Our homes are our sanctuaries and
the thought of someone breaking in is
disturbing to say the least. But each year
there are more than 2 million burglaries
in the United States according to the
National Burglar and Fire Alarm
Association (NBFAA). By taking
precautions and installing a burglar
alarm, you may be saving yourself the
heartache of dealing with the effects of a
burglary. Homes without security
systems are three times more likely to be
targeted than homes with security
devices"and we're not talking about a
junkyard dog guarding your home.
While we are enjoying the summer
months vacationing with our families,
burglars are also taking pleasure in what
June, July, and August can offer"no one
at home. According to FBI statistics,
those three months tend to see a 10 to
18 percent increase in home burglaries.
Approximately 28 percent of burglaries
are made without force, meaning that a
door or window was left open, and can
be easily remedied by locking up your
home when you leave even momentarily.
For the other 72 percent of burglaries, an
alarm system can be a huge deterrent.
Common burglar alarm systems
consist of a control panel, a security
keypad, magnetic contacts for windows
and doors, a siren and a battery for a
back-up power source. Other, more
advanced, security items include motion
sensors and sensors that detect the
sound waves from breaking glass, closedcircuit
TV monitoring and panic buttons
that notify the authorities in an
One of the most important elements
of modern security systems is two-way
monitoring versus an alarm that makes a
lot of noise but doesn't do anything else,
also known as a "local" alarm. Alarm
systems can be connected via telephone
lines to a 24-hour monitoring station. If
your system detects a break-in or a fire
alarm, the monitoring company will alert
the proper authorities as to your
problem"leaving you peace of mind
while you are away from home.
How much is a system and what
do I get?
NBFAA estimates that homeowners
spend more than $15 billion on
professionally installed security devices
and services each year. Individual system
costs can range from about $100 and up
depending on the alarm system.
Available monitoring services are
often closely linked with the system you
have installed in your home, so before
you install a system, make sure you can
get the type of monitoring service you
prefer. Some alarm companies outsource
their monitoring to out-of-state
companies while others have highly
trained local staff to monitor your alarm
system. Matthew Foster of FSA, Inc. a
Brinks Home Security Authorized Dealer
in Reno, Nevada also recommends that
you find a monitoring company with a
back up station to answer alarm calls.
That way, if one call center has a phone
system malfunction, the secondary call
center can handle any alarms that occur.
There are a lot of items to consider
when finding the alarm system that is
suitable to your needs. You should ask
- Is the system easy to use?
- Does the system come with a
maintenance plan to cover parts
- Does the system have a rechargeable
- Am I satisfied with a "localized" system
or do I want to be connected to a ULListed,
24-hour monitoring center?
- Who does the monitoring, and what is
their experience and reputation?
- Do you want your system to protect
you against fire and carbon monoxide
poisoning as well as burglary?
"Crunch the numbers before you
purchase a system," says Matthew Foster.
Sometimes it is far cheaper to lease the
system than it is to purchase the system.
And make sure to check the cost of
moving. Does the company offer free
installation at a new home or do they
charge for time and labor and product all
over again? "Make sure the monitoring
rates are fixed," cautions Foster. "You may
have signed a contract that contains fine
print allowing the rates to be increased if
another monitoring company takes over
Current security system technologies
make it easy for homeowners to install
their own systems. And while this can
save you money, it is much better to hire
a professional to install your security
system. With professional installation you
can be assured that the system will
function properly and follows local
building codes. When looking for a
professional, follow these
- Ask your friends, family, neighbors,
and insurance agent for referrals.
The Builders Association of Northern
Nevada can also offer some company
names and contact information.
- Call several companies and ask if their
employees are regularly trained and
certified by NBFAA and vendors.
- Contact your police department's
crime prevention department,
consumer protection agencies and
the Better Business Bureau for an
installer's work history information.
- Ask the installation company
representative to provide inspection
information, recommendations, and
price quote in writing.
Whatever system you choose, you will
be purchasing peace of mind from
burglaries. Now you can enjoy the
summer months while putting a damper
on the fun burglars are having in your