Home Security Top Tips for the Summer

As the weather finally starts to improve, and the evenings are getting lighter we try to spend more time in the garden, and naturally want to have windows – and often doors, open. After all we have spent months with the heating on – locking ourselves in, trying to fend off the cold and rain! Unfortunately, the summer months can then leave us more susceptible to burglary. Here are a few simple tips to keep your home secure – and still be able to let some fresh air in!

1. An extra pair of ‘eyes’ always helps!

Summertime brings garden time, BBQ’s, relaxing in the sun, enjoying a morning coffee outdoors, or watching the kids play. Either way you will be constantly listening to hear if anyone is at the front of the house – not just if they are up to no good, but if someone has knocked and are trying to reach you. Why not try a home security system? We can offer a range of reasonably priced systems, where you can check your smartphone from your sun-lounger – and see just what is going on at the front of your house.

2. Out of sight – means keep it closed!

Remember no matter how good your insurance policy, they may not pay out a break-in through an open window or door. If you cannot see that door or window – keep it closed. If you want to leave windows open at night, then it is a good idea to use a restrictor on the window so it cannot be opened very far. This way nobody can get in, but you can still get a nice cool breeze.

3. Keep your shed safe!

It’s surprising how many valuable items we keep in the garden shed, summerhouse or detached garage. Often these have really poor locks, which are easily broken. Make sure your shed has a really good lock on it, and look to use tamper-proof hinges and screws. If nothing else, a decent lock will be a deterrent to an opportunistic burglar – and hopefully they will just move on to find an easier target.

4. Valuables on view is an open invitation!

Never leave anything of value in plain sight, it’s sounds obvious but it’s one of the easiest ways to attract an intruder. Be especially aware of keeping car keys and house keys not only out of sight, but far away from doors and windows.

5. Stop the press!

If you are off on holiday – especially if it’s a long extended stay, then ask a neighbor or friend if they would mind clearing the post from the doormat. That big pile of letters is a big giveaway that the house is empty. If you have a newspaper delivered – remember to stop that delivery until you return. The Royal Mail do also have a service where they will hold onto your post until you return.

6. Let there be light!

Lights are great – they make intruders think you are home. Obviously if you are away on holiday you don’t want to be running the electricity permanently – but a couple of carefully places lamps with timer switches will do the job. Alternatively invest in some ‘smart bulbs’. These Wi-Fi enabled bulbs can be operated from your smart phone – from wherever you are. Ikea have just launched a smart home lighting system and it’s worth checking it out.

Information taken from www.moneysupermarket.com – for full article go to : http://www.moneysupermarket.com/c/news/six-tips-for-home-security-this-summer/0037077/

Feeling safe in your own home

We all want to feel safe and secure in our homes. It’s the one place we should be able to feel entirely comfortable and at ease. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case and we need to keep our doors and windows locked, and many of us are investing in home security systems.

We recommend a cloud based, state-of-the-art 2-way alarm system designed for the residential and small business markets that provides so much more than a standard home security system.

A cloud-based system which uses visual verification with a self monitoring Smartphone app (also available via web browser) which enables homeowners to control their alarm systems remotely as well as view real-time images taken inside their premises with a wireless PIR camera detector.

In the event of an alarm, the PIR camera is automatically activated and captures a sequence of images which it sends to users via the Smartphone/ web Application. You can then view the images and confirm if there is a crime in progress, or not.

This system from Risco can be enhanced with a number of accessories to provide extra protection against theft. You can also purchase a wristband panic alarm – perfect for an elderly relative living alone. They can quickly and easily alert you if they need urgent help. The system can also send an alert to your phone if it hasn’t detected any movement for 4 hours giving you total peace of mind knowing those you care about are safe and well.

As this system is cloud-based, and monitored from a smart phone there is no need to subscribe to a monthly monitoring fee and a basic 2 camera system can be installed for as little at £543.20 + VAT. A substantial saving compared with an equivalent 36 month contract with an alarm monitoring service.

Watch this short video to find out more and contact us if you would like to discuss a Risco alarm for your home or business.


