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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Steeling Yourself for the City

A Russian friend is on the horns of a dilemma. The question is, should she or should she not have a steel door fitted to her apartment? She would like a door because her husband is often away, and she feels nervous on her own. But her husband thinks that the steel door will be a signal to their neighbors that they have something worth stealing.

This would seem logical, but the reasoning ignores the fact that burglars the world over are mainly amateurs in search of easy pickings. The poor and vulnerable are far more likely to be burgled than the rich and protected, who live behind steel doors, sophisticated alarm systems and video-surveillance cameras.

In a house, the vulnerable rear windows and doors are the points where thieves are most likely to enter. In an apartment there is not that problem, although ground-floor windows should be protected. The determined thief could climb down from the roof onto a balcony, or equip himself with a ladder for a frontal assault. Window locks are effective, as long as you do not conveniently hang the keys from the window.

In Moscow, many flats have bars at the window to keep children in, as well as thieves out. The trouble is they can also block your means of escape if there is a fire. But if, after weighing all your options, you choose to go for the protected route, there are a lot of companies in Moscow who advertise locally and will fit both window bars and steel doors.

The prices vary quite considerably from firm to firm as do their terms. Some will demand that you pay for the work before it is carried out. For obvious reasons, to pay the whole sum in advance would not be wise.

The appropriately named firm Trust (tel. 339-2871, 249-5252, 193-0383) will fit steel bars to windows and balconies for 50,000 rubles per square meter. These bars do not allow you to open the windows. The company does not accept orders for under eight meters of railings, and there is a waiting period of 10 to 11 days.

Trust will also fit steel doors. The doors consist of one sheet of metal of 3-millimeter thickness. Of course the doors have to be fitted to a sturdy steel frame. A steel door is certainly an effective dissuasive measure against the casual burglar. But it has been known for the truly determined thief to remove the door, frame and all.

The price of a door is 340,000 or 420,000 rubles, depending on the quality of the locks fitted. Most steel doors are fitted with two locks. The most important lock is the "safe" lock. This secures the door with steel rods which go into the frame above, below and into the side of the door jam. The central lock on the cheaper door has three rods, while the more expensive door is fitted with nine rods. The price includes the spy hole. The waiting period for steel doors is only three days.

Contrast (tel. 362-7929, 385-2517) charges the same price as above for fitting steel doors. Again the prices vary depending on the quality of the locks you have fitted. There is a three- to six-day wait for the work to be carried out. No deposit is necessary, but the "master" who comes to take the measurements for the door will ask for 40,000 rubles for materials.

Iskra (tel. 312-1205) fits metal doors consisting of two sheets of metal. The price is 260,000 rubles. The top-quality lock costs an extra 26,000 rubles. The normal waiting period for doors is 10 to 15 days. To have the door fitted within three days costs 10 percent more.

The SMIT company (tel. 964-3155) advertises all sorts of security devices, including steel doors. Their steel doors are the most expensive I have come across yet. A single-thickness steel door with two locks costs 487,000 rubles. The main lock secures the door with seven steel rods. The waiting period for a door is three to four weeks. If you simply cannot wait that long, there is an express service. To have the work done within three days will cost you an extra 10 percent on top of the original price, to have it done within two days will cost you another 25 percent, and to have a steel door to your apartment the same day will cost an extra 40 percent.

SMIT also fits steel bars to windows and balcony doors. The cost is 55,000 rubles for decorative wrought-iron bars, and 40,000 rubles for the straightforward institutional types. For an extra 50,000 rubles per window you can have bars fitted which will allow you to open them. This way you will feel less like a caged animal.