Unlocked Doors Join Unused Alarms Failing to Thwart Theft

Millions of Americans who invest in deadbolts and home alarms are failing to benefit from those devices and leaving their property vulnerable to theft, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. said.

Twenty percent of homeowners with alarm systems fail to activate them during the day, even though that’s when most thefts occur, according to a Nationwide survey released today. About 25 percent of Americans said they left their front doors unlocked when leaving the house at least once in the past year.

“Preventive measures only work if you use them,” Pete Lore, associate vice president of property technical claims at Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide, said in a statement.

June, July and August have the highest burglary rates of the year, according to Nationwide, the seventh-largest U.S. home insurer. The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that Americans were the victims of about 2.19 million burglaries in 2011, an increase of about 0.9 percent from a year earlier.

More than a third of homeowners said they tend to leave ground-floor windows unlocked. Forty-one percent of those age 18 to 34 said they post social media photos or updates when they’re on vacation, revealing their absence.

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive of 1,005 Americans with homeowners or condominium insurance, Nationwide said.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.