When you come home from work and see the front door of your home open when it shouldn’t be you start to get the sinking feeling. You then see there is damage to the door and you walk inside and see your TV missing that bad feeling is now confirmed – someone has been in your home and you’ve been burgled.

You end up with a mixture of emotions of anger, a feeling of being violated and a lack of control. That’s what happened when burglars struck my home. Once you are over the shock there is then the job of informing the police, dealing with your insurer and repairers.

Fortunately for us there were no items of high sentimental value stolen only electrical items.  So, it was a matter of putting in a claim, organizing repairs and chasing the claim. Replacing the items stolen in the end was sorted but it does take time to get over the bad feelings due to lack of security and there was the shortfall on the deductible and increased premium.

We did not have a home security system at the time or strong enough doors and locks.

After sorting the immediate issues it is on to looking for ways to prevent your home from being targeted again.

One of the considerations to securing your home and preventing being a target again is to ask the question – do home security systems protect your home?

How Do They Work?

They work by way of sensors detecting a break in, sounding the alarm and sending a notification to a monitoring center or to a nominated person (this depends on whether it is monitored or unmonitored). The mechanics of the systems work well (read more here), there are plenty of reviews on the web (and on this site too – see a comparison here). But they do not actually prevent a break in as such. They detect it and this can help in reducing the risk of your home being considered as a target by a criminal and thereby reducing the risk of it happening.

What Do Burglars Say?

In a study by joseph Kuhns from the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of North Carolina it is reported that 83% of burglars consider whether a home has a home security system or not when deciding to burglarize it. In the study they interviewed 422 burglars. Half of them said they would stop the burglary if they discovered the home had an alarm system, 31% said they might stop and 13% said they would continue on regardless.

Burglaries are most likely to occur during the day when no one is home and during the months of August and September. They are crimes of opportunity with many happening due to unlocked doors and easy to jar open windows and up to a 1/3rd of burglaries are not forced entries.

They are looking for cash, jewelry, electrical items and other saleable items. They normally go to the master bedroom first as this is where most valuables are kept and hidden.

34% of burglars gain entry through the front door. So, locking doors and hardening the entry through the front door will also reduce the chance of being burgled.

Other effective deterrents were dogs inside the home and they would stop a 1/3rd of criminals continuing (less than alarm system), surveillance cameras and people inside being the biggest deterrent.

An alarm system can also help to prevent something worse happening if you are inside when a burglary is happening with panic alarms and duress codes that can ensure a notification is sent to the monitoring company to immediately dispatch the police.

Are There Any Statistics?

There are 2,000,000 home burglaries reported are a year in the U.S. averaging at about one every 15 seconds.

The most cited study into the effectiveness of home security systems in reducing burglaries is The Greenwich Study funded in part by the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation.  In the study they looked at a number of things including the effectiveness of home security systems.

It found that the homes that were less likely to be burglarized had an alarm system as well as taking other precautions (motion lights, locked doors, etc.) to deter and prevent it from happening. This had the effect of reducing the chance of it happening by 2/3rds when compared to homes without a system.

The Greenwich study also reported that homes without an alarm system averaged a loss of $5,343 compared with homes that had one the average loss was $3,266 due to burglars reducing the time they spend in the home due to the threat of being discovered even with the response delay of the police from 7 minutes in small towns to 30 to 45 minutes in larger cities. An audible alarm also helps with this.

It would appear that home security systems do in fact help in reducing the occurrence of break-ins and burglaries, unfortunately there is no fully independent study that I could find to support this study.

Do They Do Anything Else?

Home security systems can also help to protect your home, valuables and family in other ways too. They can be set up with CO2 detectors, smoke detectors, water detectors and temperature sensors. These give you an early warning system to be able to prevent disaster or reduce its effects and save your family.

some can also be used as home automation systems for scheduling lights being switched on and off remotely or to a schedule. locking and unlocking doors

Insurance companies also offer home owners and renters’ insurance discounts for people with home security systems ranging from 5% for self-monitored systems (in some cases) to a range of 15 to 20% for monitored systems.

Although home security systems don’t protect your home from a burglar it is likely they reduce the chance of your home being targeted. If you are targeted the amount of time the burglar will stay is reduced and the amount they steal and damage is reduced in monetary terms. This all helps in reducing the chances of you going through the pain of loss and the hassle of dealing with the insurance company to get your claim processed.

The reduced risk and peace of mind of home security systems make them a good choice for securing your home. They do need to be turned on and be used in conjunction with other common sense security – such as locking your doors, cancelling the newspapers, not posting on Facebook that you are on holiday etc., to be their most effective.

Filed under: Buying Advice

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