Have you recently moved home or business premises, and not sure how may keys are in circulation?

Firstly you probably want to check that they are of a reasonable quality. If you check the forend of the lock it should be stamped with a BS kite mark. This will normally include what revision the lock is. The British Standard for mortice locks is 3621: the next four digits tell you the revision eg 1998. So if it’s stamped BS3621:1998 this indicates that the lock conforms to the British Standard as at year 1998, the latest revision was 2007 so BS3621:2007.
Most insurers now specify British Standard locks on their policies, this is a change from older policies that just asked for a five lever lock. On some of the newer policies I’ve seen they are also now specifying the year of revision. It is important to check your own policy, especially when renewing. If you’ve used the same insurers for years you may find the specification for the policy has changed.

If you have a lock that will satisfy your policy requirements you won’t necessarily need to go to the expense of buying a new lock. It is possible to change the lever pack in most locks and this will ensure any old keys will no longer operate the lock. If lever packs are not available a locksmith should be able to change the position of the levers in the existing lock and make new keys to suit, thus achieving the same result i.e. the old keys no longer work.

On occasion this option may not be viable due to excessive wear of the lock. I recently changed over an old Chubb lock that had been manufactured in 1984 (the year of manufacture is stamped on a moving part in the lock) for a new one as the wear was so bad, I could not get it working smoothly without jamming. The replacement lock has a retail price of £157.31 + VAT. This is expensive when you can get a mortice deadlock that conforms to BS3621:2007 for £25.06 + VAT, but I doubt the cheaper one is going to last 34 years. If the original lock had not been as worn, a new lever pack would have been £41.26 + VAT which as you can see is a considerable saving. If you are going to go this route I would advise changing the bolt thrower (curtain) at the same time as this is the part that wears most often as it is constructed of a softer metal than the harder case it is located and runs in. Bolt thrower for the above example is £10.19 + VAT RRP.

If you Do have this type of lock and are going to speak to your locksmiths about it, it is a good idea to have some basic information for them, for instance is it a sashlock or a deadlock? A mortice sashlock will have a latch incorporated that is normally operated by a pair of handles and as keyway. If the handles are set further back on the door (normally a knob) from the keyway this is an “horizontal mortice sashlock”. If the handle is above the keyway it is normally just described as a “mortice sashlock”, in both cases their are various backsets, this is the distance from the front edge to back of lock. Standard sizes are normally 65mm or 77.5mm, the easiest way to determine what size you have is to measure from the front edge of the door to the centre of the keyway. If it’s either 2 1/2″ or 3″ (65 or 77.5mm) the measurement will be approximately 44.5mm or 57mm,see above picture. Don’t be too daunted, if it’s about either of those measurements you’ll be close enough. If you tell me you have a 42mm or 47mm measurement I’m going to take it as a 2 1/2″ (65mm) backset lock anyway. These measurements also apply to “mortice deadlocks”. A deadlock has no handles and will not hold the door shut without locking it with the use of the key. If you have a deadlock you’ll normally have a second lock on the door, most probably a nightlatch. If you look at the forend of the lock with the door open it will normally tell you what make you have, generally above the kite mark. Remember not all nightlatches are Yale and not all mortice locks are Chubb. In actual fact Chubb have not made the locks for years, and most Chubb marked locks in use now were made by Assa Abloy, and in recent years have been re branded as Union. This applies to all ex Chubb door locks, the Chubb window locks etc. are now branded Yale.

I Hope this information is useful to you, if it has helped you may wish to like our Facebook page and follow us on twitter. Many Thanks Andy


Most homes have multipoint locks fitted, these locks normally work by lifting the handle and then turning the key to lock. Although to most people they are the same, the wholesaler I use has approximately 164 different variations of these locks. They have various back sets, centres, and can have hook bolts, rollers, deadbolts, mushrooms or a combination. They also use varying lengths and off sets of the cylinders fitted.

If you have these types of locks fitted, most home insurance polices will specify the need to have a minimum of three locking points. Although individual companies have differing requirements and you should check your policy. So far I have not come across any policies specifying the need to have the correct length cylinder fitted. This is very important due to the amount of break ins committed by using a cylinder snapping technic, you can find examples of this on the web and you tube etc.

