Improve Your Home Security With An Onion – Yes You Read That Right An Onion!
How an onion can protect your home from burglars
“If a burglar wants to get in you can’t stop them”
Countless times I’ve heard this phrase and put bluntly it’s simply not true.
If you’ve got the resources AND the budget you can make a property very difficult if not virtually impossible for the criminal elements. Think about it banks, government buildings they’re all pretty secure right?
The good news is the average homeowner doesn’t have to protect his property from criminal masterminds just your average burglar – and the even better news? – to protect your home and your loved ones all you need is an onion – yes you read that right an onion!!
Ok so not an actual onion (although some of the tips we give are guaranteed to make a burglar cry)
Instead we’re talking about layers – layers of security to protect your home, your loved ones and your possessions. Some cheap solutions, some less so but we’ll cover the pros and cons of each but the more layers the better…
More good news – While your bank is spending hundreds of thousands of £££’s to protect their property from determined, experienced criminal masterminds your average burglar is more of an opportunist. Some of these burglars have had an extended career, some have just started out, some get caught, some don’t, others see getting caught as part of the job description, and some may even be learning tips and tricks to improve their skills while at Her Majesty’s pleasure.
So firstly a little information about Pro-Lock. We are a locksmith company based in Colchester and have been operating a 24 hour locksmith service since 2010. Our day to day work includes the upgrading of security and we also provide free of charge security reviews. This experience, along with the numerous burglary repairs we’ve had to attend mean we have extensive experience in this field and hopefully this knowledge will assist you in some way. More info on us, the services we provide and how we operate can be found by clicking here
This list is not exhaustive but hopefully will help you view your home security from a “burglars viewpoint”
First we cover all the basics then we’ll move on to CCTV, alarm systems, lock security
So back to the onion analogy!
Imagine your property as being at the centre of the onion. Now what we need to do is build as many layers of security as possible around your home. The key here is to deter the opportunist burglar – If your home security is layered they’re more likely to move on and try elsewhere. Each home will be different but this walk-through will allow us to cover the basics first :
Next time you arrive home take a look at your home with different eyes and ask yourself these questions :
Did a security light come on when a certain distance from front door or on entering driveway?
PIR activated security lights are a cheap quick way to improve your home security. Try and avoid buying solar power versions and if possible fit them out of reach. Not only are these handy if you arrive home late and need to see your way to the door they’re also a great deterrent as your average burglar does not want the spotlight on him/her. Even on the cheaper models you can adjust their sensitivity so it only activates when someone is in range and won’t light up when a car drives by!
Importantly have these fitted not just at the front but also the rear of the property.
Do you have a side-gate?
Make sure this is locked – Not just a bolt near the top that you can reach over and undo but a minimum of two bolts (top and bottom) a minimum of one of which should have a padlock fitted to it (called pad bolts). Alternatively if you use the gate regularly consider having a key operated deadbolt fitted or a weatherproof digilock.
Try and keep these either locked in the garage or chained to an area away from any fences, hedges or gates that lead to the rear of your property. If you can’t do this then as a minimum keep them in your rear garden protected by your newly locked side-gate and consider what access these could give to the opportunist thief. These items help the burglar hop over fences or even reach up to open windows.
If you’ve recently bought the latest widescreen tv or had an expensive birthday try and disguise the rubbish so your not advertising your hard earned purchases. Ideally take it to the tip or keep it hidden away until bin collection day
Most garage door security is very basic and you should consider upgrading this by fitting deadbolts or similar items. More importantly if your garage leads into your home make sure you have a high security lock fitted to the internal door and that you use it! You’ll be amazed how many people don’t bother to lock these doors
If you have an old electric garage door consider upgrading the receiver. Old system frequencies can be “grabbed” but newer systems have a rolling code system improving the security and you don’t have to replace the whole mechanical/electrical system so it’d relatively inexpensive to do. If you’re on your last remote now could be an ideal time to upgrade
Car parked on the drive ?
Most modern cars will have a factory fitted alarm and immobiliser as standard. Consider getting a dash-cam that records front and rear when your car is parked. Not only is this a handy insurance tool if you ever have an accident but most will also let the would-be burglar know they’re being recorded if they consider walking onto your driveway
Front Door ?
