The holiday season is prime time for burglars. So, if you'll be away from home a lot over the next few months, it's a good idea to have a plan in place to deter would-be intruders. Better yet, consider installing a home security system.
HOW WELL DO SECURITY SYSTEMS DETER CRIME?
Experts say an alarm system plays more of a role in scaring burglars away from a home than it does in prompting a quick response from law enforcement. But that can go a long way in keeping your family and belongings safe.
Approximately one in every six American families has an alarm system, according to the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, and the number of security-protected residences is rising. That's because homeowners who have installed burglar alarm systems statistically stand a better chance of avoiding invasion than those without protection. In fact, homes without an alarm system are three times more likely to be burglarized than those without an alarm system. And burglaries are just as likely to occur in country and suburban settings as they are in urban city centers.
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HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT SECURITY SYSTEM?
Look for an alarm system that suits your needs and fits your budget. The standard home security package will include a master control panel, a control keypad, sensor pads for doors and windows, and a motion sensor device. Some systems are connected to an off-site alarm monitoring service, while others have in-home alarms. Further, you can install many products yourself, while others will require the help of a professional.
Examine the security measures included in each package. Then evaluate the applicability of each to your particular needs. If you experience frequent power outages, for example, you'll benefit from a security system that uses a battery backup. And if your family travels frequently, you may want to have a monitoring service handle alerts while you're away.
Many providers offer extras such as infrared sensors and closed-circuit camera systems that fully monitor your home inside and out. Other popular add-ons include automated lights, video surveillance and intercom systems, water sensors and carbon monoxide monitoring. These features are especially helpful to homeowners who spend a lot of time away from home.
HOW MUCH WILL A HOME SECURITY SYSTEM COST?
Angie's List members report paying an average of around $739 for a home security system. Of course, the features and monitoring services included in your security package will greatly affect the overall cost of your system. In many cases, you can recoup a percentage of your security cost through a homeowner insurance credit. The exact discount will vary by insurance company, but such industry-wide insurance credits give credence to the efficacy of home security.
WATCH FOR RED FLAGS.
When hiring a company to install or monitor your home security system, check to see whether your state requires them to be licensed. Also, check references and get as many referrals as possible. If you do purchase a monitoring subscription, be sure to read the contractual fine print. Details such as the number of monthly alerts routed to the service are included in the contract and can increase costs. False alarms happen, and some cities impose fines for multiple false alarm calls.
Be careful when it comes to door-to-door salespeople and companies that make one-time offers you can purchase that day only. These factors rush your decision-making process, frequently resulting in a negative outcome. Finally, be wary if a company offers a lot of freebies in exchange for your business. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Megan Alderton is a reporter for Angie's List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.