(The following narrative is not intended as a ‘Bible’ of do’s and don’ts with regard to our home security guide but as a commonsense look at how we protect our homes and what is available to enhance security. Readers should always have consult their home insurers to confirm that their current security fixtures and fittings meet with the insurers requirements – always read the small print on insurance documents)
It is the wish of us all to make our property burglar proof, we all think about the security of our home frequently, but in reality few of us do little about it – until it is too late and our nice friends the burglars have exposed and taken advantage of any flaws in our fortresses defences and helped themselves to our possessions leaving us nowhere to go apart from reporting it to the police and contacting our insurance company.
Most burglaries are carried out by amateurs, not so nice people who have learnt how to gain entry to our property through basic locks and locking devices. These people are usually easily deterred and they will always pick the easy option so why not make your home look and feel different to the others, if the burglars do not recognise the locks on your doors, they will be less likely to attack them in an effort to gain entry and steel your property.
The local crime prevention section of the police force will always offer sound advice which should be along the same lines as this narrative.
Lets start when we move into a new property, bought rented or leased the situation you encounter will be the same. You are given a set of keys for the property which someone else has lived in for a period of time – you may not know the previous owners or any of the people they socialise with, how do you know you have a full set of keys and no other copies exist apart from the ones you hold? It’s all too easy to assume that everyone is trustworthy but be honest with yourself, the last time you moved home, did you hand all of the keys to the property you vacated to the new tenants/owners?
More often than not, we are all too busy to drop off those keys we find for our old property, but we need to be sure that we are the only ones who have keys for our new property, how can we do this?
Change all of the locks including garage door locks to our new property. But before you commit to any additional expenditure at a time when you are planning the decoration and re carpeting of your new home – Check with your insurance company as to what locks you should have fitted. It would be maddening to have all of your locks changed for like for like locks, only to find out that these locks do not meet the requirements of your insurance company.
You will probably have moved to a new area where not many people know you, you now have an opportunity to furnish your new home with a few inexpensive signs which may deter any would be burglar.
Home Security – ‘Beware of The Dog’!!!!!!!! If you have a dog, even better, if not, so what. Burglars do not like dogs; they make a noise and bite! Burglars will generally avoid anything that will bring attention to them being in or around your property.
Home Security -‘Warning CCTV in Operation’
Modern day CCTV systems employ small covert, but highly technical cameras, some the size of a small pen. These cameras fit nicely out of obvious view and are hard to spot. If you can afford to have CCTV installed, then do so, these systems are relatively inexpensive nowadays. If you can’t afford a CCTV system, then maybe an inexpensive sign may be within your budget. Would you take a chance if you were a burglar?
Home Security – ‘Property Forensically Protected’ ‘Smartwater’
Fancy words, but what do they mean?
There are measures we can take to mark and protect our property which involves the use of a forensic pen which marks your property with a forensic liquid which is naked to the human eye but can be highlighted when exposed to UV light. Hence any valuable which has been marked, stolen and recovered can be traced back to you as the pen and the liquid are unique to you and you alone.
As importantly, you receive a sign to display in your window advising would be burglars that you have marked all of your possessions, another deterrent!
Other measures involve the installation which would spray any unwanted intruder with the forensic liquid which would prove that they have been inside your property.
Home Security – General
Go outside with a pen and paper and write down all of the ways you could break into your own home.
Are there any ladders around to climb up to that bedroom window that we always leave open? If so lock them in the garage!
Any ground floor window open? If so fit restrictors to the inside so that they can only be opened a few millimetres to let the fresh air in and burglars out!
Do you have a burglar alarm? If not invest in one, they are reasonably inexpensive and you can fit them yourself.
Are the side gates to the rear of your property lockable? If not put some locks on, even the smallest of locks are an inconvenience to thieves!
Is your property well lit outside? If not invest in some PIR lights which detect motion and turn on when someone is around your property.
Look through your letterbox, what do you see? Key rack hung on the wall? Well whatever you can see through your letterbox, burglars can ‘fish’ these items out through the letterbox using fishing rods/magnets etc, so fit a cowl or mail receiver to the inside of your door!
Look at the windows do they close correctly or are some of them a little stiff and just don’t close completely? Get them fixed and install additional locks on them!
Are there any dogs around? Refer to note above!
Are you being monitored? Refer to note above!
Is the property owner a member of a neighbourhood watch scheme? Any signs? If so you are probably being watched – get out!
You may find that is you had to, you could break into your own property quite easily, if you can then……………!
Home Security – Locks and Security Enhancements.
Home Security – Wooden Doors.
Family homes – generally wooden doors should be fitted with 5 Lever BS3621 Mortice Locks, these will have a Kite Mark on the face plate (BS3621). (There are other British Standards which cover keyless egress for flats and multi-lets = again you should check with your insurer to ensure you have the correct locks fitted)
These locks offer a high degree of protection and the number of different key combinations required make it highly unlikely that someone has the right key to open your door (unless they have stolen it) These locks offer a high degree of protection and picking, most insurance companies insist on these type of locks being fitted that’s why they are generally referred to as ‘Insurance Locks’
It would enhance the security of your property many fold by installing a second BS3621 lock to wooden doors; this can be in the form a ‘Dead Lock’ which is key operated.
