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What You Need to Know about Home Security

In 2012 four burglaries were committed every minute of every day, 24 hours a day 365 days a year. That’s a grand total of 2,103,787 in one year. Residential fires happen at a rate of about 1 every minute. Statistics like these are used to drive the multi-billion dollar home security industry.

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Roulette and Other Games of Chance

Imagine walking into a casino and plunking down $1,000 or more on a single number at the first roulette table you come to. You have about a 2.63 percent chance of winning. You also have a 97.37 percent chance of walking out of the casino a thousand dollars poorer than when you went in.

If casino advertisements said give us a grand and we promise you a 2.63 percent chance you’ll win, you would probably never set foot in a casino. Home security is a gamble too. Except the odds aren’t as good as at the roulette table. The percentage of U.S. households that experience a burglary or fire is 2.11 percent. That means there is a nearly 98 percent chance of nothing happening.


Advertisers and marketers recognize the power of appeals to emotion. Home security companies capitalize on this fact more than most. Even knowing the odds favor our being safe and secure, many people still want a home security system. Which makes knowing and understanding your home security options all the more important.

The thing about statistics is that they are two dimensional which in this case means that the two percent chance of burglary or fire does not apply to everyone equally. Some homes have a higher chance of an incident. Many more have an even smaller chance of a burglary or fire.

An Ounce of Prevention

There is a not so well kept secret among burglars that you should know when you are considering home security: they don’t like being seen. That means that the more you can do to make it likely they will be seen breaking into your home, the less likely they will even try.

Simple fixes include making sure windows and doors are not hidden behind shrubbery and fences. Make points of entry into your home visible from the street or to neighbors. This makes you a less attractive target. A barking dog, real or electronic, is enough to keep most thieves at bay. Electronic dogs don’t have to be walked or fed and they don’t shed.

Contrary to emotion evoking commercials, most home break-ins occur when no-one is home. Keeping curtains closed during the day when you are not home makes it harder for burglars to tell if anyone is inside. Leaving a radio playing can be enough to send a potential criminal somewhere else because they believe someone is inside.

Lighting timers for interior lights work by creating the illusion that someone is home. Using multiple timers in different rooms set to different on and off times helps to create a sense of people moving around the house from room to room. Exterior lighting on timers or sensors can be used eliminate the thief’s best friend, stealth.


Rather than pay thousands of dollars for a high-end home security package many people choose to go the do-it-yourself route. Depending on your level of tech savvy and handiness, the do-it-yourself systems range from simple to elaborate and can include DIY monitoring.

Strategically placed motion sensors linked wirelessly to a control panel and siren count on neighbors to alert the police in the event an alarm is triggered. Adding a webcam or two and controller that will alert your cell phone of trouble makes you your own central office monitoring system. Some DIY systems allow for remote arming and disarming of systems via cell or landline phone.

Professional Alternatives

There are some new players in the home security field that may be a cost saving alternative to traditional alarm companies. Some cable television providers are taking advantage of the ability of their systems to have two-way communication to offer inexpensive home security monitoring at a reduced cost as an incentive to sign-up for a larger package or for a longer term.

The bottom line when it comes to home security is doing a true risk assessment based on your individual factors. Start by contacting local law enforcement to determine what your local burglary rate is and ask if they provide a free home security assessment.

Photo Credit: newsusacontent

Frank Addessi Born and raised in the center of the known universe, Brooklyn NY, and currently hiding out in the bucolic hills of northeast Pennsylvania writing about personal finance. His expertise includes personal loans, credit cards and retirement. It's not easy living the American Dream but someone has to do it!
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