Winter Home Security Tips

The extended hours of darkness can mean that criminals have an easier time entering a home undetected, so it’s no surprise that there is an increase in break-ins over the winter months. Within the month of November, a burglary occurs every two minutes so it’s important to keep your home security at the front of your mind. The risk of break ins can differ depending on your type of property and the level of security already in place, but it’s always best to protect your home as much as possible.

Simple preventions can be taken to ensure your home stays secure this winter, so read our top 10 winter security tips below!

1.      Make sure all Doors are Securely Locked at all Times

It sounds obvious, but it’s really important that all doors to your property are locked when you leave the house, even if you are just popping round the corner.

Read our ultimate guide to door security here!

2.      Give the Illusion that your Home is Occupied

If you are not going to be in for an extended period of time during the dark hours leave a lamp on or a TV or radio playing. Burglars are less like to break into a house they think is occupied.

3.      Lock your Windows

You need to be sure that all accessible windows are locked and ideally have restrictors fitted for extra security. Any window that is larger than a human head could be wiggled through by a burglar.

Read our ultimate guide to window security here!

4.      Lock all Garages and Sheds

These are perfect targets for burglars as they are often unoccupied. With more hours of darkness during the winter, there is more opportunities for burglars to break in. Make sure they are secured with sturdy locks or padlocks.

Read our ultimate guide to shed security here!

5.      Check Out your Property for Weak Spots

While it’s still light, it’s worth taking a lap of the perimeter of your home. If you spot any weak spots; gaps hedges, broken fences etc once identified you can fix it, to make your home secure again.

6.      Create your Own Light

It’s definitely worth installing motion sensor lights near the entrances to your home. Burglars love the dark, so flooding the outside of your home in light is a good way to help scare them off.

Read our ultimate guide to outdoor lighting here!

7.      Mark your Valuables

You can by UV pens to mark your valuables with you then register them on www.immobilise.com. This means in the event of a successful break in, you may be able to recover your items more easily.

8.      Close your Blinds

We all know that when it goes dark outside and your lights are on inside, it is very easy to see into your home. If you leave your blinds or curtains open, you are essentially creating a shop window for thieves. Make sure they are closed so you can protect yourself from prying eyes.

9.      Prepare for your Winter Break

If you are going away to get some winter sun, then leave a spare key with a trusted neighbour and ask them to keep an eye on your property while you’re away. Ask them to collect any post that might make your house seems unoccupied.

Read our guide for securing your home whilst you’re on holiday here!

10.  Get an Alarm

Have a burglar alarm fitted. Some alarm systems can end up costing as much as £2000, if this is something you can’t afford have a dummy alarm fitted for as little as £14.99 a fraction of the price but equally as effective in deterring a burglar.

Best Anti-Snap Door Locks

What is Lock Snapping?

Lock snapping is a method, which is being used more and more by burglars, that renders a euro lock useless. Burglars use this technique of breaking or ‘snapping’ the cylinder of a lock to gain access to the inner mechanism, this then allows them to tamper with the inner mechanism and gain entry to your home. Since the number of properties in the UK with a euro lock has grown, so has the ‘lock snapping’ method of burglary.

Why is Lock Snapping Used?

It’s not common knowledge that the cylinder is the most vulnerable part of your lock. This is because when tempered with or broken, your multipoint lock can become useless. The problem with lock snapping is that it doesn’t take much skill and even the most inexperienced burglar can do it. All it takes is a pair of plyers and the right amount of force on a certain point of your lock and the mechanism is exposed.

How Do I Protect My Home Against Locks Snapping?

One way to protect you home against lock snapping is to install an ‘Anti-Snap’ lock. These locks have been designed specifically to stop these kinds of break-ins from happening. Manufacturers have designed these locks to snap in a certain place when under attack, by breaking in this designated place, the mechanism cannot be exposed. This model can stop a burglar entering your home through lock snapping, but you will need to replace the lock once it’s been snapped.

There are many different types of Anti-Snap locks on the market, so below we will take you through the main contenders, so you can learn what you need to consider when buying an Anti-Snap lock.

1.     British Standard

A lock will only bare the ‘British Standard’ kite mark, once it has met the standards of manufacturing set by the BSI (British Standard Institute). It’s not uncommon that most insurance companies will specify that you must only use British Standard Locks to comply with their guidelines. The British Standard Kite mark is widely regarded as a sign of high quality and reliability, any lock that bares this mark can be trusted to be secure.