To enhance the security of wooden doors for situations where you are inside the property, the use of ‘Deadbolts’ are very effective. These are key or knob operated bolts, fitted inside the body of the door, which when the door is closed, and only from the inside, can be actuated by a key or knob and the ‘bolt’ engages into the door frame. These ‘Deadbolts’ cannot be seen from the outside so any person attempting to attack your door would not know where the strong/weak points are and hence make entry very difficult.
Door chains and surface mounted bolts are effective ways of controlling entry into your property.
Consideration should be afforded at all times when enhancing security to our homes, we must be able to exit the property if case of an emergency, so we have a dilemma, we want to fortify our property to prevent burglaries, but we must ensure that we can ‘get out’ if there is a fire or other emergency. This is subject to much debate and your insurers and qualified locksmiths will be able to offer advice/direction.
Your insurers will advise on the type of locking mechanism and cylinder to install on your doors.
There are many types and manufacturers of mechanisms/handles/locks for PVCu doors and without going into too much detail, you may be at risk of burglary if you do not have the correct type installed which satisfies the conditions of your insurance cover – do not take risks, consult your insurers, have them inspect the mechanisms/locks/handles and confirm in writing the status of such.
Locking Mechanisms (the mechanical strip screwed to the side, or inbuilt into your PVCu doors, have ‘Locking Points’ and your insurers will stipulate the minimum number of these which are required to satisfy their terms and conditions. Get clarification from your insurers before you waste any of your hard earned money upgrading to a type which still may not be acceptable to your insurers.
Euro or Oval cylinders which lock the Locking Mechanisms once they have been actuated by the handles (some are actuated by the key) are the crucial link in the operation and integrity of your PVCu Door. Again without giving too much away to the ‘not so nice people who rob homes’ it is imperative that you install an enhance cylinder, known generically as Break Secure, Snap Secure, Anti Snap, Anti Pick, Anti Bump which will afford increased protection against drilling, snapping and picking and some protect your keys from illegal copying – seek advice from your local Crime Prevention Officer, your insurers or a qualified Master locksmith.
The new standards for these Break Secure or High Security Euro cylinders are Sold Secure SS312 and Secured by Design TS007. Only but a few cylinders meet the criteria for Diamond Status (Sold Secure) or 3 Star Rating (Secured by Design), Access Locksmith Solutions Ltd are Master Locksmiths and the company is a Master Locksmith Association Approved Company hence we are in a position to offer qualified advice for Break Secure and all other locking issues.
There are various fixtures which can be surface mounted onto the inside of PVCu doors which afford secondary protection in the event that the burglars have bypassed the locks etc on your PVCu door. These are relatively inexpensive but do work.
All windows should have the facility to be locked closed. There are fixtures which allow you to key lock windows (wooden and PVCu). Some of these allow you to lock your windows in the open position, allowing you to air your rooms whilst maintaining some degree of protection against intrusion. Again you should consult your insurers and confirm what their requirements are.
Home Security – Garage Doors.
Most of us use our garages for anything but parking our cars inside. Some homes have doors leading from the living quarters to the garage.
Where garages have double wooden doors, the ‘Slave’ door should be fixed to the frame of the door and the base so that is cannot be opened when the ‘Master’ door is locked closed. 5 Lever BS 3621 Mortice Lock should be fitted to the Master door ensuring that any flexibility in the door which would allow anyone to get a lever bar behind the door and force it open, is compensated by the installation of one or more additional 5 Lever BS3621 Mortice Locks.
Additional enhancements are available to further protect your garage door which includes a bar which is locked in place preventing your garage door opening even if the primary locks have been by-passed.
If you have a pedestrian or other door which connects your home to the rear of the garage, consideration should be given to disabling the garage door from the inside of the garage. There are many ways this can be done and would stop most attempts to gain entry to your garage door without enabling it again from inside the garage.
Why Employ the Services of a Master Locksmith?
Believe it or not the locksmithing industry is not regulated in any way by the Government. This means that anybody can trade as a locksmith irrespective of their competence, background or motive.
Whereas other areas of the security industry are government licensed (e.g. door staff, or even keyholding companies) the government sees there being no need to regulate the locksmith industry.
Criteria to become a MLA Locksmith
For this reason the MLA has its licensing scheme for MLA Approved Companies where by those locksmithing companies who are promoted on the MLA’s find a locksmith web page and use the MLA Approved Company logo have met 3 key criteria;
- They have been vetted (the MLA has been at the forefront of vetting for a number of years and recently got the law changed to enable the association to perform standard level CRB checks on members following debates in the Houses of Commons and Lords and being added to the exceptions order for the rehabilitation of offenders act.
- They are regularly inspected (The MLA has a team of inspectors who go to check approved companies on a regular basis, this inspection can include checking jobs done by the company, getting keys cut, checking audit trails for quality purposes etc.).
- And they employ a qualified locksmith (somebody who has passed an exam based proof of competence to ensure a minimum standard has been achieved).
It’s for this reason that we’d always recommend use of an MLA Approved Company
The above is a general narrative relating to the protection of domestic properties and is intended as a thought provoking exercise and Locksmith Solutions Ltd will not accept any responsibility for any action taken by others as a result of reading this narrative. All householders should seek clarification from their insurers prior to undertaking any works involved in the security of their homes. Access Locksmith Solutions Ltd is available for surveys and consultation as necessary.