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Lock snapping

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Title: Lock snapping  
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Subject: Locksmithing, Single-point locking, Snib, Time lock, Berlin key
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Lock snapping

Burglars are known to use claw hammers and screwdrivers to snap locks
A Typical Screwdriver

Lock snapping (also known as cylinder snapping) is a burglary technique which involves snapping a particular type of lock cylinder in two by applying the right amount of force and removing the outside part to expose the locking mechanism.[1] This provides easy access to the locking mechanism, once it's exposed it's open to tampering which allows the door to be unlocked using simple household tools.

Police have said it's estimated that around 22 million doors throughout the UK could be at risk from lock snapping where the lock cylinder can be broken in seconds.[2]

Lock Snapping has become more prevalent over recent years as it requires no special tools or expert knowledge. Thieves use tools like hammers, screwdrivers or anything else that can physically grab and take hold of a cylinder to snap the lock. Many readily available online videos show the force, speed and ease of the technique that burglars are using to break into homes. Videos show how burglars will gain access to a cylinder even if it isn't protruding from the handle, some show the door handle being ripped off of the door, the cylinder exposed and the locking mechanism compromised using household tools such as a hammer and screwdriver. In some instances, burglars can gain access to a property in as little as 15 seconds. Former burglars have been quoted as saying they would rather snap a lock than use the best lock picking tools because it is a simpler and quicker method of entry.[3]

Locks At Risk From Lock Snapping

Europrofile Cylinder set with 2 double cylinders and one single cylinder (left) and the screw to secure the cylinder

The locks most at risk of this type of attack are fitted with a euro profile cylinder. Euro profile locks are found in the majority of PVCu and composite doors installed in the last 15 years and operate in combination with a multipoint lock. Different types of Euro Cylinder include : The Single Cylinder; providing key access from one side only, The Double Cylinder which provides key access from the front and back of the door and The Double Cylinder with Thumbturn which allows access with a key from one side and uses a thumb turn on the other side of the door. The cylinders are available with different types of locking mechanisms, these could be disc tumbler, Pin Tumbler Lock, and wafer tumbler locks. Cylinder Locks can come in different sizes and profiles to suit particular door sizes, but the profile prone to lock snapping by burglars is known as the Euro Profile.

Other security measures in place on doors including shoot-bolts, dead-bolts, roller keeps and anti lift bars are rendered useless because once the lock cylinder is snapped and removed from the door, the burglar can access the locking mechanism using a screwdriver or similar tool. Once the locking mechanism is bypassed, the door will be unlocked and provide easy access.

Certain types of locks are specifically designed to prevent this method of attack, such as those that meet the TS007 3 star standard (also known as anti-snap). Anti-Snap cylinders have a section which will snap off and come away if a burglar was to try and break the lock, making the cylinder shorter and difficult to grasp.

The Master Locksmiths Association recently published a article on what best way to prevent lock snapping with a 'What Is Most Secure Lock To Prevent Lock Snapping'[4] article, which has further been referenced by North Yorkshire Police on their own Lock Snapping page 'Advice relating to Euro Cylinder locks'[5]

See also


  1. ^ "What is Cylinder Snapping / Lock Snapping?". Retrieved 2014-05-29. 
  2. ^ "Police Advice on Lock Snapping". Lincolnshire Police. 
  3. ^ "Lock Snapping Advice". 
  4. ^ "Most Secure Lock Cylinder To Prevent Lock Snapping?". Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  5. ^ "Advice relating to Euro Cylinder locks". Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
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