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Unveiling the Truth: How Effective Are Home Security Systems in Deterring Crime?

Oct 11, 2023|

According to the FBI, home burglaries result in an average property loss of $2,661. And that doesn’t even cover the emotional and psychological aftereffects of these crimes. That’s why many homeowners and renters turn to home security systems to protect their space.

But are home security systems worth it? Can they truly deter potential criminals?

The majority of the evidence points to a resounding yes.

Throughout this article, we’ll take a deep look at how home security systems impact crime, including:

  • What actual burglars say about security camera systems
  • The impact of security systems on crime rates
  • What law enforcement has to say about the effectiveness of security systems
  • A look at the exciting future of security cameras

But let’s first consider modern security systems and their potential to deter potential burglars.

Home protected by Vivint doorbell camera.

The role of security cameras and surveillance systems

Security cameras are an essential tool in deterring all kinds of criminal activity, especially property crimes and burglary.

Home security and CCTV cameras (closed-circuit television cameras) have come a long way in the past decade. Modern indoor and outdoor security cameras can detect people, send notifications to homeowners’ smartphones, and trigger alarms.

How does this impact a burglary?

Much of the allure of burglary is the anonymity of the crime. Burglars want to get in, poach some valuables for quick cash, and get out without any confrontation. But security cameras foil those plans. Not only do security cameras leave video evidence behind, but they also immediately notify homeowners, meaning the police won’t be far behind.

But the question is, does it really work?

The results speak for themselves.

Consider the example of one burglary in Florida. During the break-in, the burglar stole tools and ammunition totaling over $1,000. Because of the homeowner’s surveillance system, everything was caught on camera and the police were able to recognize and arrest the burglar.

A home security system was also key in solving a series of unsolved burglaries that stretched from Texas to Georgia. Between the homeowner’s smart camera and mobile app, the police were able to catch the burglar in the act and prosecute him for over a dozen other burglaries.

Many times, security systems even stop criminals in their tracks. Take the example of the attempted burglary at the home of Food Network star Valerie Bertinelli. When a burglar entered her home, the footage showed him noticing the security camera and leaving without taking a thing. Her security system clearly protected her that night.

Let’s be neighbors.

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Burglars' perspective: What convicted criminals say

We’ve collected the perspectives of several burglars from across the United States to help you better understand how burglars think and act.

On one podcast, a burglar, who admitted to avoiding homes with surveillance cameras and security systems, shared, “I know most home alarms are probably not set, but I won’t risk getting caught unless I can see through the window that the green light on the alarm keypad is telling me that it’s disarmed.”

On the same podcast, many burglars said that they would go straight to the front door, especially if the front door was hidden by overgrown shrubbery. Once there, they would check for door and window hardware that would be weak and easy to force open without making noise.

In another news report from Oregon, the investigative team interviewed 86 convicted burglars about their process. The majority shared that loud alarms and home security cameras were both major deterrents, causing them to abandon a target.

Note that in many of these examples, the burglars were particularly attentive to security systems, especially indoor and outdoor cameras and alarms.

Burglar trying to break into a car.

Alarm systems and notifications

Alarm systems use a network of motion sensors and glass break detectors to monitor your home. If any motion or the sound of broken glass is detected, the system will immediately send out an alarm. Most of the time, this is an extremely loud alarm that can be heard by neighbors.

Alarms are a top deterrent for burglars. After all, an alarm is loud, disruptive, and calls immediate attention to criminal activity. When a burglar hears an alarm, they know that it’s only a matter of moments before a neighbor or passerby hears it and calls the police.

Along with an alarm, modern security systems also pair with mobile apps to send homeowners immediate notifications on their smartphones. This allows homeowners, even when they’re out of the house, to check on their homes and call the police.

Because of how sophisticated security alarm technology has become, many burglars will back away at the first sign of an alarm system.

Security cameras’ impact on crime rates

The effectiveness of home security in halting crime is not just a theory—the evidence is overwhelming that security cameras deter crime.

Consider what a few academic studies have revealed on this subject.

Rutgers University published a study that focused on crime in Newark, NJ. In the study, they found that neighborhoods where homeowners installed security systems experienced a decrease in criminal activity. Over time, these areas reported significantly less crime than other areas without security systems.

In another study from the University of North Carolina’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, they found that 83% of burglars took the time to look for a home security system. Another 60% said that if there was a burglar alarm in the home, they would choose another target.

The evidence is clear: security systems decrease crime rates and keep neighborhoods safer.

Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro.

Criminal justice and law enforcement’s perspective

Many within the criminal justice and law enforcement arena recognize the value of security systems and cameras in their fight against crime.

Let’s look at what some of these experts had to say.

One district attorney out of New Orleans made a plea to homeowners and businesses to install more security cameras. During his impassioned speech, he noted, “This technology is a game changer. Please invest in security cameras. They have the potential to make a huge difference in the work we do.”

In fact, security cameras have been so effective in solving crime that many law enforcement agencies have partnered with security camera companies to provide free or discounted doorbell cameras to residents.

Not only do these security cameras help residents feel safer in their homes, but using them also allows law enforcement to better identify and catch criminals.

Beyond cameras: The comprehensive approach

There’s no doubt security cameras are a great first step in your home security strategy. However research shows that additional security devices can make your security system even more effective.

For example, with Vivint’s video doorbells, you can receive an alert as soon as someone approaches your front door.

Motion sensors—such as these ones from Vivint—can also detect somebody who enters your home outside of your security camera’s field of vision, such as through a window.

You may even consider smart home integration, which combines all your security devices under one convenient umbrella. With smart home systems like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, you can create routines and skills that keep you safe automatically. No more worrying whether you armed your security system or locked your front door.

Google Home Mini.

The future of home security systems

Home security is constantly growing and changing with exciting developments constantly in the pipeline.

Artificial intelligence is a great example of this. AI-powered cameras use special software to analyze audio and images from camera footage. With this software, security cameras can perform vehicle and facial recognition, focusing on specific zones that you designate. This can cut down on false alarms, such as someone passing on the street or your child coming home from school.

Of course, security technology also opens up its own challenges and ethical concerns. Does increased surveillance infringe on personal privacy? Are homeowners always required to hand over footage from outdoor cameras to police?

As we continue to grapple with these issues, there’s no doubt this technology will continue to evolve. It’s exciting to think about how we can adapt it to confront emerging threats and create safer homes.

Protect your home and have peace of mind with Vivint

In this article, we’ve examined how home security systems deter crime, looking at academic studies on crime rates, hearing from burglars as well as law enforcement officials, and taking a closer look at the future of home security.

It’s a lot of information—but the bottom line is that security systems really do deter crime and keep homes safer.

Here at Vivint, that’s our mission.

Talk with one of our security pros today about investing in our comprehensive home security system with measures to keep your entire family and home safe. It’s an investment not only in your home but also in your peace of mind.

To see how Vivint can make your home more safe and secure, give us a call today at 855.822.1220.

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