If you are thinking of using an anti-snap lock then the British Standard is the ‘TS007:2012’. A TS007 will protect your locks from various methods of attack such as: drilling, picking, and bumping in addition to lock snapping. An anti-snap lock baring the British Standard kite mark can protect you from these types of attack. It is advisable, however, to keep yourself updated on other ways to protect your home, it’s best not to rely on just one form of protection. It’s true that every TS007 is high quality, but there are 3 levels of security within it. We recommend looking into what makes a lock 3 star rated and the differences between 1 star and 3 star, before choosing a lock for your home.

TS007 Star Rating Explained

 1 Star Rating

For a cylinder to achieve this rating it is tested in the manner equivalent to the BS 3621:2007 and the minimum requirements of BS EN 1303:2005.

 2 Star Rating

For security hardware to receive a two star rating the protection offered by the hardware to the cylinder is tested in the manner equivalent to the PAS 24 test. In addition, where possible, the hardware’ durability and corrosion resistance are tested in accordance with the European handle standard EN 1906:2010.

3 Star Rating

For a cylinder to receive three stars, it must meet the requirements of the one star cylinder and also withstand an attack similar to the PAS 24 cylinder test without the benefit of any protective hardware.

Find out even more about British Standard here.

2.     Sold Secure Diamond Standard

Another trust signal you can look out for, which guarantees the secureness of a lock is the ‘sold secure’ sign. This means the lock has been tested and vetted by Sold Secure, a testing a certification house.

SS312 Diamond Standard was started in 2010 and is in a state of constant growth and development. The checks and test are updated constantly to make sure the locks can withstand new and more sophisticated attacks. One of these tests is the resistance to lock snapping, which it passes.

3.     Yale Anti-Snap Locks

There’s no doubting that you’ve heard of Yale locks, they are the biggest name in the lock industry and have been around for hundreds of years. With this amount of experience and years of producing reliable locks, you can trust that their locks are of a high quality. Yale state on their website;

Whereas previously Yale AS Series cylinders were approved by Sold Secure SS312 Diamond Standard, we have moved away from this standard and focused all our development activities on the latest British Kitemark standard TS007. Homeowners throughout the UK recognize the Kitemark logo as a symbol of product quality and performance. Yale KM, AS and AS Platinum Series cylinders are all approved to TS007.”

So, if you have confidence in the British Standard Kite Mark or your insurance policy states that your locks should be British Standard, then a Yale lock is a good product to go for.

This means that if your insurance requires a British Standard Kitemark and it’s something you put your trust in, then a Yale Lock might be the one for you.

4.     ERA Invincible Locks

If you are looking for another well-known brand to go with, then you should look at ERA. They have been designing and producing high quality locks for over 175 years. They are known for innovation and pushing the industry into new ideas. They specialise in window and door security and have started focusing on smart home solutions.

The ERA doesn’t rely on the Sold Standard or British Standard to grade their locks, or give them a quality rating. They have their own test centre that is approved by UKAS. This means they are approved to independently vet locks to a ‘gold standard’ of PAS 24:2012.

Their solution to the lock-snapping problem is to design a euro lock that has a unique shape. The ‘Invincible Cylinder’ reinforces the central fixing hole with 5 times more material than a standard euro cylinder. According to the ERA website the ‘Invincible Cylinder’ boasts many security features including;

  • Reinforced with five times more metal than a standard cylinder lock.

  • 6 hardened high security pins for the ultimate anti-pick, anti-drill and anti-bump resistance

  • Robust shape is a strong visual deterrent to would be thieves

  • Independently tested to meet the latest security standards: British Standard Kitemark (TS007), Sold Secure Diamond and the police‘s Secured By Design accreditation

What makes the ERA locks different to other anti-snap locks is that whereas traditionally other anti-snaps locks are designed to snap in a certain place with being tampered with, the ERA locks are designed to not break at all. The purpose of this is to give the euro lock a ‘fighting chance’ against intruders, the benefit of this is that even if there is an attempted break in using lock snapping, you won’t have to replace your lock.

5.     Mul-t-lock Integrator Break Secure XP+

Established over 40 years ago, Mul-T-Lock has been developing and manufacturing high security locking products for commercial, industrial, and residential applications.

Their contribution to the anti-snap market is the Mul-t-lock Integrator Break Secure XP+. It’s the first cylinder on the market to achieve a three-star Kitemark accreditation without the need for a high security handle. The Mul-t-lock Integrator Break Secure XP+ comes with a reinforced bar that advances the cylinders protection and resistance to lock snapping. It also features 2 grip deflectors, which makes it difficult for any tool to actually get a grip on the cylinder in the first place. It is also impossible to copy the keys, unless you have the code, so you don’t have to worry about people copying them. All Mul-T-Lock products comply with the highest international standards, such as; UL, CEN, VDS, SKG, CPC, A2P and ISO 9001/2000, ISO14001, SI 18001.