Yes most people have one of these! We’re going to cover doors and locks in a bit but firstly is a spare key left under the mat? Under a stone or hidden at the top of the door frame? If you really need access to a spare key consider a key-safe – they’re cheap, relatively secure if fitted correctly and believe it or not they are a deterrent as they show you take your home security seriously
If you have a multipoint door (where you lift handle then turn key to double lock it) always double lock the door when leaving. We’ve had instances where we’ve been asked to change a lock because of lost keys etc and the customer wasn’t even aware they could lift the handle to double lock it (it had been installed 15 years ago!!) If you don’t double lock these doors they are easily identified and easily opened by the most amateur of burglars. This type of burglary is increasingly popular, very quiet, quick and leaves no damage – So this is a definite no-no – imagine being burgled then the insurance company won’t payout because there’s no evidence of a forced entry?? Whether going out or going to bed lift the handle and turn the key – Why make it easy for them?
If you recently moved in or have never changed the locks change the locks as soon as possible. You have no idea who may have a key to your property, when they might use it and as above no sign of forced entry you’ll have a tough time convincing your insurance company that you have a valid claim.
Whether you have a wooden or multipoint door does is have glass fitted to it or small windows either side? If this glass was smashed could they reach through and unlock the door? As mentioned earlier we’ll discuss lock options in a bit
Rear Garden ?
A lot of people will go out and leave upstairs windows open, especially in hot weather. Many people also have ladders stored in their back garden – see where I’m going with this?
Also consider if you have any flat roof areas that could lead to an open window
Garden tools should also be locked away where possible – An example of this would be a sturdy shovel to hand allowing them to attempt to lever a window open
As mentioned earlier this is not an exhaustive list but hopefully allows you to walk around your property and see it from an “outsiders” perspective.
The key to all of this information is to allow you to build your “onion”. Starting with the basics you can quickly make your home a less desirable property from a burglars viewpoint and deflect them elsewhere. Sadly there are millions of homes in the UK that have poor security, unbelievably some have spent £1000’s but overlooked the basics making their home an easier target.
So imagine this – it’s midnight – an opportunist walks onto your driveway – security lights come on (all out of reach so they can’t be tampered with) – he/she approaches the front door, but they discover the door is double locked and there’s no key hidden nearby – around to the side and tries the side-gate it’s locked – but this burglar is persistent – they climb over your fence into the back garden – more security lighting comes on – windows are locked, no garden tools to hand to help, they’re lit up like a christmas tree potentially alerting neighbouring houses and the clock is ticking……….
The good news is the opportunist would have probably left after trying the front door. From their point of view the risk is too high and there are plenty of other properties that won’t have covered these basic security measures – they will likely get lucky elsewhere but not at your property
So that’s the opportunist, inexperienced, amateur, burglar dealt with but what about the burglars with a bit of experience?
The experienced burglar will likely still start with the basics but they will likely have the tools and know-how to snap a lock, quickly and quietly, force a door or if they’re feeling confident nobody is around smash the glass.
Above we covered the basics – all inexpensive solutions which will improve your security. Now we’re going to cover security products designed to counter the burglar, provide an overview of how they work and discuss the benefits of each. You don’t need to spend a fortune but with some careful thought you can stop your home being an easy target
In situations like this we tend to refer to what we call 3D and we apply this when reviewing all security setups. The 3 D’s are :
Detect – This is a security device that has the ability to detect someone is outside or inside the property
Deter – A security product which is visible to an intruder and makes them reconsider
Deflect – A security device which is designed to counter burglary techniques and prevents entry
These products below generally fall into two of these categories and while some of them may seem obvious we have also included some cost effective alternatives which will also add to those “layers” of your home security onion.
Chances are if you’ve found this blog your concerned about home security. You’ve probably seen CCTV footage of burglaries and you don’t want to be their next victim?
We’ve all seen the videos on social media showing burglars going about their work. Some show a great quality image, some not so good but they must be good for security as everyone seems to have them nowadays right?
And another question – Why didn’t the burglars captured on CCTV not see the cameras?
CCTV is a great additional layer of security if you’ve already covered all the basics. But. The key word here is “layer”. The average home with poor basic security will only see a minimal deterrent benefit from having CCTV installed and if the worst does happen you end up with a nice video showing how easily the burglars got into your home (if they don’t steal the CCTV while they’re there!)
