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The Security Ladder

The security ladder is an illustration of the levels of security that different types of residential security products can afford the user. We will use the rungs of the ladder, with rung 1 being the lowest level, and rung 5 being the highest level.

We will make a few assumptions about the entry we are protecting.

  • We have a solid core door 1 and 3/4 inch thick, the door frame is the typical residential pre-made door frame in good condition.

    Security Ladder

    Security Ladder

  • Rung 1  Might be a grade 2 or a grade 3 entry knob or lever, with or without a grade 3 deadbolt lock and no reinforcement of the strike. (an entry door with this hardware array is typical and will meet building codes in most jurisdictions) A door with this level of hardware is highly susceptible to kick-ins, hammer, wrenching or other brute force attacks, a little better than an unlocked door. These locks could be opened by picking or key bumping, however these are not typical methods employed by the typical home burglar.

  • Rung 2  Might be a grade 1 or grade 2 entry knob or lever, with a grade 1 or grade 2 deadbolt lock and a reinforced strike. as well as a fully reinforced door jamb both lock and hinge sides. See our article on Reinforcing Door and Frame Security. A door with this protection would be much more secure. Will be much less susceptible to kick-ins or pry-bar attacks. These locks could be opened by picking or key bumping, however these are not typical methods employed by the typical home burglar.

  • Rung 3  Might have a locking knob or lever lock, with a grade 1 UL 437 listed deadbolt lock, and a fully reinforced door jamb both lock and hinge sides. The UL 437 specifications require all solid metal construction, higher resistance to brute force, wrenching etc. higher resistance to picking or key bumping. Most UL 437 listed locks also feature some form of controlling who can get duplicate keys made. This would be considered a very secure entry!

  • Rung 4   Might a have grade 1 electronic keyless deadbolt lock, and a fully reinforced door jamb both lock and hinge sides. The electronic keyless lock raises the security level by eliminating the need to carry or use a key. No keys for kids to lose. Some provide for remote control via a smart phone, this is handy to let service people in. Deleting or adding users is easy to do. This would be considered a very secure entry!

  •  Rung 5   Might have grade 1 biometric lock, which requires a fingerprint, or some other personal identification attribute to operate. Locks in this class are highly secure and can be programmed for multiple users. The following video features the top 8 fingerprint locks

See more choices in the SecureYourStuff Store!

Best Home Physical Security Tips

Best DIY Home Security Tips

Moving into a new home or apartment? According to FBI statistics, the number one way a thief gains entry to a home is through an unlocked front door, the number 2 way is a forced entry, most commonly a kick-in attack.

You should keep your doors locked, even when you are home, the typical home burglary can be completed in as little as 20 seconds, and you may never know they were there!

  1. Have all exterior doors and door frames inspected for structural integrity.

    • If you have an attached garage, the door going from the garage into the house should be considered to be an exterior door. If you store tools in your garage, they should be under lock and key, if a thief gets into your garage they could use your tools to attack your door and be out of view.

  2. Have all locks inspected for proper function and security.

  3. Have all locks rekeyed to new keys

    • This step is often overlooked, but is the only way you can be sure you know who has keys to your new home. Any one or all of the following folks could have a key, ex owner or tenant, neighbor, realtor, contractor, sub-contractor.

All of these steps are done by your Professional Locksmith

Learn how to Harden and Reinforce entry doors at this article

Garage door

You should keep your garage door closed, even when you are home.

  1. A person walking by, could dart into your garage, and walk off with almost any yard tool, even your brand new mower, in less than 20 seconds!

  2. A newer method for gaining entry to garages with door openers is rapidly gaining popularity and will open most garage doors in seconds!

See the Video below for how to guard against this, and other common attacks.


 Windows and Sliding Glass Doors

Windows and sliding glass doors, present 3 main problems

  1. They are subject to glass breakage. Fortunately most burglars don’t like to make noise, however breaking a window only makes noise for a short time. Applying a clear security film to vulnerable windows can make them almost unbreakable, and it makes for a lot more noise. Watch the video below for a good demo of window security film.

  2. The lock used on windows and sliding glass doors are often of lower quality and do not offer adequate security. Your best solution may be to have a security professional survey your property.  

    Top Home Security Tips. Dowel in Sliding Door Track

    Dowel in Sliding Door Track

    A minimal inexpensive fix for a sliding door would be to place a heavy dowel in the inside track, this will prevent the door from sliding open.





