Of how much use are the locks and keys and other security devices that we use?
Very little, if the onslaught is determined. Mostly, our home security devices are deterrents, not prophylactics.
If someone is determined to breach the defences of a home or living/working space, I think that person can do so, in most cases. Very few us are perpetually prepared for worst-case scenarios.
Once, my friend's front door key was lost and I brought over our local "key person".
This guy seems so archetypally the "burglar" type that I used to joke that he used to make keys by day and use them nefariously at night! But he has been peacefully plying his trade in Jayanagar 9th Block for at least 12 years now, though I am sure that by now, he would have made keys to the front doors of practically every flat in our apartment building, and quite a few of the houses in the area!
To get back to the story, this guy came over and opened her front door in about two minutes' time. Rather shocked, I asked him, "Can you do this with all locks?" "Yes," he replied calmly. All these 'nightlatches' and 'navtal' and other locks are for YOUR peace of mind, they won't stop the determined housebreaker at all!"
I realized, then, how much we rely on our social fabric for the security of our households, and how tenuous and weak are the defences that keep our homes intact and inviolate. In a typical Indian household, the domestic help, the people who deliver the milk, newspapers, ironing, and even vendors...all have access to a home, and it is a network of implicit trust.
Dogs as house guards may be generally reliable, but I know of at least two instances where burglars regularly fed them food and then walked into the house and rifled it.
A joint family, where there is someone in the home almost all the time, is one of the best forms of security...but alas, it's no longer very common.
Abroad, security systems and neighbourhood watch programs have now taken the place of family and guards...but they, too, can be breached.
So...security, and the perception of it, is mainly in our minds...so perhaps the simplest thing is not to have too much of valuables at home, and be prepared to do without some material possessions....but is this always possible?