Choosing an Anti-Snap Lock

So, when it comes to choosing an anti-snap lock, you need to look at the standards the euro cylinders adhere to. Whether it be British Standard or Sold Secure Diamond Standard, you need to check what standard your insurance provider requires you to have. For more information on lock types, click here.

References:

https://www.mul-t-lock.com/en-gb/site/mul-t-lock/about_mul-t-lock/company_profile/
https://www.erahomesecurity.com/security-products/window-and-door-security/3-star-door-cylinders/
https://www.yale.co.uk/en/yale/couk/news/2013/articles/new-cylinder/
https://unitedlocksmith.net/blog/high-security-door-locks-how-to-choose-the-best-brand

Best Outdoor Security Cameras

Upgrading your home security to include external cameras is a practical and effective way to protect your home. However, to make the most of your surveillance requirements, you’ll need to assess the needs of you and your family, as not everyone will need the same level of security.

So, we’ve put together a guide to help you look at which outdoor security camera is best for you, your family and your home.

What you need to consider

 

Weatherproof or Waterproof?

Weatherproof means that your camera will be able to withstand exposure to weather without deterioration, so your camera could handle wind, rain, and snow without being damaged. Whereas waterproof means that your camera isn’t going to break if it’s submerged in water; no water will get in to the components to destroy them.

A consideration for buying an outdoor security camera will need to be the weather conditions where you live, to make sure you get the right one. If you live in Scotland, for example, where you get a lot of snow; it would probably be worth getting a weatherproof camera, but if you live on the South Coast of England where snow is a remote possibility, you could probably manage with just a waterproof camera.

How much of your property do you need on camera?

A camera’s viewing angle will determine how much space the camera will cover. A camera with a wider angle will mean you need fewer cameras. You will also need to think about the size of your property and how much you want in view; this will determine how many cameras you will need to buy or how wide the camera angle will need to be.

How clear do you want the picture to be?

You need to think about what kind of video you want from your outdoor security camera. The higher resolution the camera has, the better the picture quality will be. For a good quality image, you need at least 1080p, or even higher if you want crystal clear images. It depends if you are going to be studying the footage every day, or only if there is an issue.

What Resolution do you Need?

Resolution should always come on top of your mind when you decide on buying a security camera. Having a high resolution is very important as it shows you details of whoever is in front of the camera, which also leads to the main reason why people get security cameras, having a clear image of whoever is trying to break into your house. The 1080p resolution is the most common amongst all types/brands of security cameras. Again, the level of sharpness and details you will see in a video should be decided based on why you want a security camera. A security camera for the purpose of watching the kids and pets, for instance, could have less resolution than a security camera for the purpose of avoiding burglary. When an intruder breaks in your house, it is important not only to know they got inside but also to help police catch them to prevent any other intrusion in the future.

Do you want to be able to access your camera on your mobile?

This is popular feature because it allows you to check in with your home wherever you are. You will need to make sure you choose a camera that is compatible with your phone and be prepared to pay a fee for your footage. Most cloud based features will require monthly or yearly fees payed to the company that makes the camera you choose.

How much do you want to spend?

You can get pretty cheap basic security cameras, but it is a case of ‘you get what you pay for’, one or two basic cameras will be around £150-£250 but if you want multi-camera, indoor and outdoor top of the range camera with all the fancy extras, then you could be looking at thousands of pounds.

Are there disadvantages to installing a security camera?

It is hard to say any additional security would be disadvantageous generally in installing it. However, the cons of installing a security camera can still fall into different aspects:

  • Can’t 100% stop theft – though security cameras are a great addition to burglary, it only prevents but never stops theft.

  • Can be easily vulnerable – while we always try and keep ourselves up to date to all security systems that can keep us safe, so are burglars. An experienced burglar will likely be able to understand your device and find ways to disconnect it.

  • Privacy issues – security cameras, in general, have been affiliated with many controversies regarding privacy as it prevents someone’s privacy based on where it is placed. No matter where you are installing your camera, it is important to consider all government regulations to avoid getting in trouble.

The Best Outdoor Security Cameras in 2021

1.  Arlo Pro 4 Wireless Camera

Overall Best – £219.99 from Amazon

Features

  • 6 month Battery health
  • 2k Video with HDR
  • 160 Degree Field View
  • Colour clear night vision in complete dark

The smart device, Arlo Pro 4, can be controlled and connected with your choice of smart assistance, including Apple Home Kit (interestingly it also works with your Apple Watch), Alexa, and Google Assistant. Setting it up is very easy; all it takes is a few minutes as you open the app and follow all the steps.

