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Advice

Sections

1. To prevent theft, think like a thief

2. How to secure your:

            home

            shed or outbuilding

            caravan, horse box or trailer

            car or truck

            motorbike

            cycle

3. Selecting an alarm system

4. How to choose the right safe

5. How to pick the right fence

6. How to choose the right padlock

 

 1.     To prevent theft, think like a thief.

 

We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’, and it’s a particularly apt one to apply when selecting security measures. In this context we advise that you should undertake a ‘security walkabout’ of your business premises or home, looking at security (or lack of it), question in the same way a thief might. Ask yourself: ‘How could I get into these premises clandestinely or by force, or what could I steal from inside or outside?’ Remember too, that as far as businesses are concerned, thieves don’t necessarily come from outside; employees can steal too…

 

Here are some thought starters, in no particular order. Once you get going, you’ll no doubt find others of your own:

 

• weak or worn locks or fittings

• easily accessed and unprotected windows

• worn doors or door frames

• damaged lockers or cabinets

• exposed screws on padlock hasps and staples

• valuable and easily portable items attractive to pilferers

• ease of access for would be ram raiders

• unfenced loading bays

• damaged perimeter fencing

• unlocked vehicles

• vehicles with keys in the ignition

• valuables left in view in vehicles

• poorly lit areas

• blind spots in your CCTV coverage

• dirt on CCTV camera lenses, which degrade recorded images

• unsecured equipment like ladders, cement mixers or other small plant items

• employee property, like cars, motorcycles and scooters, or cycles

• insecure newly delivered items, or goods awaiting dispatch

 

 

 2.     How to secure your…

 

Home: Burglars are opportunistic, and more likely to target properties that look unoccupied or insecure. How often do you hear police warnings about ‘sneak in’ burglaries through open windows in hot weather? It’s a good idea to run through the ‘To prevent theft, think like a thief’ section above. When looking for security products on our site you’ll see lots of references to standards and approvals when fitting new high security products, look for ones to the highest specification.

 

Here’s an at a glance guide to the standards you can expect to see, and where you should apply them :

 

• Mortise locks: Look for 5-lever locks certified to BS 3261

• Rim Locks: Look for BS 3261 certification

• Multi point locks: Check the cylinders met BS EN 1303 Grade 3

• Replacement lock cylinders: Choose one to TS007 or Sold Secure SS312 Diamond standard

• Doors: Fit a complete door and frame certified to PAS 24 ‘Doors of enhanced security’

• Windows: certified to BS7950 ‘Windows of Enhanced Security or PAS 24


Other top security tips:


• When fitting new patio doors, have the sliding section on the inside, and have anti-lift blocks fitted

• Install fencing or walls at least two metres high. Trellis topping makes climbing difficult

• Install security lighting

• Fit high security padlocks to garage and shed doors

• Get a timer switch to turn on lights and the TV or radio when you’re away

• Fit a burglar alarm

• Don’t leave valuables in plain view from windows

• Don’t leave keys near unlocked doors or windows

• Keep doors and windows locked unless you’re in the same room

• Consider a fireproof safe for valuable items, including documents (see our section on choosing a safe)

 

Shed or outbuilding: This is one of the places where multi-layering your security is undoubtedly the way to go. Because sheds and outbuildings are not attached to your property (and might even be in an outlying location, such as on an allotment) you’re less likely to hear thieves in action.

 

• Start with a good stout high security padlock, picking the best you can afford.

• Couple it with a heavy duty hasp and staple securely fixed to door and frame or wall with stout fittings. Be sure the hasp, when it’s closed, covers any screw heads. Some even incorporate a lock of their own, but others can be fitted with an independent lock. Coach bolts are a good option for fitting some models, since they offer no purchase for a would-be thief.

• Make sure the door and frame themselves are sturdy as well; it’s a good idea to re-inforce them and the hasp and staple fitting points with more timber or some galvanised steel sheet.

• Inside, consider installation of tool chests or tool cabinets for valuable tools and small items, so that even if a thief can get into the building he’s not much nearer the valuables.

• Taller (or longer) tools could be kept in wire mesh lockers, which have the added advantage that you can hang lower-value items on the outside of them.

