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Home, secure home.

HOME, SECURE HOME

Residential burglary, oncemainly a nocturnal activity, is not so any more. Smart burglars no longer wait till the midnight hour to ply their trde. Instead, they make their "house calss" between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., when homeowners are away at their jobs.

To protect themselves, manyhome dwellers are turning to high-tech alarm systems and other security devices that can cost thousands of dollars. Yet some homes can be protected adequately for far less. For starters, police recommend the simple but effective precaution of locking doors and windows. The FBI says more than one-fifth of burglaries occur without forcible entry: intruders simply walk right in.

If you don't have adequatelocks already, you can buy and install them inexpensively. A dead-bolt lock, preferably one with a bolt that extends at least an inch into the jamb, is best for doors. Such locks can be purchased for less than $20. An installation kit may cost another $10. A locksmith or carpenter will charge about $100 to do the same job.

Regular sash locks providesome security for windows, but key or cylinder locks are better. Do-it-yourselfers may prefer to secure their windows by drilling holes at the sash joints and inserting quarter-inch stove bolts.

Of course, all the locks in theworld won't keep out a determined burglar, but another deterrent might--fear of being caught. The more vulnerable you can make a burglar feel, the better. For example, burglars welcome high hedges and shrubbery that will conceal them from the watchful eyes of neighbors. Homeowners may have to sacrifice aesthetics for security by trimming shrubbery more closely.

Neighborhood watch programshave had excellent results nationwide in making burglars feel insecure. And many police departments have special crime-prevention units that lend engraving devices to homeowners for marking valuables. "'Operation ID' window stickers have become a burglary deterrent in their own right," says Jimmy Hill, an Atlanta security expert, of one such campaign.

For those who need extra protection,many home-security systems are available, from simple alarm units, triggered by infrared or ultrasonic motion detectors, to elaborate central-station command systems that activate sirens or telephone for help in response to "entry" signals.

Before going shopping, heed thewarnings of security professionals to stay away from "cheap" store-bought or mail-order systems. "The supposed magic boxes you plug into the wall are nothing but junk," says Dick Bugbee, executive vice president of the National Burglary and Fire Alarm Association.

Nevertheless, some do-it-yourselfsystems do a good job securing the home. The national electronics retailer Radio Shack sells motion detectors for $60 to $100 and command systems for about $230. Black & Decker recently entered the home-security market with a do-it-yourself "professional-type" security system in two sizes. The apartment or starter model sells for $299. A larger, more sophisticated system with more remote-entry sensors costs $499. Black & Decker's region specialist, Fritz Hornbogen, says the company will soon introduce a telephone dialer to enhance the system.

More elaborate central-stationalarm systems cost much more. Honeywell, Inc., which provides a complete system, including 24-hour monitoring guards, indicates the price may run from 1 to 2 percent of the market value of your home. You'll also have to pay a monthly fee of $15 to $50 for the service, depending upon who does the monitoring--an answering service or a company staff person.

Debbie O'Mara of Security Distributing& Marketing magazine recommends buying from an established rather than from a new company. "A third of them fail within three years,c she says.

Just how effective are sophisticatedalarm systems? Actually, only rarely do they catch a burglar in the act. However, as a deterrent they are exceptional. A 1983 survey by Security Distributing & Marketing found that only 2 percent of houses with alarms had suffered break-ins. The sticker on the window was deterrent enough to send burglars packing to other homes that were easier pickings.
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Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:burglar alarms
Author:Hayes, Jack
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Apr 1, 1987
Words:641
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