If you are considering purchasing a home security system, one of the first questions … is whether home security systems actually deter crime. According to the research, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes.’…Safewise.com web article “Do Home Security Systems Deter Crime?”

According to FBI 2016 crime statistics, the average dollar loss from nearly over 1.6 million reported burglaries was $2,316. Add to that loss the incalculable effects of feeling less safe at home, and the motivation to invest in a home security system is understandable.

So, how do we know that home security systems actually deter burglars? Simple: researchers asked convicted burglars.


Getting inside the burglars’ heads

A UNC Charlotte study funded by the Alarm Industry Research and Education Foundation (AIREF) found that the presence of an alarm system was a strong deterrent when it came to the selection of potential targets by burglars.

The report, “Understanding Decisions to Burglarize from the Offender’s Perspective,” examined the responses of 422 convicted male and female burglars across three states – North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio. The study “closely examined the decision-making processes of 422 randomly selected male and female burglars” locked up in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Ohio.”

Among the probing questions asked was “What deters burglars from burglarizing specific targets?” Burglars reported that their top three deterrents were:

  • Being near other people in high traffic areas, or the presence of pedestrians, neighbors, and law enforcement.
  • Lack of escape routes
  • The presence of an alarm system was a top deterrent when burglars selected their target.

Other findings were that:

  • About 60 percent of the burglars reported that the presence of an alarm would motivate them to look for an alternate target.
  • 80 percent said they would look for the alarm before carrying out the crime, and a similar percentage said they would never attempt to disable an alarm.
  • Only 1 in 10 convicted burglars said they would always attempt a burglary if an alarm was present, but more than 40 percent would abort the burglary if they found an alarm present.
  • In general, alarms and dogs “seem to provide an effective means of deterrence for burglars, though alarms are cited as more of a deterrent than dogs.


The techniques burglars use:

The study found that most burglars enter homes through open windows or doors or force their way through those entry points. Most (just 1 in 8) do not pick locks or use a stolen key. Very few (1 in 5) cut telephone or alarm wires before the burglary.

The most common burglary tools were screwdrivers, followed by crowbars and hammers. They used those tools in search of cash, jewelry, illegal drugs, electronics and prescription drugs. The majority (65%) worked to get rid of their stolen loot immediately.

Finally, most burglars will sell or your stuff to strangers, pawnshops, or friends. They commit burglaries to acquire money for drug habits (64%), to pay living expenses (49%), to party (35%), as well as to buy clothing (31%), gifts (17%) and gambling (5%).

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