During the summer when temperatures are warmer, it is often tempting to leave doors and windows open or unlocked to help cool the house and increase the air flow. However homeowners must be careful not to attract the unwanted attention of opportunist burglars who might be looking for easy access into a property.
Government figures show that in nearly a third of break-ins, burglars gain access to properties via an open door or window. With this in mind, it would be wise for homeowners to do everything they can to ensure entry and exit points from the property are as best protected as possible.
The 2013 survey by the Office of National Statistics suggested that the number of home burglaries taking place across the country is actually falling. Whilst this is great news for homeowners, it is important to not get too complacent as summer is often a time when opportunistic burglars spot a door or window ajar and try their luck inside.
There are a number of steps that homeowners can take to ensure their house is as best protected as possible in the warmer months. Some steps involve behavioural changes and are just a matter of being mindful. For example, it is important to remember to make sure windows and doors are always closed properly when everybody leaves the property and to ensure all valuables such as wallets, purses and car keys are kept out of sight.
Other steps however, are more structural and require homeowners to look carefully at how effective their windows are at keeping unwanted intruders out.
Whilst double-glazed window locking systems should be fitted at the time of manufacture, the general rule is that the handle should not be the only means of keeping the window secure. The locking system should actually be found in the window’s framework and the handle should only be used to engage the locking system.
There are two types of locking systems that are used within windows:
- Multipoint locking: these are normally fixed into the window and a series of mushroom cams are located into locking points in the frame when the handle is turned.
- Deadlock shoot bolts: These bolts locate into the frame at both opening side corners. There is also an additional deadbolt that secures the opening side of the window at the handle.
The right kind of lock depends on the material and design of the window. There are several types of windows commonly found in UK homes, the most common varieties of windows include:
Casement windows are attached to the frame by one or more hinges and need to be locked by securing the handle or stay bar. Each of the opening frames should be fitted with at least one casement window lock – in a high crime area it is recommended to fit two locks opposite each hinge. It would be wise to fit locks which secure the frames together rather than fitting locks that only secure the handle or stay bar. Most casement locks are screwed to the window rather than the frame, however this is a weaker system, and locks which are instead fixed to the frame are more secure and easier to use.
Sash windows are made up of one or more moveable parts that form a frame to hold the panes of glass. These old-style windows come equipped with central sash fasteners, but it is not always sufficient to just rely on these for security. To make the windows more secure sash stops can be put in place – these are particularly effective because it is not necessary to remove them from the window when they are opened fully. The sash stops can be set into the top frame allowing the window to still open to around five inches to allow for ventilation, whilst ensuring the windows are still secure.
Since first being used for window fabrication in the UK during the 1970’s, the use of uPVC for household windows and doors has seen dramatic growth. It is estimated that over 85% of new and replacement window and door projects use uPVC, with many home owners opting to replace their existing timber doors and window frames with uPVC due to its quality and durability.
uPVC windows are fitted with a concealed locking system that secures the window to the frame when the handle is pushed down. For this type of window it is also possible to lock the actual handle with a key for added security.
If it is additional security that is required then the original window handles can be removed and replaced for one with a lock. For example, the Fab & Fix Connoisseur Inline Handle is suitable for both uPVC and timber and is a stylish but sensible choice.
Alternatively, for additional security, the Cockspur Locking Espagnolette handle can be deadlocked for extra protection and can be locked automatically on closing.
To protect against the increased threat of break-ins this summer, there are a number of steps homeowners can take to minimise risk. Ensuring all valuables are removed from sight and double-checking no windows or doors are left open when someone leaves the house helps to ensure the house is not a target for opportunist burglars. Whilst structural changes to the windows, such as adding additional locks to the handles, can give houses that extra level of security.