By Brian Johnsrud
The $1.7 million five-bedroom, four-bath house that Bill and Hillary Clinton just closed on is expected to cost Americans an astounding $1 million for their security system, over half of the actual price of their home. Have our President and First Lady been pulled into the home-security frenzy enthralling America?
One in every five houses in America is equipped with a home security system. Americans are expected to spend $15 billion on electronic security devises and services, according to the Nation Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA). With that number being doubled from figures 10 years ago, many are wondering why there is such a demand. Experts say that newspapers and TV are feeding peoples paranoia.
"The feeling of being personally threatened by crime has risen in the last couple of years in spite of a falling crime rate," said Kara Rupard, a spokeswoman for the NBFAA. "Everybody seems to know someone who's had a break-in, and stories about people being terrorized in their homes are always in the newspapers and on TV. This feeds people's fear."
With so many companies offering different levels of systems, the average consumer has to ask which level of a high-tech system meets their needs. Beyond a certain point, extreme measures are usually a waste of money, according to Bruce Goldberg, senior vice president for marketing of Brinks Home Security.
"We do very few applications that cost more than $1,500," said Goldberg. "My own home has a system that cost about $1,000, and I feel completely comfortable with it."
If you want to spend $100 to $500, do-it-yourself alarms cost as
little as $50 at stores like Home Depot, which professionals say are only noisemakers that aren't wired in to a central station to alert police and are relatively easy to disarm. For as little as $99, some large home-security companies, however, offer a professionally installed basic system (keypad, control panel, interior siren, one motion sensor and two magnetic door-window contacts). Monthly monitoring fees average from $25 to $30.
No matter how extravagant the system, though, no house is completely burglar proof. Brinks Home Security offers some extra duties that the house owner can use to further assure a lower occurrence of robberies. Some of them are to trim trees and shrubs to avoid giving burglars cover, lock your doors while working outside, leave lights on at night when no one is at home, and never let mail, newspapers or other deliveries accumulate outside.
Another important asset is to get to know your neighbors. Visit with them and let them know when you're going to be gone.
"People who never communicate with their neighbors are among the easiest targets for burglars," said Goldberg.