Open windows targeted by thieves who 'slash and enter'

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Call it slashing and entering.

Police around the country say they're seeing slash and enter burglaries as more of us leave first floor windows open.

"I know it's fall-like weather and everybody wants to leave their windows open," says Pat Sullivan of Sullivan Hardware. But Sullivan knows what recently happened to one of his employees.

"They were asleep, somebody cut the screen and came into the house," Sullivan said. "Stole the big screen TV, went to the front door, right past where they were sleeping, got the keys and stole a car."

Take a small blade and you can rip away a man-size hole in a screen in seconds.

"When we leave the house, we don't leave the windows open so we are thinking about it, especially on the back of our house," says homeowner Erin Fitz. In fact, we found Erin installing a new motion-sensing light for that reason.

"We have safety windows that are really nice," says Pete Kelly. His safety features are built into his window frames. "It just pops right out on both sides, and when you try to open it, it gives only a small opening for night air. Someone can't get in."

Or you can install your own bumpers with parts that cost just a few bucks at the hardware store.

$30 or $40 buys you a gate that goes in over the screens, but "that brings up another problem, says Sullivan. "Fire safety." It could make it harder to get out fast.

Security consultant Alan Palagy with Palagy Associates says lighting is very important. He suggests you don't leave dark shadows around windows for an intruder to hide. "Do your landscaping," he says. "Make sure your shrubs are cut back from your windows. If you put some plants by those windows, think about plants with thorns."

He also suggests a dog, one that barks loudly. "They'll wake you up." And join neighborhood watch, he says.

Palagy says some home alarm systems arm screen sensors that detect a cut or rip.