• Larger, heavier items are harder, if not impossible, to put into storage bins or lockers e.g. bicycles and motorcycles. For these, ground anchors are a very good option. These can be secured to blocks of cement made for the purpose, and buried in the ground outside the shed. Heavy duty chains or a motorcycle security chain can be run in through holes specially cut in the floor or wall of the shed. Don’t forget that a single chain could be used to secure more than one item. If one chain isn’t long enough, consider fitting two together to make one longer chain, or using a snaplok shackle to secure second and third items to the same chain.


Finally, if you’re buying a new shed, does it really need a window? That’s a weak point from a security point of view, and consideration should be given to having it built with no window. If you decide you do need one, or your existing shed or outbuilding already has one, consider re-inforcing it with a professionally-fitted film, or adding bars or a wire grid inside it to make entry more difficult, even if the glass is broken.

 

Caravan, horse box or trailer: Different in style and function, these items are similar in terms of ‘attraction’ and therefore benefit from similar security. Unless a trailer is small enough to be lifted onto another vehicle, they are not likely to be taken away if they can’t be towed, so a stout hitch lock is a must. It’s well worth also considering a hitching post for long term storage. This is a sturdy post anchored to the ground to which the towing hitch can be attached before fitting the hitch lock. This means that in the highly unlikely eventuality of would be thieves having a means to tow away the van, box or trailer with the hitch lock in place, they’re still not able to move it. A ground anchor and security chain and padlock serve the same function.

 

You might consider winter wheels for long term storage, but if you take that option, remember to use locking nuts, otherwise thieves could take those wheels off and replace them with their own road wheels. For leaving the vehicles for a short time, on a caravan park or at a gymkhana, where lots of people are coming and going, wheel clamps or wheel locks are good options. Look for the Sold Secure Diamond rating, which will still work if the tyre is deflated.

 

Security posts for driveways or security bollards represent a high visibility deterrent and another layer of security, making it impossible to get the vehicle out of its parking space. Using secure ground fixing, the bases support posts held in place by heavy-duty padlocks. One post is effective; installing two or more makes it several times more difficult for thieves to clear the way to stealing the vehicle.

 

Trackers are available for caravans, but be careful to pick a caravan specific one that won’t drain the batteries. Consider writing the VIN inside the all the interior doors, as well as having it etched onto the windows. Bear in mind that valuables shouldn’t be left in plain view in the van whilst you’re away enjoying your holiday. Stow them out of sight, or even take them with you in the car. And finally, make sure you have a high-security padlock to protect the valuable gas bottles!

 

Motorbike: Start by realising that many motorbike thefts don’t involve them being ridden away. Most involve simply lifting the bike into the back of a van, and driving away with it. This means a security device that prevents a wheel turning will not be sufficient protection on its own. The best high security options involve multi layered protection, the more security you add, the less attractive your bike will be to thieves.

 

Fit a Tracker and a Thatcham or Sold Secure immobiliser, and have it done professionally. Select a high security motorcycle lock, or opt for a motorcycle security chain and high quality padlock. Look for opportunities to lock your bike to security rails, street furniture or someone else’s bike. A thief-proof chain is therefore protecting two bikes rather than just one.

 

Police also advise marking as many parts as possible with the VIN number linked to a database that keeps data to the Loss Prevention Council Standards 1224 and 1225.

 

Always fit the steering lock alongside other bike security devices you may be using. At home, a ground anchor is always a good idea, even if the bike is stored out of sight in a garage or outbuilding.

 

Car or truck: Although cars are harder to steal than they were ten or 15 years ago thanks to increasingly-sophisticated original equipment fitted by manufacturers, thieves have got cleverer too, so there is no room for complacency.


Thankfully, high-security products to protect your car have evolved too. They work by making the car impossible to drive by ‘disabling’ vital controls. The most common are steering locks, which make the wheel impossible to turn, whilst handbrake locks connect the handbrake and gear lever, making it impossible to operate either. These are highly visible, and offer a valuable deterrent as well as a physical barrier.

 

‘At home’ security can be strengthened by using driveway security bollards to block the way of thieves who might want to take a car or van. They present a highly visible deterrent, and we have seen them fitted close to garage doors to prevent those being opened. This adds protection not only to the car, but to other contents of the garage for no extra charge!