3. The prospective burglar can see in, this can allow them to ascertain if someone is home as well as see where your valuables may be located.



Reinforcing Door and Door Frame Security

Reinforcing door and door frame security is a need because standard home construction methods, may not always protect entryways from forced entry adequately.

According to recent FBI statistics a home burglary occurs every  18 seconds. The most common method of entry is through an unlocked door. Next is forced entry usually via a simple kick-in attack.  Fortunately there are a number of relatively inexpensive do-it-yourself fixes. These devices when properly installed will greatly harden and reinforce entry doors, windows and door frames. The following video is very well done, it is a little long. But at end gives a very good demo how the product hardens and reinforces the entire entryway.

The Door Devil Product is available in our Security Store

First you need to be sure the door itself is adequate. Exterior doors should be constructed of solid wood, solid wood core, or reinforced metal. For this discussion the door going from an attached garage into your house will be considered an exterior door.

Modern home building utilizes many prefabricated parts, doors, door frames, windows etc. These prefabricated parts are then set into prepared openings. (See the illustration of a typical rough door opening). The focus is on the king and jack studs, these are usually 2-x-4 studs.

Typical door frame rough opening before Reinforcing door security

Typical door rough opening

A prefabricated door and frame will usually be inserted into that opening. The prefabricated frame is usually constructed of 1/2 inch thick by 6 inch wide jambs on each side and a header at the top. The installation of this prefabricated frame leaves up to a 1/2 inch of empty space between the back of the jamb and the face of the jack stud, (see door jamb detail illustration).

Door Jamb Detail- before reinforcing door security

Door Jamb Detail

The screws provided with most hinges and locksets are only 1/2 or 3/4 inches long. The end result is that all that is keeping the bad guys out is typically about 1 inch of 1/2 inch pine.

The minimum fix needed is to remove the short screws from both the lock strikes and the hinges. We recommend replacing them with 3 inch, or longer screws that will extend into the structural wood behind the frame.

There are many security products available that will provide even more security and strength to the typical door frame. Visit the Secureyourstuff Security Store for more information.


Gun Safes, which one is right for You?

Gun Safes – Are designed to keep your guns secure.

Gun safes are being sold in many places, sporting goods stores, gun stores, hardware stores, big box stores of all kinds, do you want to trust the expertise of the guy who answers your plumbing questions?

Gun safes..which is right for you

Security for Your Guns

Gun Safes are also sold by safe retailers and professional locksmiths who sell safes, as well as online

  • By dealing with a reputable safe dealer or professional locksmith, who make their living selling safes, they are the experts, you are more likely to end up with a safe that protects your guns for the risks you are trying to protect them against.

  • Online sites offer differing levels of information and support, there are many that perform at a very high level. There are also some that don’t.

Gun safes are available in many shapes and sizes, from small boxes designed to store a hand gun, up to walk-in vaults designed as virtual armories. They also offer many differing degrees of protection, and they protect from different risks. The consumer needs to be aware of these differences, so they can make an intelligent and informed choice. SEE THE VIDEOS BELOW!

Many gun safes are sold that do not carry a burglary or fire rating, many of these units look very substantial. If you are looking for a specific type of protection, be very sure that a UL® label is attached.

Some gun safes are rated and UL® labeled for burglary as well as fire protection , however there are many gun safes advertised as burglary and/or fire resistant that do not meet the standards of UL® testing, they are rated by the manufacturer. Some that are rated as burglary resistant could be little more than a locked thin gauge steel box.

Of course anything that locks up a firearm does have some value, just be sure of what you are getting.

The v1deos below offer a lot of good information.

This video demonstrates how easy it is to defeat a lower quality safe.

This video show how a high quality gun safe is manufactured, and highlights the short comings of some others.

See my blog post on “Choosing Your Safe

What is Identity Theft? How to Protect Yourself

Identity theft is when someone obtains, and illegally uses, your identification information, such as name, address, date of birth, social security number or mother’s maiden name.

How does this crime happen? There are many ways for an identity thief to get your personal information, some of them are;

Social Security Card

Social Security Card

  • You lose your wallet or purse, they have access to whatever information you carry with you, credit cards, social security number,  driver’s  license, etc.

  • Someone where you use a credit card can copy your card information.

  • Someone going through your trash can obtain personal information from personal papers you may have discarded.

  • Hackers could get information on you from the Internet.

