Burglars use a new method to break into people’s homes, leaving a trail of damage.
A locksmith said he was called after a number of homeowners reported burglaries that involved the use of blowtorches to get inside.
They are thought to damage the locks, making them easy to break off and allowing intruders to enter. according to the Manchester Evening News.
The reports come from Greater Manchester, where one company, Locksmith L&E Ltd, says it has seen a number of attempted break-ins using the technique.
Company director Elizabeth Johns recounted how a customer discovered burglars had used a blowtorch to damage and pry off the locks on her door and were unable to get in due to the type of lock they had fitted.
The snap-proof lock had previously been fitted by the company.
Elizabeth told the MEN: “We find the holiday season to be absolutely rampant for burglaries and people trying to gain entry into homes and vans.
“The reason burglars use blowtorches is so they try to remove the handle around them so they can get a good grip on the lock and then break it open.
“With standard locks, the door opens as soon as the lock engages.
“So it’s about getting access to try and get a good grip on the lock.”
She said the snap-proof locks meant burglars couldn’t get in, saying: “Once it’s engaged, a snap-proof lock will still snap the lock but your door will stay locked.
“Unfortunately, this means the lock and door are still damaged, but the intruders have not gained entry to your home.
“I think people don’t understand it until it happens to them.
“And it’s quite frustrating for us because we’re like, ‘Look, everyone has to have these locks installed.’
“As you can see from this case with our client, it happens, and unfortunately it happens a lot.”
Elizabeth also said that many people think intruders would break a window to get in, but that’s not the case.
She said: “Actually they wouldn’t break windows because it makes a lot of noise and alarms people.
“Typically, people who have been broken into come down the stairs in the morning and see that it’s already happened because the thieves are trying to use these methods to make as little noise as possible.”
Elizabeth also urged people to make sure their locks are the right size for their doors.
She added: “Often times people have tried to install locks themselves.
“So you’re going to see a lock that’s too big for the door, which means it’s sticking out.
“This means it gives burglars easy access to pry it out without having to remove the handle.
“It’s like Christmas Day for a thief to see a lock that’s too big – he’ll go for locks like that.”
One of the company’s customers said a snap-proof lock prevented burglars from breaking into their home.
The customer and her family woke up one morning in December to find their door lock burned and badly damaged.
The customer, who asked not to be named, said: “It was a few days before Christmas, around 5am, my family and I were sleeping at home.
“We heard a noise so we went downstairs and turned on the light but we didn’t see anyone in the house so we went back to bed.
“It wasn’t until the next morning that my husband put the keys in the door and half the barrel came out with it.
“So we were like, ‘Oh, this isn’t normal.’
“That’s when we realized what had happened.”
Surveillance cameras showed the intruders were wearing balaclavas.
The police investigated the incident and supported the customer’s family.
The customer added that the incident was distressing for her family, especially since it happened so close to Christmas.
She now needs to have the door replaced, which will cost her between £400 and £500.
She continued: “It was just awful because you’re waiting all the time for the invaders to come back.
“Honestly, we haven’t slept properly since then.
“We have a kid in the house, so you don’t want thieves to come back and get in a confrontation with them.
“So the cost and the stress isn’t ideal.
“But the police were really good.
“If we hadn’t installed the snap-proof lock, the thieves would have 100% gotten into the house.”
The customer added that a few weeks before the attempted burglary, her home was marked with a paving stone outside.
Here are tips from Elizabeth and the client on how to keep your home safe:
- Have snap-proof locks fitted on all doors
- Hire a professional to install locks instead of installing them yourself
- Keep your house keys and car keys out of sight – never leave keys in locks
- Never leave keys hanging near doors as thieves can use a wire to get to the keys through the mailbox
- If you lose your keys, have the locks replaced as soon as possible
- Install visible deterrents such as floodlights and CCTV
- Make sure the Ring Video Doorbells are positioned correctly
- Make sure security systems are up to date
- Watch out for markings that thieves use to target houses, such as cobblestones, triangle or circle symbols, or kidney beans on doorsteps
For more stories from where you live, Visit InYourArea