Summer Months Bring Highest Rates of Burglaries – Is Your Home Secure

July 25, 2011
The summer months are the perfect time for a vacation getaway. Unfortunately, they are also the perfect time for a home robbery. According to the FBI, the summer months of July and August have the highest rates of burglaries. Better Business Bureau is advising homeowners, who are looking to secure their property this summer, to do their research when picking a home security system.

According to an Academic Study of Home and Business Security by Temple University, the Electronic Security Association (ESA) says that homes without security systems are about 3 times more likely to be broken into than homes with security systems. (Actual statistic ranges from 2.2 times to 3.1 times, depending on the value of the home.) Losses due to burglary average $400 less in residences with security systems than homes without alarm systems.

Although no system makes your home completely burglar-proof, a home security system can reduce your chances of being burglarized and give you some peace of mind. In 2010, BBB received nearly 25,000 inquiries from customers asking about burglar alarm systems.

“It’s important to investigate the purchase of a home security system with the same care you would any major purchase,” said Kim States, BBB President. “There are too many door-to-door salespeople selling home security systems out there that don’t always have your best interest at heart.”

Each summer BBB receives many calls from consumers inquiring about door-to-door security system salesman, who tend to kick their sales efforts into high gear during the summer months.

Derric Roof, Operations Manager at Central Alarm in Tucson, told BBB that many of the sales people that go door-to-door in are what people in the industry call “summer salesmen.”

Often times, Roof says, an out-of-town security system firm will bus the sales people into town to sell door-to-door for a couple weeks at a time, before shipping them off to another city.

Central Alarm, which doesn’t conduct door-to-door sales, recently launched their second annual summer mail campaign to alert their customers to misleading summer alarm sales workers. Among the tips they are offer are:

  • Ask for an ID badge, business card, or literature with the alarm company’s name on it.
  • Ask who will be monitoring their security account, and whether that specific monitoring service is guaranteed over the length of the contract.
  • Clarify that the person doing the work in your home is a licensed professional. Alarm companies operating within the city limits of Tucson need a license from both the Registrar of Contractors and the City of Tucson.
  • Ask for the exact location of the monitoring station.   

BBB advises consumers to do the following when looking to invest in a home security system:

Contact at least three companies before selecting an installer. Find out if they are properly licensed in your state and if they screen employees before hiring. Make sure to check with the ESA website for a list of member companies throughout the United States who have agreed to abide by the National Code of Ethics.

Ask about all charges up front. Prices for home security systems will vary, based on the level of protection and type of technology used, so be sure to compare apples-to-apples bids on similar systems. Do not forget to factor in the initial installation charge, as well as monthly monitoring charges. Also, talk to your insurance agent; some systems may qualify you for a discount on homeowner's premiums.

Know the ins and outs of your contract. If your alarm system will be monitored, either by your installing company or by a third-party monitoring center, find out the length of the contract. Typically, monitoring contracts are between two to five years in length. What is your recourse if you are not satisfied with the services provided? Can you cancel the contract? What are your rights if your monitoring company is purchased or acquired by another alarm company? These are the types of questions you need to consider before you obligate yourself to a long-term contract.

Insist that the installer "walk" you through your system until you fully understand how it works. This will prevent the most common problem: false alarms. False alarms are an indicator of the quality of the alarm installation and user education. Ask for a complete inspection of your property and an itemized written estimate. Review the sales contract closely to ensure you understand exactly what equipment and protection you will be provided.

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