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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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August 03, 2013 at 12:30 am

We have dogs, but they would lick you to death. We had someone attempt to steal our car out of the driveway (there was another car parked behind it). Didn't get away with the car but caused lots of damage. We now have an alarm system and use it all the time. If they get past that, the Smith and Wesson is the next deterrent. Posting vacations on social media is a theifs message board, really stupid of people to do that, just saying......

August 02, 2013 at 11:31 pm

smith & Wesson 4 nights a week let the idiots guess which four also 2 80lbs dogs

August 02, 2013 at 11:29 pm

my home is defended by 2 80lb dogs 24-7 and smith & Wesson defends it 4 nights of the week I let the idiot guess which four

Simon Calwell
August 02, 2013 at 11:03 am

We have two dogs. One in the front yard, and one in the back. We put them together for a few hours every day to play. The good part of this is that when they are separated, they won't be together in one spot asleep so a burglar can go to the other side of the house. The whole house is always being watched. Did I mention that they both have BIG mouths? Also, our neighbors come and go at odd hours, so that even when we are gone with our dogs, somebody is watching the house. On top of all this, we have a security system that my friend put in for us. A word of warning, though; police are not obligated to respond, and if they do it could take a long time. However, our alarm will get instant response. I won't say why- it"s part of the system, and I'm lucky enough to have conections. But our first line of defense is the dogs, and anybody walking down the street will start ALL of the neighborhood dogs barking.

August 01, 2013 at 7:43 pm

So, When will the Author write "Did you ask to get raped?" for all the single ladies?

Maybe people should learn to not take or play with others things without permission. Something We all learned in kindergarten.

August 01, 2013 at 9:23 am

How many burglars carry a crossbow? Seems a bit cumbersome for someone that wants to get in and out quickly... I believe that most burglars look for opportunity. If they encounter a home with a barking dog, that draws attention that most do not want to deal with. If there is a burglar that is willing to "address" the dog situation, then they are prepared to address most any deterrent such as a home alarm too and they're gonna have your stuff regardless. Odds are that guard dogs are still great deterrents. Just sayin'~

August 01, 2013 at 6:55 am

My alarm system is a 100 lb. German Shepard who knows how to open the lever door knobs. He can let himself into any room and the garage at any moment!!!

July 31, 2013 at 9:10 pm

We are tired of people breaking in our houses and stealing our stuff. We have worked hard to be where we are today. If these crooks will notice, we in the South are covered under our laws to defend our homes and life. We will shoot you!

July 31, 2013 at 6:59 pm

How dumb to pay for a security system and not use it. The cast is a lot more then you save on insurance. I Live in a nice neighborhood but I use mine all the time even lots of times when I am home. expellee every at night. Bad people go every were. not always bad people some times just down on there luck. Not a good reason but in tell you been there do not judge them try to help some one in that situation Thank you and God bless every one

July 31, 2013 at 5:40 pm

DOG'S = crossbow, silent and quick.