Although kicking in doors is the most common method of forced entry, windows are also vulnerable. They are difficult to secure while still allowing ease of operation and pleasant aesthetics. Here are a few things to reinforce them against break-ins.
Typical double-hung windows (where the window sash slides up and down) have a pivoting window lock where the two sashes overlap. The window lock is attached only with short screws, which pull out easily when a pry bar is levered under the bottom sash. To prevent this, window pins—available in a kit from hardware stores—are inserted into a hole drilled through the wood of one window sash into the overlapping sash. A special extractor tool, which comes with the kit, is used to pull out the pins when you want to open the window. Additional holes can be drilled higher up along the sash to allow the window to be pinned partially open for ventilation. This product works best on wood windows.
For aluminum or vinyl windows, an alternative is to use dowel rods (or other sticks) wedged between the sash and the top of the window frame. Like the old broomstick in the sliding patio door trick, only vertical instead of horizontal.
And the pins don’t work at all for casement windows, which are cranked open.
The most burglarproof security for windows is fixed metal grilles, also known as burglar bars. Some people object to the look, but today they can be custom designed to line up with the dividers/mullions on the window (sometimes called “invisible” window bars). For a typical three-foot by five-foot window, these run around $170 per window installed, while off-the-shelf burglar bars from hardware stores are about $40-$100.
This is another situation where the cheapest is the cheapest: intruders easily bend bars that are hollow.
Bars can be installed on either the inside or the outside of windows and can be painted to match house colors. Fire code requires that window bars installed in bedrooms be easy to open for emergency exit. That is accomplished by using hinged bars that secure with an inside latch or lock out-of-reach from the window.
Duncan Cottrell, The Entry Enforcer, is a home improvement technician specializing in Home Intrusion Prevention. He offers door and window reinforcing, free home security assessments, and answers questions at Duncan@EntryEnforcer.com or (404)289-6960.