When considering home security, windows are an obvious weak point. While it is true that these large panes of breakable glass can quickly become a liability when your home is cased by a thief, you don’t have to take it lying down! We’re going to go over the most common windows targeted by burglars and what you can do to make them less appealing options.
Basement windows are a tempting entry point for a thief. They’re easy to reach, provide access to a room nobody is likely to be in or pay much attention to, and often behind a building or out of sight from the road. If your home has basement levels that are generous enough that a person could slip through them, you should take precautions to secure them.
The most obvious and secure way of making sure your basement windows don’t become an entry way for thieves is to install security bars. While many homeowners are hesitant to place bars over their livingroom and bedroom windows for obvious reasons (nobody wants to feel like they’re living in jail), for the smaller more practical windows in your basement, this is less of a concern. Installing some simple security bars is a cost effective and highly effective way of ensuring the safety of your home. Of course, if your basement is used as a bedroom or apartment space, consult your local fire department before proceeding. Technically, according to the Ontario Fire Code, windows can be barred in a living area so long as an alternative point of exit is provided, but the actual interpretation of this rule varies between departments. Besides, making sure everyone is safe in the event of an emergency is the most important thing.
Security bars are just the most direct way to dissuade burglars from your basement. If you’re uncomfortable with installing bars, consider less dramatic ways of discouraging thieves. If your basement windows are accessible from the backyard, adding a motion light that will automatically trigger if anything is moving around is a good way to make thieves feel less comfortable. Hang some blinds or curtains to make sure no valuables are visible from the basement windows, denying would-be thieves the possibility of eyeing up a quick smash-and-grab opportunity. Also, make it difficult for them by moving any large furniture or possible stepping stools away from the windows, ensuring that any thief would have to make more noise than they’d like to both get in and out.
Finally, limit access to the rest of the home by installing a basement door lock. Again, if your basement is being used as a living area or even a rec room, this option is not appropriate. However, if your basement is just a repository for old ski poles and the washer/dryer, then why not keep it locked from the outside when not in use? With a secure lock in place, all a thief coming in through your basement is likely to get away with is some laundry detergent and some old issues of Reader’s Digest someone threw down there. Not exactly the crime of the century.
Front and Back Door Windows
The fact is, statistically speaking; it is less likely that a thief will gain access to a home through a broken window than the front or back doors. Unfortunately, this entry point is often based on breaking a pane of glass on or next to the door that will allow a thief to stick their arm in and easily unlock the deadbolt. So, what can be done to discourage this kind of entry?
First of all, choosing a door and door frame design that does not include glass that could be broken to provide entry is the most obvious and effective way of preventing this issue. Either choose a door that does not include glass, or positions any windows far away from the deadbolt. Of course, for many of us, “replace your door”? isn’t actionable advice. Thankfully, there are other solutions we can explore.
Once the domain of security heavy banks and museums Thomas Crown would consider robbing, glassbreak detectors are now surprisingly affordable and easy to install. These small devices can be purchased from nearly any big box home supply store and easily installed in a matter of minutes. As the name sounds, a glassbreak detector will sense when a panel of glass has been broken and respond with a loud, piercing alarm that is sure to wake up the neighbourhood and make any thief suddenly want to be anywhere else!
You can also consider upgrading the glass. The switch from normal glass to laminated glass can make it much more difficult to break in. Laminated glass breaks similar to a car window, so instead of shattering into pieces when struck, a thief would have to contend with a mess of elastic, connected tiny pieces that will still need to be moved and manipulated. This turns a quick sudden smash-and-entry into a messy comedy of errors. And while replacing all the glass in or near your door might be impractical, you can also achieve the same effect with a window film. This is a film that will reinforce the glass and make it more difficult to remove when broken. It still needs to be professionally installed, but this can be a cost-effective alternative to replacing your entire panes.
Lastly, we have patio doors, the other major point of window security homeowners should be wary of. These large panes of glass make tempting targets with their often-inferior standard locks, easy view into what is going on in a house and what could be stolen, and often obscured by backyard access.
Our previous advice about motion lights and curtains definitely applies when talking about patio doors. You want to do everything possible to make a thief’s presence uncomfortable and unrewarding. But you’ll also likely want to improve the lock on the patio door. Most standard patio locks are a simple latch that can be easily manipulated and bypassed, some only requiring a bit of rough jiggling to unlatch. Worse than useless, these locks give homeowners a false sense of security. Go out and buy a simple double bolt lock. These slider locks are easy to install and operate, but are far more secure and impossible to manipulate without breaking the glass.
Of course, you can also use a patio door bar that fits at the bottom of the door jamming the sliding action, preventing the door from being opened from the outside. I remember my dad using a cut down hockey stick for this when I was a young, which is certainly one option, but with professional, adjustable metal patio bars easily affordable these days, you can likely do better.
Even with these precautions, we still have to look at the patio door as a large piece of breakable glass. This is another case where a glassbreak detector can be useful as a warning system against an intruder. You can also consider upgrading to “hurricane resistant” patio doors. These storm hardened doors are made of thick reinforced panes that will not shatter easily. If someone wanted to break it, they would have to continuously hit the window multiple times, drawing all kinds of attention to their actions.
Remember, every extra layer of hassle and hardship you add to a potential burglar’s job, the safer your home is. While none of these solutions may be fool-proof on their own, the combination of them all together will make your home an unappealing target that is too risky, and too much work, to consider.