One of the most important considerations of home ownership is how to protect it from intruders. A startling 30% of burglars enter a home through the windows, but they are one of the last things that people safeguard. Windows are a critical place to start when considering how to best secure your house and prevent home invasion.
There are a few things to consider before taking measures to secure windows against possible break-ins.
- As mentioned, nearly a third burglars gain entry through a window; a large percentage of those are unlocked, or even open windows. Be diligent about closing and securely latching your windows every time you leave the house and at before going to bed at night
- If someone peered through your windows, what would they see? Keep valuables and attractive targets for burglary out of sight, or make sure that you have blinds or curtains to obstruct these items
- If you have a window air-conditioning unit, take the extra steps to make it secure. Install a bracket to the outside of the unit that makes it difficult to remove. Install sliding locks to both sides of the frame that prevent outsiders from raising and lowering the window itself, and plastic vent flaps to close gaps between the unit and the window frame. Finally, if you decide to use window alarms, the window surrounding an AC unit is a perfect place to position one.
If you are installing windows, invest in the highest quality locking windows that you can afford. Locks that are visible from the outside are the most effective in discouraging burglars. Installing secondary flip locks, pin locks, keyed and sash locks are a few options that cost relatively little, but can go a long way to deter break-ins.
Pricier, but effective ways to protect the actual glass from breakage include installing reinforced glass windows. Tempered glass, made with an extra heating and cooling procedure, is more durable than traditional glass panes and is much harder to break. Another option is laminated glass, which has a layer of vinyl between two sheets of regular glass, making it more resistant to breakage and also creating excessive noise when struck, which a criminal never wants to do.
Acrylic windows are the same thickness as glass, but are about ten times stronger. They’re more expensive, but are quite secure and more impact resistant than safety glass. Polycarbonate windows in this same class are about 250 times more impact resistant than glass, but are cost-prohibitive in some cases, and are not as visually pleasing for a home.
Installing security screens are an added impediment to home invaders. Security screens are thicker than standard insect screens, and offer a barrier against forceful entry.
Window alarms are security alarms that are specifically designed to detect when windows are opened or broken. Installed window alarms can be remotely monitored from a smartphone or other device, and when combined with secure window locks, can be very effective in preventing break-ins. Many burglars will be scared away by even the most elementary of window alarms, if it is loud enough.
A more sophisticated window alarm will not only alert you to breakage, but also monitor any movement near and around windows. These alarms can be remotely monitored as well from a smartphone or other device. Many of these alarms have remote controls to turn the system on and off, and can be easily installed and without professional assistance.
Other options include window alarms as part of a whole-house wireless security system. Of course, a complete home system is more expensive, but as part of a comprehensive package, can be most effective as a crime deterrent. Alarms attached to a security system typically alert both the homeowner and the police right away, and when coupled with security cameras, they can produce recorded evidence of the break-in to turn over to law enforcement.
While certainly not the most aesthetically pleasing option, another way to block entry is by securing window bars or cages in the window frames. Bars should be made of steel and have less than 6” between them for maximum effectiveness. In addition to being very effective, they are also quite affordable.
There are “decorative” bar options for use in homes, or you might elect to only use window barriers in strategic locations, like back windows that might not be easily seen from the street or by neighbors.
For a more aesthetically pleasing, low-tech solution to safeguarding windows, consider planting bushes under your windows that obstruct the ability to reach the windows; shrubbery that is thick with intertwining bushes can be very difficult to climb over. Plants with thorns are also very helpful in keeping intruders of any kind away from windows.
For best results, plant along fence lines and under first-floor windows to create a barrier. It’s important to keep hedges well-trimmed, however; although tall hedges might obstruct access to windows, they can also create a place for burglars to hide. Also, criminals are attracted to houses that look “unkempt” as they are typically less closely monitored or protected. Finally, it’s wise to be aware of tall, strong trees near your home that may offer access to second-floor windows for burglars who attempt to gain access that way.
Planting bushes may not seem like the most aggressive way to impede a home invasion, but coupled with other deterrents, would-be criminals may elect to bypass your location for an easier target. For the most effective barrier shrubbery, consult your local nursery for what will thrive in your region, as well as add to the attractiveness of your overall landscape.
Most burglars are looking for a quick and easy way in to your home, and securing your windows is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to avoid a break-in opportunity. Obviously, burglaries can’t be thwarted 100% of the time, but make it as difficult as possible for the “bad guys” and they will likely move on.