Central Florida residents make homes safer by locking out crime
Orange County sees more than 1,500 home burglaries in 2013
We're less than halfway through the year, and already there have been more than 1,500 home burglaries in Orange County alone.
Police say a common mistake -- not locking your doors -- is making homeowners an easy target.
But, more importantly, you need to use the right kind of lock. Local 6 found that your basic deadbolt and latch may be a weak link.
Within seconds, thieves can kick in a door or easily unlock a slider, giving them full access to the most private, intimate places in your house.
"If you don't have a feeling of safety in your own home, where are you gonna feel safe?" says Ann Hougaard, whose Kissimmee home was broken into. "It was creepy. I was very uncomfortable coming in here and not knowing if someone would be upstairs or in a closet. It was frightening."
Hougaard said she has seen surveillance video of break-ins countless times on the news and knows how vulnerable your front door and slider can be.
She recommends a CAL Double-Bolt Lock, which runs for about $30. Hougaard says that the secret to making your home nearly burglar-proof is the design of the lock.
Most sliding glass doors only have a small hook and lock, making it easy to wiggle them right off the track. But with the CAL Double-Bolt Lock, your slider is actually attached to the door frame with a steel plate -- making it immovable.
"It's the best thing that we've seen for a sliding glass door," says Beau Armstrong, the Vice President of Armstrong Lock & Security in Orlando. "It's easy to install, it's cost effective."
Armstrong says that too often, people don't pay enough attention to the simplest security measure they can take.
"They're more worried about buying the new TV that's $2,000, but they have a $20 lock on their door," says Armstrong. He adds that kick-ins are common, because most doors have a poor design.
"The weakest part of this door when it's a wood frame, is the frame itself," says Armstrong. "They're able to kick this door in and split the wood, and just walk right in."
That's why Armstrong also recommends the Strikemaster II, an $80 steel bar your install in your door frame.
"It definitely strengthens the frame," says Armstrong. "By having it installed properly in place, no one is able to kick it in or ram it in."
Of course, what good is security, when you don't take advantage of it?
Sergeant Jamie Loomis with Winter Park Police says her agency has investigated dozens of forcible entry burglaries this year. But, she adds -- in other burglary cases, criminals don't have to work as hard, because homeowners make it easy to break in.
"People still don't lock their doors," says Loomis. "Anything that you can add that can keep people from accessing those vulnerable points is a good investment."
Loomis also says you should always remember to turn on your alarm when you leave the house. And keep all your valuables, like jewelry, in a safe that's bolted to the floor.
Another thing to keep in mind -- the price of those locks -- the CAL Double-Bolt Lock and the Strikemaster II -- does not include the cost to install them.
If you have them put in by a locksmith, plan on paying an extra $100.