Do I Really Need a Security System?

Lisa Melillo
Updated Jan 28, 2021
3 min read

Property crime is on the decline — and fast. Burglaries in the United States have decreased more than 44% since 2009 and are continuing to drop each year. Home security systems are partially to thank for this; with more homeowners choosing to instal alarm systems, criminals have far fewer homes to target.

 With home burglary statistics showing that unwanted entry is becoming less prevalent, you may wonder, “Should I get a security system?” As long as you have the budget for it, the answer is yes. Home security systems serve an important role in neutralizing not just burglaries but other types of emergencies like fires. Plus, you may be able to recoup the costs of your home security system over time by paying less in home insurance premiums.

Home burglary statistics

In 2018, the most recent year for which the FBI offers data, there were 1.2 million burglaries in the United States. More than half of these involved forced entry and two thirds targeted residences. Those who were the victim of a burglary suffered an average loss of $2,799, costing Americans a grand total of $3.4 billion.

But there’s good news. These numbers have dropped significantly over the past several years. Burglaries as a whole were down 11.9% from 2017, 28.2% from 2014, and 44.2% from 2009. Small rural communities saw the greatest decline, with the number of burglaries dropping 17.1% in just two years.

Do home security systems deter crime?

There are several potential explanations for such a drastic reduction in property crime across the country, but one common theory is that home security systems are becoming more prevalent. The idea is that the introduction of affordable security systems has deterred burglars from committing crimes in the first place. With this in mind, are home security systems worth it?

Plenty of research has shown that burglars are much less likely to target homes with security systems installed. Security systems equal video footage that can be used to identify them and motion detectors that might summon authorities before they can flee the area. A University of North Carolina study surveyed incarcerated burglars and found that five in six checked for a security system before attempting a robbery. Only 13% would proceed with a burglary if they discovered a security system during their attempt.

Another survey by Idaho-based KTVB found that home security systems were among the top factors burglars looked at when deciding which homes to target. Other common reasons to avoid a home included the presence of a large dog and the sound of a TV playing inside.

The bottom line is that having a home security system not only helps put a stop to burglaries, it can also prevent them from occurring in the first place. In fact, some homeowners even post fake security signs for nonexistent alarm systems in an attempt to deter robbers, although whether this is a good idea is up for debate.

Pros of home security systems

Home burglary statistics show that a security system can be an effective way to convince criminals not to target your home. But there are many other advantages to having an alarm system in place. In the event that a burglar does decide to break in, you’ll be notified immediately and can dispatch police in a matter of seconds. The chance of catching the criminals in the act before they get away with your hard-earned possessions is much higher.

Home security systems can also be customized to incorporate safety devices such as smart smoke detectors. These devices not only sound the alarm locally in the event of a fire, they’ll also notify you on your smartphone if you’re not home — and if you have professional monitoring, the fire department, too. Catching a fire early is one of the best ways to prevent it from spreading, so every minute counts between the moment the blaze starts and the arrival of emergency responders.

When either of the above scenarios happens without a security system, the potential for expensive damages is much higher. But in most cases, you aren’t the one responsible for covering them. Most homeowners have a home insurance policy that, among other benefits, pays claims that result from burglaries and fires. If you can show your home insurance company that you have a security system installed, they’ll probably give you a break on your policy premiums in exchange for the lowered risk. Over time, you could even make back some or all of the money you spent installing the system.

Cons of home security systems

Nothing is ever black and white. The main drawback of security systems is the cost involved. Depending on the complexity of the system you choose, the initial investment may run in the several hundreds of dollars. There’s also the cost of professional monitoring to consider. This incurs an additional monthly cost and never goes away as long as your security system is installed.

Some security companies also ask you to commit to a minimum service contract of anywhere from a few months up to three years or more. Generally, you can save money in upfront equipment costs by choosing these options. But you should use caution when signing and make sure to find out what happens if you decide you want to cancel before the end of your contract, or if you move to a new home not serviced by that company.

Finally comes the potential issue of your home security system exposing you to a different type of criminal: cybercriminals. Certain types of security systems, particularly those that operate on a wireless connection, are susceptible to hacking. To avoid this, make sure to set strong passwords and only purchase a home security system from a company with a good reputation.


Are home security systems worth it? Our experts say yes. Modern security systems are more advanced and affordable than ever, and they’re incredibly effective at not just stopping crime but deterring it entirely. As you start shopping, don’t forget to check out our list of the best home security cameras.

Lisa Melillo

Lisa Melillo is a freelance writer and entrepreneur with a background in personal finance, insurance, and international business.

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