When these locks are fitted correctly they work well, but can have quite fragile inner mechanisms which can break and jam the lock, if put under pressure. For example having to force the handle to get the key to turn. If you are having this type of problem using the door, it is worth getting a reliable locksmith to re-align it, as this will be much easier and cheaper than waiting until it fails and having to purchase and replace the whole lock.

If the worst happens, it is possible on the newer versions to replace the gearbox, which will save you money over the cost of replacing the whole mechanism. Andy Stott Locksmiths keep a range of the most popular gearboxes in stock with prices starting from £28.00.

On a recent call out in Newbury, where one of these types of lock had failed, jamming the door in the locked position, I was able to get to site in under 30 minutes. After opening the door and removing the broken locking strip, I was able to replace the gearbox with a new one from stock on the van, re fit the strip and adjust the striking plates on the door frame ensuring the lock can be used without the need to force the handle, which had been the cause of the original failure. With parts and labour the job cost the customer £90.00, if they had called before the failure I could have realigned the striking plates and the cost would have been halved, and the old mechanism would have been less likely to break as would not have to have been continually forced.

Home Security

Most homes in the Thatcham / Newbury area are secured to meet with their household insurer’s policy. Although this is a good guideline, and address most issues, it is not a criteria taken into account by would be burglar’s. These people tend to look for what appears to be the least secure and therefore easiest property in the area to gain access too.

Andy Stott Locksmiths can provide an in depth security survey, making recommendations based on over thirty years experience. For peace of mind and to book your survey now call 07913800105

Have been to a company who have just moved into new offices in Overbridge Square.

Have been to a company who have just moved into new offices in Overbridge Square. The main door to the office is secured with a mag lock on an access control system, but also has a mechanical lock that the keys could not be located for. On replacing the cylinder we found that the mechanism was sticking and not allowing the lock to function correctly, also the mag lock was fitted in a way that did not allow the door to fully close to allow the mechanical lock to lock into the frame. Serviced mechanism on mechanical lock and re positioned mag lock, both locks now working and customer has extra security by using second lock.

Was called to a job in Newbury, where the tenant could not remove the key from his patio door lock

Was called to a job in Newbury, where the tenant could not remove the key from his patio door lock when the door was in the locked position. This is quite a common occurrence when the cylinder gets a bit worn. The cam slips through 180 degrees and then does not line up in the correct position in the locking mechanism. The cam can be re aligned but once it has happened the problem is likely to reoccur so I would normally advise replacing the cylinder. This can reduce overall costs as new cylinders have a manufacturers guarantee so the problem should not happen again in the near future.

Have been to a property in Thatcham, where the only lock on the front door was a 2 lever mortice sash lock.

Have been to a property in Thatcham, where the only lock on the front door was a 2 lever mortice sash lock. As there are only approx. 40 key differs from this make of lock and it does not conform to British Standard it is unlikely that any insurance policy would cover any break in to the property. We have therefore removed this lock and fitted a new lock that conforms to British Standard BS3621:2007. The job involves enlarging the mortice to accommodate the slightly larger lock body and fitting of a new striking plate as the bolt on the new lock has a longer throw and the striking plate is fully boxed in and not just a thin metal plate. Was also able to provide 3 additional keys by duplicating them on site at the same time with our on board key cutting facilities.

Have been to Shaw, Newbury where I got a call from a man who had lost faith

Have been to Shaw, Newbury where I got a call from a man who had lost faith in the original locksmith he called. His front door lock had failed and the responding locksmith had changed a part and got the lock working. This fix lasted for a couple of days when the lock failed again. The first locksmith was recalled and spent approximately 3 hours on site but still could not get it working correctly. The customer then asked if I would have a look, I identified the problem, which was something the other person had not considered, and ordered a new part which arrived the next day. The lock is now working correctly with all the bits left out to make the door work, re-fitted.

If you need a locksmith call Andy on 07913 800105 or visit his website at http://www.stottslocksmith.co.uk/