Japanese used to say water and security are free, but with the rise in home burglaries, one of those commodities is no longer a given.

Tokyo-based Asahi Glass Co., which has been manufacturing windows for housing construction, is now basking in business opportunities from the production of security panes for the home front.

Asahi Glass has seen steadily increasing sales of Secu-re security glass, one of the most popular such products in the nation. The company estimates that sales will reach 1.2 billion yen in 2003, five times more than last year.

“This is the first time we have received large orders for glass placed by individual consumers,” company sales official Toshiyuki Nakahara said.

Security glass, which debuted in July 2001, can better withstand impact from hard objects than ordinary panes. Asahi also provides compensation to customers if their home is burglarized and entry was made through one of its security glass windows.

Security glass comes in three grades of thickness with special film between glass layers. The film comes in thicknesses of 0.76 mm, 1.52 mm and 2.28 mm.

Asahi Glass claims that glass with the 1.52-mm film, for example, would take more than 2 minutes to brake through if struck with tools such as a screw driver or wrench.

It costs 25,000 yen per square meter to install security glass with 1.52-mm firm, more than four times the price of ordinary glass. Asahi, however, has been expanding its security glass sales network to meet the growing demand of home owners, concluding contracts with about 1,500 businesses to offer installation.

Asahi Glass’s highest level of security glass has 3 mm film, which would require dozens of blows from a hammer or an ax to break.

Asahi Glass initially put the security glass on the market for new homes, Nakahara said. The company, however, is now focusing on the fast-growing home renovation market, now that housing starts are declining.

“We re-evaluated the security glass concept and came out with the Secu-re brand and compensation offer for home-improvement customers in 2001,” Nakahara said.

Asahi Glass promises customers who have 2.28 mm-film security glass installed compensation of up to 300,000 yen if the glass fails to prevent a break-in.

The firm has yet to receive a claim, Nakahara said, but he added that the company recommends that customers also install other home security systems.

Since July 22, Secu-re boasts an added feature — the ability to block out ultraviolet rays to prevent sunburn.

Asahi Glass also provides round-the-clock security glass repairs if panes are damaged by a thief, Nakahara said.

“We are continuously trying to upgrade the quality of our security glass and its related services to meet the growing needs of customers,” he said.

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