Tips on Buying a System

* How many entrances are going to be integrated into the alarm system?

Consider the number of windows and doors in the house. It is advisable that all windows and doors, even the smaller attic windows, should be connected to the alarm system. The number of entrances determines the complexity of the wirings and it also determines where you should put control centers to turn the alarm on or off.

* Decide on the alarm system company to install the security devices.

Consult a security system specialist, an insurance agency, the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) or the police department for recommendations.

Make sure that the company does a free survey and inspection. Ask for the installer's recommendation, explanation for his assessment and the price quote. Have it properly documented so you can compare it with the contract, once you decided to avail of the services of the company.

You also have an option to buy a do-it-yourself alarm system, although this may not be as reliable as a system install by professionals. This is usually the "bells only" system where the homeowner is alerted by a sound if unauthorized entry sets the alarm off.

* Should you subscribe to monitoring station?
An advanced alarm system can connect to 24-hour monitoring company and alerts them if the system has recorded a breaking-in. The monitoring company then alarms the local police. This is the best option, though an agreement with a monitoring company requires a monthly fee.

10 Important Things:

1. Think like a burglar

Pretend you're a burglar who's scoping out your neighborhood. Look for any feature of your property that offers opportunities to an intruder. For example, a ladder left outdoors offers potential access to second-floor windows. Leaving your garage door open while you do yard work can also tempt criminals.

2. Landscape for security

Design your yard with security in mind. Arrange sight lines so neighbors can see into your yard. A solid fence promotes privacy but makes it easier for criminals to work undetected. Consider a chain link fence instead.

Utilize the 3-foot/6-foot rule, a police officer with the Community Crime Prevention program in Minneapolis recommends. Trim tree branches up to 6 feet off the ground and trim your shrubs down to 3 feet. This creates a "window effect" into your yard and minimizes hiding places for burglars.