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

After a break-in, what should I do to my windows? (I live close to the water in West Seattle)
After a break-in, what should I do to my windows? (I live close to the water in West Seattle)
By BettyLoucal Dec 09, 2017


A lot depends on what damage was caused, but there certainly is a lot you can do to secure your home, whether or not your burglars used a window to gain entry into your home.

A monitored alarm system to scare off would-be burglars

Monitored alarm systems have become more and more common over the past decades. The hardware in such a system often includes detector switches on each window. When a window is opened or ‘shocked’ in some way, a magnetic switch sends a signal to the control box indicating that a potential break-in is in progress. Inside the house, motion detectors and heat change sensors (in the form of infrared sensors) also send signals to the control box. Together, these can make a home far more difficult to break into. Some such systems cost perhaps twenty dollars or so each month, while others are the simple cost of the hardware, but do not have a monitored system. And today, many of these systems work on wifi, even within your home, and can be monitored by the homeowner from anywhere on the Internet.

Privacy glass – burglars don’t know if anyone is home

If it’s easy to see right inside your home from the street, it might also be easy for would-be burglars to know easily if you are home or not. Most burglaries occur during the day. People are at work, so their homes are empty, and so are their neighbors’ homes. In the old days, the best deterrent to burglary was nose – or concerned – neighbors. Today, most households have two full-time wage earners living under the roof, so many homes are empty all day, as are their neighbors’ homes, while all the kids are at school and most of the adults in the neighborhood is busy at work. How easy it must be for burglars to stake out a neighborhood. More reason than ever to give strangers no sense of whether your home is occupied.

Cameras, monitored from afar

For far less money than it used to cost, you can buy a DIY installable monitoring system for your home. A camera at the front, the back and inside your home can be viewed and control from your cellphone or computer anywhere. Rather than involve a monitoring system, you can decide, based on what you see going on in your home, whether law enforcement needs to be called. Perhaps you forgot that your brother was to come over to feed the cat every two days, and then you get a message from your self-installed monitoring system. From there, you can reset the system, or call your brother to sort out the situation.

Random light switches

There are random switches you can plug straight into a standard outlet. It can be set to switch its own power outlets on and off randomly throughout the day. Into that you can plug a lamp, a radio, or both. That way, if your house is being ‘staked out’ by would-be burglars, they will likely be put off by the illusion of someone living in your house.

Time is the enemy of the thief – install secure windows

Ultimately, any house can be broken into, but some are easier than others. Sometimes it’s a question of breaking a small pane of glass near the interior, and to reduce the risk of that happening, you can have unbreakable – at least, very difficult to break – panes of glass installed in the areas around any opening lever. You can also have actual window locks. When you leave your home unattended, you can have lock your windows with actual physical keys. Both of these methods make it harder to enter your house by force, and a burglar then would have to take the risk of breaking a larger window pane in order to get inside your house, involving the risk therefore of alerting the neighbors.

No method is perfectly secure, but burglars know that the longer they are in or near your home, the more likely they are to be caught. Anything that slows them down raises the price for them to be there at all, and at a certain point, forces them to abandon their attempt completely.

At night, a well-lit home is more difficult to break into

During the night, when it is dark, a burglar loses the advantage of a deserted neighborhood but gains the advantage of darkness. There might be folks sleeping upstairs, but some intruders are audacious enough to burglarize a home even knowing folks are sleeping upstairs. In a country where many citizens are legal gun owners, it seems odd to me that someone would take such a risk, but it does happen. To reduce the chances of such intrusions, a good alarm system, of course, is excellent, but a well-lit house is also a deterrent. With all the neighbors at home around you, having the exterior of your home well lit means there is little chance of someone taking the chance of being so easily seen.

When I lived in a house, we had a monitored alarm system. The alarm would go off at all hours. If the heating came on, the infrared sensors would trigger an alert because the sudden gust of hot air from the vents would wake us up at 6am. We eventually decided to deactivate the internal heat and movement sensors and rely only on the window and door opening sensors. It was enough, we felt, and we never had even an attempted burglary.

When we first got the alarm system installed, we were given a handful of window stickers warning everyone that the house had a monitored alarm system. That probably helped, too, to dissuade anyone from taking the chance that we were bluffing, even when we were out of the country on vacation.

Still, you can get completely paranoid about break-ins. Usually, a lockable window system together with a simple alarm will probably give you 99% of the security you will ever need.

More next week.

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