Cat flaps are a security risk if the keys are in or near the door

Cat flaps can be a security risk. It depends on what the house owner does with the keys to the door in which there is a cat flap. I should know because when I was young and living at home I not infrequently got into my parents’ home via the back door without a key using the cat flap. I managed to do this because my parents had the habit of leaving the back door key in the door. Outside the door was a covered way where there were sticks for gardening. To get inside the house I grabbed one of the sticks, put my arm through the cat flap holding the stick and with patience and by touch I managed to position the key in the lock so that it could be removed using the stick. The key would fall to the floor at which point I was able to grab it with my hand.

Cat flap
Cat flap. Picture in pulic domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Keep house door keys away from doors and out of sight

In this instance there was a security risk because the key was in the door lock inside the home. Another potential security risk is if a person leaves their house keys within a close distance of the door in which there is a cat flap. Under these circumstances a person could use a long stick to reach into the home through the cat flap, dislodge the keys from a countertop or a hook on a wall and drag the keys towards the cat flap using the same stick.

These are quite obvious examples. Equally obvious is the means to stop it happening. Keep house keys well away from a door in which there is a cat flap. In fact they should be blind to anybody using the cat flap as a means to get into the house. And never leave a key inside the lock.

Cat flap thief
Cat flap thief. Picture in public domain.

Dog door

When I was getting into my parents’ home it was back in the early 1960s. Modern locks are much better and they would make it more difficult to get the key out of the lock if it had been left in it. However, it is obvious that the cat flap (“cat door” in America) must present a security risk because it is a hole in the door through which anybody can put something including an arm. And if it is a cat door made for a dog but being used for a cat, in America, they are big enough for a small child to crawl through. That is a game changer in terms of burglary.

Boy crawls through large cat flap
Boy crawls through large cat flap. Photo in public domain.

Opportunistic burglars

It is a question of developing systems in your life to protect against burglary. Burglars are often opportunistic. It might be a young man idly walking around the neighbourhood looking for an open window or open back door if he has access to communal gardens surrounded by a block of flats (condominium in America). He may wander around looking for an open patio door. A typical scenario would be that the owner was outside in the communal gardens and then popped inside to go to the toilet. They did not close the door behind them. Meanwhile the burglar meanders onto the communal gardens, sees that the patio doors are open, darts into the home while the owner is on the toilet, sees a wallet on a tabletop, grabs it and exits the apartment all in the space of about 45 seconds. The flat owner is totally unaware and only discovers that her wallet is missing several hours later.

Although it is tiresome, if you are living alone inside an apartment on the ground floor and go to the toilet you should lock the patio door while you are in the bathroom! Like I said, you have to be permanently vigilant if you are to remove the possibility of being burgled in this casual manner. Fortunately, I believe that burglary is less commonplace today than it was 40 or 50 years ago. This is because criminals have discovered that a much more productive crime is cybercrime. This is crime on the Internet and on the phone convincing people to hand over personal details allowing them to withdraw funds from their bank accounts. There are numerous ways criminals can do this. They are targeting the vulnerable, elderly and gullible. There is always a percentage of people in society who are gullible enough to be taken in by confident and convincing criminals who talk them into giving up information or transferring funds to bank accounts which they believe are legitimate but are not.

Earliest existing cat flap Exeter, UK
Earliest cat flap, Exeter Cathedral. Hole cut around 1600.

Cybercrime much bigger and more common in 2020

Nowadays the modern form of burglary does not require the physical presence of the criminal. They simply do it on the phone or via the Internet (fake websites) and email et cetera. It is all done through words by conmen. Vigilance is still the byword to be safe. Always be vigilant and distrust. Distrust everybody until you learn that they are trustworthy. Never, ever give any information out over the phone or by email to anybody concerning your bank account details including passwords and the like.

General image of police involvement
General image of police involvement. Pic in public domain.

Police

In the UK, the police don’t bother to solve burglaries. They simply are not interested. This is a disgrace. In the country, 95% of burglaries and robberies remain unsolved. The criminals get away with it. This encourages them. The police regard these crimes as unimportant and too minor to deal with. They will argue that they are understaffed. I argue that they are under-motivated. I have seen two police cars and eight police officers arriving to deal with a drunken man on the pavement when all that was required was a gentle word by one police officer. They are not short of manpower.

The police need to be respected by the public. They are the servants of the public. In the UK they have lost the respect of the public. This is a very serious state of affairs because it makes policing much more difficult and undermines the prevention of crime. It also has to be added that the police have simply lost control of cybercrime. It is a free for all in the UK for criminals stealing money through cybercrime. It is an horrendous state of affairs which must stop.

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