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After a break-in, what should I do to my windows? (I live close to the water in Leschi, Seattle)

After a break-in, what should I do to my windows? (I live close to the water in Leschi, Seattle)
After a break-in, what should I do to my windows? (I live close to the water in Leschi, Seattle)
By BettyLoucal Mar 31, 2017

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Assuming the break-in was via your windows, you first of course must make the repairs to that area of your home. If it was just a question of replacing one or more panes of glass, the repair will be pretty straightforward and likely inexpensive. If your burglar used, for example, a tire iron to lever open a window, you might have a bigger problem to solve. Often, when the window frame itself is compromised, what’s left is a potential breakdown of insulation. Even a small gap can severely compromise the heat insulation properties of a window. It’s also less likely to be as well sound-proofed as it was before the damage occurred.

Using ‘unbreakable’ glass panes in strategic locations

No glass on Earth is truly unbreakable, but there are glass pane products on the market that will offer significant protection against breakage when it comes to the amateur burglar. In many cases, a burglar will be opportunistic. He (or she) will simply move through a neighborhood in the dark, looking for a house to break into. When one is found, a rock from the yard is grabbed and a window near a window or door latch is smashed. From there, the burglar simply has to reach in to unlock and open the door or window. All that is broken is a relatively small pane of glass, and entry and exit is easily made once that is done. For windows close to an opening device (a window or door handle), a window pane that breaks easily really does make the job easy for that amateur burglar, but what if you were to replace those window panes with glass that could not easily be broken with a rock from your yard? Doing that forces any would-be burglar to use more drastic means to get inside your house. If they do manage to break the window, they would need something more effective than a rock, the breaking sound will be more obvious, and now they have had to bring a tool – such as a crow bar – on their trek through the neighborhood. This adds risk to the operation, as anyone spotted walking around at two AM with a crow bar will immediately draw attention to themselves. For all those reasons, unbreakable glass panes close to entry opportunities is often enough to motivate the burglar to move on to another target.

Personal safety versus property safety in the modern homeowner

The last time I lived in a house I owned, we had an alarm fitted. With three kids under foot, and through the childrearing stage, we didn’t have a lot of valuables lying around (or hidden away, for that matter), so I wasn’t particularly worried about anything getting stolen. I was, however, worried about what might happen to a member of my family in the event of a break-in. Today, home burglaries are mostly motivated by a need to steal prescription drugs and/or the money or valuables which can be used to by drugs on the black market. Someone potentially suffering from withdrawal breaking into my house, I reasoned, might not be completely rational, and might be an unpredictable personality to meet at the top of your stairs. That thought was my motivation for added a monitored alarm system to the house.

As well as making your house a bit tougher to break into, there are many high tech and inexpensive alarm systems that can be added to your home. Paying to have them monitored is a nice idea, but once they’re inside your house, the problem is immediate. I prefer the deterrent methods over the reactive ones to protect my home. For that reason, I make my house difficult to break into.

Another method that’s rising in popularity is to have a closed circuit tv monitoring system, connected to your smart phone via your home’s Internet connection. From your own phone or laptop a thousand miles away, you can see what’s happening inside your home, with control over camera angle, zoom and recording of events. Personally, I think there is an inherent risk with such a device. Web systems are regularly being hacked into by ‘bad agents’ as they call them now, and in the wrong kind of head, the ability for a stranger to see inside your home might actually encourage them to do bad things. And where kids and other vulnerable dependents are involved, deterrence is always the best option.

Selecting windows and doors that are very hard to break through

If someone really desperately wants to get inside your home, well, I suppose they could simply drive a stolen car through your front door. It’s all very dramatic, of course, and sounds like something out of a Hollywood movie. It very rarely happens, and when such an event occurs in that way, it’s usually done by a disgruntled relative or a known family member. Any such entry into your house, unless you live in the middle of a five acre plot where no one can see or hear you, catches a lot of attention and will likely result in the arrival of police before the would-be assailant gets very far into your home. The noise and commotion is also likely to give you some warning if you are in fact in the house, and this will give you time to hide. So, such dramatic entrances shouldn’t be of much concern to you. The real threat to your person is when someone does get into your house, perhaps unbeknownst to you, and you accidentally bump into them in your kitchen, in the dark, on your way down to get a glass of milk. That’s perhaps the most dangerous situation, especially if your burglar is armed and at risk of reacting out of shock.

Not all windows are the same. You can install light weight units in, for example, your garden shed where a would-be burglar is expecting to find money, guns drugs or jewelry. But for a home, you need a little more.

If you live in a neighborhood with a reputation for home break-ins, mention that to your windows and doors installation expert. In addition to installing a robust brand of window and door products, there are also after-market solutions that can be affixed to the inside of windows to make your home more difficult to break into.

Whatever you do, remember that a necklace can be replaced, but you might never fully recover from an injury to yourself or a family member.

More good news next week!



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