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Home Alarm Systems: Can your house afford to be without one?

According to the FBI and the National Home Security Council, a burglary is committed somewhere in the United States every 12 seconds. That means 86, 400 burglaries are committed every single day of the year. Of those 51,840 take place in broad daylight—usually in the afternoon when people have gone shopping or when those who work a second shift have gone while those who work a day shift are not yet home...

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Thus the community in general has fewer people to watch the neighborhood. Many also take place during "patterned" absences, such as the daily trip to take the children to school or bring them home, or even—horrible as it sounds—the hours when a kidney dialysis patient is at the clinic, when a senior citizen is at the senior center, or when a non-working parent is at the local YMCA for a regular morning workout.

To make matters worse, the burglars know who has a security system and, while it isn't an exact science, they have pretty good idea of who doesn't. Homes without an alarm system are 2.7 times more likely to be hit. What does that mean? It means that if a burglar is watching a group of houses and observes the houses five times in a one month period, but expects that your house does not have a security system, your house will be observed 13 times in that same time period. A skilled burglar only has to watch you for about a week to know the opportune time for breaking in.

Types of security systems
Two basic types of security systems—with multiple variations—are available. The most highly recommended are the ones that both set off an audio alarm—alerting the neighborhood—and automatically call the alarm company. The alarm company will then route the call to the nearest police department. The cost of these systems ranges from 0 to several thousand dollars depending on the complexity desired. Some companies install the system for free but give you a contract for three years of service. While some companies advertise wireless systems with no monthly fee, others charge fees ranging from about $8.95 to $45.00 per month. The higher priced services generally include video monitoring from your computer at work and may include smoke, fire and water detection along with other options. The range of prices is a result of industry competition.

Alarms systems without a monthly fee range from the simple audio—a high pitched alarm that goes off when an entry way or window is breached—to lighting systems that turn on in response to motion and even hidden cameras which record the actions of an intruder. Some of these can be installed by the homeowner, while others need the hand of a professional. As with the monitored systems, prices range from $50.00 to about $900.

Making your system known
Experts agree that the most effective component of nearly any alarm system is simply the sign in the yard or in the window warning would-be burglars that an alarm system is present. While we are not advocating placing a sign without the system, even a locally installed system that is not monitored can be effective if it comes with a sign.

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