 

Speaking of garages, many these days have a connecting door to the main property. This can be a weak spot in home security, since thieves can break in there whilst concealed in the garage. Treat the connecting door – and any other external door – as you would your front and back doors, and fit locks rated to the Sold Secure Diamond standard.

 

Remember too that a thief wanting to get into a car will always be able to do so, simply by smashing a window. That’s why you should always lock valuables out of sight in the boot, or under the rear floor of an estate car in the spaces around the spare wheel. To add high security to a truck without a secure space, investment in a van vault or van toolbox adds that dimension most effectively.

 

Locking wheel nuts are fitted to a great many cars these days, and whilst they will defeat thieves, they will also defeat you if their adaptor for the wheel brace is misplaced. Check that yours is present, especially when buying a new car.

If you’re using a satnav with a sucker to stick it to the windscreen, the mark left on the screen when the sucker is removed is a giveaway that the satnav is likely to be there, and might make it worth the thief’s while to break in and look for it. Clean the screen before you go.

 

Lorry fleet operators might find the cost of trackers for their trailer fleet impractical and expensive, but these vehicles still need protection. The solution is to fit a heavy duty high security kingpin lock, which can be fitted in seconds to the uncoupled trailer, yet still rendering it impossible to hook up and therefore steal the valuable trailer.

 

Cycle: Arguably of the most easily stolen method of transport, and therefore the most vulnerable. Once again a multi-layered security solution is the best option. Use a high security lock and chain or a D-lock such as the Abus Granite model. On the former, a wire can be substituted for the chain, and it is a rule of thumb that the thicker the wire the greater the level of security it offers.

 

However, selecting the right lock is only part of the story, since it needs to be used correctly:

 

• pick a secure piece of street furniture to lock it to. (Purpose built bike racks are best, and can be installed by employers at workplaces).

• your secure place should have a sealed loop, so the bike and lock together can’t be simply lifted off and carried away.

• don’t put the lock just around a wheel; that can be taken off and left behind, whilst the rest of the bike is stolen. Make the lock go through the frame and a wheel as well.

• have the keyway facing down

• don’t put the lock too close to the ground, that could give a thief leverage

• consider using two different kinds of lock to make it twice as hard for the thief to beat your security

• take all the accessories with you if you can

 

Your bike may be covered by insurance, but there’s a strong likelihood that the insurance company will not compensate you if it is stolen whilst not properly locked. Some insurance companies insist that the bike is kept indoors overnight, and others specify the standard of Sold Secure lock they require you to fit.

 

 3.     Selecting an alarm system

 

A multitude of alarms are available to protect homes and business premises. Selection of the right one for your security needs will depend on a number of factors, such as:

 

• budget

• level of protection required

• the location of your home or business

• what the premises are like

• what you want to happen when the alarm is triggered

 

The last point is a key consideration:

 

Noise only: The most basic simply makes a noise, and may or may not scare away a burglar. It is unlikely to get neighbours or passers-by to respond to the noise.  It will not contact anyone.

 

Contact alarms: These can be programmed to contact someone – yourself or other nominated individuals – when the alarm goes off, which gives you the option to respond.

 

Monitored alarms: These are accompanied by a contract arrangement covering perhaps a security company to respond if the alarm goes off. Your alarm system will require regular maintenance if you opt for a police-monitored contract, which could be twice a year. Some insurance companies have similar requirements.

 

Installing any high-security alarm system will involve a site survey to establish the optimum system, where the trigger points should be, and how they should be linked.

 

It is worthwhile to fit an alarm that triggers whilst a potential intruder is still outside the premises, such as on security shutters rather than (or as well as) windows and doors.

 

4.     How to choose the right safe

 

There are a great many safes on the market, in a range of sizes and designed for fitting in a variety of locations and to protect all manner of valuables, including data safes, deposit safes, cash safes, Eurograde safes, and high security safes.

 

However, to pick the right one there are just two basic things you need to know – the size of what you want to protect (so you’re certain it will fit inside) and the value of those items. Cash safes are graded on a cash rating system. Although this offers a guide to the amount of money and valuables you can store, it will give you an indication of other things, such as how thick the safe’s walls and door are, and the complexity of the locking mechanism. If storing valuables, as a general rule their value can be ten times greater than the cash rating. It’s a good idea to check with the insurance company too, especially if you have items of particularly high value. Remember also that a safe needs to be fastened down. Thieves can carry away unsecured smaller ones to open at their leisure!

