The FINANCIAL -- Though many Northwest households take measures to protect their homes from burglaries and theft, a new poll from PEMCO Insurance finds that an alarming number of residents don't invest in security systems – and of those who do, just half say they always activate their systems when they're away.
The latest PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll found that about half of respondents (53 percent) in Oregon and Washington say they have some type of security system at home, whether it's a paid monitoring system, self-installed surveillance cameras, coded entry gate or other safeguard. But the poll found that even among those who use a monitored alarm system, just 53 percent say they always activate it when they leave.
"We were surprised to learn that a significant number of households neglect to activate their alarm systems when they leave home," said PEMCO Spokesperson Derek Wing. "These days, with new smart-home security technologies and alerts that are delivered right to your phone, it seems easier than ever to add an extra layer of protection to your home."
Beyond security systems, the poll found that many residents also rely on other lower-tech methods to protect their homes while they're away. More than half of those surveyed (58 percent) ask their neighbors to keep an eye on their homes while they're gone, and another one-third (34 percent) say they leave a key with neighbors as a safeguard, as well.
For those headed out of town this summer, PEMCO reminds residents to consider these security measures to ensure your home is safe when you're not there:
Install deadbolt locks that have high-security strike plates (the metal plates attached to the door frame) and long screws, which compensate for soft wood in the door frame.
Install pin-type locks on sliding glass doors and lay a broom handle or dowel in the door's runner as a backup.
Purchase an audible system that sounds inside where the intruder can hear it, and outside where neighbors can hear it. The best alarms also feature reliable sensors that detect intruders before they enter through outside windows and doors.
Don't leave spare keys outside. Burglars know that doormats and planters are common hiding places.
Don't tell strangers about your vacation plans, and warn children to do the same. You might want to avoid posting specific out-of-town dates on social media, as well.
Make sure to mow your lawn and trim any shrubbery that could provide cover for a burglar or serve as a boost to upstairs windows.
Leave a car in the driveway or ask a neighbor to park there.
Connect several lights and even a radio or mp3 player to an automatic timer.
"Statistics show that the summer months bring higher rates of burglaries, so while security systems might not guarantee your home will be safe, having an alarm is still one of the best ways to protect your home from theft. Outside of the added peace of mind, it could entitle you to a discount on your homeowners or renters insurance policy, as well," Wing added.