LOS ANGELES — A burglar will use any open door — front, back, side, garage or doggy.
Deanna Souza was sleeping in her Northern California home last spring when her doorbell rang. Zoe, her 4-pound Yorkie, started barking. The bell rang again. Zoe was making such a fuss that Souza went to see who was there. Through her blinds, she saw a woman heading for the backyard while putting on rubber gloves.
When the doggy door in her sliding glass door started rattling, Souza called 911 and hid in a closet. Zoe ran and hid under a bed.
Police arrived and arrested the woman — wedged in the doggy door.
The FBI says there was one burglary in the United States every 14.6 seconds in 2010. The agency doesn’t compile statistics on method of entry, but experts agree doggy doors are relatively low on the list, since not every house has one, they are usually small and a crook can’t be sure what might be on the other side.
Recent accounts make that case.
On May 7, just days after NFL linebacker Junior Seau’s death, a man squeezed through the doggy door at his Oceanside, Calif., home and walked out the garage door with a $500 bicycle, police Lt. Leonard Mata said.
Souza, a dispatcher for the California Highway Patrol, still has the same doggy door because Zoe needs it. “If someone really wanted in, they could just break the glass,” she said.
Still, police, retailers and pet owners say you can replace, renovate or reduce your doggy door to dissuade intruders, human and animal:
Replace it: There are options whether you want to spend $10, $100 or over $1,000.
There are all-screen doors with magnets that slide back into place, electronic doors with locking mechanisms, wall entry doors, bullet-proof doors, extreme weather doors, aluminum doors and panels for patio doors, said Jodi Liddle, merchandising and purchasing manager for Wisconsin-based Drs. Foster and Smith.
Guard it: Don’t underestimate the value of your dog as a deterrent, said Col. Jerry Neufeld, public information officer for the Amarillo Police Department.
“A dog that barks, even if it’s just a little dog that yaps, will draw attention and no criminal wants that,” said Nicole Aguon, a crime specialist with the Livermore, Calif., Police Department.
Minimize the risk: Get the smallest door your dog or cat can reasonably get through, Neufeld said, and if you can unlock the door when you reach through, add another deadbolt higher on the door.
Think like a pest: Doggy door intruders aren’t always human and that might require some creativity, too.
If a raccoon gets in, make a path of marshmallows, cheese bits, or fig bars toward a door, said John Hadidian, urban wildlife director of the Humane Society of the United States, in his book “Wild Neighbors.”
Get behind the raccoon, make noise and it should run away, Hadidian said.
If all else fails, call animal control.