Security Gates vs. Security Window Film

Help protect your retail storefront from smash and grab robberies.

glass door break inSmash and grab robberies are a concern for any business with a storefront. These type of robberies usually occur at night and happen extremely quick. Thieves will normally smash a storefront window or the glass of the door with intent of grabbing as much as they can before making a quick getaway.

Even if your store is alarmed, you're not protected from a smash and grab robbery. Thieves are not concerned with an alarm system as they are often in and out of the store in under two minutes. This doesn't sound like a long time, but go try it for yourself; set a timer for two minutes and move throughout your store. You'll be amazed at the area you can cover in such a short time.

There are several ways to help secure merchandise, but let's start on step one: stop thieves from attempting to enter premises in the first place.

If windows are being smashed, then the answer to help secure your store is to make that more difficult. Two security solutions that are commonly considered are security gates and window security film.

Window Security Film

Window security film is designed to strengthen the regular window glass. Window film ranges in thickness from 4mm (100 microns) to 14mm (350 microns). Commonly, at least an 8mm to 14mm film is used when security is the goal and if properly installed it can increase the strength of a window, delaying or preventing entry by a burglar. Installation of security film should be done by qualified experienced installers who know how to work on site using a high degree of skill to eliminate creases and bubbles. Window film comes in rolls between 36" and 72" wide.

window film broken glassSome installations are done with a method called daylight fitting. This is when the film is applied to the glass leaving a small gap between the edge of the film and the window stop or frame. This may help when the glass gets hit with an object near the middle of the panel. However, if hit in the corner, the glass breaks from the jamb and can be further kicked in. The only benefit the film has now is an easier clean up, as most of the broken glass will be stuck to the film.

A stronger installation may be done using the wet or mechanical anchor installation methods. A mechanical method is when the window film goes behind the glass stops for the greatest strength; all four sides of the window pane should be secured. The wet method is using an adhesive sealant to secure the film to the window frame or structure. If applying film to tempered glass, only the mechanical or wet method are effective as the tempered glass will break into many tiny cubes.


  • Can't see window film
  • Strengthens glass - can delay entry
  • Blocks some UV
  • Helps make clean up of broken glass easier
  • Does not need to be locked daily.


  • Not a visual deterrent
  • May affect glass break sensors for alarm systems
  • Requires experience installer
  • Does not protect against door entries.

Window and Door Security Gates

Security gates are designed to be both a physical and visual deterrent to theft. Today there are new, much more aesthetically pleasing gates available. These new gates are constructed of half inch square cold-rolled steel tubing that is riveted back-to-back in a diamond pattern that runs inside 16 gauge roll formed steel end channels all with powder coated finish. In other words, they're tough.

broken window security gate intactThese new gates are available in a variety of sizes from as small as 38" wide by 33" high and up to 124" wide and 98" high. They are then mounted to the window frames with hinges for swing away storage when not in use. The locking of the gate is done with a unique steel shroud enclosed brass lock body that is permanently mounted to the gate and covered with a plastic molded cover and built-in handle. The receiver for the lock is a two welded shackle pin receiver plate mounted to the opposite window frame to engage the lock, making this lock tamper proof and convenient. Unlike a permanent mounted fixed security bar, which doesn't stowaway, the gates offer some limited flex to absorb impact. A fixed security can shear off from strong impacts.


  • Visual deterrent
  • Mounted behind doors as a second layer of defense
  • Allows glass break to set off alarm and dispatch first responders
  • Physical barrier
  • Can install yourself
  • Flexible to absorb impact
  • Easy to use
  • Tamper proof locks
  • Long lasting powder coat finish
  • Gates can move if you change locations
  • Cost effective.


  • Somewhat visible during the day
  • Need a key to unlock.

As you you've seen, both security gates and security window film have their pros and cons and should be considered when looking to protect your storefront and your assets.

Security should be layered and every additional security method you use will work with each other. Alarm systems will alert first responders. Window security film can delay entry. Security gates significantly delay entry and can deter attempts. Video surveillance may assist police in an investigation.

Remember, be vigilant and do not hesitate to call us to discuss your security needs.
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    April 2, 2014 at 14:14

    Great info

    • April 2, 2014 at 18:17

      Thank you, I wanted to show the benefits of both products as much as possible. I have had many Loss prevention people contact me to get our gates up behind windows that have been filmed, as the film is not visual, the costs of constant replacing effects the bottom line. But layering security is a wise move.

  2. April 16, 2014 at 22:56

    A quick note, Today's security window film all eliminates 99.9% of the UV. Solar versions provide energy cost savings and reflective versions provide privacy. These films are covert and can be helpful during normal business operations for vandalism or school campus safety. Since they are invisible the curb appeal of the store or office is not effected. Gates and bars are extreme measures that should be considered in high crime areas, etc.

  3. April 17, 2014 at 17:58

    Thank you Mike, As I mentioned in my blog, I agree, the film is invisible, however the down side to that, is the thief cannot see it so they will attempt, now the store needs to replace the glass and the film, just so it can happen again? Take a look at our recent Facebook post, the surveillance video from recent break in, shows how well the film held the glass from making a mess, but there is no way to properly anchor the filmed glass on doors, so it was pushed in and the store was penetrated. I also agree that fixed mounted window security bars can detract from the curb appeal, so that’s why many of our customers choose the fold away gates. They get the visual and physical deterrent at night, and can still have their windows clear during store hours.

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