Don’t get me wrong! They are a great security device but only if you’ve ticked many other security boxes first. Yes they can Deter (if a burglar sees a camera it may make them reconsider), Yes CCTV can Detect (it will attempt to record the identity of the intruder) but it can’t Deflect (this product cannot physically stop an intruder gaining entry to your home)
If you are seriously considering purchasing CCTV (and have the budget) then try and buy the best system you can afford. Consider either a system that is managed by a security centre who can check cameras if movement is detected or one of the recent “Push Notification” systems that will send an image to your phone if the sensors are triggered. Please be aware though that the more experienced burglars have developed ways to interrupt communication from some CCTV systems. We won’t go into any details on here but it is something you as the homeowner need to be aware of.
So did the burglars see the cameras? Who knows but with the prolific growth of CCTV in the UK think about it from a burglars perspective “even if I can’t see a camera better cover my face just in case”. Same as the issue with alarms (covered below) the burglar (opportunist or professional) has adapted to this new technology.
So in summary great security product – can detect, can deter. Downsides are if you have a poorly secured property or a persistent burglar then you just end up with a video of what is probably one of the worst events to happen in your life. SO only to be considered as part of your home security onion
If you don’t have the budget for CCTV but want to further improve your home security consider this :
Fit dummy cameras at “out of reach” points around your property – some of these “dummies” are very realistic, especially at a distance but make sure you don’t put a battery in for the flashing LED (Very Important) – Real cameras don’t have a flashing LED. Also another cheap solution is a PIR Chime system. Very cheap system that detects movement (day or night) and will wirelessly activate a chime/alarm sound at your receiver in your home. This simple system lets you know if there is any movement around your home and once setup properly is a very effective additional layer of security.
I have no doubt CCTV installers will have a different opinion of dummy cameras but if you don’t have the budget surely another layer can only help right?
Home Alarm System
A masssive range of different options to choose from when purchasing a home alarm system. Door and window sensors, different zones, notifications to your phone, monitored systems, integration with CCTV systems the list goes on and on
Now same as CCTV we don’t install these products but we have an understanding of them and genuinely do fully agree (if you have the budget and have covered your home security onion basics) then an alarm system is a great security product to fit to your home. Same as above I recommend buy the best your budget will allow with some form of managed or “direct to your phone” monitoring system.
Always activate the downstairs zone or your door and window sensors at night, always fully activate it when you pop to the shop down the road – just maximise the benefits of this product
Yes it can Detect (the sensors detect an intrusion), Yes it can Deter (The big box on the outside wall lets any burglar know what they could be dealing with so it could potentially get them to reconsider) but it can’t deflect. Most alarms will only activate when the property is entered so the burglary at this stage is nearly complete.
Now take a moment to view an alarm from a burglars perspective – They’ve already neutralised the CCTV problem by covering their face, what does an alarm box tell them?
Well it simply tells them that (at worst) if the system is monitored they have a limited amount of time (say 10-15 minutes) before some sort of response (whether Police, private security or upset owner) arrives at the door. This is a most likely worst scenario (for the burglar). Best scenario for them is the box is a dummy, the alarm isn’t monitored or even worse nobody bothered setting it!!
Let’s take somewhere in the middle – The alarm is set and when they force their way in the alarm is triggered – so what now? From a burglars viewpoint this is irrelevant, alarm or no alarm they very rarely want to spend more than a few moments in your home as every second increases the risk of a passing patrol car (unlikely nowadays), an inquisitive neighbour or the owners returning home. Chances are the burglar will have been through your home, taken what he/she wants and have left long before any type of response can be made.
So again as with CCTV great security product which can detect and deter. Downsides are this product won’t deflect a burglary and as a standalone item has limited benefits. If you’ve already completed all of your security basics and want to integrate an alarm into your home security onion then it provides a great additional layer of security. As with CCTV buy the best system you can afford ideally with some form of notification or monitoring.
If you haven’t the budget for a high quality alarm system consider the following :
Buy a dummy box for the outside of your home – many are indistinguishable from the real thing and it can help deter the opportunist burglar
Consider a modular alarm system – These can be found in many DIY stores and allow you to invest initially a basic modular system that covers say front and back doors then allows you to add additional features/sensors over time. This will keep your initial outlay much lower, they’re relatively easy for a DIY’er to install and you can gradually build it to a full system over time without it breaking the bank. And remember every layer added to your security onion helps to protect your home.
