Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Bump my lock

It's been a month since we were burgled, and over two weeks since the assessor came around and still no word. I have learned something this week though - that as soon as a high-tech security lock comes into existence, someone is out there trying to exploit it. Yes, there are discussion forums for security experts to out-nerd each other.

The most common way of exploiting a lock is by something called Lock Bumping.

Thanks to Saunderson Security for the overview:

"All you need is a special key called a bump key and a hitting tool like the handle of a screwdriver. A bump key is a key which has been cut down to the deepest cut at each pin position. Any key that will fit into the lock can be filed down to create a bump key"

It also says: "Little evidence of intrusion: The lock should not be damaged when bumped, so it is very difficult to prove the lock has been bypassed. Some insurers require evidence of a break-in or some use of force to gain entrance to the property in the advent of a burglary, so insurance claims may be rejected."

Oh yeah drat, if we'd known about this I guess we could've smashed a window.

And if I wanted to make my own? Well, there are many websites who'll sort you out, including UK Bump Keys. 'The best Lock Pick Shop forum for all Lock Picks, techniques, books and discussion' - currently over 4,400 members!

It's baffling why insurance companies are so determined to deny a claim when a little online investigation can throw up any number of options that give grounds for an appeal. I guess they rely on the majority of the public being too passive to argue. Or people like us who might say "Well, it's two grand's worth of stuff, we should be grateful it wasn't more."

Oh - and Rob discovered that his prescription sunglasses - which cost £500 as he's quite blind without them - were in his satchel (the one that got nicked). Curses to these overcast wintery days or he may've realised weeks ago.

In other insurance news...

I was about to insure my new mobile via a company that specialises in small gadgets, £54 for a years cover seemed reasonable. But then I read the small print - the phone would not be covered if it was stolen from my office, as the building wouldn't show any forced signs of entry. These loopholes are getting silly. I didn't bother, but am grateful to my burglar for making me read the small print.

Also, we've been paying Domestic & General 8+ years for washing machine cover for the Indesit appliance at our flat. The machine hasn't worked at all since November. The service man's scheduled visits are at least a week apart and last time he didn't show up at all. Understandably my tenants are getting fractious - but today's conversation with D&G really took the biscuit. When I explained that week days are not practical as people have jobs and can't stay in, and that a weekend or evening slot would be preferable, the guy on the phone had the gall to say "It's in our terms and conditions". OH SHUT UP.

We won't bother renewing the insurance on our washing machine (due any day now, ha!) as paying £70 a year is a waste of money if they can't fix it within a week. Might as well pay a regular washing machine person the call-out fee. Blimey, on their website they advertise it as £39 a year - we've been seriously ripped off. To quote someone on Twitter, insurance is legalised theft. Too right.

Friday, 21 January 2011

No insurance update

This is Gwen, snapped 10 days ago for her first day at Big School. Life is going to be so much easier having the girls at the same school and finishing at the same time - mostly for my childminder but also for the endless juggling of extra curricular activities (kid related) and our various social commitments (mostly pub related).

The insurance company was supposed to let us know a week ago what the outcome of our claim was, but so far not a peep. I've heard numerous horror stories about insurance companies avoiding paying out for all kinds of trivial reasons in the last couple of weeks. I've gone a bit OCD at night, checking the doors are properly locked and ensuring anything remotely gadget like is hidden from view.

Still very glad that no keys, credit cards or passports were nicked. Just the hassle of replacing these things would have been infuriating. If there's a trade off to be had I'd rather be out of pocket (slowly) replacing stuff than having to change all the locks etc.

It still peeves me no end that there are people out there who are happy for you to work, who think it's acceptable to then take what you've worked for. Our burglar's haul is a month's salary for a lot of people, and to think we might have been one of many households he'd hit that week. Scumbag. Grade A scumbag.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Burglary update

The insurance assessor came around last Friday and the news isn't good. Apparently we are unlikely to be successful with our claim because the front door wasn't double locked. This is baffling - the intruder came in through the back door, so it should be irrelevant, really. We never double lock when we're home - who does? There's the argument that you shouldn't because if there was a fire it would make it difficult to escape, or allow firefighters in. A chain lock is considered a secondary lock, but as Rob was out boozing til the wee hours on this particular evening, I wouldn't have put a chain on even if we had one - how would he get inside?

The small print on an insurance policy is badly worded - upon reading and deciphering it turns out that if we'd been burgled and the doors were locked, and the alarm was on but a window was open upstairs, the policy wouldn't pay out! Likewise if any keys were left in any doors (admittedly we used to go to work with the back door key in the door - obviously we've removed it since). If we'd been burgled while we were at work, we could've easily lost 10-15x what we're claiming for and the insurers wouldn't have paid out due to one of their loopholes.

Insurance companies are happy to take your premiums - paid for years in good faith - but it seems they'll do whatever they can do avoid paying out. All this has taught us is to lie: if we'd known the double locking issue was going to be a deal breaker, we could've said the door was double locked.

I'm trying to look at the bright side - this will ensure we question ridiculous policy notes, and secure windows/doors etc - but if we don't get paid out we still have to replace all the stuff that was nicked - around £2,000 worth of gadgets and related bits. Rob's company won't replace his laptop as the excess is so high, so he's using an old one for the forseeable future. The kids won't be getting 20 replacement Nintendo games for their DS Lites. Oh and two weeks after we were robbed we noticed that the Toshiba Journe tablet (pictured) had been stolen too - which we weren't claiming for as they're not even on sale in the UK (it was such a piece of rubbish I expect Toshiba isn't going to bother launching it).

We find out the ruling in the next few days, watch this space.