Certainly, the Arlo Pro 4 is weather resistant so you can place it wherever you want no matter the weather! Alongside the camera is built-in siren which mainly is used to put off burglars. A two way audio is also included, which can be used to scare off burglars by speaking (letting them know your house is not empty!). While most cameras will provide you with clear quality, the Arlo Pro4 gives you a superior coloured quality.

 

2.     Reolink Camera Wireless Argus 2

Most Affordable – £67.19 from Amazon

Features

  • 1080p HD Resolution
  • 130 degree field of view
  • Up to 64GB of storage video
  • Six Infrared LED sensors to help you see in complete darkness

The Reolink Camera Wireless Argus 2 is one of the most affordable options out there. However, this doesn’t mean it lacks any of the options you would want.Along with a reasonable price, set up only takes a few minutes and it comes equipped with not only a brilliant camera but also a built-in siren that could scare away burglars. Given that it’s a smart device, Google Assistant is compatible with it, offering the convenience to access the camera from your phone.Of course, the Reolink Argus 2 outdoor camera is weatherproof, making it adaptable to be placed anywhere you want and with it’s rechargeable battery with a solar panel it will continually charge! Lastly, the Reolink Argus 2 has a 2 way audio system, which can be used for many different reasons including pre-set voice alerts and live communication.

 

3.      Arlo Essential Spotlight Camera

Best for scaring away burglars – £89.99 from Amazon

Features

  • 1080p HD resolution
  • Weatherproof
  • 130 degree field view
  • Coloured night vision
  • 6 months battery

The Arlo Essential Spotlight outdoor camera is a perfect choice for putting off burglars, considering all its features. Besides providing a sharp video, it sends email alerts as soon as it recognizes any motion and it even works well with smart apps, such as Alexa and Google Assistant, providing convenient security. In just a few steps that are prompted through the app, set up is easy and fast but what makes the Arlo Essential Spotlight unique in scaring off burglars is that you get 2 devices in one not only does it capture and record video, but the attached spotlight draws attention on anyone who might be lurking around. The camera is weather resistant also which makes it easy to place it anywhere!

 

4. Blink Outdoors 1-Camera System

Best for long life battery – £89.99 from Amazon.

Features

  • Two year battery life
  • Motion detection
  • Weatherproof
  • 1080p Sharp Resolution
  • 110 degree field view

The Blink Outdoors has many pros, however one of the main reasons why it’s so popular is its good battery life. Considering it uses two AA batteries that last for up to 2 years, it is a perfect choice if you are a person who goes away for a long time. It’s also very easy to replace the camera’s batteries once their life ends. Other advantages to the camera are detecting motion through email alerts on your phone, working well Alexa, and withstanding all different weathers.

 

5.      Ring Stick-Up Cam Battery

£89.99 from Amazon

Features

  • Live view
  • 130 degree field view
  • 1080p Resolution
  • Two way audio
  • 6-12 months battery life

The Ring Stick-Up Cam Battery by Amazon comes on top of the list when it comes to convenience. In addition to integrating with Alexa and Google Assistant, the camera offers instant notifications as well as two ways audio, working in different climates and adaptable to weather changes. The camera will automatically change to its night mode whenever it’s needed, which certainly provides a better quality to use at night. Another advantage is that it could be powered by Ethernet, which instantly eliminates any wireless internet connection concerns. This is a very safe option knowing that if your Wi-Fi went down for any reason, your camera will still be working and providing you protection.

6. Google Nest Cam

Best for intelligent alerts – £319.99 from Currys 

Features

  • Indoor or Outdoor
  • 1080p HD resolution
  • 130 degree field of view
  • Two way audio communication

This camera is best known for its intelligent alerts which identifies whether a motion was an animal, person, or vehicle. In fact, it can even send alerts when it detects the sound of a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm going off! It’s no surprise its face recognition also works very well and no further surprise that it does so by working with Google Assistant. Although it is weatherproof and designed to be placed outdoors, its easy installation has seen it be used indoor as a security camera also. As a wireless camera, there are no wires just the simple download of an app to get going.

 

Locksmith Scams

 

Like most other industries, Locksmithing is not exempt from scammers. The need for a Locksmith is not often a regular occurrence so most can just assume that any Locksmith is safe to use, however this unfortunately this isn’t the case. One of the most recently publicized Locksmith scams was a burglary ring who advertised themselves as a Locksmith service and then went out to place stickers on the home of people who had called for their ‘services’ to mark them for other members in the group as an easy target.

