Home Security – Protect your home and possessions from intruders!
Home Security – Protect your home and possessions from intruders!
With all the emphasis over the past few years on homeland security, many people have overlooked the importance of home security. Although it may not make the headlines when your house is burglarized, protecting your home soon becomes the most important issue in your world.
There’s no reason to wait until it happens to you. According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 75% of all crimes in the United States are property crimes. In 2003, there were 14 million property thefts. In 83% of these crimes, the burglars actually entered the home or other building to steal property.
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, residential burglaries in 2003 averaged $1,600 in property or monetary losses per incident. This does not include repairs to locks, doors, windows and other damage. Are you willing to give $1,600 (not to mention the security of your home and the safety of your family) to a thief?
It can happen to anyone. Whether you live in an urban, suburban or rural area, you are a target for thieves. What are you going to do about it?
Never underestimate the resourcefulness of an intruder. Simply locking the doors and windows is not enough. If you can figure out a way to get into your home, surely someone who makes a living can too.
You should not overestimate the resourcefulness of the neighbors. Neighborhood watchers are fine, but how many of your neighbors spend every hour you’re not home watching your house? How will you tell the difference between a furniture delivery and a robbery? Can you tell just by looking if someone is just walking for exercise or surrounding houses for potential burglary attempts? Even houses less than a mile from police stations are easily robbed.
There are more effective options that will prevent break-ins and make your home secure.
A simple loud noise will not stop the criminal. Your neighbors will probably turn up their TVs to drown out the sound. Battery and even electric buzzer alarms are easily thwarted by criminals.
If you are going to use a home alarm, you should use a monitored system. When choosing between monitored home alarm systems, you generally have three choices – a DIY system, a national monitoring system, and a local home security company system.
Do-it-yourself installation systems are the cheapest. You need some technical know-how and you need to know how an intruder gets in. When you buy your own equipment, you have a choice of companies to monitor your system. Some systems allow you to program additional numbers to be called when the alarm goes off, which isn’t as useful as you might think. By the time you or a neighbor can react and call the police, your thief is usually long gone. Best to stick to the pros.
National alarm system monitoring services (such as ADT or Brinks) are most popular. Common customer complaints include using them when installing. National companies contract for installation with independent dealers. Many ADT and Brinks customers report outrageous offers that they have to negotiate with the installer and advertised specials are useless. Other problems include tracking errors and slow response times. When an alarm goes off, the company calls you to determine if the alarm was accidentally triggered (the majority of home alarm triggers are homeowner accidents). If they cannot reach you by phone, they will call the appropriate authorities. Dissatisfied customers report no calls or very delayed calls. These companies too
require you to contract with them for a certain period of time, usually 2-3 years, even if you are not satisfied with their service.
Local alarm monitoring systems are generally less expensive with higher levels of customer satisfaction. The local company will have fewer customers, so you are more important to them. You will get a cheaper but fully effective installation from an actual representative of the company. Since these companies rarely require long-term contracts, you have more freedom to change monitoring companies. Knowing this, they will usually charge less per month and make more of an effort to keep your business.
Every home alarm system comes with a helpful lawn sign to show that your home is protected by an alarm system. This in itself is a form of prevention as a burglar is more likely to hit a house without an alarm system. Alarm systems are also great for fires and other emergencies. Usually, as an additional feature, you can connect smoke alarms to your monitoring system. If the smoke alarm goes off, the fire department is notified. This is especially useful at night or if you leave pets at home during the day. Panic buttons are good if you happen to be home during a break-in or have a medical emergency. You should also get a break on your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance when you have the system installed. Monitored home alarm systems are definitely worth the investment, but you shouldn’t stop there.
Even if you have an alarm system, sitters are invaluable. If you leave home to go on vacation, your best defense is to have real people in your home. The majority of thefts in the United States occur during the day while people are at work. Criminals will take the easy way out. If people are in their target home, they will move into a house that looks empty. The problem with traditional house-sitting services is that they simply make one or two trips to your home a day to pick up mail, open curtains, water plants, and shoo away criminals. That still leaves about 23 hours a day that your home is vulnerable to break-ins or fires.
The best option for home viewing is to have people live in your home. Having a friend or family member stay at your home full-time throughout your vacation means less worry about theft, fire, and other issues such as returning to a flooded home due to a broken water heater.
Having a sitter also reduces preparation time and costs before your holiday. You won’t have to stop your mail (all a criminal has to do is watch your mail carrier skip your house to assume you’re on vacation), buy and set light timers, or even upload the dog on board.
Don’t have a friend or family member who can stay at your home? There are services available that find people and caretakers to live in the house. It’s like someone is renting your house while you’re on vacation, except they’re basically paying you no rent. They’ll pay utilities, mow the lawn, take care of your mail, pets, and your home while you’re gone. They will notify you of any problems. Services help you screen applicants and find the perfect person, couple or family ready to take care of your home.
The best prevention you can implement is a combination of 24-hour home alarm monitoring and a sitter if you’re going to be away for a while. Don’t become a statistic. Start protecting your home today!
Copyright © 2005 by Ian White
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