Between 2012 and 2016 the number of burglaries across Europe fell by 10 percent. These are the official police figures for crimes committed in the European Union. The internationally renowned Cologne Study also confirms this downward trend: in 2018 it reported the lowest level of house break-ins for twenty years. Senior police officer Ewa Litzenberger ascribes this development mainly to the improved security standards for windows and doors.
How do burglars usually get into a house?Ewa Litzenberger: In multi-family houses it is normally the entry door that is attacked. In a single-family house, it is often the patio door as this is usually located at the back and is therefore not so visible. Burglars like to break in early in the evening, especially in the darker months of the year, when the lights come on at 5 p.m. and it is easy to see from the outside if someone is at home or not.
How can I protect myself against this?Very simply: by securing your windows and doors. People often don’t know just how secure or otherwise their house or apartment actually is. It is precisely the weak points – the windows and doors – that should then be checked. Specifically, the police recommend using at least RC 2. RC 2 stands for Resistance Class 2, which is an international standard defining various security classes of windows and doors and setting standards for burglary-resistant fittings, glazing and security locks. RC 2 means that a burglar will need at least three minutes to open a window or door. That may not sound very long, but for most burglars it is, because every minute, every second even, increases the risk of being discovered.
So, as a precaution, RC 2 windows and doors should be installed everywhere?The police recommend that the weak spots in a house should be protected to RC 2 standard or higher. These points are the easily accessible entry doors, patio doors, basement and ground-floor windows. And, in multi-family houses, all the doors to the apartment. As criminals will always take the route that appears easiest and least conspicuous, it is rare to see break-in attempts via higher-level windows or balconies. Unless they are easy to reach. For example, if a burglar can climb from a dustbin onto the garage roof and from there enter the apartment or house via a window, you should also install RC 2 apparatus there as a minimum.
Most burglars prise open doors or windows. Glass is rarely broken – does that mean that safety glazing is not so important?Yes and no. All in all, it is true that fittings and security locks play a wider role in burglary protection. But the latest Cologne Study also showed that many break-in attempts also caused damage to the window fittings and glass. In other words, the police do not recommend avoiding the use of safety glass for vulnerable windows or casement doors. Because, if the burglar cannot prise a window open, he may well try to break the glass.
Surely it would be better to rely on an alarm?An alarm system is always good to have “on top” because it enhances the feeling of security. It can however never replace a solid security mechanism. Therefore always invest in the mechanisms first, in other words make sure that the fittings and locking parts are certified, i.e. that they are available in sufficient quantity, are of high quality and are secure. After that, you can start to think about an alarm system.