10 Reasons why most Home Alarms are Useless… (and what you should do about it)

Alarms are not a deterrent

Fifteen years ago, if you were the only home on the street with an alarm… that would have been a deterrent. It was very unlikely that a burglar would choose to break-in to the only alarmed house on the street. Now, certainly in Vancouver, homes without alarms are the exception rather than the rule… market saturation has defeated the deterrent value of an alarm. Crooks have realized, for many of the reasons below, that most alarms do not provide any real level of security… the alarm trips and then nothing happens… so they break-in anyways. Click here to read more about why alarms are not a deterrent.

All-in-one systems… “none of the security, all of the monthly fee”

Just about every single “alarm system” that is sold ‘for free’, or in exchange for ‘putting a lawn sign in your front yard’, is worth exactly what you paid for it. Almost all of these alarms are of the ‘all-in-one’ variety… whereby the control panel, keypad, siren, telephone line connection and power supply areHoneywell Lynx integrated into one unit (like the one pictured left).

The major challenge with these systems is that you, as the authorized user, need to be given time to open your door and get to the keypad to type in your disarm code. If you belong on site, that’s exactly what you do… if you are a burglar, you simply follow the sound of the beeping keypad and rip the entire thing off the wall before the alarm trips. Click here to read about why millions of alarms are completely useless.

No (or slow) response

The only reason for an alarm is to generate an immediate response. However, in the vast majority of North American cities, the Police either do not provide response at all or only respond after a burglary has been confirmed. There are lots of really good reasons why the Police won’t go… but none that explain why alarm companies think they should be paid for providing an incomplete service. Click here to read more about how response works.

Delay time / Keypad placement

stopwatchMost home alarms cannot distinguish between your front door being opened by you with a key, or a crook with a crowbar… all it knows is that the door has been opened. Any delay time that your system is programmed to allow you to get to the keypad to disarm the system is ‘gifted’ time to a burglar. Most alarms have 30, 45, 60 or even 90 second delays! Keypads should be as close to the door as possible, with a maximum delay time of 10 seconds. Click here to read more about delay times.

Detecting the entry, not the break

The vast majority of alarms rely on motion detectors as the primary detection device. All of the effort to break into your house, or business, happens when the crook is still standing outside doing the ‘break’ part of ‘break and enter’. By the time they are inside, it’s almost guaranteed to be too late to start the alarm detection process. An effective alarm detects the BREAK, not just the enter. Click here to read how to ensure your alarm is detecting a burglar before they are already inside your house.

The Security Industry assumption is that all alarms are false until proven otherwise

What happens when your alarm trips? Most likely, your alarm company calls you. Why? Because they know that 98% of all alarms are false…. and that 70% of those are the result of user error. The problem is, you’re not paying a monthly security fee for the 98% false alarms… you’re paying so that, in the event of an actual burglary, someone will treat it like an emergency and actually do something about it. The real problem is that the alarm industry, for the most part, sells an incomplete service… they charge you a monthly fee to do the easy part, receiving a signal. The real trick is to be able to do something about that signal once received… Click here to read about how most of the alarm industry sells an incomplete service that isn’t worth paying for…

Enhanced Call Verification

As if the fact that your alarm company calls your home first after an alarm wasn’t bad enough, many security companies are embracing “Enhanced Call Verification” , or ECV, as the savior for the false alarm challenge. With ECV, rather than just calling your house as it is being broken into, they will also try to reach you on your cell phone. The only thing that ECV enhances is a burglars comfort level… with ECV a thief has even more time to spend in your house before anything ever gets done about it. Click here to read about why there is nothing ‘enhanced’ about ECV…

Exclusive reliance on a single form of communication

Phone lines are the achilles heal of any alarm system. You can spend thousands of dollars on a sophisticated alarm that takes every piece of advice on this blog into account, but if the only method of communication is your phone line, a crook can simply cut it from outside of your home… rendering the whole thing useless. Your security is in your redundancy… cellular back-up or BLINK mesh radio monitoring eliminates the most glaring single point of failure in your alarm. Click here to learn more about BLINK…

Sharing codes

One of the values that a properly designed alarm can offer is being able to track exactly who armed, disarmed or bypassed a zone, and when they did it. Almost every system available today has the capacity for dozens of user codes. Sharing codes eliminates the ability to confirm who did what and when (which is normally the first thing that gets checked when something bad happens). Every individual user of your alarm should have their own unique disarm code. However, in the race to cut costs as much as possible, most alarm monitoring stations do not even monitor for ‘opens and closes’ to cut down on signal traffic… meaning that your alarm could be offline for years and noone will learn that until after a burglary and people are wondering why the alarm never tripped. Click here to read about why user codes should be individually assigned…

Cross zoning

While assigning multiple devices to the same zone saves money during the initial installation, and makes things a lot simpler for an installer, it does so at the risk of limiting the security value an alarm can offer. Even if an alarm is not monitored, knowing that an alarm was tripped at the Living Room East Window rather than any of the windows on the main floor, makes a huge difference. Not only does it save time and money should servicing ever be required, it ensures that you, and anyone who is responding, knows exactly where to respond (or if you are in the house, where to stay away from until help arrives). Click here for more information about why your alarm should not share.

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