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It’s hard to imagine an unbreakable lock. Practically everything can be got into, given plenty of time, and assuming nobody cares about the noise of a drill for hours on end. But there’s a locking solution that is, in a sense, dangerously unbreakable.

Pad-eyes aren’t a lock, as such, but merely a couple of loops into which you can hook a padlock.

These are pad-eyes. One ‘eye’ goes on the door, and other on the frame. They align when the door is shut, so that you can loop a padlock through.

They’re usually fitted as a temporary locking solution, and a proper, normal lock is pretty much always better than pad-eyes.

Still, they can be dangerously secure. Pad-eyes don’t need a padlock in them to work. No, it can take a lot less than a padlock to stop someone from opening a door with pad-eyes. Often all it takes is a small twig to keep the door shut.

“So what?” I hear you ask. “You can always take the twig out.” Yes, you can. But only from the outside.

Now, imagine it’s on your front door. You’re inside your house, enjoying a TV dinner, when somebody slips a twig into the pad-eyes. You’re suddenly trapped inside your own home, and there’s no key that can save you.

It’s pretty much just simply physics stopping the door from opening. You’d need tremendous force to snap even a twig if it’s lodged in between pad-eyes.

The same applies for similarly constructed locking solutions, e.g. a hasp and staple:

A hasp and staple. You fold the long plate over the loop, and then put a padlock through. Ideal for sheds and other storage spaces.

The trouble is that we always shrug off the danger, because it sounds silly. But it actually happened to my neighbour.

He had a hasp and staple fitted to a garden shed. His children were playing there, and one locked the other in with a small stick. He thought it was a funny joke, and assumed that his brother would be able to snap it open without much trouble.

He proceeded back into the bungalow and forgot about his brother. He was stuck in there for a good hour before anybody noticed. Poor chap.

So what can we do?

Pad-eyes and especially hasps and staples are so practical that we can’t really do without them, even if there are associated risks.

The solution is to be “sober and vigilant”, as the Church of England likes to put it. Awareness is key.

Horses for courses?

Moreover, it’s important to choose the correct lock for the job. If there’s a genuine risk of being locked in, then it’d be an idea to fit a thumbturn deadlock or a Union 3R35 escape lock.

Fortunately, pad-eyes are typically just a temporary solution. You’d normally just fit them to keep a door locked while a specific lock is on order. The advantage is they’re super easy and non-invasive to fit: all you do is to screw in a pair of metal loops and stick on a padlock.

Need advice on which lock to choose?

We’ve been advising London for nigh on 30 years about locks and keys.