Chicago. Now that that’s out of the way, we can make the controversial statement that there’s more to Illinois than Chicago. Don’t get us wrong. It’s a fantastic city full of history and with an eclectic vibrancy that makes it one of the most important cities in the country. But Illinois is so much bigger than that. Cities like Champaign help us remember the important role Illinois has played, and still plays in America’s agricultural history. Places like Springfield bring them the history of our nation. Springfield in particular honors us with the remembrance of one of our nation’s most well-respected presidents, Abraham Lincoln. However, the preponderance of the big city culture sprinkled throughout the many rural areas of the state results in higher rates of crime for the state as a whole than would be found there otherwise. So it is for that reason that home security in Illinois is an almost necessary fact of life.
Home Security Provider Requirements for Illinois
As far as straight numbers go Illinois, you’re not the first or the worst for burglaries. Comforting, right? Not so fast. Even still, when you take a proportional look at the numbers, Illinois is just about on the same footing as California and Texas. Yikes. Truth be told, the vast majority of these crimes are happening in and around the major cities–Chicago in particular–but they are happening – period. And while major efforts have been put in place that have helped these numbers fall significantly over the past 10 years, this is a trend that has spread across the nation, not just the state of Illinois. So we congratulate you on your efforts, but there’s still work to be done, both in your state and everywhere else.
But this is why people invest in home security systems in the first place, right? They do provide a bit of peace of mind for when you are not at home. They can give a unique sense of security even when you are at home – in the case of a home invasion or robbery. To its credit, Illinois is very direct in its requirements for those who want to sell, install and maintain home security systems in the state. In fact, the law is so succinct and easy to understand that it is almost like a storybook one could read to their children at night. Ok, so maybe that’s only if your children love a good bit of legalese, but in this case, it’s the common man’s legalese. The short of it is this: You must have a license to install and sell security systems in people’s homes, and any employees a provider hires have to be registered with the state as well.
Illinois even has very specific requirements on who can qualify to get a private contractor license to sell alarm systems. This includes: being 21 or older; having no recorded felonies within the last 10 years; maintaining good moral character (which, as subjective as this is, does refer back to the whole crime convictions aspect); no recent record of mental illness; not addicted to alcohol or drugs; have at least 3 years’ experience in the previous 5 years working within the industry more formally and in managerial roles (with credits to those who have 4-year college degrees in electrical engineering), and a few others that are fairly commonplace for most jobs that require security-related services.
These requirements should make any Illinois resident feel extremely confident in the process. The state government has done its homework and completed the intense legwork needed to make sure that home security providers of all types are thoroughly vetted. The state even lays out requirements for security alarm providers who employ their own armed response crews. Those individuals need to receive intense training, including firearms training and licensure and more targeted training that is equivalent to what normal police officers receive, but to a slightly lesser degree. All in all, Illinois, your state government has its act together, literally and figuratively…at least when it comes to these requirements.
That said, make sure you are still paying attention to such things as contract terms, automatic renewals and false alarm laws. Some companies will try to lock you into very long contract terms. The last thing you want is to be married to your home security provider. We doubt your parents would approve of that relationship.
Illinois has fairly strict rules against false alarms, the result of which could be criminal prosecution for you, and fines for the security company. They’ll likely walk you through these rules and laws when you sign up, as it’s in their best interest as well, but if your rebellious teenager throws a wild block party while you’re away and his “friends” trip the alarm on purpose, you could be on the line for a criminal charge or two, as well as some hefty fines.
Using Home Security Cameras in Illinois
We know how eager you are to throw in a few security cameras to beef up your home security. A couple of cameras in and around your home can definitely make you sleep better at night, and you might even get famous with a viral video! Who knows? But Illinois law regarding surveillance is not something to be trifled with, and you’ll want to know all the details before you start turning your home into the Big Brother house.
Illinois in particular is very strict when it comes to audio recordings from surveillance. In this case, we’re talking eavesdropping laws, something that could land you with a felony charge, even if what you captured was recorded by accident. You could even catch a crime taking place on your own front yard and be awarded with your valiant crime-stopping efforts with a legal case pending–against you. In the case of Illinois, even if you happen to capture a random conversation on the street by accident, unless it’s obviously related to a crime, you need the consent of every party involved in that conversation in order to have even recorded it. If you don’t get that consent, you may find yourself in a nightmare situation.
“So what should I do?” Good question, smart reader. Your best option, if you do insist on putting up security cameras, is to avoid using cameras that have audio pickup capabilities, or to have that function turned off if it already has one. Even if having the audio could be essential to helping solve a crime, Illinois’ law here is so strict and so easy to misapply to someone who otherwise had the best intentions, that your best bet is to just avoid the potential hassle. Sometimes it’s better to just let the picture do the talking. They do say a picture is worth a thousand words, right? We would imagine a video is worth exponentially more than that, especially if it results in some peace of mind for you.
Safety During Illinois Natural Disasters
While that aforementioned peace of mind can be achieved by protecting your family and your home from some of the worst man-made disasters, there are natural disasters that could strike that you may have little control over. And by little, we mean absolutely none. Nature’s fury can wreak havoc on small or large pockets of modern society, and help to humble us in our understanding of our own significance. If you live in Illinois, you know very well what terrible storms can do. Depending on what map you’re looking at, Illinois is either covered significantly by what is known as “Tornado Alley” or sitting just on the outskirts of it. Either way, tornadoes are a big concern for Illinois residents. Among the several natural disasters that are fairly common in Illinois (blizzards, floods, thunderstorms), none is more common and more deadly than a tornado.
Tornado safety for Illinois residents is practically second nature. Eat, sleep, tornado drill. Tornado safety starts with preparation. Always have an emergency plan worked out with your family, and always make sure you have emergency provisions in place, in the location where you will be escaping to if a storm hits. This can’t be stressed enough. The last thing you want to do when and if a tornado blows through is to have no idea what to do and nothing prepared for after the disaster strikes. Clean clothes, extra food, portable and drinkable water. These are all essentials. Flashlights and spare blankets are also something to consider.
A tornado can completely destroy a home, so escaping to a basement area with no or few windows, or a cellar are your best options. Many people have safe rooms installed in their homes. This is also an option. Existing rooms or closets can be converted into safe rooms, or you can have a freestanding one installed. These are typically strong, metal boxes with no windows that are heavy enough to withstand some of the worst storms around. The Illinois government also provides a detailed resource for all kinds of disasters, even ones that are realistically rare in the state. It never hurts to be prepared, just in case.
Most Illinois residents can rest easy knowing that their state is one of the safest places to be–in most cases. With few natural disasters and relatively low crime in most areas of the state, it truly is a great place to live or visit. But Illinois residents are not ones to take too many chances, especially when it comes to safety. Home security in the state is not necessarily a requirement, but the state government has certainly made the process of getting a system in one’s home as painless as one could hope for. Illinois does not get praised as often as it should, but it certainly should get some praise for the way it handles home security!