South Carolina

Statistics to Consider When Deciding Whether to Get a Home Security System

Once you purchase a home, you may start wondering whether or not you should purchase a home security system. This is an added expense, but many people find that it’s worth the price for the peace of mind that it provides. Although it isn’t a guarantee that your home won’t be burglarized, it can act as a powerful deterrent.

Prevalence of Burglaries

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, each year about one out of every 36 homes in the U.S. is robbed. Some cities, such as Fayetteville, NC, Flint, MI, Toledo, OH, Little Rock, AR and Memphis, TN, have much higher burglary rates than others. Homes that don’t have a house alarm system are as much as 300 percent more likely to be robbed than those that do have a security system. Approximately 60 percent of burglars admit that if they try to determine if a home has a security system and avoid those that do. That doesn’t mean that a security system will prevent all break-ins, but it will help to limit the risk. Post those signs and stickers that security monitoring companies give you where they’ll be visible from all directions of entry to make the most of this effect. Motion sensors that cause lights to turn on as people come nearby also make it less likely a home will be broken into. They are a potential sign of a security system and also make it harder to break into the home without getting noticed.


Contrary to what some people believe, most burglaries actually occur between 10 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, not at night. This is because many people are absent due to school or work during these times. Of course, most burglaries are also committed by people who live in the same neighborhood, which allows them to check out the homes and get an idea of when people are most likely to be out. Make sure to vary your schedule and have someone take care of your house (bringing in the mail and making sure the lawn is mowed) when you’re on vacation so it isn’t obvious that you’re away. Burglars don’t always show up only when nobody’s home, even though this is usually what they would prefer. About 30 percent of burglaries actually happen when someone is still home, with about 7 percent of these people then being exposed to violence. This is a good reason to keep the alarm system on even when somebody is in the house.

Common Entry Methods

Taking steps to limit access can help as well, with or without a house alarm system. For example, approximately 30 percent of burglars enter through an unlocked window or door, so make sure to keep all windows and doors locked. Using solid doors instead of hollow core doors, using a heavy-duty deadbolt and a strike plate that screws 3 inches into the door frame and adding devices to make it possible to lock windows can help deter burglars as it makes it harder to break in. A good security system with sensors will alert you if you’ve accidentally left windows or doors open, and, once turned on, will alert you whenever closed windows or doors are opened.

Response to Alarms

The response time of the police will vary, with small town police likely to respond more quickly than those in major cities. When an alarm goes off, it takes a couple minutes to register with the alarm company, which then calls the home to check and see if it was a false alarm. This takes time and typically occurs before the police are notified. Once the police are notified, it can take at least six to eight minutes for them to reach the home in a small town but as much as 45 minutes in a large city. Responding to alarms isn’t a very high priority with the police, especially since about 80 percent of the time it turns out to be a false alarm. This means the police aren’t very likely to actually catch the burglar in the act, as those with a little experience tend to get in and out in about 10 minutes. This combination of circumstances may be why police manage to catch the culprits of only about 13 percent of burglaries. Having a security system that includes video monitoring (perhaps on a motion detector) means that should the police actually catch someone, they have more evidence to place them at the scene. The resulting video footage could also rule out certain types of people and limit the list of potential suspects.

Total Losses

Any alarm should include a loud, audible component. This will encourage the burglars to leave with less than they would otherwise take as they will be in a hurry to get away before someone shows up. The average losses for a house with an alarm that gets burglarized are about $3,266, compared to approximately $5,343 for a house that doesn’t have a security system, according to the Electronic Security Association. So even if the home does still get broken into, the losses are likely to be a lot less. Putting in a safe built into the floor to store valuables can also help limit losses, as can storing valuables somewhere other than the master bedroom, which is the first place that most burglars tend to look.

Potential Insurance Benefits

Those concerned about the cost of monthly payments for monitoring their alarm system should check with their home insurance company. Most companies provide some type of discount for homes that have security systems, with the amount of the discount varying based on the type of system installed. It can be as much as 15 or 20 percent, which will cover at least portion of the monitoring fees and make having a security system a bit more affordable.