A rash of thefts, burglaries and other crimes is prompting a growing number of families to rely on home security services.
A woman operates the control panel provided by a home security service company at her house last month. KYODO PHOTO
Home security services used to be for the rich, but people living in ordinary houses and condominiums are turning to them as fees drop to a few thousand yen per month. Kazuhiro Saito, 34, a company employee whose real name is withheld for privacy reasons, lives in a three-room condominium with a living room, dining room and kitchen. He subscribed to a service provided by a major security service company in 2005. “I had been worrying about many disturbing incidents in the news,” said Saito, who lives with his 32-year-old wife and their 5-year-old boy in Saitama Prefecture. “As my wife and son are spending the daytime mostly alone, I feel safe that they can inform the security company of an emergency by pushing a panic button,” he said. “There is a sense of security that we are always linked to somewhere.” There are a variety of services available, but the basics are pretty much the same. “In short, houses are watched by sensors and other devices,” said Masanori Oki, 42, a public relations official at Secom Co., the nation’s largest security service company. Installed inside and outside houses are infrared sensors keeping an eye out for intruders, sensors reacting to the opening and closing of doors and windows, and smoke detectors. If there is anything unusual, the alarm is raised at the house and at the contracting security service company. The sensors are operated by a terminal typically installed on a living room wall. Even if the sensors are not in operation, pushing the emergency button on the terminal notifies the security company something is amiss and their employees rush to the scene. Secom offers a service for a condominium with two rooms, a living room, a dining room and a kitchen at a standard fee of 4,830 yen a month. In addition, a client has to pay 31,500 yen for installation and a 20,000 yen deposit. The fee goes up for more sensors. Industry officials say contracts for home security services are steadily increasing, though the average subscription rate nationwide is still slightly less than 1 percent. Sohgo Security Services Co. – , Japan’s second-largest home security firm, put a service plan on the market in 2004 with a lower monthly fee to increase contracts. The monthly bill for a condominium with three rooms plus a dining room and kitchen is 4,200 yen. The installation cost is 33,600 yen and a 20,000 yen deposit is required.
“For easy subscription, we have narrowed down functions,” said Yasuko Sato, 41, an official with the company’s home market business division.
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