Your home is only as secure as the doors and locks that you have fitted to prevent illegal entry. Remember, a lot of burglars are opportunists, they will have a go at a door that looks like it’s going to be easy to get through, so choosing suitable doors for your property is a good first step to ensuring that the casual thief sees your doors as too much time and trouble to bother with.
Choosing Your Doors
If you are in any doubt about the security of your doors, you should seriously consider upgrading them. Most people simply accept the doors that are in the property when they buy a house, and never check to see if they need upgrading or replacing.
If you are looking to replace external doors, you need to ensure that they conform to the British Safety Standard PAS 24-1 ‘Doors of Enhanced Security’. If you buy the door, frame, fittings and locks that conform to this Standard, it shows that they have been attack-tested, and are secure.
If your door has glass panels, have them replaced with laminate glass – two sheets of glass bonded together with a toughened sheet in between. Even a casual thief will think it worth the risk to smash a panel to gain a quick entry.
Patio doors are especially vulnerable because they are at the back, or side of the property. If you are having patio doors fitted, ensure that the sliding mechanism is on the inside, and the doors have an ‘anti-lifting’ mechanism which prevents thieves from levering the doors off their tracks. Ensure that you have high-quality locks fitted with mortise security bolts with removable keys fitted to the top and bottom of both doors. Existing doors can be fitted with additional bolts and anti-lifting mechanisms, but if your doors are UPVC, ensure that such fittings do not affect or void your warranty or guarantee from the manufacturer.
Locks And Security Fittings
Having a good strong door is an excellent way to protect your home, but you must be sure that the locks and fittings are of a similar standard. You should fit a five-pin mortise lock to both front and back doors, which is up to BS3621 standard. Some insurance companies insist on this as a minimum requirement for a protection policy, and some offer a discount if these locks are fitted.
Consider having a viewer fitted, so you can check who is standing at your door before you decide to open it.
Have a good quality security chain fitted. This will enable you to open the door a short way, but prevent anyone pushing their way in. Make sure the chain and catch are both secured with extra-long screws to prevent them being forced out if the door is attacked.
Make sure hinges are secure, and fitted with hinge bolts to prevent them being unscrewed – a favourite method of overcoming a good lock.
Your letterbox should be a minimum 400 mm (16 inches) from any locks. A letterbox cage will prevent anyone reaching in to get a key from the inside, and never leave a key on a string hanging from your letterbox, it’s just asking for trouble. Think about taking the bottom out of the cage to allow mail to drop to the floor, some thieves will steal mail if they can’t get anything else.
Good quality doors, hinges, locks and bolts and similar fittings are not cheap, but they are a worthwhile investment when their cost is considered against the cost of your TV and hi-fi – the favourite items thieves can take within sixty seconds of entry into your house. Make burglary as hard as possible, and your property evidently secure to even a casual appraisal, and you can keep your home and your property safe and secure.