Glass – “You can spend a fortune on security but why bother if they can just smash the glass”?
Firstly there are two types of glazing commonly fitted in the UK
Older windows and doors are single pane glass which when broken makes a loud noise and turns into very jagged slivers making it likely they’ll get cut entering this way. Your average burglar has no interest in making that noise (drawing attention to themselves) or risk getting cut and leaving their DNA at the scene of the crime. If it’s a small window and by breaking the glass they can reach through and unlock the door then they might consider it. To prevent this don’t leave keys in doors (but keep them on a hook nearby in case of fire) and if it’s your front door which is only fitted with a nightlatch then as a minimum make sure your nightlatch can be manually deadlocked (a turn of the key locks the internal handle) or ideally fit a British Standard BS3621 mortice deadlock further down the door (the burglar will know just by looking at the door that this will prevent any easy access)
The other type of glass is fitted to uPVC windows and is double or triple glazed unit. These types of glass are remarkably strong (they actually assist the structural integrity of your door / window and can cope with lots of blunt trauma without breaking. However they are susceptible to certain types of attack and are designed to shatter into small cut-safe pieces when they are broken. So new glass is worse than old glass? No definitely not. The good news is these glazing units can be upgraded without having to replace your windows and doors. If you have the budget I would recommend laminated glass units (they work in a similar way to a car windscreen) or have a security film fitted which simulates a laminated glass finish. If the burglar then attempts to break the glass it will resist attack and when it finally breaks the film will provide another layer of security which needs to be got past (this is enough to deter some and at worst considerably slow down a persistent burglar). If you are making enquiries about security film make sure it is the type bonded to the door frame not the cheap eBay type film). A cheaper solution is to consider window alarms which trigger when glass is broken – they will Deter but as with all alarms (above) they are not preventing the break-in from happening.
You can buy ballistic glass capable of stopping pretty much all attacks inc bullets and as I don’t know your background this may be for you but we’re then into a different league of security (and cost) so make sure you’ve covered your security basics first!
OK so we’ve covered basic security measures, CCTV and Alarms, Glass
Now how about a product that ticks all the boxes (Detect/Deter/Deflect) and will stop a determined or experienced burglar in his tracks?
A product that most homeowners genuinely don’t believe they need until they discover the one common flaw in the security of most homes in the UK?
A common flaw that is being ruthlessly exploited by burglars across the UK?
A cost effective, modular product that changes with your home but protects from day 1?
A product that also simplifies and “future-proofs” your home security?
Two words – You may or may not have heard them but they affect the majority of homes in the UK
Let’s take a look at your average burglar – He’s moved with the times, knows how to deal with CCTV, alarms etc knows the risks but also enjoys his rewards. He’s been caught before but this helped him learn a few tips and tricks to make his life easier.
Maybe he pretended to be delivering a parcel recently or has just watched your home from nearby? Chances are he knows whether you’re in or out and he also managed to get a quick look at your door lock so now knows what he’s dealing with
He’s seen a nice car on the drive and wants to get the keys or has decided he wants to go through your home looking for items of value he can easily re-sell?
You, the homeowner have already adopted the idea of a security onion. Your door is double locked (handle was lifted and key turned before leaving). You’ve also recently spent a fortune and had composite or uPVC doors and windows fitted and they all have multipoint locks (hooks, rollers etc that secure door to the frame when you lift the handle) pretty secure right?
The burglar (face covered) approaches your door and quickly and quietly unlocks your door in less than 10 seconds ! So how? Did he pick the lock (like in the movies)? No. Chances are he snapped your door lock
How is this possible? I’ve never heard of this before? WHY haven’t I heard about this before?
Sadly this is normally the type of comments we hear when we attend a burglary where the lock was snapped. Even worse the average home insurance company will only replace your locks with “like-for-like) virtually a written invitation for the burglar to return at a later date.
This problem and the ease with which it can be performed has been known to locksmiths and police for years and it has received high profile media coverage including Crimewatch but the message still hasn’t got through to you the homeowner. Part of the reason for this is it’s such a UK-wide issue affecting millions of doors, partly because of general lack of interest from homeowners (its a lock that uses a key so it’s secure), and partly because door manufacturers are driven by cost so even today some manufacturers still fit sub-standard locks to their doors.
