Crime Prevention Advice - Home Security

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Door Security

Front Door

This is the main entry into your house and needs to be the best quality that you can afford. Doors can now be bought that are certified to British Standard (PAS 24). These are undoubtedly extremely good doors but most people only need to consider a door to that standard as and when they are fitting a replacement. If you have a good quality door already in placed then make sure that it is fitted with:-

  • A 5 lever mortice or deadlock to British Standard 3621 - to do this look for a kite mark on the lock or striking plate. If you find one then the lock is to the standard. If not then replace it. Do not get the lock from a DIY store. They will sell you a lock to BS 3621 however that might not be suitable for your style of door. For your front door locks always consult a locksmith who is a member of the Master Locksmiths Association.
  • A door bar or door chain.
  • A door viewer that is fitted to the height of the shortest adult in the house. It is a lot easier for a tall person to bend down than a shorter person to jump up.

Back Door

This door needs extra security as it is usually at the rear of the house and is not overlooked by neighbours. Make sure the door is fitted with a 5 lever mortice lock to British Standard BS 3621. Additionally fit mortice or rack bolts to the top and bottom of the door. These bolts screw out so that a brass bolt engages into a hole in the door frame, making the door impossible to force open. If your door opens outwards into the garden then the hinges must be on the outside. This leaves the hinge pins vulnerable to attack. To overcome this hinge bolts (very similar to mortice bolts but you do not have to unscrew them) should be fitted, again to the top and bottom of the door.
If you have a back door that has a large, plywood panel at the bottom then glue and screw a similar panel to the inside to prevent the original panel being pushed through. If you fit expanding foam or polystyrene tiles into the gap at the same time it also helps with heat insulation.

Patio Doors - These fall into two types. The ones where the opening door slides inside the fixed door and the ones where it slides on the outside of the fixed door. When dealing with either type, the first thing to do is make sure the door is properly adjusted on its runner. This is done by :-

  • Unlocking the door but making sure the door catch is still on.
  • Take hold of the door handle and try and lift the door.
  • It should not lift more that 5mm (1/4"). If it does then the door needs adjusting.

To adjust the door slide it to the centre of the opening and look at the bottom of both edges of the door. There will either be a rubber bung, or just couple of holes. Inside these holes is the adjusting screw that lowers and raises the height of the door. Using the correct type screwdriver, adjust the door to suit.
When the door has been correctly adjusted fit patio door locks to the top and bottom of the door. The second type of door is harder to find locks for and trial and error must be used. It may take several trips to the DIY shop to finally get a lock that fits and possibly never. If this is the case( as it is with the author) then all is not lost. A piece of 10cm x 10cm (2"x2") hardwood glued and screwed to the outside sill will prevent the door from being lifted off its runner. By the time its is stained or painted you will not notice it is there.
Replacement Doors - All types of replacement doors can now be purchased that are certified to British Standard (PAS 24). However the vast majority of replacement doors have never been tested. So how do you know that you are getting a decent product. It is like everything else, you get what you pay for. Modern, good quality doors give excellent security, especially with multi-point locking using hook bolts. Cheaper quality doors do not.

Window Security

Modern houses are now fitted with double glazed, locking windows as standard. It is not necessary to fit replacement windows just to get that standard of security. Good quality, Secondary double glazing is just as good a deterrent as replacement units. In some cases, especially on listed buildings, it is the only form of window insulation that you are allowed.
Check that all your ground floor windows, and those on the first floor that can be reached from a flat roof or porch have got locks. If they have not then fit some. There is not a window made that you cannot get a lock for. All DIY shops carry a huge range and they are fairly cheap.
Make sure that when fitting the locks that they all have the same key.
As a general rule when replacing glass in ground floor windows always fit laminated glass. If you are considering replacement windows then specify laminated glass in the external pane. Laminated glass costs the same as toughened glass but has infinitely superior security properties.
Replacement windows can now be purchased that are certified to British Standard ( BS 7950) but at present only casement and tilt & turn windows have been tested. It is important that if you want windows to British Standard that they are Certified. There are a lot of companies who state that their products conform to British Standard which is not the same as a certified window which has been through the rigorous testing and is supplied with a certificate upon installation.

Burglar Alarms

The bane of every ones life. They are always going off, no one takes any notice of them, the police never turn up and yet everyone should have one.
A burglar alarm is an electronic machine which is designed to make a very loud noise when its integrity is compromised. It cannot tell that it is only the cable company digging outside that has cut off its power supply nor that it is only a cat that has crossed its detection zone. Every time a burglar alarm activates it has a genuine reason for dong so.
If you think about it there are only two people that you want to take notice of your burglar alarm. You and the burglar, and if he has set it of he will definitely take notice. There are two types of alarm, wired and wire free.
Wired Systems - In these systems the components of the alarm are connected to each other by means of multi-core wires. They are powered by a transformer linked to the mains. The most awkward thing about this type of alarm is the routing of the wires.
Wire Free Systems - In these systems the components of the alarm are linked by radio waves and in turn need their own independent power supply. They are easy to fit but it must be remembered that in order to conserve battery power the detectors have a system whereby after their zone has been crossed they go into sleep mode for anything up to 10 minutes before becoming active again. This sleep time is unique to every system so check with your supplier.
Minimum requirements - It does not matter which type of alarm you choose there are certain minimum requirements that your system should have :

  • It needs to be fully zoned.
  • It needs an entry zone (normally the front door)
  • Rooms that open onto the ground floor hallway should be protected by a passive infrared detector (PIR)
  • The first floor landing should be similarly protected.
  • A control panel.
  • An external sounder with flashing light.

You could also consider integrating a telephone auto-dialer with the system to contact a pre-arranged number when the alarm activates.
If you are getting an alarm through an alarm installation company then always get a minimum of three written quotations from either NACOSS or SSAIB registered alarm suppliers.

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