Window shopping is a favorite pastime for many burglars.


    Inadequately protected windows are easy marks for intruders who know how to force them without too much effort.

    Fortunately, reinforcing windows in your home is neither difficult nor expensive. Most measures require just a little skill, a few basic tools, and the right hardware.

    First survey the windows of your house. Check out each for it's ability to withstand an attack, paying special attention to basement windows and any windows that can be reached from ground level. Then list each on paper, noting its type and the locking mechanism currently securing it.

    Keep in mind that you'll need to replace the original locks on most windows with sturdy, reliable ones. For example, ordinary sash locks on double-hung windows squeeze out drafts, but provide little security. An intruder can simply insert a knife up between the sashes and turn the lock to it's open position, or exert enough pressure to snap the hardware.

    Windows don't always have to be closed to shut out potential thieves. Some locks allow you to secure a window in a partly open position for ventilation. No matter how your windows are secured, whether they're locked or fastened shut in some other manner, consider how you and your family could exit them in an emergency. And if you install locks, keep the keys nearby and make sure everyone knows where they are.

    What good are window locks if an intruder can simply break the glass to get in? Glass is somewhat of a deterrent in it's own right because it slows an intruder down and the broken shards have the potential to injure, but shattering glass attracts the kind of attention burglars don't want. If you don't feel secure about glass, replace it with impact-resistant acrylic or polycarbonate, or high-security glass. Another (although less attractive) alternative is to install a metal grille outside the window or a scissors gate inside. Some gates have quick-release levers for emergency exits, but a stationary grille renders a window useless as a fire exit.

    Tip: If you're replacing windows or adding new windows, be sure to ask about built-in security features. For example, you may be able to upgrade the security of the window with stronger locks, laminated glass, or built-in sensor. You may pay a little more but you won't have to add a desired feature later.