 

Further levels of security are offered with safes that can be concealed beneath floors or in walls. Our product pages offer much more safe-specific information.

 

IMPORTANT: Safes can be very heavy – some weigh more than a 1,000kg, and care will therefore need to be taken in selecting a location capable of supporting that weight. Furthermore, they may require specialist delivery and installation. We can organise this for you. See our Ultra Security FAQs for more details.

 

5.     How to pick the right fence

 

A fence is the first line of defence against intruders. Like any security product, a fence needs to be selected bearing in mind the risk factors facing the premises it is to protect.

 

The most effective is topped with an anti-climb spike of curved aluminium vanes that are not only very difficult to get over, but are also a strong deterrent. This system is best used where the threat from intruders is highest, and at premises that may be empty for long periods, such as schools. Palisade fencing, using cold rolled steel sections with sharp tops fixed on horizontal metal bars, has a similar deterrent effect, but is slightly easier to climb.

 

The most secure and longest-lived fencing is made from aluminium or steel, with its component parts welded or bolted together. All types are weather protected in some way, either by the material’s inherent properties in the case of aluminium, or by galvanizing or plastic coating in the case of steel. The latter is more aesthetically pleasing, but both are effective.

 

Chain link fencing can be used, but is not a high-security option, and is best reserved for containment, such as around sports pitches where ball games are being played.

 

Manual and electronic gates can be selected, but should be seen as the part of the barrier with the greatest potential for weakness. Make sure stout and durable hinges are used, that these are lubricated, and gates can’t be lifted off them. If the gate is to be secured with a padlock, choose a high-security model allied to a heavy duty chain or heavy duty hasp and staple system, and control keys carefully.

 

Like all security systems, fences are best supplemented by other measures, such as security mirrors, security bollards of a type appropriate to the location, external security lights and CCTV systems. A combination of several forms of defence will make a robust and intruder proof barrier.

 

 6.     How to choose the right padlock

 

Selecting a padlock from the thousands available is the same as selecting any security product. Making sure the right padlock has been chosen is complicated, and it’s easy to get it wrong. Your choice will be dictated by the same factors as any lock:

 

• what you are protecting

• where the lock is being used

 

High security padlocks are almost impossible to pick, even for experienced locksmiths. Some, by manufacturers like Abloy and Abus, are impossible to pick because of the way the locking mechanism is designed and built. Their levels of security are enhanced by having only authorised locksmiths cut replacement keys, and only then with the lock’s unique code.

 

Some definitions will help you through the padlock selection process:

 

CEN grades: This stands for Central European Norm, a system devised by padlock manufacturers. It offers six levels of security, with Grade 6 offering the highest security; Grade 1 the lowest. Grading is based on testing against criteria involving resistance to:

 

• pulling

• twisting

• cutting

• drilling

• the number of available key options

• performance at temperatures as low as -40ºC.

 

BS EN 12320: The UK equivalent grading system created by the Association of Building Hardware Manufacturers.

 

Closed shackle padlocks: The shackle is the metal ‘loop’ which attaches to what is being secured. Closed shackle padlocks expose less of the shackle, making it harder to attack.

 

Keyed alike padlocks: A set of padlocks operated by the same key.

 

Master keyed padlocks: A set of padlocks each with its own individual keys, but with an additional master key that will open the whole set.

 

Combination locks: Locks with number dials rather than a key. The highest security models are the ones with the most dials, since all combination locks can be opened eventually by trial and error. They are ideal locks for short term use where carrying a key is awkward, such as at the gym or swimming pool, but are not recommended for long term use in remote and isolated locations.

 

Discus padlocks: Sometimes called round shackle padlocks. High-security disc padlocks offer very high protection since the lock cannot be opened even if the keyway barrel is drilled. This is not true of similar-looking, but cheaper, lower-security copies. Choose wisely!

 

Anti-vandal precautions: Even high-security padlocks can suffer mischief attacks by having superglue put into them through the keyway. Locksmiths suggest this problem can be averted by pushing Vaseline into the keyway, where it forms a barrier to the glue but presents no problem to the key. Another option is to soak the lock overnight in diesel fuel. This leaves a film on the internal parts that the glue can’t adhere to.


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