If you want to protect your home and all the valuable items you have inside, you need to make sure all the potential entry points are secured against unwanted intruders
Since around a quarter of burglars gain access through first-floor windows, preventing anyone from using them as a way into your home should be a priority – so here are our top 13 tips for window security.
If you want a quick preview of some of the stuff we’re going to be talking about, you can check out this video before reading on.
1. Do a security inspection
The first step in securing your home is to do a security inspection of all your windows, especially on the first floor.
You should check for any windows that are old, any window frames that are cracked or anything else like this that creates a weakness that a potential burglar can exploit.
Also, make sure you check all the locks on all your windows. Make sure they work correctly and can’t be prized open by a burglar.
2. Clear overgrown trees and shrubs
Burglars prefer to work where they can’t be seen, so make sure you don’t provide any cover that will allow them to remain concealed while they break into a window.
For example, if you have bushes that hide your windows from view from the street or by your neighbors, it gives a burglar a safe hiding place where they can work on opening your windows without having to worry about being seen.
This means that to increase security, you should keep all bushes and trees neatly pruned to deprive burglars of cover.
3. Plant thorny shrubbery
Another tactic is to have spiky or thorny shrubbery under your windows. As long as they don’t obscure the view, this can make it more unpleasant for a burglar to try to gain access through a window and may act as a deterrent.
4. Install pin locks – don’t assume windows are secure
It is a mistake to assume that windows are safe and secure with the locking system that they came with, so you should consider installing upgraded locking systems.
One thing that many homeowners don’t realize – but, of course, all burglars know very well – is that many windows can be lifted up very easily, making the burglar’s task very simple.
The solution is to install pin locks. These are very inexpensive locks but are highly effective at preventing a window from being opened from outside.
Furthermore, if you are inside and want to open the window – for ventilation or in an emergency – all you need to do is pull out the pin and the window will open easily, making them a convenient solution as well as a practical one.
5. Install other locks
You should also consider upgrading any locking systems your windows have – again, don’t assume the locks you already have are good enough to keep a determined intruder outside.
Given time, a burglar will probably be able to find a way through most types of windows, but remember that burglars rely on speed. They want to be in and out as quickly as possible, and if you can slow them down, they might give up and leave rather than stay and persist.
Other useful types of locks include locks with keys that keep windows locked shut and hinged wedge locks that work like pin locks to secure hanging windows.
6. Upgrade your glass
If a burglar can’t open a window, the other very easy way of gaining access to a house is simply to smash the glass. Burglars know that neighbors or passers-by probably won’t pay any attention to the sound of smashing glass – unlike screams or alarms.
This means you also need to consider upgrading the glass in your windows since traditional glass can easily be smashed.
The first option is to consider installing tempered glass. This will cost you more than regular glass, but it is around four times stronger, and a burglar will have a much harder time breaking it.
A burglar might not be worried about throwing a brick through a window or smashing it with a crowbar, but if they have to hit it several times, they are much more likely to abort. However, the downside is that tempered glass costs more.
Another step up in toughness is Plexiglas. While not true glass – Plexiglas is an acrylic – it is up to ten times stronger than regular glass and is much more likely to keep even the most determined burglar at bay. However, they also represent another step up in price.
7. Install windows with a protective covering
You could also consider installing laminate glass windows. These are glass windows encased in a layer of plastic. This helps because when they are smashed, the plastic holds the glass in place.
The result will be that if a burglar tries to break through a window, the glass will break but won’t shatter, so the burglar won’t be able to gain access to the house through the window.
A cheaper version is to buy a laminate covering for your windows. It isn’t as effective, but it may still put burglars off trying to break into your home.
8. Consider security bars
A more drastic option is to install security bars in your windows. However, while these give a good level of security, there are also some disadvantages.
Many people don’t like security bars because of the effect they have on the aesthetics of your house. While they are likely to keep burglars out, they can also make you feel like you are living in a prison.
Having said that, security bars now exist that are “disguised” as a decorative element to try to minimize this effect.
Another problem is that security bars can lower the value of a property since it makes the area seem more dangerous.
Finally, they also pose a safety risk since if you need to leave the house through the window in an emergency, such as in a fire, with security bars installed, this will be impossible.
In short, security bars are a very effective way of increasing security, but you need to weigh up the pros and cons first.
9. Install window sensors
To help improve window security in your home, you can install window sensors. These will set off an alarm if the windows are opened unexpectedly, alerting you to the fact and potentially scaring away intruders.
10. Install motion cameras and motion-activated lights
Burglars don’t want to be seen, so motion-activated cameras and motion-detecting lights can be a strong deterrent.
If a burglar approaches a window and notices a camera, they are less likely to continue with the attempt.
Similarly, if they suddenly find themselves in the middle of your floodlit lawn, they are most likely to be spooked and run away rather than continue with the burglary.
However, a good tip to remember is not to install fake cameras as a deterrent. Many burglars are highly skilled “professionals” who can spot a fake camera easily. If you install a camera, make sure it’s a real one.
11. Install “smart” windows
A modern, high-tech solution is to install “smart” windows. These are windows that are operated via a smartphone app and – depending on the model – allow you to monitor and even control the locking system remotely from your device.
Modern camera systems can also be monitored remotely from a smartphone, offering you another way to keep an eye on your home while you’re in the office, away on vacation or anywhere else.
12. Don’t attract burglars
One basic piece of advice that applies to window security and home security in general is that you should take steps to not attract burglars in the first place.
Remember the basics. If you are leaving on vacation, make sure your house looks like there’s someone in it. Curtains open all night (or closed all day, every day) are sure signals to a burglar that you’re not in.
Similarly, newspapers on the lawn left there by the paperboy are like an invitation to a would-be intruder.
If you can, ask a neighbor or other family member to pick up your newspapers etc. so you don’t end up letting burglars know nobody’s at home.
Another tip is to invest in one-way windows that don’t allow people to see in – this will stop anyone checking out what you have in your home that they might be able to steal.
13. Have a dog!
And finally, one of the oldest – and best – tricks in the book is to have a dog. A large dog can help scare off burglars, but even if you just have a small one, it can still make plenty of noise if someone tries to come in through the window at night.
The noise of the dog might easily make a burglar think twice about trying to enter your house – but at the very least, the dog barking will alert you to the unwanted intruder.
Take all the necessary precautions before it happens
The best advice is to ensure your home is secure before you have any problems. There are few things as stressful as having burglars in your home, and by taking the necessary steps ahead of time, you can help make your home a much more unattractive target.