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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 12:09 pm

My husband is in the military police. He has been in the marine corps for 12 years, and now the Army for 8 years. He is in Afghanistan at present, but our house has 2 guns and two rifles hidden in strategic places for my protection, just in case of a break in. We also have a house alarm with a silent alarm.
BUT what I was wanting to tell you is to make sure the burglar is in the house before you shoot them, as it won't stand up in court if he is halfway out or in the window/door, or out in the yard. He must be 100% in the home.

Think like they think
August 03, 2013 at 11:29 am

I also have rifles,pistols but my dog would lick you to death. A man hides in the bush and you come home, he places a gun to your wife's head and you do what... with a good alarm he tells you to enter the code (which is 3335). You give him the code backwards 5333 and this sends a silent alarm and cops now know your life is in danger. Police come with no sirens. You just hope they handle this correctly. If you have the chance to use your gun great. Just remember they were coming at you and you were afraid for your LIFE!!!! Hope this never happens to you.

August 03, 2013 at 10:20 am

House is at the end of a long dead end street, seems thiefs do not like homes with only one escape route for their vechicle.Plus the local law likes to sit in the lot at the begining of the street. Curtains are open 24-7 so the theif can case the house and see the only thing of value is a big old tvf that would take a strong person to carry out.A pistol keeps my company at night. Was walking thru the house one night with a flashlight and next thing I knew I had 3 cop cars out front.

August 03, 2013 at 9:31 am

editing realistic post????

August 03, 2013 at 9:28 am

Never seen a DOG stop a crossbow or poison hamburg yet.

August 03, 2013 at 9:06 am

My husband and I both have a gun on our night stand that is loaded and ready that says "make my day" We also have a security system and 2 dogs that don't like strangers !

August 03, 2013 at 7:37 am

Yes, and while you're fumbling with the safe key or combination, the intruder will be standing by your side, waiting patiently for your defense system to kick in. Keep one of your handguns by your bedside, fully loaded with one in the barrel. That's the way you stay prepared.

August 03, 2013 at 1:24 am

Where we live, grown men with rifles are scared to walk down the road at night and anyone showing up on our doorstep is frightened.

The wolves, bears, coyotes,cougars and mountain lions are sufficient protection from thieves. Or rather the possibility of being eaten is.

August 03, 2013 at 1:08 am

I have "Colt m-1911 security service"this will really blow you

August 03, 2013 at 12:38 am

Well lets see, I have a very large gun safe with an .45, two .40's and a 9mm to go with my lovely Benelli shotgun and even lovelier AR-15. So, plz try and break into my home. The law is on my side 😉