How to Perform a Home Security Survey

We need to educate the public to better understand the role of the locksmith as their security professional. A locksmith/security professional does much more than change the combination of a lock and originate and duplicate keys. We know the types and...


We need to educate the public to better understand the role of the locksmith as their security professional. A locksmith/security professional does much more than change the combination of a lock and originate and duplicate keys. We know the types and grades of locks and related door hardware that should be used to secure a customer's residence, business, or property. We are experienced and knowledgeable to recommend the most appropriate security for their budget and possessions.

I personally take offense that, in order to develop a home security survey, we must think like a burglar. That is foolish. To adequately provide security, we must think about how to properly secure the windows and entrances into a residence.

When you do a security survey, talk only about the basic recommendations of the survey. Never use the survey to up sell a customer. Discuss the appropriate locks and door hardware for the location. Think not only about the locks, but also about the area surrounding the residence. This would include shrubbery, lighting, gates, and surrounding visibility. The less privacy available to a would-be burglar, the smaller the likelihood the residence will be chosen for a burglary.

Use your imagination when doing a survey. Think about the areas of vulnerability and the different options to eliminate the vulnerability.

Walk around the residence, preferably with a digital camera. Take pictures. These pictures can be downloaded to your computer and reviewed later. A computer-generated report can be developed for each customer. If a digital camera is not an option, use a camera or draw pictures of doors, gates, and windows and note their locations. A simple report should be created for the customer.

Do a daytime and nighttime walk around. This way, you will see what coverage the existing lighting provides and what areas are concealed in darkness. A minimum of a 40-watt bulb should light every exterior door.

Take pictures of previous jobs. Build at least two portfolios. Make one portfolio of commercial jobs and a second portfolio of residential jobs. Take a portfolio with you when you discussing security or doing a home survey with your customer. The residential portfolio is especially valuable if it has a number of decorative hardware photos. This way, your customer will be able to ask you about upgrades.

Let's use this knowledge to develop a survey for the average home. This survey will also be practical for a condominium or townhome.

Let's begin at the street looking at the home:

  • Are there shrubs, vines, or trees that obstruct the front door or windows? Make sure that there are several feet between vegetation and the sides of the house.
  • Do trees offer access to second story? Trim trees as necessary to eliminate access to upper windows.
  • Are expensive items such as stereos, big screen televisions, DVD/CD racks visible from the street? Either move the items or install opaque window treatments. Do not invite a burglar to think about your residence.

Let's walk around home and begin at the exterior doors:

  • Are exterior doors solid wood or metal construction? If not, recommend immediate replacement. Hollow-core wood doors provide little protection.
  • Have locks been rekeyed since your customer moved in? If not, and the locks are appropriate, recommend they be recombinated.
  • Does the front door have peephole? If not, recommend the installation of a 180-degree viewing peephole.
  • Do any of the exterior doors open out? If yes, install a long headless screw into one of the hinge screw holes that extends through the other leaf when the door is closed. This will stop the exterior door from being taken off, if the hinge pins are removed. As an alternative, install Non-Removable Pin (NRP) hinges.
  • Is there cracking or paint peeling around the frame? When the door is closed and moved, does the frame move slightly? The frame may not be strong enough to provide security. Recommend installing a reinforced strike plate.
  • Are there windows in any exterior door within arms length of the locks? If yes, you may want to recommend installing a double-sided deadbolt. However, check local ordinances and discuss fire and safety precautions regarding a double-sided deadbolt with the customer.
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