Burglars are using a worrying new technique to break into homes and vans.
There have been several cases of burglars blowtorching and then snapping locks to illegally access properties in recent months.
Burglars will try and snap the locks off the home before gaining entry but there is one way to stop this from happening, Manchester Evening News reports.
Snap-resistant locks are providing more resistance, according to Manchester-based company Locksmith L & E Ltd.
Company director Elizabeth John said: "We do find that Christmas time is absolutely rife for burglaries and people trying to gain access to homes and vans.
"The reason intruders use blowtorches is that they are trying to remove the handle from around it, so they can get a good grip on the lock to then snap it.
"On standard locks, once the lock snaps, the door will open.
"So it’s all about gaining access to try and get a good grip on that lock."
Burglars will try and snap the locks off the home before gaining entry
Snap-resistant locks would not allow intruders to open your doors, Elizabeth recommended.
She explained: "Once it’s snapped, a snap-resistant lock will still snap the lock, but your door will remain locked.
"It means unfortunately, the lock and the door will still be damaged, but the intruders won’t have gained access to your home.
“I think people don’t understand until it happens to them.
"And it’s quite frustrating for us, because we say, ‘look, everybody needs to have these locks installed’.
"As you can see from this case with our customer, it does happen, and it does happen a lot, unfortunately."
Elizabeth added that burglars use these methods in order to try and be as quiet as possible.
She explained: “Usually, people say, ‘if intruders wanted to get in, they would smash a window.’
"But, actually, they wouldn’t smash windows, because it makes a lot of sound and it’s alerting people.
"Normally, people who have been burgled come downstairs in the morning and see that it’s already happened, because the thieves are trying to make as minimal sound as possible by using these methods."
Burglars are trying new inventive ways to get into people's homes
What should you do?
Elizabeth urged homeowners to ensure their locks are the right size for their doors.
She added: "A lot of the time, people have tried to install locks themselves.
"So, you’ll see a lock that’s too big for the door, which means it’s sticking out.
"Which means it gives intruders easy access to snap it out without even taking the handle off.
"It’s like Christmas Day for a thief if they see a lock that's too big- they will target locks like that."
Benefits of a snap-resistant lock
Having a snap-resistant lock is what stopped intruders from entering the home of the locksmith's customer.
The customer and her family woke up one morning in December to find their door lock burned and badly damaged.
The customer, who asked not to be named, said: "It was a few days before Christmas, at around 5am, my family and I were asleep at home.
Here's how you could prevent burglars breaking into your home
"We heard a noise, so we came downstairs and switched the lights on, but we didn't see anybody in the house, so we then went back to bed.
“It wasn’t until the next morning when my husband put the keys in the door and half the barrel came out with it.
"So we thought, ‘oh, that’s not normal.’
"That's when we realised what had happened."
She added: "Had we not had the snap-resistant lock fitted, the thieves would have come into the house, 100%."
Nine tips to prevent your home being burgled
- Have snap-resistant locks fitted on all doors
- Hire a professional to install locks, rather than installing them yourself
- Keep your house keys and car keys out of plain sight- never leave keys inside locks
- Never leave keys hung up near doors, as thieves can use a wire to access keys through the letterbox
- If you lose your keys, get the locks changed as soon as possible
- Install visible deterrents such as floodlights and CCTV
- Make sure Ring Video Doorbells are positioned correctly
- Make sure security systems are up-to-date
- Watch out for markers that thieves use to target homes, like paving slabs, triangle or circle symbols or kidney beans on doorsteps