Photo: Flickr via mr_t_in_dc
Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner recently visited the Marketplace to sound off on whether Americans misplace their faith in home alarm systems.Dubner seems to think so, pointing to data that shows between 94 and 99 per cent of home sirens blaring around the country are triggered by false alarms.
Most of that is chalked up to human error, but inclement weather and malfunctioning technology contribute to the issue as well. Regardless, local police spend a whopping $2 billion per responding to false alarms each year.
For all that trouble, home alarm systems can cost a pretty penny, with monthly monitoring running from $30 to $50-plus, depending on how many bells and whistles you order.
There’s no denying the fact that burglary is just as prevalent as ever (about 2 million are reported each year, per the FBI), but there are a few more cost effective means of safeguarding your home from unwanted pilferers.
Ask for insurance discounts. Before you factor home security out of your budget, keep in mind that many insurance plans will slash their rates if you install an alarm system. That’s mostly because alarms are proven deterrents to burglars and it’s far cheaper to offer discounts than fork over cash to replace your stolen living room set.
Keep your lights on. Whether they’re hunting for copper or have their eye on your brand new 3-D TV, burglars will be less likely to visit well-lit homes. If you’re out of town, keep a couple of random lights on (some can even be programmed to turn on and off throughout the day).
Lock your windows and doors. It sounds like a no-brainer, but security expert Tom Kraeutler points to FBI research that shows one-third of burgled homes were left unlocked. Invest in a sturdy deadbolt, which can’t be picked as easily as the average doorknob. Patio doors are easy access points, too, he notes. Try a good patio bar for added security (a slim piece of wood that fits snug to the door will work in a pinch).
Trim your hedges. A clean, open yard leaves wrongdoers far fewer places to hide.
Fake it. If you’re really strapped for cash, just slap a home security system sticker on your windows or put a security system lawn sign on your front yard. That alone could be enough to ward off crooks.