What is Lock Snapping and How Can You Prevent it?

Every front door needs a lock. It’s this essential feature that keeps your home secure while you’re out, and asleep. But not all locks are created equal. Some can be picked more easily than others, while some can be destroyed using brute force. This could mean using an angle-grinder or a power-saw, or it might mean taking a spanner and simply snapping a lock in half. 

This latter method is favoured on certain cylindrical euro-style locks. When the lock is in two pieces, the lock mechanism is exposed, and all the intruder has to do is move the lever back to open the door.

burglar snapping lock

How Common is Lock Snapping?

While lock-snapping isn’t quite as common as it once was – largely thanks to the introduction of newer, snap-resistant locks – according to police services across the country lock snapping is still a common way for intruders to enter the home.

Why is Lock Snapping Still Common?

So why is lock-snapping still such an attractive method of entry for would-be intruders? 

Lock Snapping is Fast

When you’re trying to break into the front (or rear) of a house, every second counts. The longer a burglar spends commiting a crime in full view of the street, the greater the likelihood they’ll be seen. Lock-snapping takes just a few seconds.

Lock Snapping is Easy

Another advantage of lock-snapping is that it requires no special training. You don’t have to spend hundreds of hours threading needles through practice-locks – all you need is a suitable tool and a little bit of brute-force.

Lock Snapping is Discrete

Compared with other methods of entry, like smashing in a window, lock-snapping is discrete. It won’t create much noise, or force the burglar to clamber through an awkward opening. It also doesn’t leave much in the way of forensic evidence, since clothes fibres won’t get snagged on jagged wood and glass.

How does Lock-Snapping Work?

One of the biggest advantages of a euro-cylinder is that it’s easy to replace. Changing the locks is a simple matter of sliding one lock out, and another one in. But this upside comes with a downside – it makes it easier for burglars to damage the lock, and slide the front half of it out – i.e. to snap the lock.

Is Your Door Lock at Risk of Being Snapped?

The euro cylinder is currently the most popular style of lock in the UK. It’s easy to tell whether you have one – from the outside it looks like a little metal circle, with a long section protruding from the bottom. It’s usually a single assembly with the handle. 

Note that cylinder locks are also used in nightlatch-style locks, but these aren’t usually vulnerable to lock snapping, as they offer little for the burglar to grip onto.

If you have a uPVC door, the chances are high that it’s equipped with a euro cylinder style lock. This is because it’s difficult to fit any other sort of lock into the material. uPVC can’t easily be drilled into or otherwise modified after it’s left the factory. Unfortunately this makes life pretty easy for burglars, who can see at a distance which locks they will or will not be able to snap.

However uPVC doors aren’t the only type of door to be fitted with euro cylinders. Some timber and aluminium doors also come equipped with this style of lock – specifically those found on older patio doors.

How to Prevent Lock Snapping

Worried about euro cylinder security? There are a few things to look out for to ensure your lock is snap-proof. 

The TS007 kite-mark

The first is the TS007 kite-mark, which usually sits next to the face of the cylinder and looks a little bit like a love-heart or an ice-cream-cone. It might be accompanied by one or more stars, which indicate quality. A three-star lock has been tested against snapping; a one-star lock has not. 

The SS312 diamond standard

To complicate things further, there’s another standard ensuring resistance to intruders – the SS312 diamond standard. This was launched in 2010 to deal with an epidemic of lock-snapping. The SS stands for ‘Sold Secure’, and it’ll be accompanied by an image of a diamond on the lock itself.

What makes a lock resistant to snapping?

Snap-resistant locks work in several ways. One is to simply use better materials. A manufacturer might also design the front of the lock to snap off in a separate piece, leaving the internal mechanisms of the door concealed.

Installation and lock snapping

Even the best-designed lock is vulnerable to snapping if it’s not installed properly. If the lock protrudes more than a few millimetres from the surface of the door, a would-be thief will have the opportunity to grasp it with a wrench. They’ll then have the leverage they need to force the lock apart.

Door handles and security

In addition to the lock, you should consider the door’s other hardware – especially the handle. Some handles are also kite-marked, or star-rated. If you want to treat security seriously, then fitting a two-star handle will give you close to the best possible security. At this point, a burglar will seek another point of entry – or, more likely, look for another house to target. 

For much the same reason, the police tend to recommend installing multiple locks onto the same door. That way if one of them is compromised, you have other locks as back ups. For best results, consider installing a night-latch as well.

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