Worried about lock-snapping burglaries? Black Country firm ERA may have a solution

By Carl Jackson | Crime | Published:

It is fast becoming the entry method of choice for burglars in the West Midlands but there are quick, easy and cheap ways of combatting lock-snapping - thanks to a historic Black Country firm.

Earlier this year the Express & Star revealed how intruders are able to force their way into homes with uPVC doors within seconds using a silent technique which is becoming increasingly prevalent, according to the region's police force.

Thieves are breaking in during the dead of the night while people are asleep and it is not necessarily the TV and the DVD player that are the primary targets but more likely the £30,000 car on the drive.

Yet despite the fact we stopped short of spelling out exactly how to do it, inevitably there were some readers who felt it was giving encouragement to would-be burglars by highlighting how simple it is to snap a lock.

But others welcomed the coverage recognising the fact it is an issue of growing concern among residents and the more people that are aware of it, the more they can combat against it.

One of them was ERA Total Security and today they want to reassure people how simple it is to prevent lock-snapping.

The company, which was based in Willenhall until relocating to the i54 in Staffordshire this very week, has specialised in home security since 1838 and now they utilise that 179 years worth of experience to stay one step ahead of the crooks.


While it is thought lock-snapping first emerged in Yorkshire around 2012, ERA have been aware of it for much longer.

Will Butler, group marketing and innovation director, said: "As a responsible lock manufacturer, we always have to be ahead of the standard.

"We have been aware of lock-snapping since the early 2000s.

"There are test houses where doors are attacked to see if people can break in.


"It was one of the conundrums with EURO cylinder locks that they could be snapped.

"We have always had solutions to this, because we saw it coming."

Will Butler, from ERA, with the company's Invincible Cylinder and Fortress Cylinder

To demonstrate the point ERA released a video which showed a door being breached in just four seconds after the handle had been removed exposing the cylinder.

To meet the PAS 24 (Publicly Available Specification) standard in 2007 the company developed their 'Invincible' lock cylinder which is fitted to new doors.

Mr Butler said: "The standard EURO cylinder has an inherent point of weakness.

"The Invincible cylinder has five times more metal at that point. The test is to survive for three minutes. We had it go for 12 against three guys on rotation. They gave up."

But the device could not be retro-fitted to existing doors so the firm set about developing the Fortress cylinder in order to meet the next big major industry standard in 2011 - the TS007.

"The lock is sacrificial," said Mr Butler, "So it snaps at the point we design it to and effectively locks it down so you can't bypass it. A burglar cannot access the inner workings of the lock but you can still put the key in and open the door from the inside.

"As a security solution it works."

Find out how to change your own door cylinder here

West Midlands Police has described lock-snapping as 'quick, easy and quiet' but the best thing about the Fortress cylinder is that the same applies to replacing ordinary locks with ERA's product.

A video on the company's website demonstrates the process in less than two minutes.

The Fortress is the only cylinder recommended by the Neighbourhood Watch.

ERA sells directly to trade and while for commercial reasons they could not divulge sales figures, they confirmed demand for their Fortress locks was growing 'substantially'.

And while a lot of residents will be able to fit it a new cylinder themselves, ERA recommend they hire a MLA (Master Locksmiths Association) approved tradesman to do it for them.

The company is able to provide a free home survey to anyone who requests it.

At this point residents may be waiting for the 'catch' and the cost of replacing their locks.

But people can pick up a Fortress cylinder for around £30 each.

This year there has been an average of 2,000 burglaries a month in the West Midlands.

Anyone questioning whether they should fork out their hard earned cash just to upgrade their home security should also ask themselves if they would prefer to replace their locks or replace their car, computers, tablets and jewellery.

Mr Butler said: "We say if you are getting a new door make sure it is an Invincible. If you are replacing a lock make sure it is a Fortress.

"At the end of the day the price and the ease with which you can upgrade to a new cylinder is far less than the cost and hassle of a household insurance claim."

Check out to book a free survey.

Carl Jackson

By Carl Jackson

Local Democracy Reporter covering Birmingham City Council.


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