During the summer months a widely overlooked security vulnerability in the home is something that is hiding in plain sight — and especially noticeable to a burglar.
One potentially easy way that a burglar may gain access to your home is through the window after pushing in the window air-conditioner on the 1st-floor.
When the weather warms up, the window air-conditioners are installed. How many of you have at least one window air-conditioner on the 1st floor of your home?
Have you ever thought about how easy it might be for a burglar to push/force in a window air-conditioner unit and gain entry to your home when you’re away?
Here’s what you can do about it:
Most window air-conditioners are simply installed and held in place by gravity, tucked behind the window sash which keeps them from falling out – maybe with a few small screws holding the accordion side-panels in place. That’s it.
Many people don’t even install a single support screw into the window sash itself because the air conditioner holds itself in place by gravity and its downward force against the window sash.
So, what can you do to better secure your window air-conditioner?
Secure the top mounting rail into the window sash
At least install a screw through the air-conditioner’s top mounting rail into the window sash. Most window air conditioners include a drilled-out hole in the top center to accommodate this.
Consider drilling additional holes through the same top mounting rail to accommodate more screws into the lower window sash (see illustration below).
Install window frame locks
(Sliding Window Lock, Window Stop, Window Restrictor)
To prevent the burglar from pushing and forcing up the window to reach in underneath and shove the air conditioner (even with the A/C unit attached and screwed to the sash – although difficult), install window frame locks which prevent this motion…
Depending on the style of your window, you might consider something like this:
Vinyl Window Lock
‘Do It Yourself’ Window Lock:
Another thought: While the air conditioner is mounted in the window you might simply measure the distance from the top of the lower window frame to the very top of the double-hung frame itself, and then cut a wooden dowel to snugly fit – which can be wedged to prohibit the window from opening further…
Another clever idea is a window wedge (Window Wedge) – if your window accommodates it.
After reading about the (Window Wedge), you might not need to use the Velcro… if there’s enough ‘gap’ you might simply insert the wedge which may hold itself in place (I have not tried this). The product is designed to keep a window from opening for child safety, although it should perform equally well when inserted (wedged) at the height with the A/C installed…
Stick-on Window Alarm
Here’s a great product that will absolutely deter a would-be burglar. The second they begin to force open the window, this cleverly designed window-alarm will alert (based on motion/vibration sensing). It’s just about 3-inches in diameter and ‘sticks’ onto the window inside. It has an ‘off’ switch for your convenience when opening the window yourself…
Doberman Security Ultra-Slim Window Alarm
Stick-on Burglar Alarm Security Window Sticker Decal
Deterrence! On the window with the air conditioner, install a burglar alarm window decal on a window panel where it will be plainly visible. This alone may be enough to prevent a break-in as the burglar may move along to an easier target.
6 Pack Security Alarm Stickers Indoor/Outdoor
The accordion side panels
Depending on the width of the window air conditioner, the ‘accordion’ side panels may be extended fairly wide, or maybe not. This is an obvious weak point of entry for a burglar to punch through and gain leverage to shoving the air conditioner itself.
While the aforementioned suggestions will slow down or deter a burglar (likely to the extent of giving up – because they’re looking for a quick way in without attracting attention), all you can do about the accordion panels is to fashion and attach/secure/bracket your own wooden side panels to the window frame itself. This involves some basic do-it-yourself skills and is not for everyone…
Ultimately, you are not going to stop a determined burglar, but you will probably stop the majority of amateur burglars who are looking for quick and easy entry. If one of them happens to pick your home because they see a window air-conditioner hanging out of a 1st-floor window, when they give it a hard push and it doesn’t budge, they will probably move on…
If the burglar pulls or pushes on the air conditioner while attempting to lift the window sash, it will not readily come out so long as you have taken the precautions mentioned above.
Additionally or alternatively, consider removing any 1st-floor window air-conditioners when going on an extended vacation. A few minutes effort may be worth it…