By Martha Wilson
Updated September 01, 2004
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Credit: Michael Luppino

Burglars generally try to avoid attracting attention with the sound of shattering glass, so by making windows difficult to pry open you'll discourage all but the most desperate crooks. As a further precaution, use outdoor motion-sensor spotlights to foil burglars who work at night.

Windows

Nails: Something as simple as a couple of nails will make it virtually impossible for an intruder to pry open traditional double-hung wood-framed windows. With a 5/32-inch bit, drill a set of holes at a slight downward angle all the way through each side of the lower window sash and halfway into the upper sash. Then slide a three-inch nail into each hole. To ensure that you can easily open windows, holes should be loose enough that the nails slide in and out smoothly.
To buy: Three-inch nails, a few cents each, available at hardware stores.
Installation time: five to ten minutes per window.

Basement Windows

Security bars: Yes, the windows are small, but so are teenagers, who account for about 30 percent of burglary arrests annually. Mount custom-made 1-inch- or 1 1/2-inch-wide steel bars right into the window frame or, if your basement also serves as a bedroom or playroom (where a fire escape route is especially important), opt for adjustable quick-release bars.
To buy: For custom-made bars, check the Yellow Pages under "locksmiths" or "iron work." Ready-made quick-release Window Security Guards (two-pack), $75.50, acehardware.com.
Installation time: Varies.

Back of House

Motion-sensitive lights: Discourage nighttime prowlers by installing motion-sensitive lights. Putting up a Solar Masters Centurion solar-powered light won't even require an electrician's help―it gets all the power it needs from the sun and attaches to your home's exterior with the screws provided. A 12-foot cable lets you position the light and the solar panel in different locations for maximum sunlight.
To buy: Solar Masters Centurion, $90, solar-masters.com.
Installation time: 30 minutes per light.