The Crime Prevention Website

I’ve been asked if fitting window locks is worth it many, many times and an email received this morning asking the same but important question has prompted me to get onto my computer and tap out why I think the answer is an emphatic “Yes”!

First off, the prevention of burglary is all about holding all the good cards in your hand. It’s about adding various layers of security to your home (and garden) that will deter and delay the thief and, if not effective, to help in the detection of the offender after the crime has been committed. Some people refer to this as the three ‘Ds’ – Deter, Delay, Detect.

But, before I embark on the reasons why window locks are important I should first say a few words about those of us who have windows that incorporate a form of multi-point locking. These are the types (and they come in a wide variety of materials) which are operated by the window’s handle. You’ll know that I favour this type of locking simply because the locking system is a part of the whole window design and not an afterthought or add-on. Therefore, one would expect these types of windows to perform better than, say, a timber casement that has retro-fitted, surface mounted locks. This is especially true of the more modern windows that meet the British security standard known as PAS 24 2016 or its previous reincarnations of PAS 24 2012, BS 7950 and so on. These British Standard windows have the added benefit of having been tested in a rig against the sorts of forces and tools one would expect in the course of a burglary. Remember too that the tests follow a thorough examination of the window by the testers and so it is reasonable to expect that such windows that pass the tests will perform at least as equally well out in the field if not better.

But what about you lovely people who have more traditional windows and therefore have to rely on retro-fitted locks; why do I still think they are worth it?

Here are my reasons and may I suggest that you important Neighbourhood Watch people out there use this information and pass it round to your members, because you know it makes sense.

  • Deterrence (visual). Opportunist burglars are normally looking for an easy way in and out and a majority of them will make a casual inspection of your property to find the weak points. If your doors are well locked then they’ll turn their attention to your windows. It is at this point where the visual deterrence of the window locks comes into play. How many locks do you have on each window? Have they been engaged? Is the window lock key in view sitting on the window sill? Will they need a long lever to force the window frame against its locks? Do they have the right tool? Do you have the right tool sitting in your unlocked shed? How much noise will be made if I force open the window? These are the sorts of questions that will be firing around their heads and in some cases they will reach the conclusion that the effort is not worth it.
  • Delay. If the burglar decides that the effort is worth it then you’ll want those window locks to do their job and that is to deny or to delay an entry into your home. How effective those locks are going to be will be determined by a number of factors, not least the quality of the lock and how well they have been fitted. However, the number of locks fitted will play a role and as a basic recommendation I would always suggest that ground floor windows and those that are accessible by climbing, especially those accessed from a flat roof, are fitted with two locks each. For casements they would be fitted opposite the hinges and for sliding sashes you would fit a pair of lockable sash stops onto the upper sash, just above the lower sash. Even if they overcame the locks and got in you would have delayed the entry and would have increased the chances of their detection whilst they were still outside the window.
  • Detect. By making the thief go to the effort of forcing your window you will have increased the chances of detection either at the time of the break-in or later during an investigation. This is because the delay in gaining entry results in noise from either forcing the frames or because they’ve had to smash glass.  Any noise they might make may be heard by a neighbour (who might investigate/call the police) and smashing glass results in tiny shards of glass being showered into the burglar’s clothing, which may be picked up by the forensic experts should the thief be arrested later. Likewise, crawling through broken glass or a forced open window can leave other valuable forensic evidence behind, such as clothing fibres, shoe prints, fingerprints, tool marks, leather glove prints and possibly blood, the latter of which could lead to DNA identification.
  • An Insurance Requirement. Finally, if you have a contents insurance policy then it is almost certain that you’ll have to have window locks fitted anyway, because without them you won’t be insured!

So I hope you can see why I advocate window locks.

Yes, I know they won’t always save the day, but working in conjunction with all the other measures you should be taking to avoid the burglar’s attention – alarms, lighting, garden security, property marking etc – you can at least be satisfied that you have done all that you can do.

And remember that the evidence is on your side, because if you do all the home security thingies I recommend research tells us that your chances of burglary will be very low indeed.

More help about window locks:  This is just page one, so remember to click in the left hand column to focus in on specific types of windows and the locking methods.      

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