The practice of putting security bars on windows and doors reportedly dates back to before the Roman Empire. Even way back then people were concerned about thieves entering their homes and stealing their property. Starting in the 1980’s “burglar bars” in high crime areas gained in popularity in the United States and elsewhere. Window security bars are an excellent way to keep burglars out. They offer a formidable physical deterrent that is not easily defeated and metal or iron bars provide a strong psychological deterrent which discourages burglars from even thinking about trying to break in.
Burglars are lazy. They look for easy targets – unlocked doors, open windows or windows with flimsy locks and basement windows that can easily be kicked-in and slithered trough. Most burglars are not going to bring pry bars and angle grinders and try to remove or cut through metal barred windows. They will move on to an easier target. In more than 30 years of police work and as a private investigator in my home state of Oregon I investigated hundreds of residential and commercial burglaries. I cannot remember a single burglary – not one, where burglars cut through or removed metal security bars from windows or doors.
Burglar bars are a strong physical and psychological deterrent. They are also relatively inexpensive as they are a one-time investment. Once installed, they will often last for the life of the structure.
But many homeowners and business owners have a distaste for burglar bars because of the way they look. Bars on windows can make it seem like you live in a rough neighborhood and while it may make residents feel safe from intruders, it can also make them feel like they are living behind bars in a prison.
But today’s modern window security bars are not like the plain prosaic bars of the past. Multiple options of window security bars now exist. There are permanent mounted security bars, side mounted “swing away” hinged security bars, and there are even “Invisible” burglar bars made from polycarbonate – a durable transparent material used in police shields and airplane windows.
Today burglar bars can be very stylish and can be found on some of the most exclusive homes. One of their benefits is that they can be custom built to fit windows and doors perfectly and can even be painted to complement a home or structure. Additionally, they can have fancy ornamental designs that most people find visually pleasing.
In my physical security consulting business if security bars can blend in well with the overall décor of the structure, I sometimes recommend them as part of an overall layered security system. I especially like to recommend window bars for basement windows and windows in the back of a home or structure where burglars might have the cloak of darkness in their favor.
Bottom line: If you want to make your home or business much more secure from intruders, install window and door bars.
Window Security Film
But if you cannot afford burglar bars or if you just can’t come to appreciate the look, consider security window film as an alternative to security bars.
Security window film is made up of one or more layers of polyester film that has been laminated together. The film can range in thickness and is usually applied to the interior of a glass window or door. The film can be tinted or clear and helps hold glass together if someone tries to break or smash the glass. It even has the added benefit of helping to prevent windows and glass doors from being broken from severe weather events or accidents.
Security window film is made by a number of manufacturers and some is of better quality than others. It is relatively easy to cut to size and can be applied to the window or glass door with a spray bottle of soapy water and a squeegee. If you are at all handy it is a doable DIY project.
While security window film is not impenetrable, it is a way to strengthen glass to make it harder for someone to break in. Some of the brands and thickness of security window film are quite impressive! Here are two videos that show the strength and installation of security window film.