  • Almost every day  we hear reports of someone losing a computer or disk that has personal information on it.

  • You could be mugged, or your home or office can be broken into.

And there are countless other ways for thieves to obtain your personal information.

An imposter can open new credit card accounts, drain your bank accounts, purchase automobiles, apply for loans, open utility services and on and on.

What steps can you take to protect yourself?

  • Limit the amount of personal information you carry with you.

  • Be careful of what information you give out about yourself, and who you are giving it to.

  • Your social security number is quite possibly the most valuable information to an identity thief, you should take great care to safeguard it.

  • Be very careful filling out forms on the internet, be sure you are on a legitimate site and that whatever information they are asking for is really necessary.

chip credit cards help prevent identity theft

chip credit cards

Many retailers are making use of data terminals that allow you to slide your credit card without handing it to a clerk. Banks and credit card companies are reissuing cards that have a security chip embeded in the card , retailers are installing new terminals that use these “chip” cards. Use them whenever you can.

Buy and use a paper shredder for your trash, be sure you shred anything that contain any personal information, papers, cards, computer disks, cd’s etc.

Get and review your credit reports quarterly, and your bank or credit card accounts monthly.

If you make online purchases.You should have one credit card that you use for all online purchases, and use it for nothing else. This will allow you to spot something questionable more easily.

No matter how cautious you are, you cannot guarantee that a criminal will not obtain your information. The links below will take you to sites with tips to avoid identity theft and the steps to take to stop the damage and to recover from this crime, if it does happen.

If you suspect that someone has obtained your identity info, your first step should be to contact and enroll with an identity monitoring company. I reccomend LifeLock.

Click Here or on “Security Blog” in the menu bar to read my posts about how to secure your Home, your Business, your Stuff!!

Click Here to visit our online store to find the products you need!!

Choosing The Correct Safe.

Choosing The Correct Safe

Choosing the correct safe for what you want to protect.

Safes are built to provide specific types of protection, based usually on what the user wants to protect, the risks they want to protect against, and user convenience. Knowing what you are going to protect and what risks you want to protect it from are the first considerations you should make in choosing a safe.

  • What items do you want to protect?

  • What do you want to protect them from?

  • Where are you going to keep your safe?

  • How much space do you need?

These are only a few of the questions you need to answer in order to choose the correct safe for the job at hand.

Choosing who to ask, and  answer these questions, could be as important as which safe you choose. Most Locksmiths and other safe retailers are trained to help you choose the correct safe for your needs. They are the experts.

You can also contact me via the Contact Us page, If I can’t answer your question, I can guide you to someone who can.

Where to buy your safe.

  • There are many places to buy a safe, The best would be from a Safe Retailer or Professional Locksmith who also sells safes. These folks make their living selling, moving and servicing safes.

  • Many big box retailers are now selling safes. Safes are a very specialized item and you may not always find a knowledgeable clerk to guide you to the correct safe.

  • There are many online safe retailers, including this site. If you know what safe you need this may be a good fit, there are a few things you need to be aware of.

    • Some sites have plenty of information that will guide you to the correct safe, others may not.

    • Safes are a heavy item, the typical home fire or record safe could weigh up t0 1000 lbs. Freight will be costly, your safe may be delivered only to you curb, you would be responsible for putting it in place.

Check the information and links below, to start you in the right direction.

If you keep your business documents and records, in your home or at your place of business, you need a fire safe. Statistics show that if a company’s records are lost in a fire, 17% can no longer furnish a financial statement, 14% suffer a reduction in credit rating and 43% go out of business completely. No home or business is safe from fire.

If you keep cash or valuables at home at your place of business, or in a safe deposit box, you may want to consider a burglary safe or high security container.

If you have a high traffic retail business, where a lot of cash is handled, you may benefit from a depository safe, or skim safe, to control who has access to your cash and for how long.

If you keep computer media on your premises or if you want to store digital files, valuable photos or any other items that would be damaged by high heat and humidity they should be stored in a media safe.

If you keep guns for sport or hunting, they should be stored in a gun safe.

Video Presentation on Choosing a Safe – “Racing to The Bottom”


Visit our SecureYourStuff Store for a wide selection of products

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), stipulates that any place of business, regardless of size or number of employees, both public and private, must provide equal access and “reasonable accommodations” for both the general and disabled public. Are you in compliance?

