The price of peace of mind |

The price of peace of mind

Becky Bosshart

Steve Halen said he sells peace of mind.

Halen, of Carson City, owns High Desert Sports Arms, which sells guns to collectors, law-enforcement officers and those who want the security of a weapon.

Despite national statistics that report violent crimes and property victimization is declining, Halen said his business has increased because of the fear of national terrorism and local crime.

For more than 10 years he has sold weaponry, security systems and sporting goods wholesale out of his auto shop Performance Auto Care, 4520 Oak St. Halen said most customers buy weapons for hunting or target practice, some for self or home protection and the rest are gun collectors.

Nevada sheriff’s offices issued 2,850 concealed weapon permits in 2004, according to the Nevada Department of Public Safety. That’s slightly up from 2003. But you don’t need a permit in Nevada to keep a gun in your home.

“For a lot of people it’s the feeling of security to have a weapon in the house,” Halen said, sitting in the auto shop’s lobby, which is decorated with pictures of his children and race cars.

Small handguns and defender shotguns are most popular with men and women interested in self defense. They’ll spend an average of about $500. Halen said his customers are loyal, and they tell him their success stories.

“One customer got his house broken into and got things stolen,” he said. “He purchased a weapon and actually caught a person in his house. With his weapon he shot at the person, missed, and he got away. Later they caught him.”

Halen said the gang-related crimes people see on the news, or the terrorist attacks striking big cities, probably won’t happen here, but “the fear exists.”

All the bells and motion sensors

Mike Belanger, vice president of Whipple Electric Inc. & Security, said he has noticed an increase in home-security system sales in the last five years. Most people know about the systems and they feel they have a need.

And it isn’t just the wealthy who are buying. The Minden company installs systems in a variety of homes from here to Sacramento. It has 200 customers in Carson City.

A popular security addition is a fire alarm that calls for help as soon as it is set off. Belanger said people are buying perimeter systems, automatic police and fire alerts and inside motion detectors. Systems range in price from $550 to $2,000, depending on the size of the home and desired coverage.

His biggest customers are families who worry about their elderly parents living alone. Customers range from “people who have a $15,000 art piece they want to secure, to those who want a break on house-insurance rates.”

Sheriff Ken Furlong said Carson City has a high theft rate, and residents can work harder to protect themselves. According to 2003 Crime and Justice in Nevada statistics, 58 percent of reported crimes in Carson City are theft-related.

“There was a time when you could leave your doors open,” he said. “But in our society today, no, you can’t do that anymore. You’re inviting theft.”

The sheriff said gated communities aren’t immune from crime.

“Don’t presume that because you have a gate that makes you safe,” he said. “We still have crime and problems in those areas.”

Behind the gate

Pat Johnson decided to live in Lake Glen Manor for two main reasons: It has a pond and a gate. When she drives her car up to the front gate it automatically opens and closes behind her.

She moved to Carson City from Southern California about five years ago to retire near her daughter. She chose to live in a gated community because of the security. And she’s always wanted to live by water, even if it’s a small pond.

“It’s really secure, quiet and really nice,” Johnson said. “It’s secluded. It feels really safe and I’ve had no problems.”

She paid about $130,000 for her two-bedroom condo; the price of surrounding homes has jumped since.

Scott Hoerner, Lakemont Homes community manager, has been selling homes at The Lakes at Dayton Valley/Legado for three years. He said the demand is larger than the supply.

“A great draw is the fact that we are a gated, golf-course community,” he said. “We seem to have a tighter-knit neighborhood, a friendlier neighborhood and a more affluent neighborhood.”

The Lakes highest professional demographic is retired peace officers, Hoerner said. He won’t say the gate makes the community safer, but he will say the gate gives the “feeling of safety.”

The 2,700 new homes set to be built in Legado range in price from $200,000 and up.

“The gate is purely a perception,” Hoerner said. “A gated community gives a sense of safety and security.”

Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.


Violent crime in 2003

• Violent and property crime rates are at their lowest levels since the federal government first started surveying victimization in 1973.

• Per capita rates of violent or property crime has not changed between 2002 and 2003.

• One person in every 44 was victimized, compared to one out of 38 in 2001-2002.

• In the last 10 years, the property crime has declined by 49 percent.

• One home in every 34 was burglarized, compared to one out of 17 in 1993.

– Source: 2003 National Crime Victimization Survey, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

How to prevent yourself from becoming a victim:

• Assess your surroundings. What things do you leave in the open that are attractive to thieves?

• Don’t leave your ID or purse in the car. If needed, store those items in the trunk

• Record the serial numbers of important things in your home. Record jewelry. Consider safety deposit storage for irreplaceable items

• Have lights around your home and trim vegetation

• Get to know your neighbors, ask them to keep an eye on your home

• Don’t leave house keys in an obvious place, such as a fake rock. Instead, store with a neighbor or friend

• When vacationing, suspend newspaper delivery. The sheriff’s department also has a daily house watch run by volunteers

– Source: Sheriff Ken Furlong