The winter not only brings darker mornings and longer nights, but an unfortunate rise in crime and burglaries. Luckily, there are a number of simple solutions that facilities managers can apply to ensure their buildings remain safe and secure. Paul Barrows, demand creation leader at specialist security manufacturer Allegion, offers his top tips for staying safe this winter.
In research undertaken in 2015, Aviva insurance found that burglaries increase by 20 percent during the winter months, which makes sense when you consider the additional protection that the cover of darkness provides. Eight out of 10 burglaries are committed by opportunist thieves – in fact, in 20 percent of cases, the burglar enters through a door or window that has been left open or insufficiently protected.
In addition to the obvious cost from property damage and loss of assets, criminal activity can cause further logistical headaches for facilities managers. For example, the need to change all the locks, provide new keys and replace any damaged doors and hardware will take time as well as impact your finances. Insurance claims can also be impacted if there’s lack of evidence regarding forced entry.
Prevention is, of course, better than a cure. The good news is there are a number of effective solutions that can make all the difference for long-term, as well as seasonal, protection.
First, consider simple behavioural changes that can be put in place instantly. Make it part of the daily routine to check all access points (doors, windows and gates) and look for any obvious weaknesses that might encourage more opportunistic criminals. This includes making sure anything that could be used as a potential weapon or used to get through an entrance is removed – for instance, any tools or ladders.
Don’t underestimate the value of a high-quality padlock. There’s a broad range of models and designs that cover all levels of security for both commercial and residential use. Look for a brand that offers additional benefits, such as CISA padlocks available through Allegion. They can, for example, be supplied individually keyed or keyed alike for additional convenience.
A strong, lockable gate fitted across a side passage will prevent a thief getting to the rear of a property. These can be secured using a rim lock or padlock and hasp. Any connecting doors to the building should be treated as external doors and fitted with padlocks.
When selecting your padlock, it’s also worth considering the distance that you will have to secure the shackle into the lock. As a general rule, the shorter the shackle, the more difficult it is to damage and compromise the lock.
Also consider hidden parts of the doors, themselves. For instance, the door should be fitted with at least three 100mm-hinges, selected to suit the weight and thickness of the door. The hinges should be in accordance with BS EN 1935, and it’s also worth fitting two or three hinge bolts. These are essential if the door opens outwards, as it prevents it being opened by cutting or through the grinding of the hinge knuckles.
In addition to these smaller scale changes, there are some long-term solutions that will provide effective security all year round. These are also worth considering as part of the buying process if you’re in the market for new door hardware.
Lock bumping and snapping have become some of the most common means of burglary in the UK and are still on the increase. After all, you can find descriptions and demonstrations online, as well as purchase bump keys and snap tools. This type of entry can also cause problems for facilities managers, as the signs of forced entry are so minor that insurance claims become difficult.
With two-thirds of all burglaries being attempted through a door, there’s a tendency to attack the cylinder first. As a result, it’s a good idea to check whether you need to upgrade the cylinders and lockcases in your doors to heavier-duty models. If they’re unsuitable, your doors will be more vulnerable to picking, bumping and drilling.
Again, there are solid solutions that are readily available. CISA Astral S and AP3 cylinders offered by Allegion are fabricated with a patented laminate, snap-resistant steel core to provide flexural snap-and-pull resistance. The core is also made visible from both ends to act as a deterrent. Choosing a 10-pin cylinder system will provide more than 1.6 million different key combinations to provide protection against all forms of unauthorised entry. Plus, a BKP bump resistant device is built-in as standard, in addition to hardened steel pins and drivers to protect from drilling.
A good quality automatic deadlocking nightlatch should be fitted approximately a third of the way down a door. Traditionally, front doors are fitted with a nightlatch, which latches automatically when the door is closed, but can be opened from inside without a key. These provide a measure of security but can be forced by thieves, so shouldn’t be relied upon on their own.
For timber doors, a kitemarked BS 5 lever mortice lock or a sashlock certified to BS 3621 are great options. A door fitted with one of these can only be opened with a key, so a thief can’t smash a glass panel or climb in through a window to open it from the inside. To be completely secure, extra measures, like rack or tube bolts, can be fitted at the top and bottom of all exterior doors.
For additional security, standalone electronic and digital locks can be used to reduce the risk of intrusion. They offer an increased level of security without the price tag of high-end alternatives, making them a great option for modest budgets. The great thing is many of these locks can be installed, up and running in as little as five minutes and without a huge amount of technical knowledge.
Ultimately, providing a solid level of security during the darker months is all about preparation. The added benefit for both facilities managers and the building occupants is that high-quality hardware will not only provide peace of mind during the winter months, but bring long-lasting performance that can reduce the need for future maintenance whilst being beneficial to less abled users. Therefore, it’s worth considering the possibility of all security threats at the time of specification as well as considering an upgrade when the longer nights arrive.
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