Quick Tips for Security: Doors, Windows and Locks

• Most newly built properties are fitted with a simple rim lock, also known as a ‘night latch’. For satisfactory security levels a five-lever mortice deadlock should be installed.

• If the door is hollow, or too thin for a mortice lock, a quality rim deadlock should be installed using long, strong screws.

• The deadlock is important because it means that the door is much more difficult to force open. Also once the door has been locked with the key, the burglar won’t be able to put his hand through the letter box or through a panel and open the door from the outside. If he is in the house, he also won’t be able to open the door which means he cannot use it to get out of the house with bulky items.

• Deadlocks are also important in relation to doors with glazed panels which are inherently less secure than solid doors. You should consider replacing ordinary or toughened glass panels with laminated glass as this offers greater resistance.

• Internal rack bolts at the top and bottom of the door provide additional security.

• It is also important to consider fire safety issues when looking at security precautions. You may feel that you don’t wish to use the mortice lock when you are in, as this will make it more difficult to get out of the house in the event of a fire. If this is the case, bolts at the top and bottom of the door are particularly useful.

• It should be noted that it is generally not possible to add security features to UPVC/PVCU front doors after they have been installed, but they would usually incorporate appropriate locking mechanisms.

• Before replacing any locks, see what your insurance policy states that you should have.

• For additional security, fit a spy hole and door chain.

Back Doors

• The back door should also be fitted with a five-lever mortice deadlock and have bolts at top and bottom.

• Glass panels should be laminated and fitted from the inside to prevent putty or beading being removed.

Patio Doors

• Patio doors are a common means of entry and so, unless doors are fitted with a multi-locking system, it is a good idea to fit extra locks and an anti-lift device.

Windows

• Around two-thirds of burglars gain entry through windows. Window locks are inexpensive and should be installed on all downstairs windows and any vulnerable upstairs ones, eg any that overlook a flat extension or garage roof. If, having smashed a hole in the window, the criminal cannot release the catch, he is unlikely to risk making more noise by smashing the whole pane out.

• For wooden windows, locks that secure frames together are preferable to those which simply secure the handle or the stay bar, but what is practical will depend on the type of window.

• Aluminium windows can generally only be locked at the handle. Where there is a sliding horizontal window, enhanced security can be achieved by fitting a key operated clamp to the bottom rail of the frame.

• It is typically not possible to retrofit any extra locks to UPVC windows. Double glazed window locking systems should be fitted at time of manufacture.

• Louvre windows are vulnerable because slats can be removed easily from the frame. Slats should be fixed in place with epoxy resin, but it would be wise to replace these with more conventional and secure windows.

• It is preferable for windows to be fitted with internal beading to avoid the possibility of glass being removed from the outside.

• Use of bars and grilles in domestic premises is relatively uncommon, but would depend on how much at risk you think you are and the value of the property you have at home. They can be useful for those who live in bungalows and require windows to be left open – fresh air and security combined. It is essential that these are fitted by an expert.

Padlocks for Outhouses etc.

• Garden sheds are a popular target for burglars, often containing very valuable equipment and the tools to force your doors and windows. The most secure padlocks are those operated by a key which opens and shuts them. By contrast, spring-loaded ones can be quite easy to spring open. The best type is a close shackle padlock because there isn’t enough room to insert an implement to lever it open.

• When fitting a padlock bar, coach bolts should be used rather than screws. If screws are used, they should be ‘clutch-headed’ or one-way screws which, once in, are almost impossible to remove.

• Precisely what you can use will depend on the strength of the shed door and frame, i.e. it might not be possible to use the most heavy duty equipment, but there are a range of different types of products available.

• Windows in sheds should have good locks.

• It should be noted that electronic security options are also possible.

• Where a garage has wooden double doors it is worth considering introducing a heavy duty padlock bar and close shackle padlock. Where there are up and over doors, a padlock could also be used. There are mortice locks specially designed for garage doors that close into the side frame. Electronic security options should also be considered.

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