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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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Rick Reynolds
August 06, 2013 at 12:09 am

Joe, That is an ignorant thing to tell your wife or anyone! if a person is threatened with great bodly harm or death it doesn't matter what the location is where they are shot! Inside or out is not the issue. Was there a threat to their safety is the question. If she then tries to drag the body inside the house she is now guilty of tampering with evidence and is in big trouble! If you think the police CSIs won't find evidence the body has been moved then you are even more ignorant of the way things work. Your advice is about 50 or 60 yeras behind the times! I know because I am a retired police officer and court recognized security expert. I'm not saying you are stupid, only ignorant.Your wife could end up in jail following your advice.

August 05, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Always set that alarm! Even if you are just in the house all day. Set it on instant so the siren goes off without the warning beeps. Make sure your neighbors know you have a dog. It doesn't have to be big or vicious, just loud eoungh to wake you up so you can shoot the burglars.
Glock should underwrite insurance policies.

Vicki Plaugher
August 05, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Well, this was quite a surprise to read! When we are away, I have my mail held or picked up a reliable neighbor, stop the newspaper (a dead giveaway that you're not around), and I don't post anything on social media about our plans. The last vacation we took, I hired a dependable person to come over every other day to water our plants. She sent me text messages that all was OK, and that went a LONG way to make me feel better while we were away.

Take common sense measures and post your vacation picks AFTER you get back!

August 04, 2013 at 2:46 am

Post on Facebook and lie in wait. That's a staycation with adventure, mystery, and intrigue.

August 03, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Breach takes 3 seconds. SET your alarm. You can not arm your self in time.

August 03, 2013 at 3:59 pm

The reality is a gun does you no good in a situation if it is not in your possession. A gun in the house is false security!!

August 03, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I gave you my E-Mail. what is wrong with my two posts???

August 03, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Actually, I hope all those people that like showing off on Facebook get robbed.

Joe, it would be better if you guys enticed the thief inside, or make sure you shoot him in the front not the back. If you start dragging bodies, you set yourself up for a defeat in court.

August 03, 2013 at 1:45 pm

The thing that bothers me the most is that many of my Facebook friends advertise their vacation plans on Facebook and even post daily pictures along the way. They announce to the world that their house is empty. I NEVER post vacation plans and hold off on the pictures until we are back home.

August 03, 2013 at 1:27 pm

I always tell my wife ,If you shoot um outside just make sure to drag them inside before calling the cops.