International Handicap Symbol

International Handicap Symbol

If you operate almost any business, you need to be aware of and in compliance with the provisions and requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Are you aware of the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Signed into law on July 26 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act is a wide-ranging legislation intended to make American Society more accessible to people with disabilities. What does this act mean to you? As the operator of a business, you need to know that ADA regulations stipulate any place of business, regardless of size or number of employees, both public and private, must provide equal access and “reasonable accommodations” for both the general and disabled public. Basically if the potential exists for a customer to ever visit your facility, you need to be in compliance.

The act has no grandfather clauses, it stipulates, that in existing structures, barriers to entry or services must be removed if “technically feasible.” Cost is not a factor in determining whether an action would be technically feasible.

ADA is civil rights law, and provides for fines and/or private lawsuit or by the Department of Justice. If any private party or group feels you have discriminated against them by denying access, the government will help them sue you.

Security and door hardware manufacturers provide a variety of products designed to help you comply. The advent of the lever lockset is almost totally due to ADA, other products include, power assisted or automatic door operators, keyless entry systems, and egress systems that require no physical action to exit. These products and systems make it possible to bring almost any entry into compliance. Security professionals are experienced in the selection and installation of this specialized hardware. They understand the complexities of the ADA regulations, as they relate to hardware. Contact a professional locksmith for an audit of your facility to determine your needs for ADA compliance.

The American with Disabilities Act cannot be ignored, if a lawsuit, even an unfounded one is brought against you, the cost of defending yourself can be substantial.

Additional information is available at the following links;

What You Need to Be Aware of When Useing an ATM

ATM Security

ATM (Automated Teller Machine) Security 

ATMs like a time machine extend traditional banking hours by dispensing cash and making other transactions available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At the beginning of 1974, there were only 1,656 operating ATMs nationwide. Today, online debit cardholders initiate approximately 12 billion ATM transactions per year at thousands of ATMs. More locations, more ATMs and users are coming online daily.

As electronic debit card transaction volumes continue to increase with the installation of more ATMs, the ATM user is presented with a whole new array of

ATM Security

ATM Security

security risks. On-premises ATMs (those typically located in bank lobbies) provide the most suitable and secure working environment for the consumer. The trend towards installation of free standing machines in shopping malls, in free standing kiosks in parking lots, supermarkets, and office buildings obviously presents a whole new array of security risks for ATM users.

Who tracks ATM crime?

Currently, major law enforcement agencies do not regularly keep track of ATM crime. Most assaults related to ATM usage are included in larger general categories for assault, battery and the like.

When is the risk the greatest, who are the victims, who are the perpetrators?

  • Most (60%) ATM robberies occur at night between 8:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.

    Credit Cards,Atm Security

    Credit Cards

  • Most robbery victims are women, who are alone when robbed. Most claim they never saw the robber coming.

  • The typical ATM robber is 25 years of age, works alone, and usually positions himself nearby waiting for a victim to approach and withdraw cash.

  • What should you consider when choosing which ATM to use?

  • Location, lighting, and landscaping are among the factors in determining how safe your chosen ATM is.

  • You should have high visibility of your surroundings.

  • Look for the use of convex mirrors, security cameras, minimal use of solid walls and blinds or any other items obstructing visibility.

  • Select ATMs near well-lighted parking areas.

  • Check for  “drive-by” visibility from nearby parking lots, walkways, and main thoroughfares.

  • Shrubbery should be trimmed to no more than of 24 inches above ground level. Trees should be “branch free” below the 6 foot level.

Being aware of the risks involved is your best defense against ATM crime. You can avoid crime be using ATMs at certain times and safe locations. Not using ATMs in poorly lit locations at night alone will deter crime.

Look around the area do you see a camera focused on the keypad? This could be someone trying to record your pin number.

Inspect the reader where you insert your ATM card, are there what appear to be extra parts? A thief could have placed a skimmer device that will read all of the info on your card.

There are new ways to separate you from your money being developed all the time. You should stay aware by monitoring the news for new scams. Talk to your local law enforcement to see what they are seeing in the area. Check with your Bank’s security department.

More information available from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)


How to Choose a Deadbolt Lock for your Home

A correctly chosen deadbolt lock, offers much more security than the standard entry knob lock.

What is the real job that the locks on your doors are expected to perform? There is an old saying in the security industry that “locks only keep honest people honest”, lets face reality, if someone really wants into your home, they will get in.

