When you search around the internet you see people making bold statements about home security and they write it in a way that their view is correct and absolute. As with many things there is some facts in what is said but not all of them are considered when making their assertions and they don’t let you know the risks or the research supporting their opinion on the matter.

In America today one home is broken into every 15 seconds and from the Bureau Of Justice Statistics there was a total of 2,845,800 completed burglaries in 2011 or 23.1 per 1,000 households were burgled, 1.6m were by unlawful entry and 1.2m were forcible entry.

Many burglaries are crimes of opportunity – the criminal is looking for an easy way to access the home and get your valuables and be a way from there as quickly as possible. The more deterrents that are in their way the more likely they are to not consider the home.  The total attempts at burglary from 2011 was 3,394,700 with 549,200 attempted forcible entries not completed.

Research shows that neighborhoods with home security systems are less likely to have burglaries by up to 3 times compared to those without systems installed.

Home Security Systems Protect Your Home

There is an expectation built up by some security companies that security systems can protect your home from criminals. I think they are a very important method to secure your home, however, they don’t give real protection – that is they don’t physically stop someone breaking into your home in the way a moat and drawbridge were used to protect a castle in the middle ages from “ne’er do wells”.
These systems can detect, deter and sound the alarm when someone has broken into your home which in many cases enough to reduce the likelihood your home will be targeted by a criminal.

They do this as up to 60.4 % criminals take this into consideration as to whether to go through with breaking in a home if they know or believe it has a security system. Of those that do carryon 50% will definitely stop and get out when they know they have been detected (Source: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology report) . In addition, the value stolen is significantly less than those homes that don’t have an alarm system (Source: A Study on Burglar Alarm Effectiveness for Suburban Homes Using Data Gathered from Greenwich, Conn – Dr Simon Hakin, Temple University). Also if it is monitored they will let the monitoring centre know there has been an incident and notify emergency services are notified as appropriate (although unmonitored systems where you self-monitor can achieve this too).

Therefore even though it doesn’t protect your home as such these systems do reduce the likelihood of your home and family being targeted and it is in that way they play a very important part in keeping your home, valuable and family safe.

You Don’t Need to Secure Your Home When Going Out For A Few Minutes

When you are going out for a few minutes it is tempting to not bother with  securing you home by shutting the windows, turning on the home security system and locking the doors. After all you are only going to be gone for a few minutes.

First off these quick errands can sometimes take longer than a few minutes as more is involved than you thought or you think of something else you need to do while you are out and about.

Secondly, and more importantly most home burglaries only take a few minutes from start to finish. They last on average from 6 to 12 minutes – which is more than enough for a criminal to break in and go straight to the master bedroom looking for cash and jewellery, then moving through the rest of house looking for expensive electronic items and anything else they see. If they have an accomplice they’ll phone them to back up the car onto the drive so they can load their stash and make the getaway while you are still parking your car at the store.

The first thing a burglar will do is try to determine if a household is unoccupied by knocking on the door and general observation like there being no cars on the driveway. Once determined it’s unoccupied they’ll start by trying the door to see it is unlocked before looking for other points of entry or forcing their way in. It is these methods that burglaries most commonly use.

A Beware Of The Dog Sign Is All You Need

This does have some deterrent effect but won’t stop all burglars. Some will see it as more exciting and they also will want to check to see if there is a dog present by listening outside the door for barking before making up their mind whether to carry on. In the North Carolina study only 24% of criminals said they took any notice of the sign.

If they hear no barking they will carry on finding the easiest way to get in to the house and start their sweep and stealing cashing and valuables.

As well as dogs they consider other factors such as neighbors, escape routes, whether entry points are hidden from the road and the possible size of the prize.

A Home Security Sign Is All You Need

As with a beware of the dog sign this type of sign works as a deterrent in some cases  but it won’t stop all burglars from carrying out their criminal activity or continuing on with their assessment of whether it is worth them assessing the household. The North Carolina survey of criminals indicated that 39% would be stopped by a sign and would move on.

Once they are in they will know if there is an alarm or surveillance equipment and they will continue going through their normal process of moving through the house. Where there is a system in place it is usual for burglars to more through the house more quickly and take only 60% of what they would take when a home security system is not in place (The Greenwich Study)

A Dog Is All You Need

A dog can be a good deterrent as long as it makes a noise when the burglar is outside. One that stays quiet will not deter the burglar. According to The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology study a dog is one of the more effective deterrents in putting off a criminal from burglarizing a house with it deterring between 45 – 52% of them.

Unfortunately, some criminals are prepared to deal with dogs and will take whatever actions are required to deal with them once they have broken in.

As stated at the top there is some truth in most of these assertions (except that you don’t need to secure your home when going on an errand) about keeping your home and valuables safe from criminals. It is just the way they are asserted by some that they are absolute and that is not the case as the surveys and studies have shown. (The other thing to consider with the studies is that they have received assistance by the home security industry.)

The thing that has come out of the studies is the effectiveness of home security systems (they did not differentiate between DIY or monitored or unmonitored) in decreasing the likelihood of a household being burglarized. The Greenwich Study showed that a home was up to 3 times less likely to be burglarized in neighborhoods where systems were present. The North Carolina study indicated 62% burglars considered a security system as a reason not to continue on with their burglary.

Those criminals that did continue on (according to Greenwich Study) stole only 60% of the value of goods that they did of homes without one.  Thus making the systems, it appears, a good way to deter a break in and if one is carried out a way of decreasing the loss of valuables as a result.

Alarm systems and surveillance systems should be used in conjunction with other good measures such as ensuring you have good locks including deadlocks and steel bars (if needed), there are not good hiding places outside the home, motion sensor lights, timers on your indoor lights when you are not there (a home appearing to be occupied is one of the biggest deterrents), redirecting mail and paper deliveries and getting on with your neighbors so you can look out for one another.

Filed under: Buying Advice

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