Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hitting Home High-Tech Security Systems Keep Burglars, Fear at Bay

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hitting Home High-Tech Security Systems Keep Burglars, Fear at Bay

Article excerpt

Sales of burglar alarm systems are setting records here as homeowners scurry to protect their property and families from crime.

Rollins Protective Services has boosted service staff 30 percent to handle new business, said Dan Blake, who manages sales for the company based in Berkeley.

Rollins officials have watched sales jump 135 percent this year as homeowners across the area install and upgrade security systems, said Blake.

"People's awareness of crime increased," he said. "Crime has expanded from the inner city to surrounding counties. And people are more aware of it because it is hitting closer to home. It is a personal factor. They need peace of mind."

Blake said customers with modest systems wanted upgrades that protect the whole perimeter of the house, not just doors. "The needs of the family have changed," he said. "People are concerned when the wife comes home from work or the kids get back from school."

Some customers tell sales people that they had procrastinated about installing a system but that the recent abductions and murders here and nationwide had prompted action.

"People are scared," said Robert W. Farb, who heads Westco Security Systems Inc. in Chesterfield. "People want to do what they can to know they are safer at home then they were."

Earlier this month, a woman from west St. Louis County told Farb she moved here from New York convinced she was safer in a smaller town. But the abduction and murder of two school-age girls prompted her to buy an alarm.

"The crime wave is hitting here as well," said Farb. "It is not like it used to be when you could leave your door open."

Interface Systems Inc., based in St. Charles, installs state-of-the art alarm systems in homes of area executives. Corporations sometimes pay the bill as a perk for executives and their families who fear disgruntled employees represent a potential threat.

The St. Louis area follows a national pattern as more homeowners opt for security systems. In the last five years, homes with security systems increased 40 percent, according to the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association. Today, one in six homes has some electronic protection system, either professional or do-it-yourself.

"The residential market is the new frontier," said Lt. Jim Westcott of the Belleville police.

Why? Burglars prompt big business. Nearly seven million homes a year get burglarized, according to the federal government, which totals losses from home burglary at $4.3 billion in 1990.

Police know burglars hit unprotected houses as many as six times more often than those equipped with electronic security systems that deter or detect thieves.

"They work," said Westcott, who supervisors communications and computers for Belleville police. "Residential alarms are the best defense to protect your property when you are away."

No wonder business booms for companies that install, upgrade, service and monitor security systems. …

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