For those who cannot use technological gadgets to secure their home, a good lock is key, says Ms Veronica Mugo, a saleslady at Mathaga Hardware, which deals in padlocks and locks, among other things.
Her colleague, Joseph Macharia, adds that if you have a strong door and burglar-proofed windows, the single most important article is the door lock or padlock.
Padlocks come in two categories: commercial and domestic. Commercial padlocks are heavy-duty and used mostly in business premises while domestic padlocks are light-duty and preferable for residential use.
However, Mr Macharia notes, this should not be construed to mean that domestic padlocks are inferior to commercial ones. “It has to do with the level of security needed at the different premises. But the functionality of a domestic padlock is as good as that of a commercial padlock,” he says.
Still the prices vary greatly; while a basic light-duty brass padlock can retail at Sh1,500, a commercial padlock goes for up to Sh20,000. So, what factors should you consider when buying a padlock?
Mr Kennedy Ndwiga, the CEO of Tenacity Locks Ltd, says that if you buy from a reputable company rather than an individual or backstreet store, then the price is most likely an indication of the quality.
Ms Mugo, agrees, adding: “This is a security issue, which is a sensitive. So if you are selling a padlock for Sh20,000, it had better be commensurate with the security it provides.
An important factor to consider when buying a padlock is key security. To illustrate this, Mr Ndwiga gives the example of Yale’s (a padlock brand) Y120/50 and Y120/50 D (for Dimple).
He notes that while the two padlocks might look identical to the untrained eye, the Dimple’s key profile makes it more secure. “The more complex a key profile, the more secure the padlock,” says Mr Ndwiga.
Then there is ease of key duplication. Mr Macharia says that to make a duplicate key, you must get a key profile’s “blank”. Getting a blank for commercial padlocks is fairly difficult while blanks for domestic padlocks become unavailable as you move up the quality ladder.
Ms Mugo notes that to get a duplicate key for certain padlocks, you have to present a special, computer-generated card that comes with the padlock.
Ms Mugo says it is important to ensure your keys do not land in the wrong hands. “Some people buy secure padlocks but because they are careless, another person makes a copy of the key, giving them access to the premises,” she notes.
The experts say that brass padlocks are ideal for domestic use while steel or steel-encased ones are suitable for commercial use. Equally important is the material from which the shackle (the U-shape) is made. Mr Ndwiga notes that shackles made from a material known as boron are ideal because you cannot saw through them.
You can also buy a padlock that comes with a hasp, a device that covers a padlock so you have to break it to reach the padlock. However, this will cost you more since the hasp costs almost as much as the padlock.
The considerations above also apply to locks. However, when buying a lock, Mr Ndwiga says, scrutinise it thoroughly to ensure that it cannot be unscrewed from the outside, which makes it easy for intruders to enter your house.
Consequently, cylinder locks are much better than the traditional lever locks because, should you need to change the keys, you would not be forced to change the entire lock but only buy the cylinder alone.
Every padlock you buy comes with a set of keys, but you might want to have a different type of keys. Cylinder locks allow you to improve security simply by buying a higher profile cylinder.