Are Alarm Systems Worth It? Weighing the Benefits vs. Costs

Are Alarm Systems Worth It? Weighing the Benefits vs. Costs

If you have never been a victim of a break in or home security breach, it can seem unnecessary to purchase an alarm system for you home. Typically, the deciding factor comes down to cost: Is it really worth the expensive equipment and monthly fees to pay for protection from an emergency that may never occur? The answer is ultimately up to the consumer, but when it comes to an alarm system, the risk of not having one often outweighs the money you would save by forgoing one.

According to the FBI Crime Report, over 2,000,000 burglaries (defined as any unlawful entry of a property) are reported in the United States each year. That’s more than 5,000 per day, and 75% of those burglaries occurred on residential property.[1] Many people often assume that they are immune to crime because they live in a safe neighborhood, on a quiet street or because they have never experienced a break in in the past. However, many of those 2 million burglary victims most likely thought the same thing. Based on the numbers, would you really want to risk it?

Costs and savings

Focusing on how much an alarm system costs can often be shortsighted. In the event of a home theft, the cost of your loss is likely to greatly exceed the cost of your alarm system, not to mention the trauma and inconvenience it can cause you and your loved ones.

According to the same FBI report, victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $4.7 billion in property losses in 2012; overall, the average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,230. If you were paying an average of $40 per month on your home’s alarm system, it would take nearly five years of payments to outweigh the cost of the average home burglary.

Plus, there are many ways to save money on your system, including purchasing and installing the equipment on your own, or choosing to monitor the system yourself through your mobile devices, saving both on upfront costs and monthly monitoring fees. If you’re on a budget, it’s very realistic to acquire a reliable, self-monitored alarm system for a one-time expense of under $500.

Of course, there are other savings an alarm system can provide: the lives of you and your family members. While burglary often only results in stolen material items while you’re away from your home, they can also potentially turn violent if you find yourself confronted by an intruder. Alarm systems can also provide protection from hazardous fumes and gases, such as carbon monoxide, alerting you immediately if they are present in your home. You cannot put a price on the life of your loved ones, and home alarm system is a small expense when compared to what it could save.

Perception vs. Function

Despite the high burglary rate and the benefits savings an alarm system can provide, only 14% of homes in the U.S. have an alarm system installed in their homes.[2] The FBI recognizes alarm systems as one of the major factors in deterring crime, citing that 1 in 3 homes without an alarm system are burglarized, compared to only 1 in 250 with a system. Much of this difference can be attributed to something as simple as having a sign in your front yard proclaiming that your home is equipped with an alarm, or hearing that beep when they enter the front door.

You may question then what the value is in having a monitored system, instead of just a sign in your front yard or a siren that simply sounds when an intruder enters, if it is these initial warnings that form the main barrier to entry to your home. The answer is simple: it’s not worth the risk. Many intruders will wait to hear for police sirens or a live voice to come through your system console before they vacate the premises, since it is a common practice to use unmonitored alarm systems as a scare tactic. In addition, in the event that a roommate, pet or family member is in danger you would definitely want the authorities alerted and en route immediately. If your child or spouse were injured in a home invasion and no one was notified to come to their aid, the $40 per month you were saving by not monitoring your system will seem vastly irrelevant.

So, Are Alarm Systems Worth It?

More than anything, an alarm system will bring you peace of mind. If you’re lucky, you may never have to use it to guard yourself from an attacker or prevent a burglary, but the worry and stress it will save you is priceless. Plus, it can be hard to know whether your alarm system stopped an intruder from entering your home, since, as established above, perception is as much a factor in preventing crime as an actual functioning system. Considering the amount of burglaries that occur in the U.S. on a daily basis, the cost of a monitored alarm system is a small price to pay when compared to the benefits it offers.

[1] http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/property-crime/burglary

[2] http://www.certifiedsecuritysystems.com/crime-statistics.aspx

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