Don’t believe it’s an issue? Google “lock snapping”.
Now some will say by producing videos or providing information you’re creating a new generation of would be burglars? The reality is the burglars already know this trick and they capitalise on the fact that you the homeowner doesn’t. Yes videos on the internet may have given some people ideas but that cat is well and truly out of the bag and with the internet there is no putting it away now it’s out there. Also consider there are many, many videos out there showing how to pick a lock which haven’t caused a flurry of lock picking burglaries! So burglars are not spending their days on Youtube – and let me assure you burglars don’t pick locks they just want a quick quiet form of entry and unfortunately lock snapping is it.
So how can it be stopped? The good news is this issue can be stopped simply by changing the lock. No new door or mechanism needed just a new door lock.
There is another grey area though! If you googled “lock snapping” you’ll probably have seen lots of ads promoting “anti snap” or “snap safe” locks that can protect your home. Some have 1 star rating, some have a British Standard kitemark so they must be good right? Wrong! Watch the video below so you can have an understanding of lock snapping and if its relevant to your home then we’ll cover the claims some lock manufacturers are making and how they can easily mislead you
So I’ve seen a lock that’s anti-snap so it must have been tested?
The new lock I’ve seen has a British Standard Kitemark?
The lock I spotted has a horizontal keyway so is much higher security?
In last few years a lot of lock manufacturers have identified that lock snapping is a rapidly growing issue and have adapted their marketing to cash-in on this. Adding a sacrificial snap-point, dual colour locks, different keyways all in an attempt to market their product as designed to counter a lock snapping attack.
Some will claim to protect your home against lock snapping and they will be available at very reasonable prices. These locks have no accreditation and have likely never been tested
Sneakily, some major brand names will use their name to promote their version as a quality product and even have accreditation (British Standard Kitemark for instance) etched into their locks promoting a high level of security. This is where you need to be careful. Many times this accreditation has been earned by demonstrating a resistance to lock picking in test conditions (remember what I said earlier burglars don’t pick locks) and although they claim resistance to lock snapping they have never been tested for this. Normally a higher price than your basic locks
Then we move into genuine higher security locks who have been tested for lock snapping resistance. Some 1 star some 3 star so whats the difference? You should always at a minimum being looking for a 3 star lock. This type of lock has the capability to deflect this type of attack without the need for re-inforced handles or other security fittings.
More information on accreditation and demonstration videos can be found at the manufacturer website www.ultion-lock.co.uk
Now, the Ultion lock.
Not only does it carry the highest accreditation for lock snapping it also provides other features including a restricted key system. This means no-one can make a copy of your key without your permission and ensures any duplicate keys are 1st generation created from your unique key-code. No more copies of copies (meaning any imperfections are increased with each copy) just a high quality key everytime.
You also have the option to have the locks “keyed alike”. This means that one key can operate all locks or specific locks in your home.
Yes it will – If the lock is attacked it will activate lock-down mode to prevent the lock being snapped and the intruder gaining entry to your home
Yes it will – Burglars are aware of this lock and it’s tested capabilities – Chances are they’ll move on elsewhere for a less challenging day
Yes it will – Proven to deflect common burglary techniques inc lock snapping the lock manufacturers even provide a £1,000 guarantee to guarantee there’ll never be a break-in via one of their locks – Who else does this?
One final point – You’ve built your security onion and completed the basics – Now considering CCTV or an alarm? Stop – before you add these products please ensure you have high security locks fitted to your home – This is the only type of product that provides physical security and if it doesn’t deter the burglar it will still stop them dead in their tracks if they decide to give it a go. Considerably cheaper than CCTV or alarms they are a genuine investment and incredibly well priced. If you want to improve all your locks but don’t have the budget right now just start with one and build up gradually – every layer helps
OK, thats my blog for today finished and I genuinely hope it has given you some ideas to improve your existing security. As mentioned above we don’t fit alarms or CCTV but if you need any assistance with security basics or are considering upgrading any locks in your home (whether British Standard or Ultion) please do not hesitate to get in touch. We attend free of charge and provide a no-obligation quotation along with sensible prices and a 24 month warranty as standard with all products.
Pro-Lock are manufacturer approved installers of the Ultion lock in Essex. Please click here for more information on our service or google “pro-lock essex ultion” to find us