Some Reflections on Home Security…..

…Largely inspired by the fact that I’ve just had to break into my own home.

We’ve done a fair bit of work on upgrading our home security over the past few years. All the double-glazing has those (allegedly) high-security locks, the door locks are good enough that when one jammed last year it took a locksmith nearly four hours to get it open again (he came back two days later and replaced the entire locking mechanism to prevent it happening again). We had a six-foot-tall wooden gate fitted at the side of the house (a) to prevent the whippets sailing merrily over the previous three-foot-high gate and (b) to discourage anyone idly ambling round the house to see what’s about in the garden and sheds. The garden is walled or fenced (or has the sheds) all round, mostly to keep the chickens and dogs in but also as a deterrent to random strollers on the property.

Anyway, I came home from a nice night at the cinema with an old friend tonight (the Equaliser, incidentally – we enjoyed it!) and put my key into the front door lock. It wouldn’t turn. I realised almost instantly that my mother must have done as she usually does when locking up at night and left the key in the lock, half-turned. All the same, I checked I had the right key and tried again, because humans always do seem to try the same thing again in the hope that even though it failed miserably last time, magically it’ll work this time.

It didn’t.

Well, how about the back door? I climbed onto the wheelie bin to reach over the gate and pull the top bolt, then lay on the ground and reached underneath to unbolt the bottom bolt. (We need to move the bins further from the gate and find a way to prevent the bolts being shot from the outside, clearly….)

That got me into the back garden. The back door was locked. Now, locking the back door is always my job after I’ve had the dogs out for their last sniff-and-widdle before bed. I admire my mother’s memory for detail but shucks, that was inconvenient….

I paused at this stage to go into the shed and do the last check-and-water of the bunnies, topped up the youngsters’ feed bowl, which was empty (though the rabbits all look very smug and round) and then tried the conservatory, though without much hope since it’s almost always locked even by day. It was locked by night, too.

I tried phoning the house phone, but it’s not that loud and it’s through two shut doors from my mother, who always removes her hearing aids before bed.

I tried yelling through the letterbox, and all I achieved was to stop the dogs barking and start them whining eagerly instead. Not an improvement, though I don’t think Mum would have heard them anyway.

My hand won’t go through the letterbox, we made sure we got one with a fairly narrow slot to prevent burglars trying that. I appreciate the irony.

Tools in the shed? Most of the tools are in the house. What tools I did see, looking around the sheds, weren’t going to help me break into the house, unless I actually broke something.

Finally, I remembered that the kitchen window often isn’t fully latched. To reach it we have to lean over the sink – I can just reach it, but my mother’s an inch or two shorter than she used to be and not quite as fond of climbing on the worktops these days either, so sometimes it doesn’t get latched properly. I checked. The handle was half-up, meaning it was neither willing to open properly at the bottom nor at the side (it’s one of those clever two-settings designs that open both ways) but I was able to prise one corner open about half an inch.

I made a quick trip back to the shed to grab some wire that was on a shelf, twisted a sturdy loop in one end and manouvred the wire through the gap in the corner of the window. After a few trial-and-error moments (snagged the washing up brush, nearly got stuck on the tap….) I managed to lasso the latch, pulled it all the way up and was able to hoick the window open at the bottom. A jump, a hoist and a swivel later, I was being swarmed by a pair of frantic whippets, unable to understand what had taken me so long.

I need to make sure that kitchen window is properly shut in future. I did shut it behind me tonight!

I also need to make a notice to tape to the back of the front door for next time I go out at night: “Take the key out of the door, Mum!”

If I can break in, others can break in and probably more easily, if they’ve had practice (tonight was my debut as a house-breaker). Ideally I should have ended up spending the night kipping in the car on the drive, not climbing in through a ground-floor window after just a couple of minutes with some light-weight wire! Tomorrow by daylight, we need to do some serious security revision…..

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3 thoughts on “Some Reflections on Home Security…..

    • We’ve moved the bins, locked the windows and agreed in future I’ll post a note on the door if I’m out late…..

      Next time I’m in B&Q I must look out for the sort of spikes used to discourage cats walking on tops of fences, that should be a good deterrent for anyone climbing over the gate.

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