If a burglar targets your home, he’ll prefer to use the front door. This is not out of any concern for social niceties but because it is likely to ensure that no one sees anything suspicious. If a couple of likely lads are seen passing a flat-screen telly over the back fence, someone will dial ‘999’. If the same guys come and go via the front door, no one takes any notice.
Now, be honest, does anyone leave a front door key on the end of a piece of string dangling inside their letter box? Not a good idea but, according to my local Crime Prevention Officer, there are still those who do.
“Nor is under a plant-pot by the front step any safer,” she added.
Here’s a simple test: stand outside and peer in through your own letter box. What can you see? Hand-bag, house keys and/or car keys on a console table in the hallway? It’s not unknown for a fishing rod to be poked-in through the letter box to snag the car keys…and then it’s “Thank you and goodnight!” They’ve got your pride and joy and are speeding away down the road.
A simple, rigid, internal cover-plate fitted to the inside of your letter box does three things. It stops anyone peering in, it bans ‘fishing expeditions’ and it also prevents a thinnish arm reaching inside and simply opening the door via the night-latch (sometimes known as the ‘top lock’ or ‘Yale’ lock). Your front door needs a good 5-lever mortice deadlock in addition to that night-latch. And remember, the deadlock is not a good-luck charm; it will only keep intruders out if you use it. In the daytime, the last person to leave must always activate the deadlock. At bedtime, either lock the deadlock or use good quality shoot-bolts at the top and bottom of your door.
Your front door needs to be at least 44mm thick and you should back-up your locks with hinge bolts. These are very cheap and very simple. Whenever the door is closed, they engage with the frame on the hinge side to give two more locking points and preventing any intruder forcing the hinges. You can also beef-up your door frame quite cheaply by adding a London Bar on the lock side and a Birmingham Bar to cover the hinges. These items come in white, powder-coated, steel and mean that the force used in any attack is not borne locally but distributed up and down the frame.
Finally, never open your front door if don’t know the identity of your caller. Fit a spy-hole so that you can see who’s knocking and add a good quality security chain if you prefer to see some ID before fully opening the door.
Here’s our Security Check List:
• Get a door that’s at least 44mm thick.
• Fit a five-lever mortice deadlock – and use it!
• At bedtime, bolt the door, top and bottom.
• Fit a rigid cover to the inside of your letter box.
• Strengthen your door frame with London and Birmingham Bars.
• Fit a spy-hole at your eye-level.
• Add a security chain.