Basement windows are a favorite entry point for thieves, second only to exterior doors. Once thieves have access to the basement, they have access to the rest of the house. Would-be burglars deliberately keep an eye out for unsecured basement windows, but you can do a lot to keep them out by following a few basic guidelines. Regardless of whether you simply use your basement as a storage and utility area, or as a finished additional room, attention to basement window security is a must.
Get Rid of Shrubbery
Thieves love basement windows that are obscured by plants and bushes; they can then take all the time they need to break in without concern of neighbors spotting them. Remove plants from around basement windows as a first precaution.
Don't tempt thieves in any way; if you have anything of value, such as an expensive flat-screen TV, visible in the front rooms, keep the blinds or curtains closed, especially at night.
Add Visual Security
Place brightly-colored security warning stickers on or near your basement window, advertising that your house is protected by either a community watch program or an individual alarm set-up. It is also a good idea to place alarm system warning signs in easily seen places in your yard if your HOA allows it.
Strengthen Window Hardware
Replace the windowpane in your basement window with shatterproof glass, such as Plexiglass or a similar brand. You can also use a security film applied to your existing window glass. It comes as a flexible sheet of polyester material that is easily applied to the window glass.
It is the first line of defense against burglars. An additional idea is to add something onto the sill of your basement window to make it hard for the thief to get in, such as a small, sharp cactus garden or a set of sharp tools.
Keep Intruders Out
Install a set of window bars for both physical and visual security. Select a set with hinged bars and a keyless lock that allows for easy escape in case of a fire or another emergency. They are often required in residential building codes, so it is advised to check your local zoning requirements.
Some homeowners object that window bars or grilles are an eyesore, although this may not apply in cases of most basement windows, which are flush with the outside ground and not that noticeable.
One possible alternative is to use glass blocks instead, as long as you still have a viable escape route from the basement. Glass blocks are also translucent enough to afford both light and privacy. They are also nearly impossible for would-be intruders to break through.
If you have more than one basement window, keep one as an emergency exit and replace the glass in the others with thick glass blocks to prevent them from being broken open. A final alternative if you are worried about external aesthetics is to replace the window glass with high-impact polycarbonate sheeting, which is extremely shatter-resistant.