Christmas is always a time in which see a rise in burglaries. A symptom of the time of year unfortunately, which is always more frustrating and angering considering the time of year.
In the run up to last Christmas though, I felt as though we had much more than normal We always have call outs from customers asking us to help them out after a break-in. But this year felt different. It felt more widespread. It felt more constant. It felt more brazen.
Was this just a fluke bad year, or is this the start of an increase in theft and something we have to be more aware of as an industry.
Broken glazed units. Snapped cylinders. Busted frames. Battered door panels. You name it we had it in the run up to Christmas. Thankfully we were able to help most of our customers out before we closed for the end of the year. However that didn’t stop far too many people feeling violated in their own homes and frustrated that their Christmas had been tainted by it.
We always get an uptick in this sort of thing come the end of the year. But I felt as though we had much more of it this time round. Question is, is this the start of a general increase in crime, or just a particularly bad year?
Personally I think that this is the start of something more serious. Why? I believe a big part of it is down to various police forces openly admitting that they are screening out cases which they believe not to be worth chasing or solving. Burglaries are included in that. We saw it at the end of 2017, and it was repeated last year. For me, this has given a green light to thieves, as they now know that there is a better chance that they won’t get caught. There’s less of a deterrent.
There are social aspects at play as well. But the key factor for me is the very institution whose job it is to catch these people openly admitting that they can’t. So many times I speak to customers who have been broken in to and they tell me that they have been given a crime number, with that being the extent of police involvement. Unfortunately, home owners have grown to see this as their standard response and do not count on anything else being done. A sad state of affairs all round.
So what can be done? Well, home owners need to invest in products for their home to act as deterrents and make it as difficult as possible. As an industry, that is down to us to make sure we can offer all we can to help make that happen.
Only high security as standard
For the last couple of years, the industry focus has been on design, and home owners have been hot on that as well. Less time has been spent pouring over things like locking points and beading. The USP has been on design and how our products look. Nothing wrong with that. But with crime rates seemingly on the up, it’s now time to circle back to the security aspect and what we can do as an industry to make people’s homes as safe as possible.
For me, this is a whole host of things. All window and door frames should come reinforced, ideally with steel, but at the very least something of the metal variety to add strength to the frame. All installers and fabricators should be looking at the most effective window and door locking mechanisms. Externally beaded windows shouldn’t even be thought about, unless for very exceptional circumstances. Laminated glass should be on offer as an upgrade from toughened safety glass on doors and low-level windows. All doors should be fitted with the highest rated cylinders. At no point should standard Europrofile shoddy cylinders even be an option. Sash bolts, anti-jemmy hinges and any other measure that can be fitted as standard should be.
I appreciate that if you operate at the low end of the market, where price is more important than the build quality, adding all of the above is going to make your product more expensive. But, of society is going to become less safe and a home owner is looking for new windows and doors, I know which options they are going to go for, even if it does mean spending more money.
There is though an opportunity here for the industry to take if it’s proactive enough. If the public aren’t going to have total faith in the police, then we can at the very least demonstrate to home owners that there are things we can do for them as an industry that might help give them a bit more peace of mind. Or at a push, make it as hard as possible for a burglar to get into their home.
Those products I have mentioned above shouldn’t be the end of it. We should also be looking at ancillary products such as the Ring video door bell and all the other additional products they and other companies do to create a smart home security system. They’re easy to sell, easy to install and the home owner only needs a smart phone and WiFi. It’s something we’re going to be looking into at our place this year.
I must admit, the scale of the increase in the final few weeks of the year did have me concerned about my own house for the first time. Car theft, where burglars break in only to steal car keys is a big thing. I began looking at my car, as well as my parents cars as potential targets.
If this is the start of a longer term increase in crime, we have to be ready to provide home owners with the very best products we can. It’s not the nicest USP to focus on, but the installers who are able to offer the best options to security conscious home owners will find themselves winning more orders this year.
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