The householder can protect himself definitely from losses by burglary and housebreaking only by proper insurance. The expert professional burglar is extremely hard to keep out, whatever precautions be taken. A great many burglaries, however, are committed by comparative amateurs, ready enough to take advantage of tilings being made easy for them, but likely to be dis-couraged if they find that considerable difficulties have been put in their way; and a large proportion of these burglaries are due to windows and doors having been carelessly secured, or not secured at all, ladders left unchained near the house, and so on.
Again, fittings in which faith is placed may be very inadequate defences. A jemmy will make short work of bolts and rim-lock staples of the usually somewhat flimsy type, held on by small screws. The same remark applies to most window-catches. Then, again, the doors of many outhouses have cross-garnet hinges which have merely to be unscrewed, and are secured by padlocks that yield easily to the twisting leverage of a bar.
From which it is evident that the box staples of rim locks on outer doors should be reinforced or replaced by staples of iron, fixed on with screws sunk deep into the door-frame: that window-catches should not be expected to stand a heavy strain; that exposed hinges should be held on by round-beaded bolts with their nuts inside the door; and padlocks be replaced by locks.
The safety of sash windows is increased bj catches which pull the two sashes together tightly, leaving no crack for the insertion of a knife or saw. The forcing up of a sash is made much more difficult if holes are bored in line through the top corners of the lower sash and the bottom corners of the upper to take stout iron pegs – shortened 6-inch wire nails do excellently.
Even if a sash be forced up, the burglar may still be foiled if he finds that slips have been screwed firmly to the upper sash, which prevent the lower being raised more than a few inches. An alternative to fixed stops – which may be inconvenient at times – is the removable stop screwing into a socket in the upper sash.
It must, however, be realized that the effectiveness of window protection depends largely on the glass remaining unbroken. And the same can be said of door bolts and locks close to glass panels. A night-latch operated from outside by an unpickable lock will prove harmless – from the burglars point of view – if the removal of part of a glass panel enables him to get bis hand to the knob which draws back the latch.
For this reason it is advisable to have a good mortise dead-lock on a front door with glass panels, for use on occasions when the houso is left empty, as any bolts on the inside cannot then be shot. It is a defect, by the bye, of latticed windows that a small pane can easily be removed from its lead setting.
A bolt near the bottom of a glass-panelled door will give much more trouble than one at the top, being out of arms reach. Speaking of bolts, preference should be given to those with handles which can be turned down against the door, where they are inaccessible to a stick.
Chains are very useful on outside doors to check any invader who may have forced the lock or bolts.
As regards inside doors, they too may well have bolts – preferably bolts of the kind which is mortised into the edge and turned by a knob outside the door. Locking and bolting all doors of an unoccupied house, or those of the ground floor and unused rooms on the first floor at night, may restrict the operations of anyone who has broken in through a window. When a house is to be vacated for a period – as for a holiday – the keys should be removed from the doors.
Electric Alarms. – The proper fitting of these and the concealment of the circuit wires are matters which had better be left to a professional electrician who has had special experience of such work. An adequate installation would include at least alarms to all outside doors anil windows on the ground floor, and to windows of landings and first-floor rooms which are not bedrooms.
All alarms should be connected with an indicator, unless the house is a small one. The bell will be one of the continuous-action type, which will ring till switched off when an alarm is sounded.