In 2017, there were an estimated 1.25 million home burglaries in the United States, according to FBI data. That means there's a burglary about every 30 seconds.
These numbers alone help build the case for implementing a good security system in your home, but they aren't the only reason for the urgency. In 2017, there were an estimated 1.25 million home burglaries in the United States, according to FBI data. That means there's a burglary about every 30 seconds.
These numbers alone help build the case for implementing a good security system in your home, but they aren't the only reason for the urgency.
After all, burglars don't discriminate. “Criminals are creatures of opportunity and wherever there's an opportunity to strike, they will, be it in a big city or small suburb,” says Lee Walters, founder of FortifyMyHouse.com, a home-security education website. Even if you feel like you live in a “safe neighborhood,” you ought to have some type of security system.
Burglars tend to avoid houses with security systems. According to a University of North Carolina at Charlotte survey of convicted burglars, 83 percent said they would try to determine if an alarm was present before attempting a burglary, and 60 percent said they would seek an alternative target if there was an alarm.
You don't have to be wealthy to afford a home-security system. “Ten or 15 years ago, systems were at a price point where they were difficult to afford, but now there are a ton of affordable options for homeowners on any budget,” says Merlin Guilbeau, executive director and chief executive of the Electronic Security Association.
Self-monitoring or professional system? As more home-automation technology emerges, a growing number of homeowners are opting for self-monitored security equipment over systems that are monitored by professional security companies. Indeed, nearly half of Americans (49 percent) say they are open to installing their own home-security system, according to a 2016 LivSecure survey.
Because there's no monthly fee, many self-monitoring systems are cheaper than professional home-security systems.
Still, a traditional, professionally monitored home-security system has advantages. Professional security systems will automatically alert authorities in an emergency situation, such as a break-in or a fire. (With self-monitoring systems, you have to make the call.)
According to Consumer Reports, professional monitoring costs range from $100 to $300 annually, plus the cost of equipment. In comparison, DIY system starter kits start at about $200.
3 options for DIY-ers. Want to take home security into your own hands? Let's narrow the options.
At the very least, you'll want to monitor your home's exterior using a smart camera, such as the Nest Cam, which sends live video to your phone and detects motion and loud noises. You can get two outdoor Nest Cams (one for your home's front entry and one for the backyard) for $298.
Looking for a more comprehensive security system? Consider iSmartAlarm, a top performer according to CNET, Consumer Reports and PCMag. Its Shield Package ($613.90), which includes eight contact sensors, seven motion sensors and three remote tags, is well-suited for a three- to four-bedroom house, the company says.
Another DIY option is the Abode Essentials Starter Kit ($229), which includes one door/window sensor, a battery-powered security camera and motion detector, and a key fob. The system integrates with Amazon Echo, Google Home and other home automations for voice-enabled arming and disarming.
Don't forget basic security measures. A security system helps protect your home, but it can also create a false sense of security that might lead you to be less careful. Make sure you're following these precautions:
• Lock all doors and windows when you're out of the house.
• Display security system yard and window signs. These signs can scare off burglars.
• Keep the lights on when you're not there.
• Don't leave a key under the doormat or another obvious place.
• Hold your mail at the post office when you're out of town. If packages pile up at your door, burglars might see it as a sign that you're not home.