Security Hacks

How Do Burglars Open Windows? [+ Expert Tips for Prevention]

Updated on
Open window opening onto a room

We know from the statistics that first-floor windows are one of the most common entry points for break-ins. Apparently, burglars love to get into homes through the windows.

Many homeowners wonder how intruders open a window… I know because this is a common concern when people ask me about prevention.

In fact, this question arises pretty often, and it’s very important regarding home security. If you know the most common methods that burglars use to get through a window, you can identify the weak points of your windows and take the necessary protective measures. And eventually, prevent a burglary.

So, how do burglars open windows? Here is a quick answer:

Burglars can open a window in many different ways. Often they use a crowbar to force open a poorly secured window or take off the beadings to remove the windowpane from the frame. Sometimes intruders simply break the window with a hammer or an automatic center punch. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon that they find an unlocked window without any protection.

Let’s move on to the details.

Common Ways Burglars Open and Get Through Windows

1. Using a Crowbar

A burglar trying to pry open a window using a crowbarPin

It’s not uncommon that a burglar tries to force open a window with a crowbar. This tool is available in most hardware stores, so practically anyone can buy it. Wrecking bars come in many different shapes and sizes, so criminals can choose the one that suits their needs best.

If your single-hung, double-hung, casement, or sliding window is poorly secured or the trim around the window is loose, it’s pretty easy for burglars to open it using a short crowbar. In fact, it’s usually a matter of seconds.

How can you prevent intruders from opening your windows using a crowbar?

  • Use a reliable, secure, and properly installed window lock (more on this later).
  • Make sure your windows are in good condition, that is to say, they are not uneven and the frame is not warped.
  • Check the window trims and make sure they fit tightly.

2. Removing the Window Beading

While this method is more time-consuming than the previous one, experienced burglars can break into a house by removing the window beading and the glass pane in just a few minutes.

The beading is basically a strip that holds the windowpane in place. It’s usually made of metal, plastic, or timber. Once removed, the windowpane should come out of place without much effort. This way burglars can easily gain access to the lock or just step inside through the window.

Moreover, using this method burglars don’t really have to open the window to get into your home because once they remove the glass pane they have access to your home.

Thus, even if you have a window alarm, it usually won’t be activated as the frame stays in place and the window itself is not opened.

It’s useful to know that a window can have either internal or external beadings (sometimes both). Burglars can only take advantage of externally beaded windows. So, if you have windows with internal beadings, you don’t really have to worry that an intruder gets into your home using this method.

How do burglars remove external beadings? Often (especially in the case of older windows), they just slide a knife around the window.

Should you be concerned if your windows are externally beaded?

It’s important to keep in mind that not all external beadings are created equal. In fact, most modern windows have glass panes installed on double-sided bonding tapes. This solution is secure enough to prevent burglars from removing the glass even if they manage to take the external beading off.

In the case of older windows, you can improve security by keeping the beadings in good condition and using glass locks that will keep the windowpane in place even if the beading is removed.

3. Opening a Window By Breaking the Glass

Broken window with glass shardsPin

First of all, you should know that many burglars try to avoid breaking glass. Most of them look for easy targets, such as unlocked or unsecured windows or doors. However, some criminals are willing to break windows if certain conditions are met. That is to say, much depends on the type of window and the location.

Unsecured windows with standard glass are at a greater risk. Also, burglars are more likely to open a window by breaking glass when the house (or condo) is in a quiet neighborhood (so not many people would pay attention to the noise). Windows that are covered with bushes or out of sight are also tempting.

How do burglars break the glass?

One of the most common ways is to use a sharp and hard tool, such as a hammer. Crooks sometimes throw a stone or brick at the window. More sophisticated intruders use an automatic center punch. This tool allows them to break the window with the press of a button.

Also, you need to know where to hit the window exactly. For instance, double glazed windows are pretty resistant until they are hit at the lower corner.

Not all types of window glass have the same probability of being broken. Typically, flat glass and tempered glass can be broken in just a few seconds using the right method. Glass with security film and safety laminated glass are the most resistant to force attacks.

FYI – Here we compared the different types of window glass regarding security and we also discussed the best methods you can use to prevent crooks from breaking your windows.

Once the window is broken, burglars can get into the house by reaching in and opening the lock or jumping through the broken glass.

4. Opening Marble Windows

This is not necessarily a concern for you but if your bathroom has an unsecured marble window, you should know it’s often an easy target for burglars.

How do burglars open marble windows?

Breaking a marble window doesn’t make much noise, especially if you use a center punch. In most cases, burglars can easily remove the molding of a marble window without using any tool. This way they have free access to your home.

While it’s true that marble windows are usually thin, they are usually not thin enough to prevent burglars from squeezing through (even if it’s hard to believe).

5. Opening An Unlocked Window

Although it may sound obvious, I can’t leave this scenario off the list because it’s so common. Of course, if you leave your windows unlocked (or open), burglars can easily get into your home within a few seconds, no explanation is needed. It’s especially true if you don’t have any security system installed.

However, even if you have window alarms or any other type of security system, I still recommend that you always lock your windows before you leave home. If there is no real physical barrier, many burglars will pop in for a few seconds to swipe some stuff regardless of the alarm sound (or cut the wires and deactivate the security system).

How to Prevent Burglars From Opening Your Windows?

Fortunately, there are many ways you can burglar-proof your windows. I recommend that you start by installing secure and durable window locks. You can use hinged wedge locks, keyed locks, or pin locks. Vinyl window security locks are also popular, however, before buying make sure it’s made of steel because plastic ones are useless.

You can take window security to the next step and prevent break-ins through windows by using security film. It’s not nearly as expensive as laminated glass, however installing can be tricky, so you might need some help from an expert. Make sure you buy from a trusted manufacturer, such as 3M.

You can also install security bars. This is one of the most secure solutions out there that will prevent burglars from opening your windows to enter your home, even if you forget to lock them. That being said, many people have concerns regarding security bars as they are often aesthetically unpleasant and fixed bars don’t allow residents to use the window as an exit in case of an emergency.

Use glass break sensors. These devices listen for the sound of breaking glass that triggers the alarm. Many models allow you to adjust the sensitivity too. They are great burglar deterrents.

You will find many other tips and measures you can take to improve window security in this article.

Putting It All Together

So, can burglars open locked windows? The answer is a definite yes. As you can see, there are several ways a burglar can open a window and get into your home. In most cases, they don’t even bother with the lock itself. If your windows have poor quality locks, they can be easily forced open.

When intruders face the combination of a secure locking and security system (especially if it’s wireless), they usually move on and look for another, easier target. A few of them, however, will try to break the window or remove the glass pane to get inside your home. This is why it’s so important to keep your windows in a good condition and reinforce the windowpane itself by either installing window security film or security bars (you can also switch to laminated glass but that is costly).

James Mora author profile photo
About the Author

James Mora is the founder of DailyHomeSafety. He is a home improvement expert, contractor, avid DIYer, and security manager. He is passionate about home repairs, remodeling, and teaching. Read More