’s commercial grades. So you’ve got grade 1 2 & 3. Grade two is a medium residential grade. It’s what most your home stores are selling. I recommend at least that. Then you can go up from there. For dead bolts we typically install light commercial grade, which is a grade two commercial lock. Aesthetically it looks the same but it gives you more security and is much heavier, much more, much more weight.
Rosie: I can take a drywall hatchet or roofing hatchet and knock most deadbolts right off the front door.
Robert: And burglars know this too. They know which brands are garbage, and if they see that brand on your front door they know that you’re an easy target. Grade 3 is the one you want to stay away from.
Rosie: And that’s your 7 and 8 and 9 dollar deadbolts that you can get at the discount stores and don’t weigh more than about 8 or 9 ounces?
Robert: Correct. If you take a residential grade two lock and a residential grade three and put them in your hands, you’ll feel the difference. You’ll see the screws that hold that the back in the front of the lock together, that go through the door, you’ll see the difference in the width. A good residential deadbolt will have a steel sleeve that goes all the way through the door. An inexpensive, cheap one, it’ll be hollow all the way through the door except for the screws.
Rosie: We’ll be back.
Rosie: We’re here with Robert Vallelunga, owner of ACME Locksmith and Rosie certified locksmith in Maricopa County, has been for seven or eight years at least. So Robert what are your phone numbers? I would like people to get in touch with you if they would like a security check in their home or get information on your website.
Robert: You can give us a call at 48-380-2263 or just go to AcmeLocksmith.com . You can schedule an appointment online, you get a little discount for scheduling online. Oone of the things we have on our website that I think a lot of people can benefit from is our Knowledge Center, in particular our residential section on that Knowledge Center. A lot of these points that we’ve touched on today can be found there. We have a a document on that site, 7 easy tips you can do to improve the security of your home. These are things homeowners can do that are not only simple but affordable. That they could take care of themselves t greatly enhance their home’s security.
Rosie: Let’s talk about if the criminal is in the house. How can we build a defense system to protect our possessions and our family once there.
Robert: One of the best things that you could do is have a good high quality home safe within your house. Not only to protect your possessions, a lot of them are fire rated so that you can protect things like passports and documentation and photos, but also have one that has a good security rating to put valuables in it. One of the very tough things a home owner can do is find a high security safe for the home that’s small. If they have jewelry or something. One that actually gives them a high level of protection. We can help them find something that meet their needs. So that they can protect not only the paperwork but the valuables as well.