Written by: Guest | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: February 24th, 2020
Guest Post by Credit.com
Every year in the United States there are an estimated 1.2 million burglaries, which means a burglary is committed roughly every 15 seconds.
In light of these numbers, you may be wondering if a home security system is a worthwhile investment. Let’s examine the cost of a break-in versus the average cost of a home security system, as well as ways to prevent a burglary or mitigate the damage if your home is robbed.
When someone breaks into your home and steals or damages your property, homeowners or renters insurance will likely cover the expenses.
However, don’t be fooled. Insurance companies have to recoup their losses too and will almost certainly do so in the form of a premium increase. In most cases, these premium increases are permanent, so you will pay for the life of your insurance policy.
Windows and doors
Unless you’re a burglar’s favorite kind of victim (i.e., one who left the front door unlocked), there’s a good chance you may be looking at damaged windows and/or doors. The cost of replacing a front door or window is significant, often costing hundreds of dollars. Even if you’re a renter, you may be asked to pay for a portion of this. The exact amount will depend on the terms of your lease.
Now for the most obvious of any burglary costs — personal property. Items such as jewelry, electronics, art, and more are the prime targets of any good burglar.
While much of this cost may be covered by your insurance, don’t count on everything being covered. The gap between what insurance pays and what you lost will vary (unfortunately not always in your favor).
In many break-ins, burglars tend to damage items around the home simply because they can. Many burglary victims have reported their furniture being damaged beyond repair, which is yet another loss that may not be completely covered by insurance. The cost of new furniture and replacing other damaged property could be another hidden cost of a break-in.
Destructive thieves take it upon themselves to completely trash the home they’re robbing. Sometimes this is because they’re looking for more valuables, looting in haste, or just because they can. More often than not, burglary victims are forced to hire cleanup services, which is yet another added cost.
The average cost of a home security system
Most security systems have three costs:
The initial system cost plus installation
Activation fees (usually a one-time cost)
The monthly cost of “monitoring,” or having someone available to call the police should an alarm get tripped at your home
The cost of a home security systems is a sliding scale depending on initial cost vs monthly fees. These systems range from $0 installation (usually comes with a higher monthly fee) to $700 for high-end equipment. Monthly fees tend to vary, but don’t expect to pay more than $100 per month. Overall, it’s cheaper in the long run to implement a security system than it is to recoup your losses from a break-in.
Now that you know the exorbitant costs you may be facing if your home or business gets broken into, let’s talk about a few ways to prevent burglaries that you may not have thought of before.
- Alarm signs
You may think that a home security sign out front will help fend off potential burglars, but you may be inadvertently giving them the keys to your house. Knowing the name of your alarm company can allow criminals to either go online and download a diagram of your home or find out how the system is wired in order to easily bypass it.
It’s still worth it to warn burglars that your home is protected, but invest in a generic sign that says something like, “This home is protected by an alarm system.” This way, you let people know your home is secure, but you aren’t giving away too much information.
- Storage of valuables
If you don’t have a safe, you’ll want to hide your valuables somewhere a burglar wouldn’t think to look. For example, you could leave your grandmother’s diamond brooch in the basement ceiling or inside a cereal box. Just don’t leave them in your underwear drawer or between the mattresses, which are the first places thieves are going to look. Your best bet is to invest in a safe or safe deposit box.
- "Beware of Dog" sign
If you’re a pet person, you may want to consider adopting a dog. This can be your second line of defense if a burglar does manage to get into your home. Dogs can sense danger better than humans and may be able to scare off an amateur burglar.
Burglaries can happen fast. That’s why it’s important to arm your alarm system every time you leave your house even if you’re just “running out” for a moment. Thieves have often “cased” your home, meaning they know a little about your daily routine and if your home is well protected. If you leave without setting your alarm, you’re inviting these burglars into your home. Never leave your home unalarmed when you’re gone.
When it comes to the cost of a break-in versus the cost of an alarm system, the alarm system wins by a wide margin. Break-ins end up costing victims thousands of dollars, while an alarm system is in the hundreds. Additionally, no one will steal your priceless valuables or heirlooms, and you don’t have to deal with the disturbing feeling of having your personal space violated.
Having your home broken into can lead to financial problems down the road, even damaging your credit if you rely too heavily on credit cards to replace your stolen property. Or, you may spend so much trying to recoup your losses that you fall behind on other bills. Don’t let a home break-in lead you down a “bad credit” road.