The real job of the locks on your doors is defeat the attacks of the opportunist, or amateur thief, to make it tough enough that they will bypass you and go to an easier target.

Deadbolt Lock

Deadbolt Lock

Lock manufacturers produce locks that are designed to resist varying types of attempts to defeat them, these attacks range from hitting them with a hammer to picking the lock. As soon as a new type of attack is introduced the lock manufacturers will come up with a way to defend against it. The result is that there are a wide variety of deadbolt locks on the market, that offer varying  degrees of protection, knowing which features to look for will make a huge difference in the ability of your lock to “keep honest people honest”.

Locks manufactured in the US are graded by their ability to withstand attack by the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI. Locks are generally graded from grade 3 to grade 1, with grade 3 being the least secure.

Many locks are imported from other countries some are not graded at all, others are built to the specifications of the various grades, however not actually tested. If this is confusing to you ask your professional locksmith for a recommendation.

Minimum features to look for include;

  • A 1 inch bolt throw, this means the bolt extends 1 inch from the edge of the door.

  • A solid metal tapered outside housing, this is meant to defect wrenching attacks.

  • A reinforced strike plate that is fastened with long enough screws to attach to the  underlying support framing. This will help guard against kicking attacks.

  • A pin tumbler locking mechanism

  • The bolt should be solid and contain a hardened roll pin to resist sawing.

There are deadbolt locks on the market that far exceed these minimum requirements. For information about high security deadbolts, key control deadbolts, and other high end or special use deadbolt locks, contact your professional locksmith.

Beware; this Locksmith Service scam is running wild!

A locksmith service scam has been running wild in major cities in the USA for a number of years, and is now spreading to other areas. Authorities in many states are aware of the problem, however they have not had a lot of luck stamping this out.

There seem to be a few dispatch firms that are placing toll free phone numbers with multiple ads in area phone books and in on line listings. Many of these ads have addresses that are for residences and even other businesses, but these are all not connected with the name of the locksmith in the ad. When you call the phone number the phone is being answered in a dispatch center in another city, they will quote a price covering your service need and dispatch a supposed locksmith they have contracted with.

Typically the “locksmiths” they send are poorly trained, if at all. They are usually not successful at getting you in or fixing your lock and will remove yours almost always destroying it in the process. They will then replace it with a very inferior lock and present you with a bill much higher than what you were quoted. For example you are quoted $25.00 to get you in, and they present you with a bill for $600.00 or even higher.

Legitimate locksmiths have tried to get these scam artists out of business, however there do not seem to be laws on the books in most states that allow for arrest and prosecution of these individuals.

This video was produced by the ALOA Security Professional Locksmiths of America (ALOA), to help educate the public about this growing scam,

Locksmtih Business Sign

Locksmtih Business Sign


The phone book publishers are so disinterested when they receive a complaint that you might think they are complicit in the scams.

There have been a number of television sting type news stories across the country and people are slowly becoming aware, however there are new victims daily.

It is becoming much more important for the consumer to be sure they are dealing with a legitimate locksmith service before committing to service. Here are some suggested ways to verify that a locksmith business is legitimate, qualified and honest.Check out and select a locksmith company that will provide emergency service, before you need one, load their number into your cell phone.

Check with your local Better Business Bureau for any complaints against your choice.

Check for membership in national or local locksmith associations, while not a guarantee that a business is legit, these associations do police their members. Some associations require locksmiths to work toward certification in various aspects of the craft, have an ongoing education requirement, and enforce a code of ethics.

Ask your friends, neighbors or other businesses for a recommendation.

More tips from the Federal Trade Commission

When the locksmith arrives ask for identification and a written quote, if they can’t of will not produce them, don’t let them start working.

ALOA Security Professional Locksmiths Association, Inc. is a worldwide association of Professional Locksmiths, who must pass criminal background check to be a member. On their website click the FindaLocksmith link for a listing of qualified Professional Locksmiths by state.

Check this website for a list of locksmiths, who have been checked out as being legitimate, this site is fairly new and the list will be growing, if your locksmith is not listed it does not mean they are not legitimate, just that they may not yet be listed. This site also has links to many of the news stories that have been run across the country, as well as links to suggested authorities by state.

Locksmithing is a very old and honorable profession, the vast majority of locksmiths are qualified, honest business people, they do a very good job of serving their customers. It is a shame that there are those who will take advantage of people who are in a stressful situation, if you come across one of them, call your local police.


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