In this blog we discuss some ways in which Locksmith scams present themselves and what you can do to try and protect yourself and your home!

 

Stickers

As mentioned, above burglars can mark your home with fake Locksmith stickers. These are a sign to other members of the burglars’ group to of whom to target.

So, what should you do if you see a sticker like this? Firstly, you need to remove it right away and throw away in a bin that is inside your home. Secondly, you should report it to the non-emergency police line so that they can be aware that this scam is operating in your area.

It’s important to note that a real Locksmith company is very unlikely to cold call on your home and would never place a sticker – a real Locksmith would most likely put a leaflet of their services through your letterbox if this was their style of advertising.

 

Google My Business

We like to think that when searching through local businesses on Google that they are all trustworthy, however this is not always the case. Within the Locksmith industry there are no official regulations which means anyone can advertise as a Locksmith – even if they don’t know what they are doing!

Untrained individuals can pose as a professional Locksmith with a business listing on Google where unexpecting people who are in urgent need of a Locksmith unfortunately call them out. At first, they might quote a reasonable price but whilst on site they can often do more damage than good and then can hit you with a huge bill that is miles away from what a professional Locksmith would charge!

For advice on Locksmith prices view our Locksmith Pricing Guide.

 

Although Google maps is a great tool for finding local businesses before you make the call look for a few things:

  • Is a website linked?

Not all Locksmiths will have one, but it is often a good indicator.

  • Do they have any reviews?

Anyone can leave a review for a business on Google but if you have the time read through a few reviews and see what previous customers have said about the business. Our advice would be to avoid business profiles that have no reviews!

 

  • Is there a company name?

Most Locksmiths will have a company name, it may be a brand, or it may just be their name, but we would advise to avoid the ones which are just a variation of Locksmith services.

 

Cash Only Jobs without Receipts

Not being able to take card isn’t uncommon within Locksmithing, as most are mobile Locksmiths working from their vans and not all will have the facilities. However, if a Locksmith is only willing to take cash and will not provide a receipt there may be an issue.

Some scammers will only take cash as it is impossible to trace, and should you make a complaint they could deny they even provided you with services! So, if you are paying with cash make sure that they are providing you with some sort of receipt of the work done.

A reputable and reliable company will issue a receipt with the logo or business name, contact information, and a breakdown of the charges.

 

What Can You do to Avoid a Locksmith Scam?

1.      Research

Researching for reliability is an important step to ensure you are booking a reliable Locksmith. The advert or website should have clear contact information, a company name, a mention of what level the locksmiths are trained to. We also always suggest looking to see if they advertise as a DBS checked Locksmith and if they are linked to companies such as Checkatrade or Which? Trusted Trader.

Another crucial thing to consider is the company’s reviews. So, it’s worth checking out review websites such as Trustpilot or Checkatrade to make sure the company is reliable. If you are searching on Google maps for a Locksmith, it’s worth looking at their reviews on here also.

 

2.      Avoid Locksmiths with no Company Name

While some real certified locksmiths may advertise with no name, it’s more likely that they won’t be real companies but scammers. We suggest looking for a company name somewhere on the advert or on the site, it may not be in the title but it should be included.

 

3.      Ask for Credentials

Almost all Locksmith companies will have a van with their logo/branding on it. If the Locksmith arrives with an unbranded vehicle, it’s not necessarily a cause for concern but it’s best to ask for their identification/certification, and if they refuse then you know what to do!

It’s also best to ask for identification even if they have arrived in a branded van to be sure.

 

4.      Confirm prices

It is important to understand charges before booking a Locksmith. A professional Locksmith should always be upfront with their charges and how they breakdown the cost of a job. If the price is too good to be true or seems ridiculously high, there is nothing wrong in getting a second opinion before deciding who to book in with.

A reliable Locksmith company will always be transparent about their costing and whilst might not be able to give you an exact price for parts (if they are needed for the job) they should be transparent through the whole process.

 

About Keytek® Locksmiths!

Keytek® Locksmiths provide a professional, emergency Locksmith service nationwide.  Keytek® is committed to providing a fast and efficient service with highly trained and reliable Engineers. When using a local Keytek®  mobile Locksmith as a customer or business you can expect to receive a 365 day service, a 1 hour emergency response time*, friendly DBS checked Engineers, 12 month parts guarantee, and a highly trained team to handle your call.

 

Find your local Locksmith here.