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Every year, when the weather starts to warm up, the police will start to see a rise in burglary reports. This is because, in an attempt to stay cool, we start to leave a few windows open. In the UK these spikes in what are termed 'unforced burglaries' begin around May and carry on until the end of September, depending on the weather, of course. A large number of these burglaries will occur with the victims asleep in bed – naturally, because of what I’ve just said!
Remember: Open windows and doors are opportunities and opportunity is one of the main drivers for crime.
Now, first off, there is nothing wrong with opening a window at night, but there are ways of doing it that won’t increase your risk of becoming a victim of night-time burglary.
Here’s my thoughts on the matter, which also considers what you might do if you like to leave a door open during a hot day. Neighbourhood Watches might like to copy and paste this information into their late Spring newsletters each year and if you’ve heard of some other tricks you can use to deter the open window burglar then do please get in touch using Feedback above.
- If you can, only open windows that are inaccessible from outside. By definition this will exclude windows in the basement, ground floor and those on floors which are accessible by climbing. Accessible windows by climbing would include those next to a soil or rainwater pipe and those onto a flat or climbable pitched roof. It might also include windows that can be climbed up to via a garden structure or perhaps a climbing shrub growing against a wall. If you leave an insecure ladder in the garden then many other windows will be at risk
- If the window you want to open is accessible then follow the guidance below. You will have to determine the level of extra security you might need bearing in mind that if the window is onto a fat roof then the thief will be able to exert the same forces as if he or she were standing on the ground
- Some casement windows are fitted with a secondary locking point, enabling you to have them slightly open for a little ventilation. Lock them fully when you go out
- You can fit sliding sash windows with additional lockable sash stops to allow a 10cm ventilation gap. Lock them fully when you go out
- If it’s a child’s bedroom then there should be child locks (for ventilation) on the windows anyway – for safety – and most times these will be sufficient enough for night-time security where climbing up to that window is going to be difficult or simply not possible. Lock them fully when you go out
- To ensure maximum security for an open-at-night accessible window fit a security grille on the inside. Take a look at my section on security grilles. A grille can be used during the day too, so long as the home is occupied. If you go out these grilled windows should still be closed and locked
- Locked door gates fitted on the outside or inside of an external door (depending on the opening direction of the latter) are also sometimes used and are a common sight in some Mediterranean countries. This allows you to leave a door open for air, but maintain the security, although you should fully lock the door at night when you go to bed or when you go out. Remember your means of escape in a fire. It would be prudent not to lock the gate at night, so that you only have the final exit door to unlock. Delays cost lives!
Some other thoughts:
- Stick a sign on your final exit door to remind yourself to close and lock the windows when you go out!
- Follow my KOPCAR locking up routine when you go to bed at night
- Do you open the windows in hot weather because you are simply in the habit of doing so? I’ve found with my well-insulated house that keeping the windows closed with the vertical blinds closed keeps the inside of my house a couple of degrees cooler compared with when I have opened the windows and let in the extra warm air (34°C in the shade of my back garden one day last week!). This is especially true when there is no breeze. Try it for yourself by experiment. Take two days on the trot with the same outside shade temperature and use a thermometer to measure the temperature at the same spot in a room on both days, one day with the windows open and one day with them closed and the curtains/blinds drawn. See the difference and decide. You won’t know what to do unless you experiment and you could be needlessly opening the windows – just a thought!
- Portable air conditioners are normally only effective if they are used in a small room with the doors and windows closed. Some people don’t realise that!
- Moving air is cooler than still air so think about getting a standing fan or having a ceiling fan fitted. Both this and the previous point may negate the need for you to open a window. And the fewer windows open the lower the chance of burglary.
- If there is a climable rainwater pipe close to a first (or above) window that you like to leave open at night you might like to consider making the rainwater pipe un-climbable. This can be achieved by fitting a device known as a 'Kelly Coupling'. A Kelly Coupling incorporates a stainless steel compression spring within a long lasting rubber sleeve, which replaces a small section of an existing or new rainwater pipe. When a thief attempts to climb up the pipe the spring compresses and the pipe to which it is attached decouples from the joint above. After a failed attempt to climb the pipe, the pipe can be easily refitted. Warning notices (supplied) must be displayed. See Kelly Coupling in our Directory
Updated July 2015