Do-It-Yourself Home Security: Windows May Leave You Vulnerable

Protecting your home from break-ins starts with a do-it-yourself home security check to indicate whether your windows are an open invitation to criminals.

Unless you're opening them for a while to let a breeze in, make sure to keep all your windows locked. Image: Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images

Imagine how scary it would be to wake up in the middle of the night and realize an intruder has gained access to your home. Protecting against a break-in might mean investing in a professionally installed and monitored home security system, but that shouldn’t be the first step.

Begin by conducting your own home security check; after you’ve checked all of your home’s exterior doors for weak spots, move on to examine its windows. 

Check ground-floor and basement windows

Ground-floor and basement windows are more likely to be targeted than those on the second floor, and deserve the most attention. The exception is those second-floor windows that can be easily accessed by a deck or other elevated structure outside the home.

Start your home security check by looking at your ground-floor windows from afar. Are they blocked by high shrubbery? Bushes give ideal cover for someone planning to break or force open a window; cut greenery back so that front windows are fully visible from the street.

Keep locks locked

Make sure all windows can be opened, closed, and locked with relative ease—and then remember to keep them locked whenever you’re not around. The biggest problem that occurs with windows is when home owners exit their home and leave windows wide open—and vulnerable.

In spring and fall, when daytime temperatures swing and windows are frequently opened and closed, get in the habit of locking windows as you shut them.

Install simple security devices

Add blocking devices to the most easily accessed windows so they can’t be opened from outside.

  • Wooden dowels placed in the track block windows that slide horizontally, and require no installation.
  • Steel locking pins (about $7 each), inserted in small holes that must be drilled through the frames, prevent vertically-sliding windows from being opened.

If you install a home security system later, the pros will install glass-break sensors on your most vulnerable windows.

Check garage windows

Garage windows are often forgotten—give them a home security check to make sure they’re securely locked. Install curtains or apply translucent security film on garage windows so that valuables aren’t readily visible. Thieves are more likely to attempt a break-in if they see items worth stealing.