An electronic home security system can be the source of great peace of mind or great financial headache. That’s because buying a system, and the alarm monitoring that often goes along with it, can be a thorny purchase, fraught with such perils as wildly differing prices, high-pressure sales tactics and unfriendly contracts.
Basic home security systems, or burglar alarms, are typically wired to a central control panel in the home that will activate when windows or doors are opened while the system is armed. More advanced systems add fire and carbon monoxide alarms, motion sensors, glass-break detectors and, increasingly, home automation options such as controlling home lighting and temperature.
The good news is that almost 80 percent of homeowners with alarms rated their systems as effective in protecting their homes, according to a survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.
But consumers shopping for systems often report hassles, said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, which collects customer ratings for various categories.
“Home alarms is one of the categories where we hear complaints about high-pressure sale and scare tactics,” she said. Some companies insist on long-term monitoring contracts.
And prices can be all over the place, said Robert Krughoff, president of Consumers’ Checkbook, which rates home security companies and recently published an extensive report on the topic to its members.
“We see a lot of variation in price and no real relationship between quality and price,” he said. “We found some of the lower-cost places rated very high in terms of quality, and some of the high-priced places don’t rate particularly high.”
Here are some basic questions and answers to help you shop.
Burglars usually aren’t sophisticated. They often take advantage of unlocked doors or windows that are easily jarred open.
“Most of the time they get in through very unartful means,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor of Consumers’ Checkbook.
Cheap and effective alternatives are quality deadbolts on doors, substantial window locks and motion-sensor lighting outside. You could get a dog, although its care might turn it into a pricey option. You could bluff by posting a Beware of Dog sign or the window stickers from alarm companies.
Habits matter too. Always lock you doors when you’re away. And when you’re on vacation, put lights on timers and have someone pick up newspapers or place newspapers on vacation hold.
“Those things really matter,” Krughoff said.
The Consumer Reports survey found that 19 percent of respondents said they at least occasionally leave doors at home unlocked when they’re out, and 26 percent said they at least occasionally leave windows unlocked when they’re not at home.
How do I choose an equipment installer?
Get several price quotes for both system installation and monitoring, perhaps starting with companies rated highly by Consumers’ Checkbook or Angie’s List. Check for complaints against individual companies with the Better Business Bureau. Salespeople who try to intimidate or pressure you into a quick decision, sometimes pointing to recent spate of burglaries in the area, are ones to avoid, according to tips at Angieslist.com. The inability of salespeople to explain how the system works is another red flag. In a recent report, Consumers’ Checkbook found prices vary widely. Prices for installation and three years of monitoring ranged from less than $2,000 to more than $3,300 for the same job.
America’s Top 25 Most Dangerous Cities Revealed – Stress the Need for Security Systems in Medium Cities
Most people tend to think that they are relatively safer if they live in a medium city. However, findings from a study conducted by the research Web site neighborhoodscout.com show that small to medium cities are the new hot target of criminal activities. Neighborhoodscout.com recently released a list of the top 25 most dangerous cities in America, which features the usual suspects like Chicago, Detroit, and Flint, MI, alright, but also surprisingly features names of cities that aren’t usually associated with violent crime and armed robbery. Cities like Tulsa, OK, and Indianapolis, IN, for instance, feature among the top 25 crime hotspots.
Revelations like this once again stress the need for home security systems Chicago and alarm systems across all homes in every city, big and small. If you too believe that you are safe as long as you’re not living in New York or Los Angeles, this list will shock you. If you are in Tulsa, OK, your chances of being a victim are 1 in 15 in a single year. Indianapolis features twice on the list and a relatively quiet neighborhood in Greenville, SC, comes up on number 8.
Andrew Schiller, the founder of Neighborhood Scout told The Huffington Post that most people’s idea of dangerous cities is far from reality.
So many people think, well, I live in a medium city so it can’t be that bad, not like big cities like New York or Los Angeles,” Schiller said. “But those cities aren’t that dangerous overall – of course they have dangerous neighborhoods – but overall, they aren’t nearly as dangerous as places like Indianapolis.”
It turns out that the cities that are usually expected to be more dangerous are in fact, surprisingly less so. This is because in major cities like Detroit, MI, there are just one or two neighborhoods that remain primary targets and make all of the news. Areas in the suburbs and the relatively less-guarded neighborhoods, on the other hand, are easy targets.
These findings from Neighborhood Scout are also backed by sources and reports from FBI crime data as well as data from 17,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S., so there’s definitely good reason to worry. Criminals, burglars, and other kinds of miscreants are now more diligent in their approach. As such, homeowners everywhere need to be prepared.
The worry must, however, translate into action. If you haven’t armed your home with advanced home security equipment yet, it’s time you got in touch with your trusted home security company chicago and secure your home from any untoward intrusion or burglary.