Window shopping is a favorite pastime for burglars. Inadequately protected windows are easy marks for intruders who have an arsenal of tricks for the quickest, easiest ways to force them. But safeguarding your home's windows is neither difficult nor expensive.
Start by taking a quick survey of your windows -- including those in the basement and the garage and any second-story windows that would be easy to reach from the ground. List each one on a sheet of paper, noting its type (such as double-hung or casement) and the kind of lock it now has.
You'll probably need to replace or at least augment the locks on most of them. As you consider the new locks and fastening devices you'll learn about here, also keep fire safety in mind. For example, if you install keyed locks, you'll want to keep keys nearby and make sure everyone in your family knows where they are in case of an emergency.
If you've identified a few windows that you think are especially vulnerable, you may feel that even sturdy locks aren't sufficient protection. In that case, consider replacing the standard glazing with impact-resistant acrylic or polycarbonate or with high-security glass. Or, where appearance isn't of prime importance, install a metal grille outside the window or a scissors-type security gate on the inside. Be aware that although some gates have quick-release levers for emergency exits, a stationary grille will render the window useless as an exit in the event of a fire.