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Types Of Locks For Commercial Properties

11th June 2019

“There's no business like showbusiness,” sang Ethel Merman. But can we be sure she had properly considered all the other types of business? Had she investigated the structures of limited companies for instance, perhaps done a bit of research into Limited Liability Partnerships, or even experienced the joys and stresses of being a sole trader? We may never truly be sure. 

I mention this fact, not because of a hitherto unexpressed love of 1950s musicals, but rather because I have realised that almost all of my musings on this site have revolved around the subject of home security, rather neglecting the subject of businesses and commercial properties.  What makes this more of an oddity is that a good chunk of my time is actually spent dealing with the business sector – I don’t exclusively work with residential properties 

In an attempt to redress that balance, I thought I’d reflect on the portion of my job that involves the repair and fitting of locks on all sorts of commercial properties, whether these be shops, factories, offices etc, and see what tips I can pass on to those of you in business of your own. 

A break-in to your own business can be as emotionally traumatic as a break-in to your home, but added to this there will also be the additional cost if valuable equipment or assets are taken, and potential loss of productivity or takings whilst you’re waiting for any damage to be put right and equipment to be replaced. 

Insurance is vital for any business, and insurers will insist that basic security precautions are followed in order for their policy to be valid. I’ll quickly go through a few of these common-sense precautions in the hope that not only would they make any insurance claim go smoothly, but rather that there will be no need for a claim in the first place as potential thieves will be deterred from any break-in attempt. 

As with domestic properties, doors are the main entry point for burglars. As such, the choice of lock becomes all important. Generally, most properties have one of two types of lock – the rim lock or the mortice lock. The rim lock is one that is mounted on one side of the door (usually the inside), giving the impression of a little box. The deadbolt within it then clicks across into a mechanism on the doorframe. Because the rim lock is not an integral piece of the door, it is less secure than a mortice lock. It is usually only opened by a key from the outside and automatically locks when the door is shut, so you also run the risk of locking yourself out if you pop out without a key. These locks are often known as Yale locks, due to the company’s association with such locks. 

A mortice lock is one where the lock is within the door itself, and the key can be inserted in either side of the door. The lock is therefore hidden from view when the door is shut, but you can see the mechanism in the side of the door when opened. When the key is turned, the levers in the frame click out into the door frame. An advantage of this over the rim lock is that there can be multiple levers all the way around the door frame. The more levers, the more secure the door becomes, and it is now usual that a 5 lever (or greater) mortice lock is in place on newly installed doors. 

Whatever the lock, insurers will require a minimum standard of quality. The usual British standard is BS3621. Fortunately, almost all locks on the market now meet this standard, but it is still worth checking, especially if you’re tempted to go for a cheap model. Taking a few minutes to ensure the lock meets at least the minimum standard insisted upon by the insurers can save a lot of heartache down the road. 

As well as doors, windows are a major point of entry for burglars. Insurers will frequently insist on window locks being fitted wherever possible. Whenever new windows are installed in your business, you should ensure they are all lockable with keys. With older windows it can be a little more difficult, but even with classic style sash windows it is still possible to fit on a screw bolt that can be tightened when the window is shut to prevent it being forced open from the outside. 

Although window locks are essential, they will not necessarily prevent a smash and grab break-in whereby a thief smashes the window to get entry. Although this will generally attract attention, the business may be in an area away from other buildings and without neighbours at night. In this case, shutters or grilles are an excellent idea. Usually made out of steel or aluminium, these can be closed when the building is shut up in the evening (again, another disadvantage most businesses have compared with homes is they are usually left unoccupied overnight), so that even a well-aimed brick or rock will not make it through to smash a window. Again, there are various security standards for shutters, so check out the small print in your insurance, and perhaps even have a chat with your insurance company to see which type of shutter or grille will meet their approval and best reduce your premium. 

Alarms are another must-have for any business to protect equipment and stock. Generally, they can be approved by either the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB) or the National Security Inspectorate (NSI), and insurers should be happy with either. Audible intruder alarms are useful in being able to attract attention and scare away intruders, but more essential will be an alarm that includes remote signalling. These immediately contact an Alarm Receiving centre and alert a security firm or the police so that someone can attend the scene as soon as possible. Alarms should be of a higher “grade” for businesses than for residential. Intruder alarms are generally graded from 1 to 4. 1 and 2 are okay for residential use, but for commercial properties, you need to be looking at a Grade 3 minimum, and perhaps a grade 4 if there is a lot of valuable or sensitive property in situ. 

So there may be no business like show business, but your business will be of the highest importance to you. As a business owner myself I know the hours and effort that is required to make it work. A break in can be hugely demoralising to these efforts, so please take all the precautions you can to stop yourself being a victim of crime. 

For any assistance at all with any lock or security-related matters, please call me on 07990573857

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