Home security is important in Medellín and Colombia. I have installed a security door in two apartments I rented in Medellín for improved security and improved peace of mind.
I travel several times each year for work. My Colombian wife is also frequently in school so our apartment is sometimes empty. So we feel much more secure with a security door.
My wife also feels more secure with a security door when she is home alone. We also travel together on vacation each year leaving the apartment empty for a week or more at times.
I am not really a fan of alarm systems as I had a bad experience with an alarm system in the U.S. My home in the U.S. was broken into and many things were stolen when I was away on business.
This was even though I had a monitored alarm system. Plus there are ongoing costs for a monitored alarm system.
Last year I met an expat with an alarm system living in El Poblado and he told me that his apartment was still broken into when he was away. A criminal kicked in his front door and the alarm response was after the criminal was already gone.
He said his loss included two laptops, an expensive camera and a couple watches. Plus his small safe containing cash was broken into – for a total loss of well over $10,000.
This was in an apartment building in El Poblado with a 24×7 porteria. After I told this expat about the security door I had installed, he quickly installed a security door.
I have seen statistics that most criminals can burglarize a home in less than 10 minutes so an alarm system with slower response really can’t help.
Statistically most home invasions are actually made through exterior doors. Most break-ins are not through windows, as most people believe. So a security door can be a first line of defense against an illegal entry into your home.
Also in the U.S. someone is reportedly home during three out of every ten home burglaries. This demonstrates there is risk of your home being broken into even if you are at home.
Benefits of a Security Door
A security door is very strong and can much better withstand and deter home invasion than a regular door.
A criminal is extremely likely to bypass an apartment or home with a security door and focus on breaking into a home with a door that is easier to break into.
Many of the standard exterior doors found on apartments and homes in Medellín are made of wood. Some are even hollow wood doors. They normally also have inexpensive wood frames. They are relatively easy to break into.
Some standard doors in Medellín also use cylinder locks that are very easy to break into with lock bumping using a bump key.
In comparison, security doors typically have a strong and sturdy frame, often made from steel or wrought iron. This makes these doors much more secure than common exterior doors with wooden frames.
Security doors are typically made using a steel interior. They may have a wood exterior to match existing doors. Security doors are also resistant to bullets.
They also typically have bars/deadbolts on three or four sides. When I lock my current security door there are actually 15 bars/deadbolts that lock.
Security doors in Medellín typically have heavy-duty bump-resistant locks. A locksmith normally can’t break into these locks, as they are nearly impossible to open without an original key.
Security doors are specifically designed so they are not easy to break into. So there is a downside. If you forget your key or lose your key it may require a major expense to physically break into the door and then repair it.
Where to Buy a Security Door?
You can find security doors for sale in HomeCenter. But they only come in a few standard door sizes and there will be an additional charge for installation.
I negotiated with the owner of the apartment I was renting and the owner eventually paid for half of the security door. The door was a standard sized door that Colmena had in stock.
The total cost of the door including installation was 2,450,000 pesos and I paid for half. The installation took two days including some cement work and painting.
I also installed a security door in my current apartment in Sabaneta. Similar to my first security door, I negotiated with the owner of the apartment and he agreed to pay for half of the door.
We got quotes from two companies – Puertas Colmena and Difusion – and Difusion was a bit cheaper. Plus my apartment owner had a good experience previously with Difusion so we decided on Difusion.
The entry door of my apartment in Sabaneta is larger than a standard door so a custom security door had to be manufactured.
The door manufacturing took about a month. The door installation including some cement work and painting took three days. The new security door matches the old door exactly. The total cost of the custom Difusion door including installation was 4 million pesos and I paid for half of this.
Note if you install a security door in a rented apartment make sure to inform the owner. You may be able to negotiate with the owner to pay for part of the door, as I was able to do twice.
The Bottom Line
Security is important in Medellín and you will see many first and second floor homes and apartments in the city with bars in windows. Some apartments and homes in the city also have security doors.
Both apartment buildings where I installed security doors have 24×7 porterias (doormen). But these 24×7 porterias will not necessarily protect against home invasions, as home invaders could be other residents or visitors.
In my previous apartment building where I lived in Belén I am aware of at least two apartments in the building that were broken into. This happened even though this building has armed guards. Both of these break-ins were through inexpensive wood front doors.
After we installed a security door in our previous apartment and after the break-ins, the apartment building administration even sent out a notice to residents about the break-ins and recommended installation of security doors. After that I noticed several other residents in the building installing security doors.
While I’m not aware of any break-ins in my current apartment building in Sabaneta the bottom line is we feel much more secure by having a security door. We now have no worries when we leave our apartment empty, even for an extended period.