“Have you locked the front entrance door?”
Of course you have, it’s almost a ritual… closing the door gives a sense of security. Shutting out the cold and cruel world — you are safe behind your closed door.
Thieves and break-ins are as old as your house and home, and even the concept of a home, and have been designed to support that belief.
Humour me. Go to your front door and take a good, steady look. Mine was solid oak, a good first-class lock, the best door bolt I could find at the hardware store, and yet somebody walked right through it. Yours the same?
When I saw what happened, I almost wept. How could I be so stupid? You are at your front door now… good. It’s a good door with great front door locks. Even when I think of home I find myself dreaming up three words: security doors homes. Okay, now turn your head slightly and look at the other side. Yes, the door frame.
I never thought of it, and the experts never mention it. The door frame is made of pine, and pine is a very soft wood. Now, look at the lock plate. A nice piece of brass, neatly set in, and held by two screws. Take one out — it’s quite easy, perhaps three-quarters of an inch long. They are there to hold the plate in position and nothing else.
Put your finger in the cutout and measure to the front edge — about an inch. That is what you are placing your faith in. Not the door, not the front door locks, but one inch of soft, brittle, wood.
Mine did. Not a mark on the door; the frame shattered with one swift kick. “But of course,” said the police blithely. “That is nearly half of the break ins. Right through the front door.”
Door frames are the same world over. Soft wood. There are houses being built today with the same frames as those built hundreds of years ago. Only the bad guys know about this. Builders do not. So come on, you builders, wake up and do something about it. Never mind the fancy front door that helps sell the house. Look at the frame.
Oh, sorry! You are still at your front door. What can you do about it?
Take out the screws holding the lock plate in place and put in as long a screw as you can. I have a three inch one in mine. It goes through the frame into the two-by-four that holds it into place.Okay, it won’t stop them but it will slow them down.
I, being a handyman, did more. I took off the inside moulding. Do it carefully with two screwdrivers: start at the top or bottom and work it off slowly, as you want to put it back. It’s held by finishing nails. Having got it off, you can see the works: the frame about an inch thick, behind the two-by-four.
Go to a builders’ yard and get some metal cornering. Fit it against the jamb and edge of the frame. Cut out a niche to accommodate your front door locks. Put back the moulding.
It won’t stop them, but the frame won’t give so easily. If they want in, they will get in… yeah, I know, but even the cops who say that also tell you to take every precaution.