Any Locksmith will tell you it is extremely important to deadbolt your front door. The first reason is that by dead bolting your door you make it a hundred times harder for an intruder to enter. The most basic lockouts for a locksmith are when the customer just let the door slam shut. The technique called shimming (discussed in the previous section) takes about 5 seconds, and that’s it, someone is in your home. The second and most important reason to have a deadbolt, (and use it), is that your front door looks way more imposing with an upper lock. Potential intruders look for weak targets; don’t give them one by dead bolting your door. This brings me to the section “What Lock To Get”.
If you are living in New York City you most certainly have to lock your door. What type of lock to get, and how many, depend entirely on your living circumstance. Those living in a rented non-doorman apartment have different security issues to contend with than condo owners on Park Avenue. Regardless of your circumstance, there are locks to serve your every purpose. The first part of this section I will recommend different types of locks for the majority of New Yorkers who rent in non-doorman buildings.
The most important thing to do when moving in to a new apartment in New York is change your locks. You have no idea who previously rented the place or who they gave the keys to. Keep your peace of mind by changing the keys and by adding a deadbolt. In some cases you could get lucky, the previous tenant might have left the deadbolt behind in the door in which case you only have to change the cylinder (tumbler). The qualities of the locks you choose depend on a few factors. How safe is the neighborhood? How are the front entrance doors of the building, crappy or imposing? What I tend to look for when arriving at a New York City apartment (in a non-doorman building) are what type of locks are on the rest of the floor. If I see that a few doors have decent deadbolts and a few don’t, then I would recommend not going crazy with expense. Get yourself something good and reliable like a Multi-Lock cylinder with a deadbolt on the inside.
On the other hand, if I see that many of the doors are fortified, (combined with inadequate security on the entrance doors), I would then recommend installing a better quality deadbolt package. My personal favorite has always been the Multi-Lock Topguard or the Medeco Bodyguard (with deadbolt). Both locks are nearly identical in design, the only advantage Multi-lock has over Medeco (in my opinion) is that the lock mechanism never has to be lubricated. Multi-Lock is generally maintenance-free which means it won’t ever jam on you if you forget to oil it every once in a while. The Multi-Lock Topguard is an excellent visual deterrent; a potential intruder would be smart to look for a weaker target. Also, remember that the deadbolt you purchase is your property. It does not belong to the building! It is completely acceptable to take your deadbolt with you when you move. Don’t worry about leaving holes in the door; the majority of move-ins I have gone to have had doors with holes. You will save a lot of money by taking your old deadbolt with you and re-installing it in your next apartment door.
Now for those of you who live in doorman buildings your security may vary depending on the quality of the property. Some New York City buildings have 24 hour surveillance with a staff to mange the system, but even in cases of superior security, I have still seen robberies in those buildings.
The first type of break-in, and most popular, is the back entrance service door. This door is generally reserved for taking out garbage but the locks on that can keep an intruder out and you from getting robbed. The security procedure for the back entrance is generally weak, service men like me typically have to sign in then be escorted up to the premises via the service elevator. After the escort up, that’s it! No one is sitting around watching me or keeping an eye on where I’m going! I have access to nearly every floor via the stairs and I have seen some pretty weak locks on service doors. I imagine it only taking me 5-10 seconds to pop open the majority of service entrance doors in New York City, the reason being that most people just let that door slam shut. My advice is to deadbolt your back entrance doors! A basic deadbolt will do, just something to contend with. One lock is always easier to open than two. Also, visual deterrence is really the name of the game here; a thief will always look for the weakest target.
The second type of break-in (and unfortunately the worst kind) is inside jobs. Typically, tenants have to leave there keys with the staff of the building and basically go by the honor system from there. I can’t stand that system and the majority of my customers can’t either. What I always recommend is to leave the bottom lock key with the building staff and keep your top lock key private. Give the bottom lock key to all non-residents, doormen, housekeepers, dog walkers, etc. The deadbolt you install on your door is your privacy, lock it at all times when leaving for the day, going away on vacation, or retiring for the evening. Your building staff will generally tell you when they need to service the apartment; in this case leave the top lock open. The only risk you’re taking is in the event of an emergency, ex. water leak. During this extreme scenario your building has the right to break open your door if you did not leave the key. In my opinion, having your privacy is worth that risk. I recommend a basic deadbolt package for residents of doormen buildings; Multi-Lock cylinder with a deadbolt on the inside will provide excellent security and keep your privacy while you’re away.