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Do you invite home burglaries?

By Jay MacDonald ·
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

Maybe you've gone through this curious exercise when applying for home insurance: The agent (or website) asks you if you have a home security system, you reply in the affirmative and, voila, a small premium discount magically appears on your quote.

Do they ask if you actually use it? Naw -- they usually just knock a few bucks off the cost of the policy.

But when Nationwide Insurance decided to look into this curious home security mambo, they found that many homeowners care a lot more about shaving their premium than saving their stuff from burglars.

Security in place, but not in use

The survey of 1,005 homeowners released this week found that while 79 percent have at least one anti-theft device in their home, be it a full-blown alarm system or something as simple as a deadbolt lock, roughly a third never bother to activate these safeguards.

That's especially alarming to home insurers at this time of year, when burglars are thick as bluebottle flies. According to the FBI and Nationwide, June, July and August are the peak season for home theft, during months when the overall crime rate rises by up to 16 percent.

Among those surveyed, 20 percent said they routinely leave their alarm system disarmed during the day, when most burglaries occur; 25 percent admit they've left their front door unlocked a time or two; and nearly 35 percent leave their ground-floor windows unlocked and/or hide a spare key under the mat or elsewhere.

Too much information

Sheesh, the only thing worse from a security perspective would be if they somehow had a way to notify the bad guys they're leaving for a week's vacation. Oh, wait -- that's exactly what 41 percent of the respondents ages 18 to 34 admit to doing, by posting photos and updates on social media.

Nationwide says it conducted the survey to identify common behaviors that could result in the theft of personal property. On that front, I'd say: mission accomplished.

Should home insurance companies continue to offer discounts for security systems that are rarely used?

I imagine Nationwide is wondering the same thing.

Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus

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Jay MacDonald is a Bankrate contributing editor and co-author of "Future Millionaires' Guidebook," an e-book by Bankrate editors and reporters.

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Sambal Badjak
August 07, 2013 at 7:11 pm

If you are actually using your Facebook safeguards, like limiting your posts to "Friends" only and your "Friends" are actually that, not just some ego-satisfying number gotten by accepting everyone that asks to be your friend, it is no different than discussing your vacation with your neighbors or real friends before you go. Nothing on Facebook is "public" unless you let it be. That being said - there are a LOT of people that do not utilize those safety guards (especially with their children) and everything is visible to anyone. You can't help people who won't help themselves. There is a reason natural selection still prevails.